Once again we used the Yahoo! Music 2008 XLFP-2 Music Calculator to help us with this Herculean task. And boy did it help. I'll be damned if I know how to quantify The Vines vs. Kylie Minogue vs. Olivia Newton John, but this handy dandy program can figure out anything. I think next time I'll let it write this blog. Then we'll see who's in charge.
Anyhow, I'm sure we left out someone important. I'm sure we left out someone obvious. There's always an Australian lurking in the shadows not letting on, pretending to be a native from the Northern Hemisphere. It's OK to come out now. We're all broke up here anyhow. Can we borrow an orange?
Paul Kelly: Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, Paul Kelly and the Dots, Paul Kelly and the Stormwater Boys...this guy can't keep a band together but he knows how to put his own name at the front. He's an Australian institution with actual hit singles and rabid fans. Here in the U.S. he could probably get a job driving a taxi. If he asks nicely.
24) Silverchair: Remember these guys? Me neither. But their reviews were pretty amazing at the time. People seemed to think these young kids had a chance to be the "next Nirvana," but then that guy shot his head off and no one wanted to be the next anything.
Dead Can Dance: Honestly, I didn't think they allowed Goth in Australia. I didn't think it would translate well. It barely translates here. Although in the past few years I have noticed that it hasn't gone away. There's always someone who has the guts to go out in broad daylight and behave as if the sun doesn't exist. Must get expensive buying all that sunblock.
22) You Am I: I knew these guys would never become popular in the U.S. Why, you ask? Because I thought they were pretty good and it's a proven fact that anything I like will not catch on. It will make it to the 99-cent junk bin where years later a bunch of music nerds will discover it and do the same head scratch that's become my signature move.
The Triffids: According to Wikipedia, these guys were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry's Hall of Fame, such was their success. Damn! On these shores, they wouldn't even qualify for a "Where Are They Now?" trivia question. They're clearly under the "Who the hell are you talking about?" umbrella.
20) Hoodoo Gurus: Compared to the previous entries, the Hoodoo Gurus are practically mega-stars. Who doesn't remember "I Want You Back" and their Mars Needs Guitars album? I remember humming along to their songs and thinking "Boy, these people on college radio are neat-O."
Radio Birdman: One of punk rock's original pioneers, often left off crucial punk rock lists because they came from a place very far from the nexus of New York and London. It's like what they say in real estate applies to punk rock: location, location, location.
18) Little River Band: I admit, I had no idea these guys were Australian. I just thought they were lame! "Reminiscing" is the only tune I can even barely remember and even that one I have blocked. But you have to admit, they're at least a band people have heard of. And sometimes that's important. Now, hopefully someone will run a really ugly picture of them! Hee hee.
The Vines: A couple of years ago I remember people saying these boys were going to help save rock n' roll. Along with the Hives, who were from Sweden. I guess they kinda did, since last I checked rock n' roll still existed. So it's possible they "saved" it. Crazy kids!
16) The Easybeats: "Friday On My Mind" may be one of the most honest and relatable songs of all time. The only people who don't have Friday on their minds are people who work weekends. Something I did for years, mostly because I preferred to have time during the week to get my errands done. I often had Tuesday on my mind. Which may be why I'm such a rotten songwriter.
Wolfmother: Hey the Blue Cheer Appreciation Society is now accepting new members! Leave it to kids who weren't even born when such great groups roamed the earth to brilliantly bring it all back to life for us. So when's the next Toe Fat Revival? Bloodrock anyone? Frijid Pink?
14) Kylie Minogue: I think I interviewed her once. If I did, I'm sure I asked her something about her Nick Cave connection. Kylie was a pop star who was sorta like the Britney Spears or Charo of her generation. She has sold in excess of 60 million records, which should mean she's financially set for life, provided she didn't get screwed by her managers. There's a story Billy Joel can tell you.
Jet: When they first appeared everyone thought they sounded like an AC/DC rip off. Then we learned they were Australian and we figured it was ok to copy your fellow countrymen. It's not like being from California and trying to sing "British," or being from England and trying to sound American. Everything is a conspiracy, y'know what I mean?
12) INXS: Hugely popular in the 1980s when anything could happen, INXS really came down to the hair and persona of Michael Hutchence, who was featured on magazine covers because he could sell them. Then success slowed and Hutchence was found dead in a Sydney hotel room, ruled a suicide. He'd cut his hair.
Men At Work: Men At Work became immensely popular back in the early 1980s since they were one of about five bands who had a video made to accompany their music back when MTV was just getting started. So, naturally, their videos got played all the time. Then other bands started making videos, too. That's when times got tough all over.
10) Kasey Chambers: Kasey's one of those people you assume is completely genuine. Is she? I don't know. But she sure does come off as someone who performs music with her family in tow and who does what she does because it comes naturally. But who knows what lurks underneath that calm exterior. She could be a serial killer! Wouldn't that be weird? It would make for a great Lifetime movie.
The Birthday Party: Nick Cave and his band of malcontents knew they had to get to the U.K. if they were ever going to really make it. That's one LONG plane ride. But a necessary one for sure. The band broke up and Cave re-hired some of the members to play in his own backing band the Bad Seeds, since Cave realized he needed to put his own name out there if he was going to be a real icon. Like Bob Newhart. Or Bill Cosby.
8) The Saints: No surprise here, but there's allegedly a Christian Metal band with this name as well. Well, we're talking about the Australian punk band led by Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper. Kuepper left but Bailey stuck around to experience a comeback many years after their initial impact. As Roger Waters can tell you in retrospect, always keep the name!
Split Enz/Crowded House: Neil Finn had the unusual luck of being in two successful bands, Split Enz and Crowded House. Unusual, since it's a tough trick to build up an audience twice. Usually you have success with one band and then HAMMER IT TO DEATH.
6) The Church: Everyone sing "Under The Milky Way" and then go eat one!
Olivia Newton-John: She was English born but shuttled off to Australia to--I dunno--pay for our sins? Anyhow, she eventually went back to England and became a country music star! Where else to put her music? Until she done Grease and then came Totally Hot and Physical and it was as if the whole world would one day be draped in Spandex! And for a time, it was.
4) The Apartments: Peter Milton Walsh isn't exactly a household name. Yet! This blog will certainly help rectify his absence in the Rock n' Roll News Section of whatever paper still has one. He recorded albums of great anguish that have been known to improve the lives of all those who have listened. It beats that colon cleanse stuff, I'll tell you that.
The Go-Betweens: Considered by people with too much time on their hands to be among the finest groups of any era, The Go-Betweens did benefit from having two competitive songwriters in their fold: Robert Forster and Grant McLennan. The men would go solo and then return; like chocolate and peanut butter, they were destined to be enjoyed together. Then McLennan died and Forster was left to record in tribute. And can now completely re-write the Go-Betweens history in his favor.
2) AC/DC: The loudest band from Australia, AC/DC were probably asked to leave until it was realized how much money they could bring back to this rather huge island. Then everything was good, because as they noted themselves: "Moneytalks." (Don't you love when things work out like this?)
The Bee Gees: Before they became the Falsetto Kings of Disco, they were also once a respected pop act that made grown men weep. They had nine lives and used most of them to stage various comebacks. Improbable, but they truly were "Staying Alive" until Maurice passed in 2003.
- Kylie Minogue
- Paul Kelly
- Olivia Newton John