Aussie rock and roll – Bands A to I

AC/DC

When I think "Accadacca", I think: "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll". It's raw, it's loud, it's great head-banging music and its the only rock song I know of that features bag pipes. There was an alternative version sung in schools across the country that went: "It's a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll". I even taught Lan to sing it and now it's a general response in our household indicating that it's too much trouble to go wherever has just been proposed.

This was from the early days when Bon Scott headed the band and before they became an international success. They went downhill from there for me. A few years later I was given the album "Back in Black" and at the time I loved "Shoot to thrill" but when you listen to the words (generally considered optional with AC/DC) you realize it's pretty awful-an anthem to violence and male chauvinism.

I was amused by this on their web site in May 2003: "AC/DC will play as Special Guests to the Rolling Stones in Germany for 3 dates in June. These extraordinary concerts won't be part of a full-scale worldwide tour, and mark the first time the band isn't billed as headliners since 1980. Hey, it's the Stones."

Official site

The Angels

This was the first reasonably "heavy" band that I liked, helped in part because a friend (now forgotten) in Year 10 made a pirate copy of "Face to Face" for me. It included "Marsailles", "Straight Jacket", "I ain't the one" and "After the Rain" amongst others.

I saw them live at an open air concert organised by 2SM in Revesby or somewhere in Sydney a long way from home. "The Expression", "The Radiators" and "The Church" played too-all for $1!. I heard once that the Angels and Cold Chisel had a "competition" for which band brought the Newcastle Workers' Club the greatest liquor sales when they played there. The club was later badly damaged in an earthquake killing several people and in my mind I still associate the band with the club.

Official site

Australian Crawl

I can't find any site on the Web devoted to the band which surprises me. They made some great music including "Beautiful People", one of my all-time favourites of Australian music, which observed that at their houses, "the garden's full of furniture, the house is full of plants"! Brilliant. Some other hits were "Shut down", the haunting "Hooci Cooci Fiarruci Mama" (not sure about the spelling) and of course "Restless". James Reyne was the lead singer and he later had a successful solo career but it was nearly always impossible to understand the words he was singing. There was a hilarious segment on "Hey, hey, it's Saturday" (an Australian TV institution with Daryl Somers which ran for 25 years) where they played the film clip for "Fall of Rome" but they added subtitles as if it were sung in a foreign language. It started out following the words but then the started skipping bits and there were "..." on the screen where they couldn't make it out, eventually degenerating to "... something about public transport" as if the "translator" was now only catching snatches of it. I still laugh when I think of it today. Perhaps you just had to see it.

Kate Cebrano

Gorgeous voice. "Bedroom eyes" made me melt but I was surprised how rough she sounded in a radio interview I heard when she said she'd deserved the success she was having at that time because she'd been working for "frigin' years". I was pleased she had a bit of a hit with "Kiss me" in 1998 though it was only on the radio for a few weeks.

Cold Chisel

For me, the one song that epitomizes Australian rock and roll is "Khe Sanh", a song initially banned from radio for being too raunchy. I'm much too young to have fought in Vietnam but a shiver goes down my spine every time I hear it. "Four Walls" and "Misfits" have the same affect.

Though they were huge in Australia, they never achieved the international stardom of INXS. A great pity but it was partly because their songs are so Australian. "Ita" is meaningless to all but a handful outside the country. Another barrier was the American record company that was supposedly promoting them but didn't care. "You got nothing I want" overflows with contempt for the executive that pushed them around.

I wasn't keen on Jimmy Barnes as a soloist except for "You promised me you'd call", a song that should have been a huge hit but wasn't. Barnes at his best.

The band reformed in 1998 and released an album but nothing I heard on the radio had the fine polish of the songs they released in the 80s.

Official site

Crowded House

Technically this is a New Zealand band but that's near enough. After Split Enz broke up, Neil Finn formed Crowded House and their first album was great. I've got in on vinyl but I ran out of time before I left Australia to transfer it to tape. Bother! I heard a few songs from their second album on the radio and it was OK. I bought a CD of one of their last albums over here (US) and thought it was rubbish; there wasn't one decent song.

A cover of "Don't dream it's over", one of the songs off their debut album, reached the top 10 of the US charts in April 2003.

If you try entering www.crowdedhouse.com in your browser, you get taken to Neil Finn's site.

Divinyls

I've often thought of Christina Amphlett as having a voice that is the female equivalent of Bob Dylan, or perhaps Joe Cocker - she is not Kate Cebrano or even Natalie Imbruglio. Rough but gloriously expressive. I bought "What a life" on vinyl and loved it, particularly "In my life". I can't go on without mentioning "Science fiction", "Temperamental" and "Ain't gonna eat out my heart anymore" which were on other albums.

Official site

Dragon

I saw this band twice, once with a lovely girl named Nicola who I believe went on to be a champion body builder. They had a string of hits in the 70s including "This Time", "Are you old enough" and "I'm still in love with you". Marc Hunter, their lead singer, died in 1998 of throat cancer.

Jon English

This guy has done everything - singer, songwriter, actor, playwrite, originally rising to fame for his role as Jesus on stage in "Jesus Christ, Superstar" which ran for five years. It's a shame he didn't gain greater success internationally. Had several hits during the 70s including the (traditional?) love song "Six ribbons" and a haunting version of "Turn the page", most recently redone by Metallica.,/p>

Official site

Hoodoo Gurus

"What's my scene" is the only song I can think of that grabbed me the very first time I heard it and I knew I loved it. They had already had some hits before "Blow your cool" so I knew who they were but I got the album for a birthday and it remains one of my favourites. "Do you know where nowhere is?" is a classic. ("It's where you are.")

Make sure you take a look at "The Arthur Hoax" on their website under "Misc.".

Their official site was at www.hoodoogurus.com but it seems to have been taken down. I find it bizarre but an archive of the site as it was on 24 Oct 2001 is on the server belonging to the National Library of Australia! Government approval? Is Prime Minister John Howard a fan?

Hunters & Collectors

I didn't like some of what they did but "Do you see what I see?" and "You don't make me feel like I'm a woman any more" are great rock and roll. I notice that "Throw your arms around me" was number 2 on Triple J's Hot 100 of all time though I was never particularly keen on it.

Ice House

I've read that "Man of Colours" is the best selling album by an Australian band in Australia with 600,000 copies sold. (John Farnham's "The Voice" sold 1 million copies" making it the best selling by any Australian outfit; I read that "Jagged Little Pill", "Thriller" and "Saturday Night Fever" also topped 1 million. The soundtrack to "Grease" has sold 2.8 million copies which is more than the 2nd and 3rd best sellers combined!). All the more strange then that, front man Iva Davies has never had the public profile of Michael Hutchence, Peter Garret or Jimmy Barnes.

Iva was trained classically, playing oboe or bassoon or something silly. They received the Johnny O'Keefe Award for the best new talent at the CountDown Awards in April 1981 and went on to produce some great music including "Great Southern Land", "No Promises", "Street Cafe", "The Wall" and "Love in motion".

Originally they were called Flowers when they were signed by Chrysalis Records which intended to release their album overseas, they found there were already performers in both the US and UK who had registered the name so they had to come up with something else.

I saw them at the Coogee Bay Hotel and was pleasantly surprised how LOUD they were live compared to their restrained recorded material.

Unofficial site

INXS

A band recognized everywhere. They were huge and they deserved it. It's sad that Michael is gone but I think it is better to have made an impact on the world and be dead at 37 than live to 107 and be a nobody. Neil Young said "it's better to burn out than it is to rust" and that's what happened to Michael. Too many hits to list but "Falling down the mountain" is my favourite.

I remember the first time they appeared on CountDown and I thought they were trying too hard to be a Rolling Stones rip-off band and they would go nowhere. Fortunately, Michael stopped trying to be Mick and got on with being a rock star in his own right.

Official site

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