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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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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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Australian Rock: The Early Eighties

As the '80s began, the Australian pub rock boom was in overdrive. The new 'door deal' system had increased band receipts enormously and had given…

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Articles and posts

A selection of published and previously unpublished works

The Big Beat: going, going … gone

The Big Beat is sold out. At various times during this exercise in self-publishing, people have stressed that producing a book is one thing, but marketing and selling it is another thing completely. For thanks in helping in its production, I included two pages in The Big Beat (pp 493-494) so I won’t repeat that here. But for help in sales and marketing, I want to particularly thank my long-time

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The Big Beat – the soundtrack

The soundtrack to the book of the magazine. One song from each issue of Roadrunner magazine, as featured in the book, The Big Beat: Rock music in Australia 1978-1983, through the pages of Roadrunner magazine (Roadrunnertwice, 2019).

Roadrunner singles 1978-83

A playlist of singles reviewed in The Big Beat: rock music in Australia 1978-83, through the pages of Roadrunner magazine. The playlist, first published a year ago on this site—and updated in the past few weeks with new tracks added to Spotify in the past 12 months—contains 583 songs and runs for 35 hours and 17 minutes. The Roadrunner years were a golden age for the single and The Big

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The Bard of Salford

“I lean towards the nineteenth century poets,” says John Cooper Clarke, who also happens to dress like them. “Percy Shelley, all them. I want an all-female audience, y’know.” What, Shelley used to read live? “Oh yeah, yeah, he used to do gigs. When he wasn’t ‘anging around graveyards, or trying to drown himself.” On stage, John Cooper Clarke is a mass of hair and suit and shades with a million

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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 Australia Research Library. New South Wales: State Library of NSW; Bankstown Library (Canterbury Bankstown Library Service); Bathurst Library; Chatswood Library; Manly Library (Northern Beaches Library Service);  Southern Cross University Library (Lismore Campus); Macquarie University Library; University of Wollongong Library. Victoria: State Library of Victoria; Ballarat Library;

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1970: Goodbye Beatles. And so long Janis, Jimi and Jim.

1970 saw the end of many things. The sixties of course. But also The Beatles, who announced their split in April. And Jim Morrison of The Doors, who was found dead in his bathtub in Paris, France on 3 July. Although accounts about the precise circumstances vary, it is generally agreed that he suffered a heart attack after taking heroin. And Jimi Hendrix, who was found unresponsive by his girlfriend

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1969: Armstrong, Biafra, ‘Hair’, Stonewall, ‘Tommy’ and Woodstock

I’ve been having fun pottering around in 1969 to put together the Spotify playlist below. It’s the fourth in my ‘Back to Schooldays’ series and again a roughly chronological selection of singles that charted on Australian radio stations (in this case, 2UW Sydney, 3UZ Melbourne, 4BC Brisbane, 4IP Ipswich and 6PR Perth) sprinkled with a smattering of significant album tracks. The soundtrack to my fourth year at Whyalla Technical High

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1968: From ‘Voodoo Chile’ to ‘Goody Goody Gumdrops’

I think the Spotify playlist below does a pretty good job of capturing the swirling crosscurrents of the Australian airwaves in 1968. From the psychedelic soul blues of ‘Voodoo Chile’ to the frothy bubble of ‘Goody Goody Gumdrops’—via country, Motown, soul, blues, sunshine pop, California harmonies, folk, British invasion groups, the ‘underground’ sound and a myriad of other styles and sub-styles—it was a year in which the musical spectrum really

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Andrew ‘Greedy’ Smith: It’s just too sad

Losing Greedy Smith this year was a big shock. A shock that reverberated through the Australian music community. A shock that reminded everyone from the late 70s/early 80s glory years of Australian rock of their own mortality. If Greedy has gone, who’s next? It’s enough to send a shiver down your spine. The massive turnout at the Macquarie Park crematorium on 9 December to celebrate Greedy’s life was testament to

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