Aussie rock and roll – Bands K to T

Kylie

Yes, I admit it. I do enjoy some of her music even though it is uncool in some circles as there is compelling evidence that the "Impossible Princess" can't actually sing. It was hard to take her seriously when she did "Locomotion" but I did enjoy the songs on her 1998 album. I even considered buying it but Australian CD prices are outrageous at nearly A$30 each so I elected not to. If only someone else like Kate Cebrano had done her songs for her.

She finally "broke through" in the US in 2002 with a completely mindless song "Can't get you out of my head". Why that one? It was awful but apparently people bought it.

Official site

Little River Band

I've included LRB mainly on the basis of Graham Gobles' "It's a long way there", a nine minute masterpiece that covers loneliness, disappointment and hope for a better world: "I live for the day when I can hear people saying that they know and they care for everyone; but I feel like I've been here for the whole of my life, never knowing home.". The songs "Help is on it's way" and "Shut down, turn off" were good, the latter being ahead of its time for PC users with software problems. Oh, and they were huge in America too.

They are touring again and I had the opportunity of seeing them here in Denver but they weren't going to start playing until 10 pm and I had something I needed to do the next day so I opted out. Pity.

Official site

Mental As Anything

Several words come to mind when I think of the Mentals but "serious" is not one of them. If you are looking for songs that examine the great social issues of our time, you've come to the wrong place. If on the other hand you are looking fun, look no further. Perhaps best remembered for "The nips are getting bigger", my personal favourite was "Berserk Warriors", a song about Vikings. Started in 1978 by a group of Sydney art students and still playing, one/some/all (?) of the band members went on to form Mambo, a successful business selling beach and (very) casual wear.

Martin Plaza (presumably a stage name taken from Martin Place, a pedestrian thoroughfare in downtown Sydney) tried to launch a solo career but to my knowledge it was unsuccessful though he did a wonderful song called "Use me all over", the idea for which he got from the instructions on a bottle of skin moisturizer!

Official site

Midnight Oil

The conscience of the Australian music industry, Peter Garret and helpers have made a point of raising social issues and touring aboriginal communities in the outback. Peter has a law degree and at one time was an Australian senator representing the Nuclear Disarmament Party. As President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, he has been active in the recent campaign against the Jabaluka uranium mine.

They are played on "alternative" radio in America but the only song I have ever heard is "Beds are burning" which in case you don't know, tackles the issue of Australia's treatment of its native peoples and promotes land rights with the line that we should "give it back". Such selection amounts to propaganda in my view; I doubt they would play "U.S. Forces" which puts America in a less favourable light.

I saw them at the Hordon Pavillion in Sydney (is it still there?) for a concert promoting their then-new album "Diesel and Dust" (I think). Unfortunately, I rarely enjoy music I hear for the first time so I thought the concert was disappointing.

They had so many great songs: "King of the mountain", "Kosciusko", "Blue sky mining", "You wouldn't read about it" and "US Forces" come immediately to mind. "Put down that weapon" is much softer than their usual work but I thought it a masterpiece. I look forward to the day that is not that far away when I can legally compile via the internet my own "greatest hits" album of their work as there is much I don't like. "The power and the passion" falls into this category.

Official site

Noiseworks

I think this band was largely a "one album wonder" but what an album it was! My recollection is that the first five songs on their self-titled effort were all hits: "Burning feeling", "Love somebody", "Take me back", "No lies" and "River of tears". It never got much airplay but the next song "Welcome to the world" deserves a mention as it highlights how it is totally a matter of luck which society and which family we are born into-a girl is "happy ever" but for the boy "a toy's his gun, is all he'll know". Some kids are born into a life of violence and misery and those of us who live comfortably should be aware of their plight and hopefully do something about it.

Official site

Sherbert

Howzat! Daryl Braithwaite and team were the most polished act of the 70s and this was their biggest hit. "Summer Love" was another great one but I was late learning of popular music since my parents effectively had none (unless you count "The Seekers") and I didn't own a radio until I was about 13 so I missed most of the band's work.

Despite their huge success in the 70s, I was shocked to see on Daryl's home page that in 1986, all the money was gone and "Daryl accepted the only job he could find, labouring on the roads for the Bulla Shire council. He worked for them for 8 weeks." A ridiculous waste of talent.

Daryl Braithwaite's site

Skyhooks

A permanent fixture on the Australian Top 40 in the late-70s, Shirley (a guy) and the band were cheeky, colourful and initially wore wild makeup-before Kiss thought of it. The debut album "Living in the 70s" sold 300,000 copies, equivalent to an American band opening with 4.5million sales. They produced "Ego is not a dirty word", "Horror Movie", "Blue Jeans", "You just like me because I'm good in bed", and "All my friends are getting married" amongst others. They tried hard to break into the American market but they never made it.

Official site

Split Enz

Actually, as mentioned in the note for Crowded House, the band was from New Zealand but they became famous while they (Neil Finn and brother Tim, plus a few helpers) were in Australia. Like INXS, when I first saw them on Countdown singing "I see red", I thought they were ridiculous and that they would soon disappear. Fortunately I was wrong and they did some beautiful work including "I wish I never", "What can a poor boy do?", "Sometimes I get frightened" and "Message to my girl". Neil later formed Crowded House while Tim's solo career seemed to start and end with "There's a fraction too much friction".

No site but mentioned on www.frenz.com which bills itself as the official resource site for Split Enz, Crowded House and everyone involved.

The Sunnyboys

I assume the band was named after the triangular frozen ice treat that was sold when I was little. They only had two hits that I can remember but they were great: "I need a friend" and the classic "Alone with you" which had a sensational guitar piece in it. For some reason the second one reminded me of a lovely girl called Juliet (though I don't think I ever was alone with her for any length of time).

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