Category Music

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 500, more than four hundred copies of The Big Beat have been sold and there are fewer than fifty still 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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The Band

The first time I saw Martin Armiger was onstage at Meadows Technicolour Fair on Saturday 29 January 1972. Meadows, on the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide was South Australia’s second pop festival, after 1971’s Myponga, and Martin’s band Toads, Nightly opened the event. Martin moved to Melbourne shortly afterwards and fell fruitfully into the Carlton band, drama and poetry scene captured so vividly in Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip. The first

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The Big Beat: When Sydney Rocked — 1978-1983

The third of the Q&A and book signings to celebrate the release of The Big Beat took place in the heart of the city at Title Barangaroo in Sydney on 21 November. Over a hundred movers and groovers gathered to hear moderator Mark Dodshon skilfully guide the panel of Buzz Bidstrup (ex-Angels and GANGgajang), Peter Oxley (Sunnyboys, Shy Impostors and The Aints) and author Donald Robertson through their memories and

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How Roadrunner recorded our noisy history

By Nathan Davies SA Weekend magazine, The Advertiser (Adelaide), 4 October 2019 To flick through the pages of The Big Beat – a bound collection of rock magazine Roadrunner – is to be transported to an Adelaide that no longer exists. An Adelaide of smoke-filled, sticky-floored band rooms still a decade or two from being transformed into soulless pokie dens. An Adelaide of photocopied band flyers sticky taped to Stobie

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Four dudes banging on about The Big Beat at Readings in St Kilda

There was a lot of love in the room for Roadrunner magazine and its anthology The Big Beat at Readings book store in St Kilda last night. A crowd of around fifty gathered to hear Pierre Sutcliffe (ex-Models) lead Phill Calvert (ex-Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party), John Dowler (Young Modern) and myself discuss the Australian post-punk scene and the role that Roadrunner played in it. Among the former contributors in

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The Big Beat – reviews and reactions

The reviews are coming in. And people seem to like the book. Print reviews ‘Roadrunner was the Chrysler of the Big 3 R rock magazines in Australia at the turn into the 1980s, trailing the GM and Ford of RAM and Rolling Stone, and like the Hemi-powered Plymouths and Dodges, it was wild and untamed, and it’s a blessing that there’s now a permanent record of it, all 500 pages of it and bound

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The Big Beat comes back to Adelaide

Around eighty people gathered at The Howling Owl in Adelaide’s East End last night to celebrate the release of the Roadrunner magazine anthology, The Big Beat. Deftly marshalled by ABC Radio Adelaide producer Suzy Ramone, a panel of Dr Collette Snowden, singer and songwriter John Schumann and myself was invited to ruminate and reminisce about the South Australian music scene and the impact of Roadrunner magazine in the post-punk period

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The Big Beat – where can you get it?

UPDATE: 30 May 2020. Fewer than forty copies left in stores. In October 2019, I published an anthology of articles from Roadrunner magazine. The Big Beat: Rock music in Australia 1978-1983, through the pages of Roadrunner magazine is a 544 page, A4 size (210x297mm), hardback book with colour throughout. In the book, a year-by-year history introduces a selection of over four hundred fully indexed pages from the original magazine. Featured artists

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Still The Boss

As I stood in the foyer waiting for Calum a fragment of a lyric came into my mind—‘… thinking that maybe we’re not that young any more …’ There was a lot of grey hair, some walking sticks, and some big bellies—but, to be fair, some youngsters too. All in all a pretty representative cross section of Sydney. The tickets had been a last minute Christmas present for Calum. The

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1966 and all that

It started in the shires of the English midlands and finished in the arid saltbush of Whyalla, South Australia. It was the year my life changed. In September 1966 I turned 13. Two days after my birthday my family—my father, mother, sister and brother—and I got on a train in Kettering, Northamptonshire. It took us to London, very much still the Swinging City, where we changed trains for Southampton. There,

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The art of the Australian single 1975-80

When I returned to Adelaide in late 1977 after two and a half years away in the U.K., I brought home with me about twenty-five singles. I proceeded to do the rounds of my rather puzzled university friends to show them and play to them these artefacts from the sonic revolution I had just experienced. Most of them smiled politely and poured another cup of tea, but one old school

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Kensington Road runs straight before turning: Adelaide in 1979

As the 1970s wound to a close, the local music scene in Adelaide was struggling, although there were some new shoots starting to appear. It seemed everyone involved was either trying to get out, or just killing time, waiting for something GREAT to happen. And it did. The advent of the Progressive Music Broadcasting Associations’s community radio station 5MMM-FM in 1980 gave Adelaide music an absolute turbo-charge and helped to

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