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The Big Beat—ask a librarian

The following Australian libraries have a copy of The Big Beat. Australian Capital Territory: National Library of Australia; National Film and Sound Archive; National Museum of…

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Whisky: ‘Whether or not it is Scotland’s oil, it is mostly not Scotland’s whisky’.

  No account of the Highland county of Moray would be complete without a mention of whisky. There are 49 operating malt whisky distilleries in…

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In Search of John Maclean—part 1

Scotland has had few men whose names Matter—or should matter—to intelligent people, But of these MacLean, next to Burns, was the greatest. —Hugh MacDiarmid, ‘Krassivy,…

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Articles and posts

A selection of published and previously unpublished works

The Band

The first time I saw Martin Armiger was onstage at Meadows Technicolour Fair on Saturday 29 January 1972. Meadows, on the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide was South Australia’s second pop festival, after 1971’s Myponga, and Martin’s band Toads, Nightly opened the event. Martin moved to Melbourne shortly afterwards and fell fruitfully into the Carlton band, drama and poetry scene captured so vividly in Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip. The first

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The Big Beat: When Sydney Rocked — 1978-1983

The third of the Q&A and book signings to celebrate the release of The Big Beat took place in the heart of the city at Title Barangaroo in Sydney on 21 November 2019. Over a hundred movers and groovers gathered to hear moderator Mark Dodshon skilfully guide the panel of Buzz Bidstrup (ex-Angels and GANGgajang), Peter Oxley (Sunnyboys, Shy Impostors and The Aints) and author Donald Robertson through their memories

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How Roadrunner recorded our noisy history

By Nathan Davies SA Weekend magazine, The Advertiser (Adelaide), 4 October 2019 To flick through the pages of The Big Beat – a bound collection of rock magazine Roadrunner – is to be transported to an Adelaide that no longer exists. An Adelaide of smoke-filled, sticky-floored band rooms still a decade or two from being transformed into soulless pokie dens. An Adelaide of photocopied band flyers sticky taped to Stobie

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Four dudes banging on about The Big Beat at Readings in St Kilda

There was a lot of love in the room for Roadrunner magazine and its anthology The Big Beat at Readings book store in St Kilda last night. A crowd of around fifty gathered to hear Pierre Sutcliffe (ex-Models) lead Phill Calvert (ex-Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party), John Dowler (Young Modern) and myself discuss the Australian post-punk scene and the role that Roadrunner played in it. Among the former contributors in

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The Big Beat—reviews and reactions

The reviews are coming in. And people seem to like the book. Print reviews ‘Roadrunner was the Chrysler of the Big 3 R rock magazines in Australia at the turn into the 1980s, trailing the GM and Ford of RAM and Rolling Stone, and like the Hemi-powered Plymouths and Dodges, it was wild and untamed, and it’s a blessing that there’s now a permanent record of it, all 500 pages of it and bound

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The Big Beat comes back to Adelaide

Around eighty people gathered at The Howling Owl in Adelaide’s East End last night to celebrate the release of the Roadrunner magazine anthology, The Big Beat. Deftly marshalled by ABC Radio Adelaide producer Suzy Ramone, a panel of Dr Collette Snowden, singer and songwriter John Schumann and myself was invited to ruminate and reminisce about the South Australian music scene and the impact of Roadrunner in the post-punk period of

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John James Hackett: more than a passing acquaintance

It was early 1975. I remember warm summer nights and nude swimming in the backyard pool of the house on Nottage Terrace. There were a few Adelaide locals but mainly twenty-somethings evacuated from Darwin after Cyclone Tracy struck on Christmas Day. A mix of English, Americans and Australians, more than a few fresh from India and the Asian hippie trail. They had been part of a little Darwin scene that

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A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 1

On the morning of Thursday 28 November 1918, the Imperial War Cabinet met at 10 Downing Street in London.  Outside the weather was wet and windy and the temperature struggled to reach seven degrees Centigrade. It was the American holiday of Thanksgiving; but Americans were definitely not alone in feeling thankful. The armistices signed by the Allies on 30 October (with Turkey), 3 November (Austria-Hungary) and 11 November (Germany) had

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A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 2

Continued from A hundred years ago: great John Maclean comes home to the Clyde—part 1 Two days before the Imperial War Cabinet meeting of 28 November 1918, George Barnes drafted a memo suggesting the Cabinet (imagined above in a painting by Scottish artist Sir James Guthrie) authorise John Maclean’s release, ‘along with any others who might be in like plight for similar offences.’ ‘The continued agitation about John Maclean constitutes

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