TURN UP YOUR RADIO, the Master’s Apprentices 1970 declaration that they were now a rock band rather than a teeny bopper sensation, opened our Australia Day show, featuring 40 years of Australian Classic Rock. They quite rightly remind us that rock n roll started a good 15 years before this but there was no way that we were going to fit 55 years of rock into a two hour show, so 1970 seemed a fitting start. Check out this video when Glenn Wheatley was still working the bass guitar:
Daddy Cool’s EAGLE ROCK was recorded in 1971 and went onto become the best selling Australian single of the year. According to songwriter and singer, Ross Wilson, he was inspired by the popular 1920s black dance performed with the arms outstretched and the body rocking from side to side which was called the Eagle Rock. ‘Doing the eagle rock’ is also a metaphor for sexual intercourse.The accompanying promotional video was put together quickly for $300 and shows the band in some old Melbourne haunts including the Dolphin Café in Clarendon St., South Melbourne and St. Kilda’s Aussie Burger Bar opposite Luna Park as well as live shots from the 1971 Myponga Festival held in South Australia.
In early 1972 Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs released what became their biggest hit, and Thorpe’s signature tune – MOST PEOPLE I KNOW (THINK THAT I’M CRAZY), a song now widely regarded as one of the classics of Australian rock. It was a huge hit for the Aztecs, propelled to the top of charts by the band’s triumphant appearance at the 1972 Sunbury Music Festival. Thorpe himself claimed this as a pivotal moment in the development of Australian music, thanks to the promoters’ decision to feature an all-Australian lineup, rather than relying on imported stars.
And here’s an interview with the late great Billy Thorpe at Sunbury:
After the demise of the Easybeats in 1969, Stevie Wright embarked on a successful solo career. In 1974 he released the epic EVIE, an 11-minute 3-part classic, which to this day remains the longest song ever to reach #1 on any chart in the world.
In 1975 AC/DC released the album T.N.T. with the iconic track IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP (IF YOU WANNA ROCK N ROLL). Written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, its notable for combining bagpipes with hard rock, electric guitars, drums and bass. In the mid-part of the song there is a duet between the bagpipes and the electric guitar.
Two very influential Australian bands that were at their best in the mid 70’s were The Angels and The Saints. The Saints, in particular, are considered to be one of the first and most influential punk rock groups. By 1975, The Saints were employing the fast tempos, raucous vocals and “buzzsaw” guitar that characterised early punk rock. With their first single, I’M STRANDED, in late 1976, they became the first punk band outside the United States to release a record, ahead of better-known punk acts like the Sex Pistols and The Clash. According to Bob Geldof, “Rock music in the seventies was changed by three bands – the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and The Saints”.
Meanwhile Cold Chisel were about to record the song that quite frequently tops those ‘best of’ lists, so it couldn’t be left out of this playlist: KHE SANH. I’ll dedicate this one to Chisel drummer Steve Prestwich who passed away last week at the very young age of 56.
Midnight Oil and Men at Work released songs like THE POWER AND THE PASSION and DOWN UNDER, that have become Aussie anthems. And then in 1983 The Choirboys came into their own with their first single NEVER GONNA DIE .
By 1984 INXS were breaking out internationally with songs like ORIGINAL SIN and Chrissie Amphlett and The Divinyls proved that a female lead singer could rock it out as well as the boys on songs like PLEASURE & PAIN:
In the mid 80’s Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls released the Gossip album and proved that there was a place for consummate storytelling in Australian rock music. The hit single from the album was BEFORE TOO LONG:
Hunters & Collectors came together in the early 80’s and were a blend of pub rock and art-funk. While they attracted a growing fan base both here and overseas, their first real recording success was with the 1989 album Ghost Nation which featured the hit single WHEN THE RIVER RUNS DRY.
The most successful Australian rock band ever, though, continued to be AC/DC. Unfortunately Bon Scott passed away in 1980 but the band bounced back and found a worthy replacement for Scott in Brian Johnson. They kept performing and releasing albums throughout the 80’s and in 1990 they released what was considered their major comeback album The Razors Edge. Here they are performing my favourite track from that album, THUNDERSTRUCK. Go Angus!
Also in the 90’s bands like The Screaming Jets and the Baby Animals were making an impact on the local scene.
Killing Heidi’s first single WEIR was released in August 1999 and reached #6 on the Aria charts (and Platinum sales) by the end of 1999. The band’s debut album Reflector was released in early 2000 and debuted at #1, quickly becoming the fastest-selling album in Australian music history. Here are Ella and Jesse Hooper performing live on TV show The Panel around that time:
Also around that time Powderfinger were emerging as a force to be reckoned with. As was Spiderbait who had a #1 hit with their terrific version of BLACK BETTY in 2004.
But the standout band of the new millenium has to be Silverchair who have received the industry’s flagship gongs, the Aria Awards, a record 21 times as well as six APRA Awards. They’ve sold over 6 million albums. Here’s STRAIGHT LINES from the 2007 album Young Modern:
We finished the show with some hard rock: Wolfmother performed here in Byron this week and were amazing. Their song NEW MOON RISING was released in 2009 and its still one of my faves. And the perfect finale followed: AC/DC with HIGHWAY TO HELL. Here’s Wolfmother performing live on Jools Holland Later in October 2009.
Next week’s show has been suggested by the lovely Ros, and I can’t resist because its a goodie: SONGS ABOUT OTHER MUSICIANS. If you have any suggestions for tracks to include, leave me a message here. Meanwhile here’s the complete playlist from this week:
Turn Up Your Radio (1970) – Masters Apprentices
Eagle Rock (1971) – Daddy Cool
Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy (1972) – Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs
Evie – Let Your Hair Hang Down, Pt. 1 (1974) – Stevie Wright
It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll) (1975) – AC/DC
(I’m) Stranded (1976) – The Saints
Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again (1977) – The Angels
Khe Sanh (1978) – Cold Chisel
Down Under (1981) – Men At Work
Power And The Passion (1982) – Midnight Oil 2
Never Gonna Die (1983) – Choirboys
Original Sin (1984) – INXS
Pleasure & Pain (1985) – The Divinyls
Before Too Long – Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls
When The River Runs Dry (1989) – Hunters and Collectors
Thunderstruck (1990) – AC/DC
Better (1991) – Screaming Jets
One Word (1992) – Baby Animals
My Happiness (2001) – Powderfinger
Weir (2000) – Killing Heidi
Black Betty (2004) – Spiderbait
Straight Lines (2007) – Silverchair
New Moon Rising (2009) – Wolfmother
Highway To Hell (1979) – AC/DC
Next week: SONGS ABOUT OTHER MUSICIANS
Our theme this week was a no brainer as the show aired on Australia Day, or ‘Invasion Day’ as some of us like to call it. It seemed appropriate that our show focus on Australian/homegrown music, so we opened with Gangajang and SOUNDS OF THEN (THIS IS AUSTRALIA). Then it was Icehouse with GREAT SOUTHERN LAND. Is this song quintessentially Australian, or what?
More classic Australiana followed with Sherbert and HOWZAT, Cold Chisel’s FLAME TREES and, rounding out the triple play, EAGLE ROCK from the ever brilliant Daddy Cool. Ross Wilson, Ross Hannaford et al, at their peak. Here’s the official clip from 1971:
Archie Roach is a singer and songwriter of amazing strength and insight. A story teller in the tradition of his ancestors, Archie conveys intimate real life stories as well as traditional stories of the Dreaming. Having survived a personal history that would have left most artists scarred and defeated, Archie Roach has emerged as an extraordinarily gifted Australian artist with a truly visionary talent. I chose to play TOO MANY BRIDGES, from the 2007 album Journey.
Yilila’s track E DHUMBALA is from their CD Digipack EP, Aeroplane, released in 2006. With their unique brand of Traditional/reggae/rock music, they have to be one of my favourite Indigenous bands. Unfortunately this track wasn’t available as a video clip, but I encourage you to check them out.
I’m also loving the group Tinpan Orange. Emily Lubitz, Jessie Lubitz and Alex Burkoy are all very talented but Emily’s voice is so seductive. Try and get hold of their new album THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE and take a listen to the track of the same name.
Next up it was Thirsty Merc and SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY. Bit of trivia for you: The band’s name came from a gas guzzling Mercedes Benz belonging to the band members, with the numberplate ‘THRSTY’.
One of my all time favourites, and one the tracks I had to play again from last year’s All Australian show, is the Saints song (I’M) STRANDED. Equally, The Easybeats had to get another run, but this year I thought I’d give FRIDAY ON MY MIND a rest and instead we heard another standard of theirs: WEDDING RING.
Nostalgia was hitting hard when Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs delivered MOST PEOPLE I KNOW THINK THAT I’M CRAZY and Men At Work rounded out the first hour of the show with the iconic Aussie anthem, DOWN UNDER.
The Living End asked a question that may have been on everyone’s lips: WHAT’S ON YOUR RADIO? Mate! All Australian, homegrown, classics. No less. And we needed some female rock energy to bring some balance into the day’s playlist. Can’t get better that Chrissie Amphlett and The Divinyls with SCIENCE FICTION.
Anyone remember The Beasts of Bourbon? LET’S GET FUNKY is from their 1990 album ‘Black Milk’. Tex Perkins, you are one radical dude.
Their’s been lots of tripping down memory lane, so I thought I would throw in the occasional contemporary recording, like Empire of the Sun and of their best, HALF MAST. Of course, with a baby boomer creating the playlist, it wasn’t long before we returned to the oldies, (but goodies!). My favourite Crowded House track is DON’T DREAM THAT IT’S OVER and we followed with Richard Clapton and GIRLS ON THE AVENUE. Here’s a clip of Rick performing live at the 2007 Countdown Spectacular Tour. He has got to be one of Australia’s most talented artists.
There is no way you can create an Australian playlist and leave out Paul Kelly. And we didn’t. I left the overplayed and obvious tracks alone and chose another of his that I really like, YOU’RE LOVIN’ IS ON MY MIND. Leah Flanagan was one of my picks for ‘best of’ the recent Mullumbimby Music Festival. Loving TYPSY TANGO which you can find on her 2008 album LEAH FLANAGAN BAND. Now I know that The Black Seeds are from New Zealand but that doesn’t stop me adopting them for today’s show (isn’t that we do with all talented Kiwis – they become instant honorary Aussies?). Their song COME TO ME is a great example of their funk/afrobeat/soul sound.
Cold Chisel were the only band to get two songs onto the list. And that’s because I couldn’t leave out what some think is THE Aussie rock song: KHE SANH. This clip is worth viewing just for the audience’s reaction. Chisel fans unite!
I missed Rose Tattoo when they performed in Byron Bay recently, but I hear they still know how to rock a room. So, my pick was ROCK N ROLL OUTLAW.
We closed the show with one of the best of the current crop of Australian talent and followed with one of our most enduring rock bands. Little Birdy is a four piece group from Perth with Katy Steele on vocals. The song I chose was COME ON. Then it was the one and only AC/DC and IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP. I’ve uploaded videos of AccaDacca before, so let’s take a look at Little Birdy:
This week all the kids, and the teachers, are back at school. So next week’s show is dedicated to them with all songs about SCHOOL. Got any suggestions? Drop me a line either on the blog or through the bayfm.org site. Love to hear from you.
Here’s this week’s playlist: