Posts by Donald

Roadrunner once

Around three years ago, David Nichols, a former writer at Australian Smash Hits, interviewed me on the phone for a book he was doing on that magazine. He asked about the rock mags I used to read growing up, how I got into the game and my impressions of Smash Hits. He was kind enough to send me a transcript to check, but ended up only using a small part. The

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When the sun sets over Carlton

It was one of those memorable car trips. Driving to Coogee last Friday night with Ralph and Hilary Kerle and Greg Taylor to see Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows and listening to the new compilation (When the Sun Sets Over) Carlton – Melbourne’s Countercultural Inner Ciy Rock Scene of the ’70s. Unusually for three such grizzled veterans of the rock’n’roll circus as Greg, Ralph and myself, none one of

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Seasons of change: the Adelaide music scene in the 70s

Australia has always been an accurate mirror of the world’s music scene, reflecting and balancing US and UK trends and styles. As the most typical Australian city, Adelaide going into the 1970s provided a fascinating microcosm of the state of play in world music. The emergence of the rock album as an artform in its own right, a process started by the Beatles with Revolver and Rubber Soul in the

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Reeling and a-rocking: the Adelaide music scene in the 60s

The sonic boom that was the Beatles reverberated around the world and perhaps nowhere was the effect more apparent than in Adelaide. Over 300,000 people, about one-third of the city’s population, lined the streets  when the Fab Three plus Jimmy Nicol (standing in for the tonsilitis-stricken Ringo) arrived on 12 June 1964 for the first concerts of their three and a half week down under tour. As Beatles’ publicist Derek Taylor

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‘I am a champion’

The date was in the calendar on the fridge—28 September—but it was a pretty low-key build up to this year’s Australian University Games in the Robertson household. Calum had picked up a knee injury playing club football with Mosman and it was touch and go as to whether he would play any part at all. He got the all clear from the physio the week before and went for a

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Ada Ryan Gardens

Whyalla 2014

My father had been living at home since my mother died last year. I had arranged to spend a week with him in August, but two weeks before I was due to fly over to Whyalla he fell and broke his hip. He had a successful hip replacement operation, but the general anaesthetic really played havoc with his (previously mild) dementia. He was in hospital for three weeks and then transferred

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Laughing Lennie

Many years ago, I watched a documentary on Foxtel’s Arena channel called ‘Beautiful Losers’. Made in 1997, it was about Leonard Cohen, Marianne Faithfull and Willie de Ville, in which the three songwriters and performers were interviewed about their lives and careers. Willie de Ville, who I recall as a sharply dressed, late 70s, new wave one-hit wonder from New York (the hit being the latino flavoured ‘Spanish Stroll’) was moderately

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Models roll back the years

The Models rolled back the years at the old Kinselas on Taylor Square last night. Although Roger Grierson pointed out that this version of the band was not one that ever trod the boards back in the day (Mark Ferrie having left before Barton Price joined), in many ways for me this is the strongest ever line up. When they opened with Two Cabs to the Toucan—and NAILED it—you got

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Darling Harbour

Pyrmont 2014

On a peninsula to the west of the city and connected to it by the pedestrian and cycle-only Pyrmont Bridge, Pyrmont has completed the transition from an industrial centre of wharves and warehouses to Sydney’s new media and communications hub. These days it is home to Google, the Seven and Ten TV networks, Fairfax Media, the 2SM Radio Super Network and Nova Entertainment as well as the government regulator, the Australian

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If you’re going to San Francisco …

We’re on the sidewalk at the west end of Waller St, a stone’s throw from Golden Gate Park and the final stop of our two-hour walking tour of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Our genial tour guide Kurt, a chubby, moustachioed, local comedian and film maker points out a converted firehouse across the road at number 1575 where in April 1967, representatives of the local alternative community held a press conference

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She came in through the bathroom window

Roll up, roll up for a London rock’n’roll magical mystery tour ‘See the window on the first floor – on the left – that’s the bathroom. There’s a drainpipe on the side wall – you can’t quite see it from here—but two girls climbed up there and got in. They took two of Paul’s shirts which he was a bit annoyed about. And that’s what gave him the inspiration to

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One night in Stuttgart

It’s 11pm, Thursday 22 June at the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion in Stuttgart, Germany. The final whistle has just sounded in an astonishing game of football in which the Socceroos have come from behind twice to snatch a two-all draw with Croatia in their final group match in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The result means the Socceroos will progress to the round of 16, where they will play Italy. The fifteen thousand

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The Malt Whisky Trail: Part 2 – Islay

I’d always fancied getting married in a kilt. And so, when it came my turn to tie the knot earlier this year, it was in full Scottish finery—kilt, sporran and a short black jacket with silver buttons. The wedding was a tremendous success. The bride was as beautiful as a fairy princess (I must admit to a slight bias I fear), the bagpipes rent the air, the ceremony was short

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The Malt Whisky Trail: Part I – Speyside

The Scots cannot claim to have discovered the chemical process of distillation, the extraction of alcoholic spirit from fermenting grains, but there are many who would agree that they have perfected it. Whisky, from the Scots Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’—literally, ‘the water if life’—has accumulated over the centuries an aura, a mystique, that sets it apart from other liquors. The origins of whisky are shrouded in Scotland’s Celtic past. The knowledge

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Oznost tickles Edinburgh

It’s feast or famine in Edinburgh, the ancient and beautiful capital of Scotland. Every August, in an unparalleled orgy of cultural consumption, the staid city changes pace and plays host not only to its world-renowned International Festival and associated Fringe but also to Britain’s only television festival, a film festival, a jazz festival and an acoustic music festival. While the International Festival is similar in style and content to many

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