1975 – Love’s Not Good Enough – Skyhooks
Skyhooks were the first beneficiaries of the advent of colour TV (and Countdown specifically). Gone in a flash was the double denim greasy hair of the Sunbury blue-rock years. In came pancake make-up, feather boas, and the sheen of satin flares and white suits. Booed (and bottled) off at Sunbury in 1974 for their glam rock affectations Skyhooks had the last laugh when their debut LP Livin In The 70’s (sic) sat atop the charts for a staggering 17 weeks.
Greg Macainsh was the sharpest lyricist of his generation, his acidic take on local scenes and suburban locations something previously unheard of. Half the record was banned by radio for its salacious subject matter, which served only to power up the controversy and sell more discs. (‘You Just Like Me (Cos I’m Good In Bed) was the first song played on 2JJ) The question was, could Skyhooks transcend the ‘second album’ syndrome after such a leviathan of a debut. The answer was, almost.
Ego Is Not A Dirty Word was a solid follow up with Ross Wilson again producing. Inevitably there was an attempt to progress with a bigger sound, there was some unwanted interference from “ideas pests”, and guest artists, but the band didn’t require much assistance. ‘All My Friends Are Getting Married’ was an unremarkable faux-country hit, but the title track revealed Macainsh’s expertise as an almost mathematically precise song arranger, and was the band’s mission statement about self-confidence. Shirley Strachan was a surfie recruited for his cheek and ebullience. He also happened to have a voice which could hit the high notes effortlessly.
‘Love’s Not Good Enough’ is Macainsh composing three songs in one, with radical changes in tempo and sound from a gentle moody bass intro to sprightly verses, a middle section which is a rocking stomp, then subtle beguiling instrumental stretches for the last few minutes punctuated by curtains of shimmering guitars. At one point everything comes to a complete stop emphasizing how this is something akin to a ‘medley’ rather than a song.
Strachan plays both cocky male and sceptical female in this tale of misunderstanding and loneliness, an approach normally reserved for boy/girl ‘duets’. That Macainsh knitted all the elements into one seamless track is evidence of his buzzing creativity. Skyhooks were the phenomenon of mid 70s Australian music.
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.