This is when I will admit, upfront, that I am bound to miss a lot of names here. As we shift our focus to Australia’s indie scene, I will admit that I didn’t quite know where to start, in part because this was my entry point to the country’s music, after over a decade of listening, on and off, to Triple J. The radio station is an important factor in unearthing (yes, that is a pun) a lot of Aussie talent from the underground scenes of the capital cities, and later the whole nation, and bringing them to the forefront, just as these bands began to explore all the new styles coming out of the US and the UK. Outside of the pub rock that the more prominent rock bands of the time were peddling, the influence of punk and its offshoots were moving a lot of bands to directions nobody had imagined before.
The history of Australian rock and Australian pop are so intertwined, I had a bit of difficulty figuring out who to put where. That means, yes, I know I did not mention two bands I would typically be mentioning on the rock column – but then, that’s partly down to how I’ve perceived those bands from my perch here in the Philippines, both of which are still staples of retro playlists, or what’s left of them.
When the radio station 2JJ launched in 1975, it chose to play, as its first song, Skyhooks’ “You Just Like Me ‘Cos I’m Good In Bed”. It was quite a statement from the get-go: it was banned by most radio stations at the time, due to its controversial lyrics. It was also a statement of support for Australian music, which at the time was woefully underrepresented on the airwaves. Despite musicians following trends in the US and UK, and gaining popularity on the live circuit, it took decades before Aussie pop – in the case of this week’s installment, Aussie rock – could gain critical mass and become the force that it is today.
I’ve been trying to make sense of Australian music for as long as I’ve been a radio geek. It all started, of course, when I first began listening to Triple J – or at least perusing their website, because I only had dial-up and everything would slow down if I attempted to listen to even the lowest quality stream. Of course, I’ve written a lot about Aussie artists throughout this blog’s history, and it’s interesting how we have this country whose music is a bit of a contradiction: it’s always kept an eye on trends elsewhere in the world, but it’s also done its own thing; it tells its own stories and it presents itself as something anybody and everybody can enjoy.
The evening rush hour can be particularly bad along C5 these days, and on one of those days, when you need to break the tedium (and physical strain) of inching slowly towards your destination, you end looking at the billboards. One of them has Lea Salonga on, and while I couldn’t remember what else was on it, it helpfully noted that she’s been in the business for forty years.