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Australian Pub Rock

History of Contemporary Music Assignment
by

Lauren Steele

on 26 May 2013

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Transcript of Australian Pub Rock

AUSTRALIAN PUB ROCK Key Contributions Key Contributors Key Artists Key Contributors Key Songs Key Albums Key Developments Key Developments Key Developments Key Developments Albert's Records Key Developments Mushroom Records Stylistic Development Stylistic Development Stylistic Development Stylistic Developments Social/Historical Issues Social/Historical Issues Social/Historical Issues Important Festivals Pilgrimage for Pop 1970 Important Festivals Sunbury1972-1975 Important Festivals Australian Made 1986-1987 New Wave Acts Countdown Reference List AC/DC
The Angels
Australian Crawl
Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs
The Choirboys
Cold Chisel
The Divinyls
Hoodoo Gurus
Hunters and Collectors
INXS
Split Enz
Dragon Midnight Oil
Painters and Dockers
Rose Tattoo
Radio Birdman
The Screaming Jets
The Sunnyboys
Daddy Cool
The Easybeats
The Skyhooks
Mental as Anything
X
Crowded House Australian Pub Rock can be roughly defined as starting in the mid 1970's and continuing into the mid 1980's, although some argue it progressed well into the 1990's (Stratton 2004). There is also some ambiguity regarding separating Australian Pub Rock with ordinary Australian Rock. Many artists repeatedly crossed over and so this presentation will address any artists that were seen as Pub Rock artists at any time in their career. Finally, many Pub Rock acts originated in New Zealand, but were more widely accepted in Australia and so for the sake of this presentation, they will be included.

Australian Pub Rock developed from early Rock 'n' Roll in the 60's in Australian pubs and bars as liquor licensing laws in Australia were revised. Opening hours were extended, the ban on women in pubs was lifted and the legal drinking age was lowered to 18. The baby boomers, at who Rock 'n' Roll music was targeted, were in their late teens and early 20's and so were able to enjoy live music at pubs and bars (SuzWrites 2013). Before opening hours were extended, pubs were built with sizeable bars in order to serve large amounts of people before 6 O' clock closing. When the laws were changed, they were left with large, empty bars and so it was quite easy to accommodate a live band set up (Pub Rock 2003). When British Rock 'n' Roll arrived, local artists were influenced and many bands began writing their own music and playing and touring local pubs, bars and RSL's (Returned Services League). Important venues include Melbourne's Whitehorse Inn, Sydney's Bondi Lifesaver and Adelaide's Larg's Pier Hotel (Long Way to the Top 2002)

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, Australian radio stations would not play Australian bands because they sounded so different to commercially successful artists at the time. "This attitude helps reinforce Australia's infamous cultural cringe; it insists that the merit of this body of work must be gauged only on its commercial potential." (Milsom & Thomas 1986, p. 16). Bands began to play a pubs and bars and began attracting loyal audiences. When they attracted a large enough following, radio stations could not afford to not give them air-play (Pub Rock 2003). Ted Albert and former Easybeats members Harry Vanda and GeorgeYoung formed the label "Albert's Records". Acts signed to the label include AC/DC, the Easybeats, Rose Tattoo and the Angles. Their motto is "It's all about the song." (Alberts Pty. Ltd. 2013).

Albert's had a connection with television show "Countdown". Albert's made the music and Countdown put it on TV. The Albert's family studio was the "nearest thing Australia had to a hit factory" (Long Way to the Top 2002). Mushroom Records was started by Michael Gudinski and Michael Browning (Jenkins 2007, p. 88). Ed Nimmervoll (cited in Jenkins 2007, p. 88) states that the record label was "an attempt to formulate an artistically free, quality recording label, which also is involved in management and bookings, something in the style of England's Island Records."

Australian Pub Rock artists that were signed to the label included Skyhooks, Jimmy Barnes, Hunters and Collectors, the Choirboys, Angry Anderson, Ian Moss and Paul Kelly (Jenkins 2007, p. 90, 92). The Australian Pub Rock audience was largely working-class (Stratton 2004). They were mainly male and very rough and volatile and they wanted nothing more than to be deafened by bass, drums and guitar (Long Way to the Top 2002).

Pub Rock music blends melody with strong guitar riffs and big beats. "Australian Pub Rock sounds like beer..." (Walker 2002). It sounded totally different to anything else at the time; "At its peak... Pub Rock was a style of music found nowhere else. Bands from the UK and America were astonished when they saw these huge bricks sheds with all the charm of a bus shelter, filled to the rafters with screaming shit-faced masses. Most were frightened" (Cockington, cited in Stratton 2004).

It has been described as "sweaty, masculine rock" (NSW gov. n.d.) and is very loud and simple, with powerful guitar riffs, simple rock beats and large and plentiful amplifiers (SuzWrites 2013). Another description states that pub rock music is music to drink to (Long Way to the Top 2002). Bands regularly employed body guards to protect them while they were on and off stage. As Mick Christian (body guard for the Aztecs) (cited in Engleheart 2010, p. 24) stated, "In those days it was fight bouncers and punch people in bands. In a band, are you? You're a poofter, you long-haird c**t! That was the mentality of a lot of them.". Bands had to fight to keep their audiences loyal and fight to keep their audiences from killing them. This gave them such a tough attitude and came accross in the hard rock music (Engleheart 2010, p. 24).

Live performance to these hard-core fans was what made a band successful, not radio play or countdown. They came later as the audience demanded it.
(SuzWrites 2013). This is why the most important thing for an Australian Pub Rock band, was the need to appeal to their audience. "If those two or three people didn't like you then, you may as well get a day job." (Walker, cited in Milsom & Thomas 1986, p.2).

Rock 'n' Rollers were seen as 2nd class. Peter Garrett (cited in Milsom & Thomas 1986, p. 26) describes it as the "bastard's industry". To the bands, Pub Rock was all about playing with mates and having a good time. If a band was to make it commercially, it was essential they employed a manager (Milsom & Thomas 1986, p. 106). Several bands, most notably Midnight Oil and Hunters and Collectors, broke away from the traditional management structure because of the resentment they held towards the creative restrictions this placed them under. Because of their new-found freedom, they were able to develop their own musical themes. Australian Pub Rock music is "traditionally characterised by poitical apathy" (Milsom & Thomas 1986, p. 18). Once they had broken away from any restrictions, bands began to sing about political issues, most obviously in Midnight Oil's work.

Pub Rock can be roughly defined as stretching from the mid 1970's to the mid 1980's (Stratton 2004). However it had it's roots in the 1950's and 1960's with influences in Johnny O'Keefe, the Easybeats and the Masters Apprentices. This kind of music sounds like classic, or no-nonsense hard rock with catchy tunes. It was traditionally about "cars and girls" and bands didn't need to be excellent musicians, just raw and creative (Wells 2007). Pilgrimage for Pop was Australia's first pop festival and was staged just after the famous Woodstock festival. It was also the first festival with an all Australian line-up (Milesago 2002).

Ben Horwitz (cited in Jenkins 2007, p. 245) stated that the festival was an "expression of dissatisfaction with our society, and of yearning to return to the tribal group."

The line-up included Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Max Merritt and the Meteors and Stevie Wright and the Rachette (Milesago 2002). Sunbury has been described as Australia's version of Woodstock (Jenkins 2007, p. 245). However, over the course of three years, the festival marked a shift in the popular music scene in Australia. Instead of being influenced by 1960's psychedelia and folk music, acts were gravitating towards a "more uniquely Australian genre of louder, stomping Pub Rock..." (Ripefruit Media n.d.).

The line-up for the Sunbury festivals include local acts such as Billy Thorpe and the Aztes, Skyhooks and AC/DC, and international acts including Queen and Deep Purple (Ripefruit Media n.d.) At the time of the festival, a lot of American acts were touring and the cultural cringe was at work; Australian's were under the impression that local acts weren't as good, and so audiences weren't going to see local acts. Australian Made was the banding together effort of local bands to recreate interest in home-grown acts. (Jenkins 2007, p. 252).

It had an all Australian line-up including INXS, Jimmy Barnes, the Divinyls and Mental as Anything. You I Am

Jet

Silverchair

Horsehead

Powderfinger The Living End

Wolfmother

Grinspoon

Pete Murray

Spiderbait Although many pub rock artists resented the control Countdown exercised over the acts aired on it, Countdown is regularly referred to as the "most successful and influential pop/rock music television program ever produced in Australia." (ABC 2013).

"It had everything going for it. It was national, it was in colour..." (The Countdown Years 2003). The TV show broke new talent, with many local artists gaining their first national exposure before becoming internationally successful. It aired the latest film clips available for broadcast and also showcased international acts (ABC 2013).

However, it was regularly accused of representing a particular pop sensibility. It was popular practise to dress the set with teenage girls, something that is seen in modern popular music to create a biased opinion. (The Countdown Years 2003). This "dressing" can clearly be seen in the video below, making it obvious that the TV show is made to commercialise Rock 'n' Roll music. ABC 2013, Countdown Debuts on ABC TV, viewed 19 May 2013, <http://www.abc.net.au/archives/80days/stories/2012/01/19/3411575.htm>

Amphlett, C 1983, quoted in Milsom, W & Thomas, H 1986, Pay to Play: Tales of the Australian Rock Industry, 1st edn, Penguin Books, Melbourne

Amphlett, C quoted in Jenkins, J 2007, 50 Years of Rock in Australia, 1st edn. Wilkinson Publishing, Melbourne

Cockington, J 2001 Long Way to the Top: Stories of Australian Rock and Roll, ABC Books, Sydney quoted in Stratton, J 2004, ‘Pub Rock and the Ballad Tradition in Australian Popular Music’, Perfect Beat: The Pacific Journal of Research into Contemporary Music and Popular Culture, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 28-54, viewed 20 May 2013, < http://espace.library.curtin.edu.au/cgi-bin/espace.pdf?file=/2009/05/27/file_1/119427>

Colvin, M 2007, Getting Over Australia’s Cultural Cringe, viewed 25 May 2013, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2007-07-10/getting-over-australias-cultural-cringe/95094>

Discogs 2013, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, viewed 25 May 2013, <http://www.discogs.com/artist/Billy+Thorpe+And+The+Aztecs>

Discogs 2013, The Angels – No Exit, viewed 25 May 2013, < http://www.discogs.com/Angels-No-Exit/master/457845>

Reference List Eliezer, C, quoted in Jenkins, J 2007, 50 Years of Rock in Australia, 1st edn, Wilkinson Publishing, Melbourne

Ellis, M 2006, What is Country Music, viewed 26 May 2013, <http://www.historyofcountrymusic.com.au/whatiscm.html>

Engleheart, M 2010, Blood, Sweat and Beers, Harper Collins, Sydney

Garrett, P 1981 quoted in Milsom, W & Thomas, H 1986, Pay to Play: Tales of the Australian Rock Industry, 1st edn, Penguin Books, Melbourne

Garrett, P 1984 quoted in Milsom, W & Thomas, H 1986, Pay to Play: Tales of the Australian Rock Industry, 1st edn, Penguin Books, Melbourne

Horwitz, B, quoted in Jenkins, J 2007, 50 Years of Rock in Australia, 1st edn, Wilkinson Publishing, Melbourne
Jenkins, J 2007, 50 Years of Rock in Australia, 1st edn, Wilkinson Publishing, Melbourne

Long Way to the Top 2002, television program, ABC, Sydney, 1 December

Milsom, W & Thomas, H 1986, Pay to Play: Tales of the Australian Rock Industry, 1st edn, Penguin Books, Melbourne
Reference List Mushroom Records, quoted in Jenkins, J 2007, 50 Years of Rock in Australia, 1st edn, Wilkinson Publishing, Melbourne

Nimmervoll, E, quoted in Jenkins, J 2007, 50 Years of Rock in Australia, 1st edn, Wilkinson Publishing, Melbourne

NSW gov n.d. Music in New South Wales – A History of Rock Music, viewed 20 May 2013, <http://about.nsw.gov.au/encyclopedia/article/music-in-new-south-wales-a-history-of-rock-music/>

Pinnell, B, quoted in Jenkins, J 2007, 50 Years of Rock in Australia, 1st edn, Wilkinson Publishing, Melbourne

Pub Rock 2003, television program, ABC, 20 October

Rovi Corp 2013, Midnight Oil, viewed 25 May 2013, <http://www.allmusic.com/artist/midnight-oil-mn0000405903>

Stratton, J 2004, ‘Pub Rock and the Ballad Tradition in Australian Popular Music’, Perfect Beat: The Pacific Journal of Research into Contemporary Music and Popular Culture, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 28-54, viewed 20 May 2013, < http://espace.library.curtin.edu.au/cgi-bin/espace.pdf?file=/2009/05/27/file_1/119427> Reference List Strong, MC 2002, The Great Rock Discography, 6th edn, Canongate Books Ltd, Edinburgh

SuzWrites 2013, Australian Pub Rock, viewed 20 May 2013, <http://suzwrites.hubpages.com/hub/Australian-Pub-Rock>

The Countdown Years 2003, television program, ABC, 16 June

Walker, C 2002, ‘Co-dependent: Drugs and Australian Music’, Meanjin, vol. 62, pp. 154-166, viewed 20 May 2013, <http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/primo_library/libweb/action/display.do?tabs=detailsTab&ct=display&fn=search&doc=TN_informit040570646233256&indx=4&recIds=TN_informit040570646233256&recIdxs=3&elementId=3&renderMode=poppedOut&displayMode=full&frbrVersion=5&dscnt=1&scp.scps=scope%3A%28QS%29%2Cscope%3A%28DT%29%2Cscope%3A%28SLQ%29%2Cscope%3A%28IC%29%2Cscope%3A%28TGI%29%2Cprimo_central_multiple_fe&frbg=&tab=default_tab&dstmp=1369020537091&srt=rank&mode=Basic&dum=true&vl(126868199UI1)=articles&vl(1UIStartWith0)=contains&vl(freeText0)=Australian+pub+rock+music&vid=SLQ&vl(D45500790UI0)=any>

Walker, D 1986 quoted in Milsom, W & Thomas, H 1986, Pay to Play: Tales of the Australian Rock Industry, 1st edn, Penguin Books, Melbourne

Wells, K 2007, Australian Rock Music, viewed 19 May 2013, < http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-rock-music>

Reference List Wilson, R 1980, quoted in Milsom, W & Thomas, H 1986, Pay to Play: Tales of the Australian Rock Industry, 1st edn, Penguin Books, Melbourne

Walker, D 1986 quoted in Milsom, W & Thomas, H 1986, Pay to Play: Tales of the Australian Rock Industry, 1st edn, Penguin Books, Melbourne

Wells, K 2007, Australian Rock Music, viewed 19 May 2013, < http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-rock-music>

Wilson, R 1980, quoted in Milsom, W & Thomas, H 1986, Pay to Play: Tales of the Australian Rock Industry, 1st edn, Penguin Books, Melbourne Australian Pub Rock is very heavily influenced by British Rock 'n' Roll. It draws more from the white British-American music than African-American music which gives it a very unique sound. Very specifically, pub rock music has more focus on melodic, harmonic and lyrical aspects than emotional and rhythmic aspects. Because of these aspects, pub rock tunes tend to be ballads. They have evolved from traditional Australian folk ballads such as "Botany Bay" (Stratton 2004). The link between alcohol and Rock 'n' Roll was firmly established when 6 O' clock closing was abolished in pubs. As live music became more popular, live performances became the key to success and rock music became mainstream. This was known as the rise of pub music. In its height of popularity, around 1980, drunk and unruly crowds were a real problem. It reached a boiling point in March 1979, when rock fans rioted to protest the close-down of the Star Hotel, and suburban warfare broke out in the streets of Newcastle. This had a hand in making rock even harder in Australia as bands needed to evolve to survive performing to this volatile audience (Long Way to the Top 2002).

During the 1970's and 1980's, the Australian cultural cringe was a very large social and cultural factor. During this time, Australian's were uncertain about their national identity; they felt the need to ask other counties what they thought about Australia. This severely impacted on the Australian music industry as audiences felt the need to have America and England approve of our musical acts. This led to a very strict management system with creative control being taken from artists (Colvin 2007).

Midnight Oil, as talked about in slide 16 Stylistic Development, were a band that deviated from this system and gained commercial success. Many of their songs contain political agendas, for example, "Blue Sky Mining" highlights the plight of workers at the Blue Sky Mine, an asbestos mine in Western Australia, who were exposed to deadly asbestos. The CSR company deliberately misinformed their workers about the risks. The workers were completely at the mercy of the company because they needed work to feed their families. This song also addresses common issues in the working class community. They worked very hard in order to live their lives and were often taken advantage of by large companies. Feminism was a very important topic in the era of Pub Rock. Women were still seen as inferior to men and were often ridiculed as performers (Colvin 2007). Rock 'n' Roll (particularly in Australia) is a man's world. "I've always had a hard time... the guys out there have to put women down." (Amphlett, cited in Milsom & Thomas 1986, p. 136). The Divinyls were so important in the Australian Pub Rock scene because it gave women a figure to look up to in Christine Amphlett. "I think the girls who relate to me are a bit off the beaten track and they relate because they don't feel so alone and isolated." (Amplett, cited in Milsom & Thomas 1986, p. 147). Amphlett was told by men that she was too different to be a singer in a Rock 'n' Roll band; she responded with: "Rock 'n' Roll is for rebels" (Amplett, cited in Jenkins 2007, p. 100). This shows that women had an ambassador in music who was every bit as rough-and-ready as the men.

The Divinyls have been described as confontational and mesmerising. Because she was given such a hard time, Amphlett began wearing a school uniform on stage to be identified by (Jenkins 2007, p. 100, 102).

The Divinyls recorded the song "I Touch Myself" because it was risky and rebelious (Jenkins 2007, p. 103). It is a classic Pub Rock song with its rock beat, and narrative lyrics. At the time, is raised issues about female sexuality and presented them to a mainly male audience, giving women a firm voice in the rock industry. Midnight Oil is perhaps the best example of an Australian Pub Rock band involved in political and social activism. Their albums have helped to bring global attention to the plight of aboriginal settlers, impoverished workers, uranium mining and unfair practices of the local music industry. After being rejected by a number of record labels, they formed their own, Powderworks.

After performing in support of the Artists United Against Apartheid projects, they became interested in the local battles of Australia's aboriginal settlers. The album Diesel and Dust was released to highlight these issues, with the single "Beds are Burning". The band then toured with the aborigine group the Warumpi Band to continue raising awareness about racism and the unjustness shown to the natives (Rovi Corp 2013). Perhaps the best example of Australian Pub Rock is "Most People I Know Think I'm Crazy" by Billy Thorpe. It has a strong, repetitive melody, driving beat and a dominant riff played by the guitar and keyboard. It also has a very masculine sound which is typical in Australian Pub Rock. Key Contributors Key Songs "The Star Hotel", by Cold Chisel is another important song in Australian Pub Rock. It tells the story of the infamous Star Hotel Riots. Angry fans rioted and this video shows an accurate representation of the anger of the audiences that bands regularly played to. This meant that bands needed to have a very rough and tough attitude to be able to survive. This attitude is very evident in Pub Rock music and gives the music a very distinct, rough sound as can be seen in "the Star Hotel". Key Contributors Key Songs "Beds are Burning", by Midnight Oil, is an example of political activism in Australian Pub Rock. It was written at a time when Aborigines had barely any rights. Midnight Oil became interested in their plight and released the album Diesel and Dust. This song asks how we (white people) can sleep soundly at night when things are not right with the whole population of Australia. It says that we need to acknowledge the traditional land owners and give them the dignity they deserve. The song also has characteristics very particular to Pub Rock such as a simple, driving rock beat, identifiable guitar riff and the lyrics follow a ballad structure. Important Pub Rock Albums include:

T.N.T - AC/DC - 1975
(Strong 2002, p. 4)

Shabooh Shoobah - INXS - 1982
(Strong 2002, p. 506)

Diesel and Dust - Midnight Oil - 1988
(Strong 2002, p. 690)

No Exit - The Angels - 1979
(Discogs 2013)

Live! At Sunbury - Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs - 1972
(Discogs 2013) Technological Advances Perhaps the most important technological advance made in Australian Pub Rock was the constant need to improve on amplifiers. Because bands played so loudly, they regularly blew their amplifiers up. Bands such as the Aztecs actually put advertisements in magazines to find people to design an amplifier that could take the punishing regime of the Pub Rock circuit (Engleheart 2010, p. 32).

Lobby Loyde and Billy Thorpe from the Aztecs both had amplifiers custom built for them by Strauss. Yet, they still kept blowing them up. It was common practise for them to place bags of ice on top of them to keep them cool. So, Loyde designed an amplifier with John Brisbane, president of the Flying Saucer Association. They called it the Warrior. The speakers put out a massive 750 watts RMS, sixteen 12-inch speakers and eight 15-inch speakers. They were virtually bomb-proof (Engleheart 2010, p. 32). Key Developments Folk artists such as Slim Dusty have influenced rock artists such as Paul Kelly through his lyrics and simple chord progressions (Stratton 2004). Country music has also impacted on the Australian music industry. Cold Chisel incorporate a lot of country aspects in their music such as simple chord progressions, ballad type songs and very identifieable choruses (Ellis 2006). "Shipping Steel" is an excellent example of this. Key Developments
The Angels drew a lot of their influences from punk music. They were all about energy, sweat, volume and intensity. John Brewster, of the Angels, wrote the song "I Aint the One to Judge" based on the Sex Pistols' sound. (Engleheart 2010, p. 173). These Australian bands are continuing the Pub Rock legacy into the 2000's and beyond. Stylistic Developements In the 1990's and 2000's, pub music has declined as the popularity of DJ's and dance music has risen. The conversion of pubs into family bistros and pokie machine havens means that there are not as many venues for the rough-and-tumble pub rock bands. Also, spending the night going out to listen to bands play music has declined in popularity (SuzWrites 2013).
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