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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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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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Australian Rock: The Early Eighties

As the '80s began, the Australian pub rock boom was in overdrive. The new 'door deal' system had increased band receipts enormously and had given…

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Articles and posts

A selection of published and previously unpublished works

The art of the Australian single 1975-80

When I returned to Adelaide in late 1977 after two and a half years away in the U.K., I brought home with me about twenty-five singles. I proceeded to do the rounds of my rather puzzled university friends to show them and play to them these artefacts from the sonic revolution I had just experienced. Most of them smiled politely and poured another cup of tea, but one old school

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Kensington Road runs straight before turning: Adelaide in 1979

As the 1970s wound to a close, the local music scene in Adelaide was struggling, although there were some new shoots starting to appear. It seemed everyone involved was either trying to get out, or just killing time, waiting for something GREAT to happen. And it did. The advent of the Progressive Music Broadcasting Associations’s community radio station 5MMM-FM in 1980 gave Adelaide music an absolute turbo-charge and helped to

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Adelaide 1981

This was my end of year round up of music in Adelaide, published as part of Roadrunner’s 1981 All State Rock Round Up. I moved to Sydney in 1982, so in a way it was my farewell to the local music scene that I had been a part of for the previous five years. Fun times.  *  *  * The year of 1981 will not go down in the pages

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Los Trios Ringbarkus: a tour de farce

‘Someone said we were the sickest pair of wimps they’d ever seen,’ says Steve Kearney of Los Trios Ringbarkus on British reaction to the zany duo who carried off the ultra-prestigious Perrier ‘Pick of the Fringe’ award at last year’s Edinburgh Festival (1983). ‘I think they expected a couple of sunbronzed Aussie comedians to come out telling dingo jokes. They were … stunned.’ Relaxing around their hotel rooftop pool during their recent Sydney season, Kearney

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Magical Mushroom Moments

Recently I’ve been reading Stuart Coupe’s biography of Michael Gudinski. It prompted a memory of Mushroom Records’ 10th anniversary bash, on the 1982 Australia Day long weekend. Mushroom flew me over from Adelaide for the concert and quite frankly, I’d forgotten how good it was. This was my account in the February 1982 edition of Roadrunner. ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ Well folks, it was a pretty wild weekend. The Big M/3XY/Mushroom Evolution Two

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Doug Anthony Allstars: tick fucking tock

I first heard the Doug Anthony Allstars in my rented flat in Edinburgh during the 1988 Fringe Festival. I’d gone to Scotland to cover the Festival prior to taking up a new job and was listening to a program about the Fringe on BBC Radio Scotland. Midway through the show, the host introduced a song from a hot young Australian trio who were wowing them at the Gilded Balloon in

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Australian Rock: The Early Eighties

As the ’80s began, the Australian pub rock boom was in overdrive. The new ‘door deal’ system had increased band receipts enormously and had given the top touring bands a measure of financial independence. Many of them took the next logical step—a trip overseas to test the water. Mi-Sex, Midnight Oil and The Angels undertook largely self-financed exploratory trips to the US in 1980. On the recording front, an impressive

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Australian Rock: The Late Seventies

The rise and rise of Skyhooks in 1975 sounded the death knell for the loud progressive blues-style bands that had so dominated Australian rock in the early seventies. The contrast between the two could hardly have been more striking. In place of denim and long hair, Skyhooks wore colourful and zany stage clothes. Instead of standing in the one spot while the guitarist did a twenty minute improvised solo, Skyhooks

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Australian Rock: The Early Seventies

As the sixties drifted into the seventies, the split in the Australian music scene between ‘underground’ and ‘chart’ acts became even more pronounced. Go-Set, still the leading music publication of the day, acknowledged this fact by introducing an ‘underground’ supplement titled Core that featured long, analytical pieces about the ‘significance’ of major artists and styles. The Go-Set Awards of January 1970 saw Doug Parkinson In Focus the most popular group, Johnny

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