inner city sound - 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.
Pressed for a Xmas gift for that special Rock Action person in your life? Worry no more. “Product 45” has landed.
“Product 45” is a lavish book released this week that focuses on the years 1976-1980 and showcases single cover art from the Australian punk/post punk era. This is the first book in a series of three that looks at the art of packaging Australian music as told by the musicians, the artists and the fans.
This lavish coffee table masterpiece has been lovingly compiled by Sydneysider Murray Bennett who has carved a career packaging records for Australian independent and major labels.
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.