Sunday, October 11, 2009

Australian Music to the World (THE SIXTIES)

Here is another interesting article from my vinyl friend down under, Donald Kay:

by Donald J. Kay

Australian music from the sixties technically wasn’t recorded by Australians. We had overseas interests, migrants, which Australia would take under her wing and embrace and call them AUSSIE. Artists such as the Bee Gees, (UK) AC/DC (UK/Scottish), Easybeats (English Dutch), Billy Thorpe (UK,) Ray Columbus and the Invaders (New Zealand), to name but a few.

The record buying public went crazy over these artists, buying their records, watching every pop show we could, just so we could get a glimpse of our idols. Their concerts were sell outs, filled with mass hysteria, girls fainting in the aisles, having to be carted out on stretchers. The music was raw and poppy, selling in the millions. Unknowns became known and ‘till this day some of these artists remain legends.

Stories have been tossed around as to how the Aussie artists got their recognition in America. Some say, they made personal appearances on TV shows etc., while other’s say they got records released possibly because ozzie labels did deals with major/minor labels. Artists like Johnny Young, Normie Rowe, Russell Morris, Bee Gees, Johnny O’Keefe, Lynne Randel, and Dinah Lee all went to the UK or US, to record, and had records released there. It wasn’t until the 70’s with the advent of the video, that many major artists gained recognition, band such as: AC/DC, Midnight Oil, The Church, Little River Band, Jimmy Barnes, Kylie, among others. During the ensuing years thousands of videos were made, cementing the Aussie icons onto the world stage of music.

One of the MEGA metal bands in the world today, AC/DC, had their foundation in Western Australia (as the Valentines). The band had great success playing to packed houses all over Perth. With a few singles under their belt, having recorded for the small Perth label called Clarion, the band decided to broaden their musical horizons and make the journey east. After establishing themselves in Melbourne, they scored a record deal with Philips, which would see them record two or three singles, plus an E.P., and then disband. Vince Lovegrove would go on to manage the ever popular Divinyls, while Bon Scott would join Adelaide outfit, Fraternity, who recorded in their own studios in the Adelaide hills. Again the total output would be 3 or 4 singles and 2 albums, which are highly sought after by collectors.

After Fraternity disbanded, another band was happening, waiting for Bon Scott to take hold of the reins and rock hard. Their first lead singer was Dave Evans, who lent his vocals to the track “Can I Sit next To You Girl.” Evans was soon replaced with the legendary Bon Scott, who would re-record the Dave Evans track, making it his own. Bon would go on to leave his mark in rock history with many great hits and albums under his belt, until his sad death on the Feb, 19, 1980. The band almost folded, but kept going for Bon’s sake, and recruited Brian Johnson, who remains as lead singer to this day.

Another great export to the world is the Sydney band, The Church, featuring lead singer, Steve Kilbey. They first came to prominence after recording a 4 track demo and scoring a record deal with EMI records, with such favourites as “The Unguarded Moment,” and their classic first album,” Of Skins And Heart.” They had great success with their singles and albums souring high in the world charts.

Furthermore, another legendary band, The Divinyls would cement themselves in the music world, when Chrysalis records signed them. Founding members Christina Amphlett, (cousin of Little Pattie), and Mark Mcentee, would recruit players Jeremy Paul (ex-Air Supply), Rick Grossman (Matt Finish) among others. They were very big on the US touring circuit, with their albums, “Desperate,” What a Life” and “Temperamental” and remain personal favourites to this day. Chrissie hasn’t been well lately; having being diagnosed with MS. Former guitarist Mark Mcentee has been living in Perth, W.A.managing a clothing shop with his girlfriend.

Speaking of bands that got their start in Perth, before moving to the big smoke (Melbourne), INXS started out as the Farris Brothers, playing around the pubs and clubs of Perth, before relocating to Melbourne and teaming up with a very young Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengily, and Gary Beers to become the explosive force known as INXS. Their first track, recorded for the small “Deluxe” label, was a cover version of Aussie band, the Loved Ones, track called “The Loved One.” Another 3 or 4 singles followed before they signed up to the giant WEA music group, which would launch them to the world stage with INXS becoming popular both with FM programmers and also a top billing stage act in their own right.

On the political fence sat one Peter Garrett, who would incorporate his political views in the music that was Midnight Oil. The group were playing pubs and clubs before signing up to Powder Works label, before moving to CBS records with such political motivated songs like “U.S. Forces” and “Blue Sky Mining.” At the present moment Garrett is heavily involved in the political arena, with his musical contributions firmly embedded in music history.

The ever popular Men at Work struck gold with their first self-titled album,” Men at Work.” The album would contain the now anathematic track “Down Under” which has become world famous because of its association with the “Americas Cup.” Enough said.

Nick Cave would leave his mark in music history, firstly with the Birthday Party, the Bad Seeds and a great duet with Kylie Minogue “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” a song reminiscent of the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood duets of the sixties. His most memorable album is Murder Ballads.

In closing, there are many Australian bands making their mark, not only on Australian shores, but they’re being heard and appreciated by the music fans, Worldwide. Australia stand up and be counted.

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