If you were a teen in the 1970s and 1980s in Australia, you got to experience some of the best music on earth (IMHO). Many songs of those eras have become anthems for us. Others resonate with us because they stir particular emotions we started to explore as teens.
Music in Australia
While Australian pop and rock music might have got off to a slow start, by the early 1970s we saw a profusion of rock bands and musicians take on their overseas competition in the Australian market.
Ariel, Daddy Cool, Tamam Shud, Max Merritt & the Meteors and, of course, Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs, who gave us one of our great 1970s’ anthems, ‘Most people I know’. The musical ‘Godspell’ was a sensation and gave us Colleen Hewett and Molly Meldrum’s nearly 6-minute long ‘Day by Day’. But it was only these two that made it into the top 25 of the 1972 charts. Our preference was for live music or, if we were too young to go to pubs, listening to the Top 40 countdown with our friends in our kids’ room ‒ probably belting along to ‘Highway to Hell’ or ‘Khe Sanh’ at the top of our lungs.
Australian music in the 1980s
Many of us spent the first half of the 1980s in Europe and returned to a thriving music scene. AC/DC still going strong, Cold Chisel as well. The Divinyls, Mental as Anything, The Models, The Bushwhackers, Hunters and Collectors, Men at Work (an international sensation with ‘Down Under’), INXS, The Church, Australian Crawl, Split Enz and Crowded House, Paul Kelly, Jo Jo Zep, Mondo Rock, Midnight Oil, The Chantoozies, Johnny Diesel & The Injectors, Dragon, Flowers/Icehouse and so many more. And of course, we can’t ignore our Kylie, who was one of the first Australian performers to achieve global stardom. While they borrowed from overseas influences, our bands had a distinctly Aussie sound.
The international influence
Australia might be at what feels like the end of the world but thanks to music lovers like Molly Meldrum and radio stations trying to attract younger audiences, in the 1970s we were rocking to everyone from Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and the Rolling Stones to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jethro Tull, The Kinks, T. Rex and The Jacksons. In the 1980s, we loved Blondie, The Stranglers, The Cure, Culture Club, U2, The Communards and Talking Heads ‒ and learned that ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’. Whatever our music taste, there was a band to satisfy it.
We all had the same stuff in the 1970s
We don’t know about you but we miss vinyl; well, more specifically, the album covers. We also miss how most of our friends had almost the same collections as we did. Seriously, for the 1970s teens, how many of you had some or all of these records?
Tubular Bells: Mike Oldfield
Tea for the Tillerman: Cat Stevens
Aqualung (or Thick as a Brick): Jethro Tull
Tapestry: Carole King
Led Zeppelin III: Led Zeppelin
Paranoid: Black Sabbath
Sweet Baby James: James Taylor
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour: Moody Blues
Bridge Over Troubled Water: Simon and Garfunkel
The Best of Bread: Bread
Hot August Night: Neil Diamond
Something by Creedence
A Stones album
A Beatles album
Alice’s Restaurant: Arlo Guthrie
With a Little Help from my Friends: Joe Cocker
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida: Iron Butterfly
Wheels of Fire: Cream
Last Exit: Traffic
What’s Going On: Marvin Gaye
You could walk into any share house or friend’s bedroom and be reasonably certain you’d find some or all of the above.
While we recognise that ‘Advance Australia Fair’ is our semi-official national anthem (‘God Save the King’ is still the official anthem) and ‘Waltzing Matilda’ the most recognisable non-anthem, we can think of Aussie songs that just say ‘home’. Think:
- Khe Sanh: Cold Chisel
- Most people I know think that I’m crazy: Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs
- My island home: Warumpi Band/Christine Anu
- Down Under: Men at Work
- I still call Australia home: Peter Allen
- Great southern land: Icehouse
What others do you think we should have included?
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