Friday, April 25, 2008

Aussie Rock 101: Punching Above It's Weight


In the 1950's Aussie rock served mainly as a response to developments in the UK or US: Johnny O'Keefe was the aussie version to Elvis and Bill Haley, the Atlantics and Denvermen responded to the Shadows and the Ventures and the Easybeats offerred a taste of Merseyside in Sydney.

The mid to late 60's was pretty similar, offerring the great bluesman Billy Thorpe and the Masters Apprentices (who made the transition from bubble gum to hard prog by the early 70's).

Sunbury, Australia's Woodstock, held in Melbourne between '72 and'75, marked a critical turning point. Queen were famously brought in in 1972, but aussie audiences were becoming more confident in their own musicians, telling them to 'go back to pommyland you pooftahs"

In this period new and exciting acts came fast and thick: Daddy Cool, Chain, Max Merritt and the Meteors, Russell Morris, ect cementing aussie music as something to be proud of.

Bt the mid to late 70's aussie music was on the move, not just by ACDC, who came to dominate the world, but by Skyhooks,

Sherbert, Dragon, John Paul Young, spurned on by the music show Countdown, a virtual religion amongst Aussie youth. The formation of the double Jay radio station in '75 also guaranteed the longevity of aussie rock, still creating taste to this day as JJJ.

Cold Chisel, The Angels and Rose Tattoo established aussie pub-rock and hard rock during this time, as did the Saints as the best aussie punk band there has ever been. By the late 70's, however, the Little River Band and Split Enz would be the only bands apart from ACDC to have made it is any signifiant way overseas.

Things did not slow down in the 1980's: post-punk provided Nick Cave and the Church and Kylie and INXS were unleashed on the world. Midnight Oil provided political rock and Cold Chisel (Australia's Bruce Springsteen) provided some of the best songwriting ever to come from down under.

This was certainly the boom period for aussie rock; from the lesser known brilliance of Paul Kelly (Australia's Bob Dylan) to the aboriginal band Yothu Yindi.

Since the 80's Australia has punched well above it's weight: teenage grunge stars, from the pop of Savage Garden to the garage rock of the Vines aussie music has been an essential part of the international scene.Silverchair have become a highly influential art-rock outfit, Jet, Wolfmother and Airbourne have revived classic rock and many more bands are waiting in the wings.

Here's 20 Brilliant Tracks

The Angels: Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again
Masters and Apprentices: Because I love You
Midnight Oil: Short Memory
Hunters and Collectors: Throw My Arms Around You
The Whitlams: Aphrodisiac
Rene Geyer: It's a Man's World
The Divinyls: Aint Gomma Eat My Heart Out
The Saints: Stranded
Billy Thorpe: It's Almost Summer
Spectrum: I'll Be Gone
Paul Kelly: From LIttle Things Big THings Grow
Augie March: ONe Crowded Hour
The Go Betweens: LOve is a Sign
Nick Cave: The Mercy Seat
Silverchair: Tomorrow
Wolfmother: The Joker and the Thief
Baby Animals: Rush You
The Sunnyboys: Alone With You Tonite
Cold Chisel: Khe San
Hilltop Hoods: The Nosebleed Section

Image: Courtesy Elektra

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