All posts by Adams

Former music journalist and editor at RAM, Juice, Select, On the Street. Author of Cool For Cats (Black Swan), Tom Dick and Debbie Harry (Black Swan), founder of the Amphlett Lane campaign, Melbourne.

CLASSIC CLIP Bill Bonney Regrets

 

Bill Bonney Regrets was released by Sydney band The Celibate Rifles in 1986. Taken from the album, The Turgid Miasma of Existence, the song was written about academic Bill Bonney, who had passed away in 1985.

Tasmanian Bonney died from cancer, aged 53,  on July 19th 1985 – he had been a philosophy lecturer at the University of Sydney, and was Associate Head of School in the Faculty of Humanities at the NSW Institute of Technology. With Helen Wilson, he wrote Australia’s Commercial Media. 

The song, and particularly the clip, has passed into Australian punk legend.  One-time student Damien Lovelock, who found inspiration in Bill Bonney,  would eventually go onto a career in the media, alongside his frontman role with the band – as an SBS-TV football commentator. The Celibate Rifles continued to play live.

Do you have a favourite Australian music experience to submit to The Vault?  You can leave it here.

Bill Bonney Regrets by The Celibate Rifles.

Midnight Oil 1984

Midnight Oil 1984

The Nuclear Disarmament Party was formed in Australia in June 1984 by  medical researcher Michael Denborough and Midnight Oil provided the soundtrack. That big year in the band’s life, and the nation’s, is now a documentary.

Ronald Reagan and Bob Hawke

The Russia-America nuclear arms race of 1984  was brought home to Australia, when P.M. Bob Hawke  decided to allow the mining of uranium at sites like Roxby Downs.

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Peter Garrett, combining his life in Midnight Oil with a new career in politics, took nearly 10% of the vote in New South Wales when he stood for  the Nuclear Disarmament Party. He didn’t get in.

It was the year that Medicare arrived. The $100 note was introduced. Vegemite became the first product to be scanned electronically at the checkout. Then, on 19th April, Advance Australia Fair was proclaimed as Australia’s national anthem.

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Perfect Match

Television show Perfect Match was on screens around the country, but for many Australians in 1984, America and Australia were a perfect mis-match that year, as Ronald Reagan and his British counterpart Margaret Thatcher held power. It was also the year, of the film, of the book – George Orwell’s 1984.

Still from Perfect Match below.

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New Anthems, New Coins

Beyond Advance Australia Fair, Midnight Oil were also creating anthems and you could buy them on a new album, Red Sails in the Sunset, with a few of the new one dollar coins, you were also using to see 1984 at the cinema. It was the sound of a band who needed the drums nailed to the floor, courtesy of Rob Hirst, when they played. Red Sails in the Sunset continued powerful themes – the American relationship with Australia – first explored on 10, 9, 8, the Midnight Oil album which featured U.S. Forces.

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For more on the badges behind the era, look here. An interview with Peter Garrett about his first stint in politics is here. Midnight Oil 1984 director Ray Argall tells the story behind the film here.

Midnight Oil 1984 is released on film and DVD in 2018 in Australia.

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Synth Australia Exhibition

Synth Australia Exhibition

So where did it all begin? Synth Australia has an interesting past.

Your interest might be in the Roland sound of Australian Eighties New Wave or the Seventies Fairlight revolution. Maybe you go further back, to the Sixties studio experiments in Doctor Who which were partly down to the brilliant vision of a British-Australian composer . Melbourne is now hosting an exhibition on the latter part of the synth story, until September 2018.

 

SYNTHS AMMP

Doctor Who

Synthesizers: Sound of the Future tells the story of this forgotten period in the Grainger Museum’s history. The exhibition brings together, for the first time, the suite of early EMS instruments –  many of which were in the Grainger Museum in the period – on loan from the Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio (MESS)

Tristam Cary, part of the Sixties Australian sound experiment,  is also particularly well known for his film and television music. He wrote music for the science fiction television series Doctor Who (including the first Dalek story, as well as the score for the Ealing comedy The Ladykillers (1955).  Later film scores included Quatermass and the Pit (1967) and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971), both for Hammer.

The Quietus – Tristram Cary became the first director of Peter Zinoviev’s Electronic Music Studios upon its foundation in 1969. EMS was the birthplace of the VCS-3, the very first British-designed synthesizer, used by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, White Noise, Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, Pete Townsend, Hawkwind, Gong, Klaus Schulze, Georgio Moroder, and Kraftwerk, among many others.

His work with Delia Derbyshire (below) on Doctor Who is well-known. The terror of the Daleks is associated by many fans with the Cary/Derbyshire soundtracks.

Synthesisers - Sound of the Future
Synthesisers – Sound of the Future

DELIA DERBYSHIRE

Synths at the MAAS

You can also find the history of Synth Australia at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, if you want to know more about the country’s pioneering musicians and developers. ABC-TV has also saved some crucial clips.

This is Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum talking about the cutting-edge Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) on Countdown, April 10th 1983 with music programmed and performed by Mars Lasar.

Essendon Airport

The sound of the Eighties in Australian music was also the sound of Essendon Airport – and Andrew Duffield with his Roland keyboard in The Models.  The sound of the future – as it was known from 1960-1990 – is now the sound of the past, but the online and real-world exhibitions at the MAAS and The Grainger Museum now finally tell that story. The rest is on YouTube!

Andrew Duffield Models Roland

FLOWERS I Can’t Help Myself

FLOWERS I Can’t Help Myself

Flowers’ classic single I Can’t Help Myself is almost thirty years old. The band became Icehouse and Iva Davies is now famous around the world, but when they started out, they were shooting their film clips in Sydney suburban car parks and playing taverns.

Part of a continuing online exhibition about Australian New Wave.

 

The New Wave in 1980

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Can’t Help Myself was released in May 1980 by Flowers, reaching #10 on the Australian Singles Chart. Flowers were Iva Davies, Michael Hoste, John Lloyd and Keith Welsh. The single was produced by Iva Davies and Cameron Allan.

Iva’s parents, Neville and Dorothy Davies, speaking to Spellbound, remember Flowers

Spellbound: When did you first realise that he (Iva) was gaining notoriety in the Sydney area?

Mrs. Davies: When he asked us to come and watch the filming of his first film clip in that car park in Chatswood.

Mr. Davies: Can’t Help Myself.

Mrs. Davies: We saw makeup people floating around and doing things. It was just a very great experience.

Mr. Davies: So we didn’t see one of those, but probably the first time we ever saw Flowers in concert was after they’d already released their first record and they were supporting XTC at the Capital Theatre in Sydney. We were actually invited to go.

Mrs. Davies: He virtually was saying to us, “I have got my toe on the first rung of the ladder. You can come now.”

Mr. Davies: By that time the first album was out and they were quite well known and I think that particular concert line-up was the Divinyls and then Flowers and then XTC.

Flowers were part of the New Wave circuit around Australia from the late Seventies to early Eighties, playing small venues with other bands – like The Reels – who specialised in wildly original music, sleeve art work, film clips and styling.

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Flowers and New Wave

Flowers, Divinyls, The Numbers, INXS, The Reels, Sports, Mental as Anything and other bands crossing over from post-punk 1978 to the Eighties, were part of the New Wave.

Flowers won  the 1980 TV Week / Countdown Rock Awards Johnny O’Keefe New Talent Award, beating INXS before they had to change their name to prevent confusion with the Scottish group, The Flowers. They became Icehouse.

XTC, Flowers and The Numbers 1979

From the State Library of Queensland

“From the late 1970’s, until its controversial demolition in 1982, Brisbane’s Cloudland Ballroom became a regular venue for rock concerts. Some of the fledgling bands who played at Cloudland during this period went on to achieve chart success and establish longstanding careers in the music industry. One example is the concert of July 28, 1979 featuring three talented up-and-coming bands: XTC, Flowers, and The Numbers. State Library of Queensland is fortunate to hold several photographs taken during this concert.”

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Flowers (later known as Icehouse) performing at Cloudland, Brisbane 1979. (Keith Welsh on bass guitar and Iva Davies on leader guitar and vocals). 29127 Paul O’Brien Collection 1970-1987. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY

Iva Davies on the Eighties

Speaking to The Australian, Davies summed up the era: “I know it’s very easy to look back through rose-tinted glasses and say that period was good, but it’s accurate to say it…The energy that came out of the punk movement in England transferred here. When we started we were doing Sex Pistols songs alongside T. Rex songs. It was quite a weird collection of stuff. That whole energy ran into the new synthesiser technology as well.”

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The Elvis Costello Songbook

With modern Australian acts like Cut Copy and Jet declaring what an influence Flowers was on them, the band (signed to Regular/Festival, above)  remains seminal. But how was the group created?

As a trained musician, Sydney-based Davies was approached to music publishing companies to write the sheet music for Elvis Costello, among others.

Speaking to Stuff, he remembers, “These music publishing companies discovered there was a young fella – me – who could read and write music and they started sending me reel-to-reel recordings of every song in the Australian charts and then lots of international music as well – we’re talking about the days when sheet music was quite in demand, people wanted to buy the music for their favourite song and go home and try to play it. I wrote entire song books for Little River Band, Dragon, Sherbet, Cold Chisel, and then Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Ian Dury and the Blockheads… My life was pulling apart songs and putting them down on paper which was very instructive.”

With Icehouse and in his own right, Davies has become known worldwide for his work, including his composition of the score for the Russell Crowe/Peter Weir film Master and Commander.

Flowers in Roadrunner

Roadrunner is one of the few global music publications from the New Wave era to be published online. Find more on Flowers in this issue – and in their cover issue.

Buy I Can’t Help Myself

You can find I Can’t Help Myself on Icehouse Essentials, available to buy now on iTunes.

1983 – I Hear Motion

1983 –  I Hear Motion by Models

 

The Summer of 1983 Soundtrack

Programmed on Rage by Toby Cresswell, Craig Mathieson and John O’Donnell as an Australian classic, extended to nearly seven minutes since it first appeared in 1983, I Hear Motion is now 35 years old.

From the Top 20 album, The Pleasure of Your Company, produced by the soon-to-be-famous Nick Launay, the single reached number 16 in the Australian charts. Andrew Duffield, James Freud, Sean Kelly and Barton Price found themselves adopted by Countdown and appeared in this film clip on 25th September, 1983, just as the song became an unforgettable Australian summer soundtrack.

 

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The Melbourne Art-Rock Experiment

The most subversively odd pop group in Oz musical history, Models have had more line-up changes than recipe ideas in Nigella Lawson’s head, but Sean Kelly has remained steadfast front and centre stabbing at his stuttering staccato guitar. Originally an art-rock experiment, Models moved into commercial territory without selling out. I suppose they did eventually but that was a few years after this single.

I Hear Motion sheet music

Andrew Duffield has always been my personal favourite amongst keyboardists and the sequenced opening riff to I Feel Motion,  nodding in appreciation to Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, is some of his finest work. Kelly’s voice is strangled and bursts out after what seems like an argument in his mouth. The chorus is Ebola catchy, the verses peculiar as always.

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One of the tracks on the sublime The Pleasure Of Your Company LP, this was Models at their best appealing to pop and rock fans alike. It was a memorable time for Melbourne bands. Hunters and Collectors, Australian Crawl, the list is long.

The band still plays. And you’ll see your friends there. Or mine at least. Michael Witheford.

The Models in Roadrunner

The November 1980 edition of Roadrunner is now available to read online. It came with a free copy of Models’ classic record AlphaBravoCharlieDeltaEchoFoxtrotGolf for subscribers and was priced at 60 cents.

The Models in Roadrunner
The Models in Roadrunner

Buy Models Books, Music and Sheet Music

Buy James Freud’s autobiography here.
Buy I Hear Motion here.
Buy sheet music here.
The Nick Launay website is here.

Michael Witheford is a freelance writer and author. He has been published by RAM, Juke Magazine, On The Street, Beat, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Launceston Examiner, The Melbourne Sunday Sun, Melbourne Times and various periodicals. His novel Buzzed was published by Penguin in 2002. 

He wrote songs, played bass guitar and sang in the Fish John West Reject and ARIA nominated Lust In Space, among many bands.

He now lives in Tasmania and is working on a memoir and personal account of the Tasmanian and Melbourne Music scene in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

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GLAM VICTORIA Survey

Paper Giant is conducting the GLAM (Galleries Libraries Archives and Museums) Collections Use Survey on behalf of Creative Victoria, the Victorian Government body dedicated to supporting and growing the state’s creative industries.

The Glam Victoria Survey

Hilary Davidson, author and historian, has asked AMMP to pass this on so you can be part of 2018 research into the storing and preservation of our rock/pop music past.This short survey will help build a picture of how cultural, historical and scientific collections are used, both in-person and online, and who engages with and uses these collections. Collections can be anything from paintings on exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, memorabilia brought back from war at your local RSL, historical archives or images found online, to cricket bats that once belonged to a test cricket team.

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Obviously as a music fan you may have opinions on The Australian Music Vault or 20th century Australian music archiving in general.The information you provide in the survey will be used to inform Creative Victoria about the use of collections to ascertain the best way to continue to support the sector. The information that is gathered will be treated in complete confidence and none of your responses will be linked back to you.

At the end of this survey you can nominate to participate in further (paid) research to understand more about your use of collections. Only with your consent will we contact you for this purpose.

Questions? Contact Paper Giant – glamsurvey@papergiant.net

Chrissy Amphlett – Geelong and Melbourne

Chrissy Amphlett –  Geelong and Melbourne

 

This is just a small selection of photographs of public tributes to Chrissy Amphlett in both her home towns, Geelong and Melbourne.  Pictured are early shots from the first street art at Amphlett Lane, off Little Bourke Street, Melbourne – and at her memorial off James Street, Geelong.

The Chrissy Amphlett podcast tour will launch in 2018. Please follow  @ammptv on Twitter for updates.

This walking tour will take you from Amphlett Lane to The Vault and give visitors to Victoria all the information they need to find more tributes to Chrissy beyond Melbourne  – with expert commentary from very special guests.

Referencing Chrissy’s autobiography (with Larry Writer) Pleasure and Pain,  the 30-40 minute Melbourne walk will include important landmarks in her life – from Collins Street to Melbourne’s famous laneways – passing Flinders Street Station – one of the city’s gateways to Geelong, where Chrissy grew up.

Melbourne Lanes in Chrissy’s Life

“It was the most wonderful thing; I don’t know why they don’t do it nowadays. During our lunch hour, we’d see bands such as The Easybeats, The Wild Cherries, The Purple Hearts and The Loved Ones.” Mary Renshaw, Live Wire, Allen & Unwin 2015.

Mary Renshaw was a close companion of Bon Scott’s in the same era that Chrissy Amphlett was discovering Melbourne’s inner-city music. Mary was visiting clubs like 10th Avenue on Bourke Street, and The Bowl, beneath a bowling alley in Degraves Street, near Flinders Street Station, en route to today’s Music Vault.

It was at 10th Avenue that Mary made friends with Bon Scott and made him hippie beads and a velvet bolero, while he was in The Valentines’ share house with Vince Lovegrove (later to manage Chrissy and Divinyls).

As part of Chrissy’s tour, you’ll be passing the Flinders Street and Swanston Street intersection that was immortalised by AC/DC in their flatbed-truck clip for (It’s A) Long Way to The Top.

Also on the map – Spring Street, which fronts onto Little Bourke Street, off Amphlett Lane. It was at 1 Spring Street that AC/DC had a residency at Bertie’s. It opened, alcohol-free, in 1967 to ringing endorsements from someone who could come to know Chrissy well – Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum.

“I can only say that in my vast experience in the disco scene in Melbourne, and indeed the whole world, that unquestionably Bertie’s rates absolutely first class,’ Meldrum raved at the time.

You can read more in Live Wire, which is a great guide to the city and decade that Chrissy knew so well.

The Chrissy Amphlett  Tour podcast  is produced by Jessica Adams and Charley Drayton with funding assistance from the Victorian State Government. Thanks to @AmphlettLane on Twitter for the Geelong images.

Chrissy Amphlett art work in Geelong (@AmphlettLane on Twitter)
Chrissy Amphlett art work in Geelong (@AmphlettLane on Twitter)

 

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LOST VENUES The Corkman

LOST VENUES The Corkman

The Corkman in Carlton, Melbourne was never going to be a classic hipster band venue (although it was once home to the ‘hanging judge’ who sentenced Ned Kelly, upon whom most hipster beards are based). Instead, it was a regular haunt of Irish musicians in the city until it was illegally demolished. Asbestos warning signs are all that remain.

And these photographs. Do you have any unseen photographs of The Corkman? Let us know.

MEL CORKMAN SIGNS

MEL CORKMAN WALLS COPY DICK WYNNEMEL Corkman irish

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Festival Hall Collectables

Festival Hall Collectables

 

Renovate, wreck or ruin? Australia’s Festival Halls (including Melbourne Festival Hall, intended for high-rise apartments) have a chequered history.

They are also part of an emerging movement in Australian poster art collectables. Even tickets are now collectors’ items as museums and private owners snap them up.

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Festival Hall Bootlegs

The Festival Halls qualify for among ‘world’s most bootlegged’ as venues, but what’s the story behind the famous chain?

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Plastered – Murray Walding with Nick Vukovic

It’s becoming a familiar story in Australia, that the books, vinyl, eBay auction items and other memorabilia which celebrates a fast-fading musical history – is increasing in value. Meanwhile iconic venues and their continuing contribution to Australia’s bands, are downgraded in price. In comes the wrecking ball.

Of all the collectable books about music venues, Plastered by Murray Walding and Nick Vukovic (The Miegunyah Press, 2005)  is one of the most valuable.

The silkscreen printing industry that spawned early posters for venues was given a particularly good run by the Festival Hall chain around Australia. In fact, The Johnny O’Keefe Spectacular (part of the Hi-Fi Club) of the 1950s had one of its earliest outings at Festival Hall, Melbourne, promoted on a silkscreen poster.

Jazz acts like Kenny Ball (these kinds of posters are now in private collections or galleries) were also promoted at ‘the Festivals’ (below, from Plastered).

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Boxing and Festival Hall Melbourne

In its time, the boxing at Festival Hall, Melbourne was as big as some of the bands who came later.  Boxing-format posters were copied for the emerging Fifties music industry in Australia. Little or no artwork, derived from fight advertising, they were cheap and basic at the time but are now rare pieces of Australian cultural history.

The Festival Halls

“Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney all boasted a “Festival Hall”, venues all owed by Stadiums Limited. These cavernous stadiums were often all that were on offer when promoters brought touring acts to Australia, and all of them had wonderful colourful histories.”

 

DYLAN 20 APRIL 1966
“Melbourne’s version was originally built in 1912 as a boxing and wrestling venue. After a fire in 1955, it was rebuilt in time to serve as the venue for the boxing, weightlifting and wrestling events at the 1956 Olympics. Like its contemporaries, it was built of sturdy brick, iron and tin.”

The Demolitions

Sydney’s Festival Hall was demolished in 1973. Brisbane’s Festival Hall remained as a venue until 2003 – and Melbourne’s fell to the axe, officially, on Tuesday 23rd January, 2018.  Game over? Australian music collectors will take an interest, whatever happens.

 

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