I decided to do a little bit of research and just had a look at this Wikipedia article, which actually does a pretty good job of summing up the Australian music scene of the 70’s. This quote
Perhaps most influential of the ‘underground’ scenes, however, was Australian pub rock, which began in Adelaide in the early 1970’s with bands like Cold Chisel and The Angels
is of particular relevance to me, as I was born and raised in Adelaide, growing up with an incredibly abundant diet of the aforementioned pub rock. Cold Chisel were especially huge for me (more so in the 80’s), and I think Don Walker is a truly great lyricist, (I love the quote from Richard Clapton: “the most Australian writer there has ever been. Don just digs being a sort of Beat poet, who goes around observing…“) Forming in my home town, Cold Chisel became one of Australia’s most successful bands, with Jimmy Barnes’ (who grew up in the same suburb I did) shouting Walker’s lyrics straight into the hearts of blue collar Australians.
The song Khe Sanh, featured on their self-titled debut (1978) is often considered their signature track, and a perfect example of Walker’s ability to turn a Vietnam Vet’s story into a truly classic Australian ballad. I’m also going to take this opportunity to extend my condolences to the friends and family of Steve Prestwich, Cold Chisel’s drummer, who passed away last Sunday. RIP.
I’m going to skip past some of the more obvious choices – namely AC/DC, Radio Birdman, The Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party and countless others that deserve a mention – for the following reasons: I never liked AC/DC, I’m not very familiar with Radio Birdman, and I’ve only recently started exploring most of the rest I could talk about. So I want to focus more on what I’m listening to now. Which means I have to mention The Saints.
The Saints wrote, recorded and self-released a song called (I’m) Stranded in 1976, releasing it officially the following year. This song was everywhere I looked throughout my childhood and well into my teenage years, and is regarded one of the earliest (and therefore most influential) punk songs. By Australians anyway; I don’t think we can claim they invented punk, but they did precede some of the more well known bands, and their influence on what became known back then as garage rock is still pretty undeniable.
I do have to say that I very much disliked this song in particular for a long, long time, and to be perfectly honest, if anyone had told me when I was a youngster that at some point, I would not only appreciate The Saints’ place in Oz music history, but actually really like their music, I would have dismissed them as a raving lunatic.
In recent years, when I started exploring the roots of bands I know and love today, I had to come to terms with the fact that The Saints, and this song in particular, helped shape a fair bit of the music I now listen to. I’ve started buying quite a number of these classic albums – or best of’s – in part to educate myself, and help to understand the history and evolution of my favourites, but best of all because I can now see how awesome this stuff truly was. So for that reason alone, (I’m) Stranded gets my top honours of the ’70’s.