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The Big Beat—where can you get it?

In October 2019, I published The Big Beat: Rock music in Australia 1978-1983, through the pages of  Roadrunner magazine. The hardcover book is a 544…

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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 Late Seventies

The rise and rise of Skyhooks in 1975 sounded the death knell for the loud progressive blues-style bands that had so dominated Australian rock in…

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Articles and posts

A selection of published and previously unpublished works

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 Big Beat is on track to sell out. If you haven’t got a copy yet, there are still a few in store at these shops. Once these are gone, the only way you’ll be able to have a look at one will be at your local library. The following libraries have a copy. Australian Capital Territory: National Library of Australia; National Film and Sound Archive; National Museum of Australia Research

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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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The Big Beat: going, going …

Just over fifteen months since kicking off this exercise in self-publishing, and after a steep learning curve but a lot of fun along the way, it feels like I’m entering the home straight. From the print run of 525, four hundred and sixty-five copies of The Big Beat have been sold and (10 November update) there are just 8 out on consignment. Some outlets have bought stock outright and may also

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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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