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.
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.
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’s1984.
Still from Perfect Match below.
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.
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.
Australian Music T-Shirt Day on 3rd November 2017 was a successful fundraiser for the music charity Support Act which partly gives financial support to musicians with mental health issues. High-profile faces involved included Jimmy Barnes, seen here giving Opposition Leader Bill Shorten a Cold Chisel T-Shirt, while wearing a Midnight Oil classic. (All images: Twitter).
Barnes was celebrating his bestselling memoir for HarperCollins when the opportunity arrived to promote the Support Act fundraiser.
The Easybeats – coming soon to ABC-TV – were a popular choice for T-Shirts on the day (modelled here by Michael Rowland).
As the band who introduced the idea of free T-shirts to Australian vinyl covers, Midnight Oil also found some favourite shirts and wore them to promote the Support Act fundraiser. You can donate to Support Act or find out more about the T-Shirt campaign here.
Australian music and politics have been intertwined since Vietnam and its aftermath. Khe Sanh is sometimes called the alternative Australian national anthem. Only Nineteen, by Redgum, continued the tradition set by Don Walker and Cold Chisel, in the Eighties.
THE OILS IN THE EIGHTIES
The early-mid 1980s saw the rise of People for Nuclear Disarmament in Australia. Midnight Oil played strong songs that sold the anti-nuclear message and toured the country widely, educating a generation about nukes. This laminate, from the collection of Marshall Cullen, dates from that time. Hobart was a focus for the anti-nuke protests of the mid 1980’s after the controversial visit of the U.S.S. Enterprise – Peter Garrett was there.
STOP THE DROP, 1983
U.S. FORCES GIVE THE NOD
U.S. Forces lyrics which the crowd sing word-for-word in the Stop The Drop clip can be found at Midnight Oil’s official website . The song was written by Jim Moginie and Peter Garrett.
The anthem U.S. Forces name checks Shakespeare (‘dogs of war ‘) as well as the Wall Street TV-speak of the early Eighties (‘market movements call the shots.’) You can see the crowd mouthing the lines “People too scared to go to prison” at Stop The Drop which was also a reflection of the times. This T-Shirt, below, is in The Powerhouse Museum collection in Sydney.
The Stop the Drop concert held at Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl on Sunday 13 February 1983 was attended by the T-shirt donor you see responsible for the Powerhouse Museum archive donation on this page – Kevin Fewster – who also happened to be one of the organisers.
The 1983 concert was attended by 8000 people. In 1984 Peter Garrett was to run for the Australian Senate in NSW for the Nuclear Disarmament Party but was not elected.
Also at this concert, members of Goanna, Midnight Oil and Redgum recorded an impromptu song to protest the proposed damming of Tasmania’s Franklin River. Released as ‘Let The Franklin Flow’ by Gordon Franklin and the Wilderness Ensemble, it reached number 15 on the charts in May that year.
The line “Superboy takes a plutonium wife” might just be one of the most mis-heard in Australian music, but ‘sing me songs of no denying’ is something most Australian music fans would automatically attribute to the band. The album was huge in the early 1980’s and together with Red Sails In The Sunset (which shows Sydney after the bomb) politicised part of a generation.
THE RANGER URANIUM MINE
Between 1979 and 1984, the majority of what is now Kakadu National Park was created, surrounding but not including the Ranger uranium mine. The two themes for the 1980 Hiroshima Day march and rally in Sydney, sponsored by the Movement Against Uranium Mining (MAUM), were: “Keep uranium in the ground” and “No to nuclear war.” Later that year, the Sydney city council officially proclaimed Sydney nuclear-free.
The Nobel-prize winning Australian novelist Patrick White led one such march, and was photographed with Tom Uren, pictured with dark glasses, bag and stick. This is his novel The Eye of the Storm.
RUBBERY FIGURES, RONALD REAGAN AND MIDNIGHT OIL
By 1982, there were 350,000 Australians at anti-nuclear rallies, focussed on halting Australia’s uranium exports, removing foreign bases from Australian land and creating a nuclear-free Pacific. The visits of U.S. nuclear warships – as far as Hobart – was also a major early Eighties issue and Midnight Oil sang the soundtrack.
The comedy puppet series Rubbery Figures (ABC-TV 1984-1990) satirised U.S. President Ronald Reagan in the same period. To put Midnight Oil’s anti-nuclear albums 10, 9, 8 and Red Sails in context, it’s also important to remember that in 1984, shortly after both records (still vinyl) were released, President Reagan joked in a soundcheck on National Public Radio, ‘My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.’
Rubbery Figures – Ronald Regan re Anzac Day
THE BOMB AND THE EIGHTIES
Writing in Meanjin, Simon Castles remembers, ‘In 1984 the Doomsday Clock kept by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was moved to three minutes to midnight, its most dire position since the invention of the hydrogen bomb. Midnight Oil released Red Sails in the Sunset the same year, an album whose cover shows Sydney after a nuclear strike.’
‘In the eighties there was a stack of pop songs about the bomb. To name just a handful of tracks on a list that ran long, as if to a mushroom cloud on the horizon: ‘Breathing’ by Kate Bush (1980), ‘1999’ by Prince (1982), ‘Seconds’ by U2 (1983), ‘99 Luftballons’ by Nena (1983), ‘Walking in Your Footsteps’ by The Police (1983), ‘Two Minute Warning’ by Depeche Mode (1983), ‘Forever Young’ by Alphaville and then Laura Branigan (1984–85), ‘Two Tribes’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1984), ‘Russians’ by Sting (1985), ‘Guns in the Sky’ by INXS (1987) and ‘Everyday is like Sunday’ by Morrissey (1988).’
Red Sails in the Sunset was a title more associated with Bing Crosby and Fats Domino in the Eighties – until Midnight Oil took it over with the help of a Japanese artist who was years ahead of his time. American blogger Sam Wade, writes at The Vinyl Odyssey:
“Japanese artist, Tsunehisa Kimura, created the post-apocalyptic vision of Sydney Harbor – no water only craters from nuclear bombs and a giant fireball near the bridge. It’s one of the coolest photomontages I’ve seen and it stuck with me even more because I have family in Australia. But remember, this record came out in 1984, six years before Photoshop 1.0 would ever hit the streets. In this digital age, it’s easy to forget that this type of art was much more painstaking and analog to create.”
Dr Sarah Engledow, Historian and Curator at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, wrote in Portrait magazine.
“In 1983, in an international climate of increased public involvement in protest, the Australian local news was dominated by environmental demonstrations on two fronts. The first was the Tasmanian NO DAMS campaign, making highly professional and effective use of photographs by Peter Dombrovskis,a wilderness photographer mentored by Olegas Truchanas. The second was the anti-nuclear movement. In February 1983 Midnight Oil helped organise the Stop the Drop concert in Melbourne, and headlined the event. That year, Tom Uren and Peter Garrett marched together at the head of an anti-nuclear protest. In 1984, when Tom Uren and Patrick White walked side by side at the front of an Australians for Nuclear Disarmament march and Peter Garrett stood unsuccessfully for the Senate on behalf of the Nuclear Disarmament Party, Midnight Oil released the album Red Sails in the Sunset, featuring sinisterly surreal cover artwork by Tsunehisa Kimura of the Sydney Harbour Bridge spanning an expanse of cratered red dirt, a bomb-like ball glowing lava-hot beside the Opera House. The following year, the Oils’ EP Species Deceases came with album notes on the theme of Hiroshima forty years on. Including the great track ‘Hercules’, Species Deceases was an exasperated exhortation to action: ‘Come to your senses and care/16 million I can’t hear you at all’, Garrett cried.”
Midnight Oil went on the road in 2015 in the form of a travelling exhibition visiting Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Canberra, Riverina, Southern Queensland, and Wollongong. Ross Heathcote, Curator & Public Programs Coordinator, Manly Art Gallery and Museum, spoke to AMMP about one of the most successful mobile museums Australia has ever seen. The Midnight Oil exhibition showed everything from the famous Sydney 2000 Olympics ‘Sorry’ suits – to long-forgotten posters.
The exhibition of Midnight Oil’s was a huge success at the Sydney exhibition hosted by the Manly Art Gallery and Museum – what were the final numbers?
Yes, a huge success in many ways, not only big numbers (18,000 in Manly over a short few weeks, and even more at Newcastle), but really rich visitation with great experiences and some genuine interactivity.
There were thousands of Oils fans visiting of course, but also visitors who had never heard of the Oils. At Manly there was much interstate and overseas visitation. We were thrilled. We hosted several special events include a world premiere screening of the full ‘The Making of 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1’ documentary by Robert Hambling, and some great Q&A evenings which featured Rob Hirst and Jim Moginie from the Oils.
How was your Newcastle season?
We have just pulled down the The Making of Midnight Oil exhibition in Newcastle. It looked great in the old train sheds (now Newcastle Museum). Our exhibition is based around stages and risers…real ones, with the real Midnight Oil roadcases converted into showcases. Along with the graphics, a hundred or so gig posters, original lyric scrawls and many brilliant audio-visuals, the band’s instruments and other artefacts, the exhibition had a truly authentic and unique rock’n’roll look.
Newcastle was a perfect host venue for the show. The town has a fine pub rock tradition that is maintained there. One of the highlights at Newcastle was an evening event focussing on songwriting: the panel consisted of Rob Hirst, Dave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus) and Dave Mason (The Reels). Apart from the fascinating, revealing and iconoclastic discussion, each of them also played or sang. I’ve never seen a happier museum audience.
Did you and the other exhibition organisers Rob Hirst, Virigina Buckingham and Wendy Osmond make any major changes to the Newcastle exhibition?
We worked closely with Newcastle museum staff to adapt the show to their space and add some local content. How could we go to Newcastle and not refer to the earthquake gig and the legendary Redhead Beach gig? Each venue on the tour is different, so Wendy and I will assess each space. Rob will inevitably tell us a ‘war story’ about the Oils and every town that the show will travel to, so we will try to include local references and stories.
In talking to host museums and galleries, I have encountered people who have their own Midnight Oil story to tell, as well. In the exhibition there is a facility to leave your Oils story on a fan wall.
What’s your favourite part of the exhibition after all this time?
That’s really hard to answer. The icons in the show include the Sorry Suits worn at the Sydney Olympics closing ceremony gig, and the giant Exxon Oil spill protest banner that the band played in front of, at their guerrilla protest gig in new York City. These are great things but I also love Ray Argall’s beautiful film piece which has wonderful concert and crowd footage from the mid 1980’s. The the ’10-1’ doco is brilliant. I love the band’s gear as well – Jim’s Gretsch, Martin’s Strat, Giffo’s Bass and Peter’s skyscaper one-piece mic stand. The gig posters are also great: they are a magnificent collection that tell us about a rich social history of accessible world class live music, lost venues, lost bands, and of course the amazing career of the Oils.
There are a couple of soundbites including an unreleased Midnight Oil track, and a recording of Jim, Rob and Bear as teenagers in their trio Schwampy Moose. Jim offered that piece saying that ‘people need to know what we sounded like when we were shit’. I’m proud of the text in the exhibition where I had the pleasure of collaborating with the band’s biographer Mark Dodshon. The hand-scrawled lyric sheets are revealing and compelling; a rare insight into the process of the band’s three main songwriters. The hitherto unseen footage of the band playing at Tanelorn in 1981 is awesome….I could go on!
What about the piece which Rob Hirst described as follows: “The piece de resistance is a replication in a box which has sticky carpet, three screens when you walk in and a curtain you pull behind you. It has footage of the band playing at the Tanelorn Festival in 1981 and there’s two sets of headphones you can choose from – one is loud, the other is really loud – and you can stick to the carpet. There’s elbows that come out from the side of the box so that you can be elbowed in the ribs. What I was trying to do was replicate what it was like coming to see Midnight Oil back then at the Mawson Hotel, the 16 Footers or the Ambassador or whatever.”
This was Rob’s pet project! He wanted a space in the exhibition where visitors could get the feel of an early Oils gig. He suggested a bizarre kind-of ‘bush shower’ to begin- steamy, smelly, loud…as if you were at the Royal Antler Hotel in 1978. I talked him out of that, and we compromised on a portaloo. That wasn’t going to work either. Wendy Osmond (3D designer) suggested we make a big roadcase that you can walk into. It was put together by some helpers including Grant Pudig (a former tour manager for the Oils). Rob had some old pub carpet, but it just wasn’t nasty enough, so we regularly spill a middy of Toohey’s Old and some cigarette butts into the floor to give that special Sydney pub smell.
It’s cramped and heated, and you’re surrounded by three screens featuring crowd scenes from the Hordern and the Oils at Tanelorn playing Cold Cold Change. Rob’s dogged persistence made this ‘Antler Room’ happen, but we have reserved the right to tease him about and it, so it is known as Rob’s Folly. I need to add that without Rob Hirst and his remarkable energy and penchant for collecting, MoMO would never have been born.
Other efforts toward making exhibitions about rock bands have not had the privileged position of having band members at hand, supportive and involved, and yet hands-off when it comes to telling the true stories and avoiding ‘vanity pieces’. Rob, Jim, Peter, Martin, Giffo, Bear and Bones have all been really helpful and generous along with the Oils’ management. The fact that they are as fearless in telling their story as they were as a musical force has given the exhibition project particular grunt.
I once would have thought of Midnight Oil as a very serious band, with their songs and stance on indigenous issues, homeless youth and the environment (many of us might have been introduced to some of these issues through their songs). These chaps turn out to be relaxed, funny, creative, witty, self-deprecating, super-literate (Rob corrected some of my text panel grammar and he’s meant to be a rock drummer!) and very easy to work with.
Given your hands-on experience with the Oils’ exhibition lately, your ideas about an Australian Music Museum – particularly the venue, format, funding, space and viability would be very interesting to a lot of people.
The interest has been enormous. It’s not just about the Oils, there is broader interest in some recent times when Australian music (rock in particular) was a massive part of our identity. The Midnight Oil story included the politics and issues that band traversed, which gave the show an added dimension. However, the great thing about exhibiting the stories of popular music is how that resonates within our memories, generates intergenerational conversations and cross-cultural conversations (and this is all beautifully documented in our visitors’ writings in MoMO).
I imagine an Australian Music museum having some of the authenticity of MoMO; a place that can feel like a pub in Adelaide, or the Sydney Stadium or Cloudlands or the Countdown set or The Palais at any given opportunity. To do this you need great designers like Wendy Osmond and Virginia Buckingham, the involvement of audience, and willing and brave contributors like Rob.
I’d like to see the music museum go beyond one space. Perhaps a ‘mothership venue’ with pop-ups around the country. There must be capacity for performance and recording in this space and it must be alive (therefore acoustics and accessibility are important). The key space needs much flexibility. It should be built by roadies as much as by museum makers. A smart government would take on the support of such a venue. We had some good corporate support from Sony Music, perhaps it’s time the music industry to get behind the physical museum project.The benefits are great.
Before Countdown in Australia, there was Go-Set magazine in the 1960s, where Australian music, fashion and media exploded and would later evolve into Countdown culture – and eventually The Voice. The Real Thing in various incarnations has survived from the 70s to today, throughout. Bill Armstrong was running his legendary Melbourne studios where Meldrum and Morris created their hippy anthem. This YouTube clip, below, tells Armstrong’s side of the story.
THE AUSTRALIAN HIPPY ANTHEM
The song be associated with Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum who developed his taste in music during the hippy psychedelic era in Melbourne, while working at Go-Set. It was composed by Johnny Young, later known for hosting Young Talent Time.
RUSSELL MORRIS AND IAN MELDRUM
This is Ian (below) and the earliest video we have of him, talking about the Australian music industry at an airport – his virtual home, in the early 1970’s.
This clip from the ABC-TV series GTK reveals Ian discussing Daddy Cool and The Mixtures in 1971 – when he worked as a manager, record producer and a Go-Set columnist writing what the interviewer calls a ‘stirring’ column.
‘Even my best friends, including myself, are rubbished in that column,’ Ian says. In this clip he also talks about his work on the Australian hit, The Real Thing, by Russell Morris: ’When I got back from London in 1968 I was ready to tackle something like Russell Morris and the Real Thing. I don’t think Russell and I were a good artist-manager team. We argued a lot. But I think that we both benefitted from it.’
GTK – Molly Meldrum on the Australian pop scene (1971)
THE SONG THAT EMI HATED
Russell Morris, speaking to Carol Duncan in a fascinating interview at ABC Radio Newcastle, recalls:
“I remember when we first started in Melbourne, Ian Meldrum said to me, “We’ll go and see Stan Rofe at 3AW.” Stan Rofe was a big star to me, he was on air and I’d heard him on the radio station and I said, “Well how are we going to do that?” and he said, “We’ll just go up to the radio station!”
“So we went up to the radio station and walked in and Stan came down and had a cup of tea with us. Ian said, “We’ve got this, what do you think?” and Stan said, ‘Love it, I’ll play it.’ And that’s what it was like.”
“I tell you what is ironic, The Real Thing was turned down as well. EMI hated it, they thought it was the biggest load of rubbish they’d ever heard.”
And on Molly: “He’s still my best mate but we’d had a couple of professional disagreements. He saw me as Australia’s Davey Jones from The Monkees or some such thing and I wanted to go in a different direction completely as a singer/songwriter so we differed on the way we were going and the record company was pressuring for another single, but I really would have loved to be with a band like Chain.”
“But your fate is your fate. Whatever happens, those doors open and close for a reason and maybe if I’d started it earlier then it wouldn’t have worked.”
“I was happy doing The Real Thing, I quite liked psychedelia. I didn’t like pop a lot but I remember Ian (Molly Meldrum) had done a number of songs with me and we’d done ‘Only A Matter of Time‘ which I absolutely loathe, it was on the back of The Real Thing, and a couple of pop songs and I said to Ian, ‘This is rubbish, we’re not going in the direction I want to go,’
I said, ‘I’m not John Farnham, I’m not Ronnie Burns and I’m not Normie Rowe. I want to do something that they wouldn’t even contemplate thinking about doing. I want to go in that direction. Let’s go psychedelia, let’s go into something more band oriented than a pop single…Ian, to his credit, agreed and said, ‘You’re right, they’re not different enough.”
Read more here – Russell Morris – even better than the real thing
Later on, the arrival of colour television was Countdown’s ticket to huge ratings. Russell Morris had five Australian Top 10 singles during the late 1960s and early 1970s and is in the ARIA Hall of Fame.
See the YouTube footage – Russell Morris – The Real Thing – (includes a short interview from Hit Scene 1969).
Midnight Oil, Kylie Minogue and Third Eye have all covered the song.
The song satirises the 1967 Cola-Cola advertisement song claiming the drink is The Real Thing, as part of the ongoing corporate competition with Pepsi Cola.
As with The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever, the song is built from composite parts. The musicians involved came from The Groop and The Zoot.
Maureen Elkner provides the falsetto. She would later have a feminist hit with Rack Off Normie, written by Bob Hudson as an answering call to his own hit, The Newcastle Song.
The heavily processed vocals include what sounds like Ian Meldrum ‘delivering a buyer-beware message to potential trippers.’
The song’s climax contains a recording of the Hitler Youth choir singing their anthem, Horst Wessel Lied, before the sound of an atomic bomb blast.
It was recorded at Armstrong’s Studios in South Melbourne in 1968.
The sequel to The Real Thing is ‘Part Three: Into Paper Walls.
The song was originally earmarked for The Flies.
Johnny Young (real name John De Jong) wrote the song after sharing a flat in London with Barry Gibb from The Bee Gees. He went on to present and produce Young Talent Time which launched the career of Danni Minogue.
For more information, see Tomorrow Is Today: Australia in the Psychedelic Era, Edited by Iain McIntyre. Purchase at Amazon.
The original jingle The Real Thing was recorded for radio by The Fortunes in the USA in 1969.
MIDNIGHT OIL COVER THE REAL THING
Filmed by BSharpProductions and uploaded to YouTube. This gig took place on September 8th 2007 when Midnight Oil played at the Backroom in Byron Bay. Peter Garrett dedicates the song to “all the Australian musicians, writers and poets.”
The Real Thing – Midnight Oil live at the Backroom Byron Bay
Buy The Real Thing by Midnight Oil at their website.
THE REAL THING IN JULY 2014
This is the most powerful modern incarnation of the song yet (at least since Kylie’s own version) from the Voice YouTube channel in July 2014. Here Kylie, the judges and the top sixteen contestants take Johnny Young’s composition and give it electrifying ensemble cast treatment. Will the song be back in a new incarnation beyond 2020? The Real Thing is one of the few Australian songs which has been revived from the Seventies through to the 21st century. Watch this space.
Thanks to AC/DC but also obscure Australian artists like Leong Lau (his 1977 album is currently selling for $1574) the backstage passes, tickets, vinyl and other collectables from Down Under are now seen as a good investment.
Naomi Dinnen, part of whose personal collection was kindly photographed by her for AMMP, had more than a decade in the music industry, successfully publishing an independent music magazine. She was a columnist for Rolling Stone, Drum Media, 3D World and Juice Magazines, worked for EMI Music and PolyGram Records. Not everyone has a collection of laminates but they can and do turn up at street markets and garage sales – and on eBay.
Collecting Go-Set Magazines
Go-Set magazines retail for around AUD$50 online. They are already preserved at The State Library of Victoria on film archives and at the National Film and Sound Archive. A copy of Go-Set bought in 1973 for 25 cents has increased in value 200 fold.
Collecting Nick Cave
Nick Cave is one of the few Australian musicians to have crossed the threshold from ‘muso’ to sought-after museum, art gallery and library name. This famous photograph by Bleddyn Butcher (below) appeared in an exhibition on Australian Bohemia, presented at The State Library of Victoria.
Euchrid’s Crib, a gelatin silver photograph, taken in West Berlin on 3rd August 1985 captured Nick Cave when he was writing his novel And the Ass Saw the Angel and Butcher’s title identifies the character from Cave’s book. This was both Cave’s bedroom and study, complete with human hair.
When Australian musicians cross the line from gigs to galleries, libraries and museums, prices tend to rise accordingly.
This photograph of Nick Cave with Rowland S. Howard (and unfortunate cat) taken by Peter Milne was part of his superb Juvenilia exhibition at the Strange Neighbour gallery in Fitzroy, Melbourne.
Ballarat painter Casey Tosh captured Nick Cave in a portrait which has also found its way onto T-Shirts. He has also drawn Warren Ellis, a former Ballarat resident. The fact that Tosh has also created a whole laneway of street art dedicated to Rowland S. Howard in Ballarat may one day make his paintings and T-shirts collectable.
What to watch for – Australian magazines and street press that has a) vanished and b) escaped household recycling bins could be tomorrow’s Go-Set.
Bon Scott (seen here pointing to Juke magazine) has left a paper trail which is worth collecting. On the Street, Drum Media and Ram are also worth watching out for. Tony Mott, the Australian photographer who has exhibited widely and also produced a number of books, has helped to make what used to be free street press, collectable (below).
Australian music posters are best represented in Plastered by Murray Walding with Nick Vukovic (The Miegunyah Press, 2005) which is now, by itself, a collectable book. The Hair and Masters Apprentices posters, here, are from Plastered.
A copy of the Masters Apprentices 1979 album Now That It’s Over signed by the late Jim Keays sells for $80 online. Meanwhile, the Taman ShudEvolution LP is valued at $150
Australian pressings of British punk singles and albums are worth watching. The Clash put out London Calling in a Down Under version in 1979 which is now worth $100. Looking for an eclectic selection? Try Vicious Sloth. This online store is a good source.
From Radio Birdman/Iggy Pop cancelled tour posters to mint-condition box-sets you may find that your Australiana ends up becoming far more valuable than stamps or coins to collectors.
Most people know that The Beatles Yesterday and Today is worth a lot of money (about $995 as we head towards 2020).
Who knew that a Tasmanian Christian folk group called The Ascension Four would put out an album worth $65 today, though?
Age and obscurity are not always the keys to a good investment, though. Famous, recent names like Magic Dirt are worth watching. You can buy a poster advertising a gig with Magic Dirt and Rowland S. Howard at The Corner Hotel on 29th October 2008 for $124.99
The poster was free at the time. So was the poster advertising a Nick Cave story in The Monthly magazine – now worth $84.99.
Start Small or Start Big?
Start small or start big? You don’t have to have a huge outlay to start collecting and vinyl is easily stored and portable.
Artists within bands – who contributed to memorable sleeve art – include Mental As Anything. Vinyl singles with iconic Australiana may help you to up your investment one day. Try the Mental as Anything ‘Creatures of Leisure’ single for $20.
There are two redesigned Antipodean Beatles covers – Beatles for Sale (tour photographs) and With the Beatles.
An Australian promotional copy of The White Album on eBay is $6000. One of the reasons for this is the censored photograph of a naked John Lennon on the poster which came with the album.
What to Watch
Bands like The Sunnyboys who found their career revived with a television documentary are now seen as an investment. Their self-titled, limited-edition, yellow vinyl album is now $325.
Midnight Oil posters are worth a long look as the band’s touring exhibition and its important place in Australian political history is bound to make them desirable to the investors of the future. Blank Canvas Australia sell this poster (from Noosa, below) for almost $250. It’s also strange but true that a mere flier, from a band like INXS, is now worth $49.99 online.
It is worth trawling eBay, record collectors’ fairs, secondhand shops and open-air markets to see what you can find.
Should this single (below) turn up in a car-boot sale, though, you’d better snap it up. This is God Save the Queen by The Sex Pistols on A&M Records and it’s currently worth $24,411.
Do you have a photograph of your Australian music memorabilia you’d like to share with AMMP? Please let us know. Thank you.
Collecting Australian music – this INXS flier measures up.