clinton walker - The I-94 Bar
Suburban Songbook. Writing Hits in Post-War Pre-Countdown Australia
By Clinton Walker
Only got this one recently, but I'm damned glad I did.
Once upon a Big Day Out, an event I only occasionally attended, I was mildly shocked by the text messages winding their way across a big screen (people paid a small fee to have their inane twatter up in on a big screen - you know, 'Best summer evah!' and 'Totally awesome!') which dissed 'old people' in favour of 'us hip cool young folk'...
Now, I won't say I wasn't like that to some degree when I was a teenager (and even in my twenties). But I don't recall being quite that dismissive of music simply because it was 'old'. I was brought up on my dad's music, as so many of us are: big band stuff, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, as well as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole... you get the idea. Proto-rock'n'roll, you could say.
So when I got interested in modern music at the age of 12 (courtesy my chum Paul'srecord collection) we both knew that it didn't matter how old something was... as long as it wasn't boring. We investigated everything we could lay our hands on... dismissed so much, revelled in long-lost jewels. It was our secret joy - no other bastard seemed interested.
Fast forward a few years and Clinton Walker's first book, “Inner City Sound' came out. (A revised edition has recently been published - get it here. Mick Middles wrote in “Record Collector'”: "A shockingly vast document... the most striking aspect is the prevailing musical sophistication". Well, yeah.
A Top Ten from the recliner rocker…
Firstly, some YouTube highlights for me in 2021.
2021 was a year of invention, reinvention and history slowly fading away – and that’s just on the subject of Brisbane music! Losing Fred Hardon of the Hardons and the Leftovers’ Ed Wreckage dealt huge blows as two pioneers from the first wave of punk gave their last middle fingers towards the sky.
From a personal standpoint, Phase 4 Records sadly left Fortitude Valley after six years and not because of the price of rent – just the ultimate cost of nobody bothering to walk its promenades while the sun was out. It’s the customers who help pay it after all!
After a brief stay under Backbone’s wing in East Brisbane before the council decided it’s best to turn a vibrant and accessible venue and artspace into greenspace (or is that developers’ dreamspace?), we again moved the store to a new forever home on the top floor of the Cave Inn, a ball’s throw from the grounds of the Gabba. Here, at the discretion of Omicron, we will be hosting bands and events as well as running Brisbane’s only after hours record and vintage emporium. The only downside could be the loss of our slender figures, with the pizza and beer providing fine companionship for our racks.
VOIGT/465 – "LIVE KIRK GALLERY 19/05/79" (Download only, self-released)
Sydney's Voigt/465 used punk almost as a cue to unleash a sound that captured their love of (daggy) UK art-rock of the early 70s and throw it right into the fire of Sydney’s ever-expanding inner-city music scene. Their Kirk Gallery show – which you’ll find on their Bandcamp page - was originally recorded via the ABC’s mobile truck for a radio broadcast that never happened.
This show (which was shared with the Thought Criminals and Tactics) serves as an impressive aural document from this short-lived act that left us with only one single and an album over their all-too-brief life. And if one more person spells the band name as Voight/465, I too may scream like co-lead vocalist Rae Macron Cru!
Bec Lee photo
Hi all. This is my first Top Ten. Happy 2022 to you all.
1.In May this year I married my partner in life, and now in music, Mick Medew.Taking the self-appointed term “Brisbane power couple” to the next level was a most fun and loving day and to be surrounded by our families and friends was truly lucky, considering these times.
2.In April Mick Medew and Ursula (the Meduo) were invited to support two shows with Died Pretty at The Triffid in Brisbane. I wanted to look my best, so an online acquisition from Spotlight, meant fringing kept me busy sewing. But I still had time to practise with Mick and the whole night was amazing! Plus I got to see Died Pretty perform twice in one night. It was lovely spending time with the blokes backstage too...
Stranded. Australian Independent Music, 1976-1992. Revised and Expanded Edition
By Clinton Walker (The Visible Spectrum)
First issued in 1996, the brilliant “Stranded” was Clinton Walker's second "overground" success (his first being his biography of Bon Scotttwo years earlier), and was a more readily-available primer on how Australian music - as a whole - abruptly changed into something both credible and world-class.
Yeah, and you disagree? Look, prior to 1978 (say) there were only a handful of bands determined, lucky, and good enough to get above the parapet and charge stark-naked and take on the world.
Around 1978, everything changed - though I'll emphasise that the world-wide impending undercurrent of change started way back. Hip young kids taking the present culture and either embracing it or pouring gasoline on it (or both), and investigating the past cultures and appropriating what they identified with.
In his preface to this edition (with "invisibly" revised original text and very visible expansions), Walker makes several statements I vehemently disagree with. This is unremarkable, as the nature of The Life is that it is mercurial, shape-shifting. For example, where Walker is amused by Sonic Youth's title “1991: The Year Punk Broke”, I thought it insanely naff, wrong and downright stupid.