This is an entirely subjective and I imagine somewhat dated list, but Youtube can take you anywhere anytime any place in the world of music. So see how this list goes with you and then check out your own music collection and swing by Youtube – I know these guys are all still there, waiting for new and old audiences to find them.
In no particular order – my best Oz bands:
Australian Crawl – I just loved these guys when I was at uni. I had all their albums, saw them live and was quite besotted by James Reyne. Do you remember their first appearance on Countdown? There he was with two broken arms singing Beautiful People – an iconic moment. Check out Downhearted, Errol, The Boys Light Up, Man Crazy and most of all Reckless – their only no 1. They were devilishly handsome and their songs had better than average lyrics, some caustic comments on Oz society. They were a bit beset by tragedy (Brad and Guy gone too soon) but a brilliant band.
Cold Chisel – another band that saw me through uni. Along with the rest of the under 30s population I bought East and knew every song by heart. My mate Ross (who had an uncanny resemblance to Richard Gere) and I would sit in the ref and sing Cheap Wine and Forever Now to each other across the cappuccinos. You couldn’t beat Jimmy Barnes growling vocals, Don Watson’s lyrics and Ian Moss there with the alternative edge to Jimmy. Check out East and then listen to Khe Sanh, Bow River and Flame Trees – all very different, all utterly awesome.
Divinyls – somewhat under-rated in my opinion but oh were they in your face. Chrissie Amphlet with her Chrissie Hynde fringe but voice from where? And that silly schoolgirl’s tunic but they were a band to be reckoned with. They looked like sex, they sang of sex – was there anything else to think about when you were young? How can you forget I Touch Myself, Pleasure and Pain and the Boys in Town?
Dragon – okay, so they’re not actually Australian but they too were gorgeous to look at, great to listen to and suffered along the way. I loved Get That Jive, Are You Old Enough, Still in Love with You, Dreams of Ordinary Men, Speak no Evil and then later Young Years, when Todd and Marc had chubbed up, but before Marc sadly died of throat cancer.
Split Enz – another imported NZ band that made it huge in Oz. A bit off the wall, not as handsome as some contemporaries – yes, looks did count – but the music was brilliant. There were nights in the pub when everyone was singing I Got You. We all knew Message to My Girl and History Never Repeats. They were always melodious with great lyrics. Odd that NZ bands had pairs of brothers…
Skyhooks – when I was at school you were either into Sherbet or Skyhooks – there was no in between, it was war. For me it was Red Symonds and his tongue and the dressing up and other anarchic stuff. Sherbet was sweet good looking confectionary and Skyhooks were posing cross dressers and hard edge. They sang of life now, especially in Melbourne, of sex and money and finally love. You must remember Living in the 70s, Balwyn Calling, Horror Movie (about the news), You Just Like Me Coz I’m Good in Bed, Ego is Not a Dirty Word and finally All My Friends Are Getting Married. It was a bonus that Red was actually an educated boffin and sad when Shirl died in a plane crash.
Midnight Oil – the first band that made politics and music mix in the Oz-rock firmament. They were ferocious in their lyrics, fierce in their music and no-one in the whole world dances like Peter Garrett. Pity he lost all his balls when he went into politics. Anyway get your ears around US Forces, Blue Sky Mine, Beds are Burning and you’ll feel the fire in your belly too.
The world beaters
Crowded House – of course spawned by Split Enz, this one went onto conquer the world. Neil Finn now the master of the hook and kill you melody. Did you watch the final concert at the Opera House? People were crying – they were brilliant because you do always take the Weather with You and Don’t Dream It’s Over too.
INXS – more musical brothers, more death; still there were years of excellent tunes and great performances, when Michael Hutchence was our very own Mick Jagger, before he got so caught up with being famous and the Paula Yates lerv-thing. We all thanked him for making Kylie cool. You can’t overlook Never tear Us Apart, Need You Tonight, New Sensation and all of Shaboo Shabah – especially Don’t Change and The One Thing. They were a great band: excellent reps on the world music stage.
AC-DC – I was not hugely into them as a teenager, mainly because my brother used to play them at full volume in the morning to get himself moving for the day. But they grow on you and you find yourself knowing too many lyrics to too many of their songs. And even end up happy to be in pub sing-a-longs to It’s a Long Way to the Shop if you Want a Chicko Roll (sic). I was saddened by Bon’s untimely but classic rock n roll death and not sure of Brian for a while but hey they keep going and while there’s Angus there’s AC-DC. You can’t be Australian and not feel some pride about AC-DC be-striding the world.