Ultimate Australian Compilation

Nah, I’m not talking about drinking beer. I’m talking about a scene where you could go and see sizeable original bands all over the city on any night of the week (not just a mate’s band playing to 3 people and a dog). The days when bands would play several gigs a week, honing their craft.

As pokies and cover bands came to prominence in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this began to die away. Just in Melbourne, there were multiple venues in the city centre, North Melbourne, Brunswick, Fitzroy, St Kilda, Richmond, Collingwood etc. with live original full-band music. Of course there are still places like The Tote etc. but they are sadly more the exception to the rule nowadays.

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The Chats - Pub Feed
Cosmic Psychos - Nice day to go the pub
Warumpi Band - Black Fella/White Fella
Sneaky Sound System - Hip, Hip Hooray
You Am I - Purple Sneakers
Something For Kate - Captain
Paul Kelly - How To Make Gravy
The Saints - Know Your Product
John Williamson - True Blue
Radio Birdman - Aloha Steve And Danno
Nick Cave - Deanna
Died Pretty - DC
RatCat - That Aint Bad
Screamfeeder - Hi C’s
Hoodoo Gurus - WipeOut


Surely it’s a volume of venues thing. The list of venues that don’t play live music anymore is pretty large.

These days if your an Australian artist the path to success would be to get triple j airtime then get included on the festival circuit. My impression of the 70’s was you’d get in a van and play 30 gigs from Adelaide to Brisbane on a road trip through every major town. If you were in Melb and Sydney there were dozens of venues to get a gig.


I am not sure. You are probably right that there’s less, but as venues have died new venues have opened, and over and over. I reckon there’s a bit of rose coloured glasses about the old days. I know it felt like the end to me personally when The Punters Club shut down, but that was just me being self absorbed. New venues open, and this city still creates great pub rock. It just doesn’t sound like it used to.

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Too hard to narrow it to 18, so I’ve gone with a 2CD set. I’ve resisted the temptation to choose NZ bands (Split Enz, Crowded House, Dragon, Mi-Sex) that we have co-opted… and I’ve generally nominated the artist’s signature song, rather than what I’d preferentially run with… I’ve also left out a bunch of artists I could have easily included (Weddings Parties Anything, Ups And Downs, Do-Re-Mi, The Clouds etc.)
The sequencing probably needs a lot of work…

Disc #1:

  1. Down Under - Men At Work (personally I’d choose It’s A Mistake as their best)
  2. Sounds Of Then - Gangajang
  3. Sorry - Easybeats
  4. Great Southern Land - Icehouse (personally I’d choose Icehouse as their best)
  5. Back In Black - AC/DC
  6. Bittersweet - Hoodoo Gurus (personally I’d choose My Girl)
  7. Throw Your Arms Around Me - Hunters & Collectors (personally I’d choose Talking To A Stranger)
  8. Almost With You - The Church
  9. Wide Open Road - Triffids
  10. Quasimodo’s Dream - The Reels
  11. One Crowded Hour - Augie March
  12. Need You Tonight – INXS (personally I’d choose To Look At You)
  13. The Best Thing - Boom Crash Opera
  14. Power & The Passion - Midnight Oil
  15. Living In The 70’s – Skyhooks
  16. The Honeymoon Is Over – The Cruel Sea
  17. Someone That I Used To Know - Gotye
  18. Reckless - Australian Crawl (personally I’d choose Errol)

Disc #2:

  1. Solid Rock - Goanna (personally I’d choose Four Weeks Gone as their best)
  2. Treaty - Yothu Yindi
  3. Turn Up Your Radio - Master’s Apprentices
  4. No Secrets - The Angels
  5. Boys In Town - Divinyls (personally I’d choose Good Die Young as their best)
  6. From The Sea - Eskimo Joe
  7. Blush - The Hummingbirds
  8. Alone With You - Sunnyboys
  9. Streets Of Your Town - Go-Betweens
  10. To Her Door - Paul Kelly & The Messengers
  11. Black Bugs - Regurgitator
  12. Run To Paradise - Choirboys (personally I’d choose Never Gonna Die as their best)
  13. We Can’t Be Beaten - Rose Tattoo (personally I’d choose Bad Boy For Love)
  14. Bow River - Cold Chisel (personally I’d choose plenty of others)
  15. (I’m) Stranded - The Saints
  16. Ready One - Grinspoon
  17. Died Pretty - DC
  18. Passenger - Powderfinger

But all of these Aus pub rock acts (think the likes of Courtney Barnett) who have kicked on overseas in recent times have come through Melbourne Pubs and RRR before being picked up by JJJ

This looks like something that may be of interest

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I got that link from this article

Think I went to every one of those. Well, except the Crystal Ballroom, though I think that was later on called The Venue which I did go to…


This was harder than I thought - a lot of good options.

You’re The Voice - John Farnham
Blow Up The Pokies - The Whitlams
Jail Break - AC/DC
Khe Sahn - Cold Chisel
I Was Only 19 - Redgum
Treaty - Yothu Yindi
What’s My Scene - Hoodoo Goorus
My Happiness - Powederfinger
The Real Thing - Russell Morris
Sounds of then (This is Australia) - Gang Gajang
Downunder - Men At Work
Too Many Times - Mental As Anything
Holy Grail - Hunters & Collectors
Great Southern Land - Icehouse
It’s Because I Love You - Masters Apprentices
Living In The 70’s – Skyhooks
King Of The Mountain - Midnight Oil
Am I ever gonna see your face again - The Angels

I can add a few sadly departed (or radically changed) live-band places to that list too…
The Armadale (in Armadale), 1990’s
The Nicholson (aka “The Nicko”) in Fark Carlton, late 80’s-early 90’s
The Hi-Fi Bar, Swanston St, late 90’s-early 00’s
The Evelyn, Brunswick (90’s-early 00’s)
The Club, Smith St, Collingwood (80’s- 90’s)
Central Club, Richmond, 80’s-early 90’s, before it became the hairdressing salon bar it is today)
The Clifton Hill, Clifton Hill (90’s)
The Great Britain, Richmond (late 80’s-late 90’s)


The whole East coast touring circuit dried up.

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Yep, it really did.

And yet that study showed increased in gigs and venues across the 3 decades in both Melbourne and Sydney. Would be interesting to see how the numbers them changed in the following years.

Did it “dry up” or did it “change”?

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Well…that was damn near mission impossible but this is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Friday On My Mind - The Easybeats
  2. The Real Thing - Russell Morris
  3. Because I Love You - Masters Apprentices
  4. Eagle Rock - Daddy Cool
  5. 12lb Toothbrush - Madder Lake
  6. Evie (Pts I, II & III) - Stevie Wright
  7. Living In The 70s - Skyhooks
  8. It’s A Long Way To The Top - AC/DC
  9. Take A Long Line - The Angels
  10. Tomorrow - Cold Chisel
  11. Armistice Day - Midnight Oil
  12. Almost With You - The Church
  13. I Was Only 19 - Redgum
  14. Down Under - Men At Work
  15. Original Sin - INXS
  16. To Her Door - Paul Kelly
  17. The Weeping Song - Nick Cave
  18. Emotion Sickness - Silverchair

Couldn’t squeeze so many acts in…and probably missed a few that I might have put in if I’d remembered them…but such is life.


Oh, good call… how did I overlook that one?!

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Hoodoo Gurus - Bittersweet
The Angels - Marsellies
Hunters - Talking To A stranger
Lime Spiders - Weirdo Libido
Ammonia - Drugs
Church - Russian Autumn Heart
Midnight Oil - The Dead Heart
Dingoes - Way Out West
Paul Kelly - To Her Door
Cold Chisel - No Sense
Easybeats - Friday On My Mind
Masters Apprentices - Turn Up Your Radio
Nick Cave - 15 Feet Of Pure White Snow
Flash & The Pan - Hey! St Peter
Sunny Boys - Happy Man
Models - Two Cabs To The Toucan
Regurgitator - Everyday Formula
Skyhooks - Balwyn Calling

Bonus Track
Saints - Know your Product

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What is classified as a gig though? Does the study distinguish between original and cover bands? Does it consider an acoustic performance with two members from five strumming acoustics at an art gallery launch as a full gig?
Noise restrictions prohibit many venues now from anything other than occasional acoustic performances.

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Just did a search on Spotify for playlists for best Aus songs. There’s a whole world out there where this list could get filled with Alex Lloyd and Savage Garden tracks

And there seems a lack of Divinyls if we’re doing Oz Rock…

Where’s freaking TISM?