Tag Archive: Triple J


10 Greatest Australian Albums

As you may know, Triple J are in the process of taking votes for their upcoming Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time countdown. Being the semi-obsessed music lover that I am, I could not pass up the opportunity to exert my influence on the outcome. However, the task of choosing only the ten best Australian albums proved somewhat difficult, and did result in a number of excellent albums being omitted from my final list.

Anyway, for the pleasure of the two or so blog readers I have, I’ve decided to share with you my top 10 (in no particular order, except for denoting my number 1 choice) as well as a few glaring omissions that were reluctantly made due to capacity constraints.

10. Birds of Tokyo – Universes

It was impossible to pass up Universes, the Birds’ second release, and arguably still their greatest. A very solid release balancing harder alternative elements with a pop-rock sound, Universes spawned some of the best recent Aussie music releases I know of. Broken Bones is a solid track, Wild Eyed Boy was the song that got me into the band and to this day I still love, and the epic Silhouettic, my clear favourite from the album, redefines brilliant. Combine the fact that this was released as recently as 2008, and was created by a bunch of sandgropers, and it’s hard to argue that this is a masterpiece worthy of recognition.

9. The Butterfly Effect – Final Conversation of Kings

This would be a countdown by me if it didn’t include a Butterfly Effect album – these boys from Brisbane have been in my mind the best thing to come from the sunshine state ever since a certain fateful night last April (they were only second best prior). I agonised about whether this album or its predecessor Imago was more worthy of the place as the exclusive TBE album on my list (I couldn’t justify putting two from the same artist, regardless of how good I rate that artist to be). However, it was the first seven tracks of this album that swayed me towards picking their latter effort. Just incredible.

8. The Cat Empire – The Cat Empire

This one is sure to please a certain someone north of the border. I don’t know how to describe The Cat Empire, and I’d reckon neither do they. They are without a doubt the most unique band Australia has produced, and are still to this day the best live band I have ever seen (a claim I firmly stand by, and that’s in comparison to some little known bands I’ve seen like Metallica, Muse, Slash and a few others). While it was the single “Hello” that first helped them gain notoriety, it’s tracks like “The Rhythm“, “The Chariot“, “Days Like These“, “The Wine Song“, “How to Explain” and “One Four Five” that entertain me the most. And given my almost exclusive love for rock as a genre, the fact that this funk-ska-indie-Latin band even rate a mention of something of note.

7. Children Collide – Theory of Everything

The newest album on this list, and a very thankful modern addition given my fear for the lack of quality music being produced in general by the music industry in recent times. I got into this album thanks to the first single “Jellylegs” (after randomly flicking onto it when trying to find something decent on the radio – thanks Triple J). My current love for it is primarily due to my near-obsession with “Loveless” at the moment, not to mention the quality of a few others on the album like “Arrows“, “Complacency No Vacancy” and “My Eagle“. It’s good to see these Melburnians flying the flag for modern Aussie rock.

6. Flowers – Icehouse

This is the oldest album I’ve chosen, being released in 1980 here in Australia. Thanks in part to some musical influence from my mother, I absolutely love Iva Davies’ voice, and am a big fan of his music. I was determined to put an Icehouse album in this list, but it was one hell of a challenge to pick which one. While “Primitive Man” was brilliant, “Man of Colours” truly incredible, and “Sidewalk” contained my all-time favourite Icehouse song, just on the number of great tracks I had to choose their first album (despite the technicality that the band who released it weren’t actually called Icehouse at the time – they were still “Flowers”).  Sure, they hadn’t quite reached the peak of their refined sound that came in later albums, but I liked the rougher rock edge of their earliest work. And with tracks like “Can’t Help Myself“, “Walls“, “We Can Get Together“, “Sister“, not to mention the title track, I think it’d be hard to disagree.

5. The Living End – The Living End

The Living End are a band I expect to fare very well in this countdown, given they went something like 10 years without not getting a song in the annual Hottest 100 countdowns. Interestingly, like with Icehouse, it’s their debut album I’ve chosen to recognise as their greatest as it not only contained some fantastic songs (think “Prisoner of Society“, “Second Solution“, “All Torn Down” and my personal favourite in “West End Riot“, as well as many others), but it set the scene for this punkabilly-rock band from Wheelers Hill to dominate the domestic rock music scene for the next decade and more.

(Apologies about the links to the live versions of the songs – evidently there is only a filmclip for Prisoner of Society)

4. Powderfinger – Odyssey Number Five

These guys are another band I expect to feature very highly, and on the strength of some of their work deservedly so. It’s a real pity that overplaying ruined many of the singles from this album, because songs like “My Happiness” and “These Days” are brilliant in their own right, it’s just that even now no one wants to listen to them again. However, it’s not just due to those songs that I rate Odyssey as an album. “My Kind of Scene” is a fantastic song, “The Metre” is equally impressive, and “Waiting For The Sun” would probably be my favourite by the ‘Finger. Odyssey was the peak of Powderfinger’s work in my opinion, and while I’m not ridiculously obsessed with them as a band, I’ve got quite a bit of time for their melodic soft-rock sound, and in particular the sound they created on this release.

3. Silverchair – Frogstomp

Again, like the last few artists, I struggled to pick which album by these guys deserved my vote, and I think they’ll feature heavily in the final countdown (continental pun not intended). In the end, despite strong competition from a number of later releases (excluding the most recent), it was the debut album Frogstomp that got my vote (and I can hear the exclamations of disbelief coming from the south east as we speak, or at the very least I’ll hear about it Tomorrow). Given that I wrote about these guys and this album very recently, I won’t bore you again with the nitty gritty, I’ll just say that this was a very solid release, additionally worthy of praise given it was the debut recording by a band not old enough to even fornicate legally in some states.

2. The Whitlams – Eternal Nightcap

The brilliance, and equally, the depressingness of this album is truly mesmerising, and just shows off Tim Freedman‘s songwriting genius at its finest. To go from the depressing story of the Charlie trio of songs, to the upbeat sound of “You Sound Like Louis Burdett“; from the happy reflectivity of a song like “Melbourne” to the distant longing for another in “No Aphrodisiac” – I’d argue there’s no greater emotive songwriter in this country than this man. This album is a work worthy of marvel, and I sincerely hope it rates highly in the countdown like it does in mine.

Which brings me to the final choice, and my nominated “greatest Australian album of all time”. The artist won’t shock many, but is surprisingly calm for someone like me with a “heavier” taste in music.

1. Something For Kate – Echolalia

In fact, I’ll admit that I surprised myself when I decided on Echolalia as my favourite Australian album of all time. However, the reasoning was surprisingly simple – of the 13 tracks on this album, I couldn’t find a single weak one. Now if that doesn’t fit the bill as being the greatest album, then nothing will. And I’m serious too. As someone who’s listened to this album start-to-finish a number of times, there’s not a bad song. Not to mention that it contains absolute gems such as the hugely popular (in its day at least) “Monsters“, “Old Pictures” (one of my favourites, which devastatingly I can’t find an online clip for), “Stunt Show“, “Jerry Stand Up“, “Three Dimensions“, “Say Something“, “Feeding The Birds and Hoping for Something in Return” and “Twenty Years” (and yes I could go on, but I’d better stop myself), it rates very highly in my book.

Again, I agonised about whether “The Official Fiction” (the album with my absolute favourite SFK song – “Reverse Soundtrack” (sorry about the quality of the link) – as well as the very famous “Deja Vu” and “Song for a Sleepwalker“) or even “Desert Lights“, but I had to go with Echolalia for the reasons mentioned above.

So that’s the list, ridiculously incomplete as usual, and bound to upset some based upon the albums I missed out. I do apologise to the many bands whose work did deserve to be recognised, but just didn’t make the cut (and believe me, there were many). However, I’m pretty satisfied that I’ve produced a solid list. Now let the criticisms begin…

I’ve been staying at the parents’ place down in Geelong for the past few weeks, and by chance happened to be looking through their record collection. My parents claimed to be avid music buyers back in the days prior to their marriage in the mid ’80s. However, upon inspection, some nasty shocks were found in amongst some bearable music. Here for you today is a brief selection of some of the more “interesting” finds I made.

First up was this absolute shocker:

Oh dear. Is it too early to ask to be disowned by my parents now? This shocker, released in 1977, showcases the worst and the worst of the world of being a celebrity. What ever on Earth persuaded Mr and Mrs Newton to produce this album is completely beyond me, but whatever persuaded my parents to part with $5.99 at Brashs to buy it completely disappoints me.

Next we have Kevin “Bloody” Wilson’s debut album titled “Your Average Australian Yobbo”. With such charming tracks as “I Gave Up Wanking”, “Arr Fuck” (The Instrumental), “That Fucking Cat’s Back” and “Stack The Fridge”, what isn’t there to love about this album. Having said that, while it’s no Bert and Patti Family Album, I doubt I’ll be going out of my way to purchase myself a copy any time soon.

Here we have a double dose of vomit in the form of country singer Glen Campbell. As if his “Wichita Lineman” album wasn’t painful enough, one of the old folks decided to add a live record titled “A Southern Knight in England” (haw haw) to our disgust. I don’t know which of the following pains me more: my parents owning two Glen Campbell records, or the fact that Wichita Lineman knocked Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” off the top of the album charts after its 1968 release.

Next is “Thriller” – the album that anyone old enough to blink back in 1982 had a copy of. I do find it interesting that back then, the only thing white about Michael Jackson was the suit he was wearing, and that he at one point in his life at least resembled a normal looking human being. This album is by far not the worst of the collection, and certainly wouldn’t rate highly on the Bert and Patti scale of awfulness. In fact, I think many of us may still rock out to Eddie van Halen’s solo in “Beat It”, and we all know that Billie Jean is not his lover, but we didn’t quite realise exactly what Michael was talking about when he said “The Girl Is Mine”. Those allegations would be made years later. Tasteless I know, in fact I think I’ll move on now…

Moving on, the next album worth discussing was Frank Zappa’s “Sheik Yerbouti”. I’ll immediately confess to not being hugely knowledgeable about the works of Frank Zappa, I’m led to believe this was one of his bigger and more popular albums. Whether that was due to the amusing name, the somewhat provocative cover images (both front and especially back, as seen above), or actually the music on I’m not sure, but for at least one of those reasons it has sat beneath the record player for the last thirty or so years at this house.

Something now a little more enjoyable (at least in my opinion) is Phil Collins’ fourth solo album “…But Seriously”. Being released in 1989, this one is obviously a latecomer to the rather dated majority of the record collection, but its presence doesn’t surprise me as my father is a big Phil Collins fan (and why wouldn’t he be). This was the album that produced tracks like “Another Day In Paradise” and “I Wish It Would Rain Down”, and its existence goes some way toward atoning for the sins of some earlier records.

Another one for the Genesis fans is this, the 12″ single of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. The 12 inch size confused me at first, and I actually thought this was a full album, but that mistake was quickly realised upon a bit of research. This song is typically experimental like most of Gabriel’s stuff both with and after Genesis, and is by no means offensive.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the following record.

“The Swinging Happy Sound of the Riverboat Banjo Band”? What the fuck? Surely they can’t have thought it would be in any way a clever idea to part with money in exchange for this record. I’m going to go with the assumption that by some bizarre alien influence this record inexplicably simply appeared in their collection. This one sets the Bert and Patti meter pinging furiously.

Ah, now here’s something you won’t see every day. Cheech and Chong’s Wedding Album, complete with the full imitation photo album cover. The only track from it with which I am familiar is the famous “Earache My Eye” sketch, with that famous guitar riff and loving dialogue between father and son. However, I don’t know whether to class that album as a masterpiece or a total shocker. I’ll let you decide on that one.

Oh dear. I am officially disgusted. What on Earth were they thinking? Barbra Streisand? Not only can I not believe that my parents bought this album, but looking it up, it went 6x Platinum after its 1980 release, making my parents just one of 12 million idiots who bought this album worldwide. That fact is almost as amazing as the coverup job they did to hide that nose of hers on the album cover, that is an achievement.

Next in our list is the act of charity I’m sure a lot of people back in 1985 thought to undertake. I’m sure Bob Geldof’s intentions were good when he compiled a list of about 30 musicians to get together as Band-Aid and record this song to raise money for the Ethiopian famine, but the end product was “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. So Bob, 10 points for trying to save the world, but minus several million for the crime against humanity that this song was. This song has now repeated more times than a 3 day old seafood pizza, and instead of being executed like he should have, Geldof was knighted. Go figure.

This is more like it. One for the rockers and radio nerds alike, this is the 12″ live recording of Armistice Day and Stand In Line, recorded at the last 2JJ concert in 1981. Armistice Day is probably one of my favourite Oils songs, due to its eerie qualities, and to the fact that it’s not horribly overplayed like most other Oils stuff. And on a side note, it’s a pity how far Triple J has dropped from the highs of its beginnings. They’d be too busy now playing Hilltop Hoods or some rubbish to discover a modern-day Midnight Oil. But I digress…

Paul Young – a man who could make Rick Springfield look and sound positively blokey. This is his debut album “No Parlez” from 1983, though many of us wish he had taken the hint from the title and just shut up. This album will be remembered for such tracks as “Love Of The Common People” and the hideous cover of a legendary Joy Division song in “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. I think this record has more value being used as a frisbee than it does being put anywhere near a turntable.

Looking at that photo, I reckon Rod Stewart’s Body Wishes it could somehow separate itself from that ugly head of his. What an ugly guy, and the music on the album probably matches it. I’m certainly no Rod Stewart fan, but fans of his and critics alike canned this release as being one of his poorer ones. Why my parents thought to add it to their collection is a mystery only solvable by asking them.

You might want to cover the kiddies eyes before looking at the next one…

My God that is a scary looking cover! This is Culture Club’s debut album “Kissing To Be Clever” with the frightening Boy George depicted on the cover. Though perhaps the only thing as scary as the image of Boy George is the music contained on this vinyl. Every time he cries “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” I can’t help but think I really do. But to violence against women (and screwed up looking pop stars), Australia says no, so I’d better not. Though from all reports, Boy George is into doing a bit of hurting himself, so perhaps it is justified after all.

So as to not leave you with that scary image, I’ll finish off with these two much more impressive albums.

My parents are both big Chris de Burgh fans, having seen him tour the few times he’s been out to Australia, so I’m almost surprised that there’s only two of his albums there (though I’d say there may be more on either cassette or CD). The first pictured there is “Man On The Line” from 1984, which contained songs like the brilliant “High On Emotion” and the highly underrated “The Ecstasy of Flight (I Love The Night)” among others. The second album shown is “The Very Best of Chris de Burgh”, apparently already his second compilation album, despite being released in 1984 also. It contains all the tracks you’d expect, including both those I mentioned off Man On The Line. These two albums would be the antithesis to the Bert and Patti Family Album.

So that’s a brief insight into the record collection owned by those before me. Of course that’s far from it all – I just picked a handful of the more interesting ones. Most of the rest were compilation albums like “Ripper ’76” or “Rocktrip ’82”, which hid some rare gems as well, but I would have been here for hours analysing each of them if I did.

At some point I’ll get stuck into Part Two of this series, where I look through the 7″ singles collection they have. That’s bound to throw up a few gems and probably a few Bert and Pattis as well. Stay tuned.