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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A selection of published and previously unpublished works

Reeling and a-rocking: the Adelaide music scene in the 60s

The sonic boom that was the Beatles reverberated around the world and perhaps nowhere was the effect more apparent than in Adelaide. Over 300,000 people, about one-third of the city’s population, lined the streets  when the Fab Three plus Jimmy Nicol (standing in for the tonsilitis-stricken Ringo) arrived on 12 June 1964 for the first concerts of their three and a half week down under tour. As Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor

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Laughing Lennie

Many years ago, I watched a documentary on Foxtel’s Arena channel called ‘Beautiful Losers’. Made in 1997, it was about Leonard Cohen, Marianne Faithfull and Willie de Ville, in which the three songwriters and performers were interviewed about their lives and careers. Willie de Ville, who I recall as a sharply dressed, late 70s, new wave one-hit wonder from New York (the hit being the latino flavoured ‘Spanish Stroll’) was moderately

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If you’re going to San Francisco …

We’re on the sidewalk at the west end of Waller St, a stone’s throw from Golden Gate Park and the final stop of our two-hour walking tour of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Our genial tour guide Kurt, a chubby, moustachioed, local comedian and film maker points out a converted firehouse across the road at number 1575 where in April 1967, representatives of the local alternative community held a press conference

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She came in through the bathroom window

Roll up, roll up for a London rock’n’roll magical mystery tour ‘See the window on the first floor – on the left – that’s the bathroom. There’s a drainpipe on the side wall – you can’t quite see it from here—but two girls climbed up there and got in. They took two of Paul’s shirts which he was a bit annoyed about. And that’s what gave him the inspiration to

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Oznost tickles Edinburgh

It’s feast or famine in Edinburgh, the ancient and beautiful capital of Scotland. Every August, in an unparalleled orgy of cultural consumption, the staid city changes pace and plays host not only to its world-renowned International Festival and associated Fringe but also to Britain’s only television festival, a film festival, a jazz festival and an acoustic music festival. While the International Festival is similar in style and content to many

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Punky and Western

Ever since white hillbilly music got together with black rhythm and blues to spawn that wayward child by the name of rock’n’roll, there’s always been someone, somewhere, trying to get ‘back to the roots’. Whether it’s Daddy Cool, Sha Na Na, the Stray Cats or Shakin’ Stevens, the door to the rich vault of early rock’n’roll seems to be perpetually open and inside there’s some young bucks happily plundering the

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