ARCA DESKTAPE SERIES
The Australian Road Crew Association has secured the backing of major Australian artists for the release of LIVE soundtracks recorded from venues across Australia and Internationally.
The ARCA Desk Tape Series is an initiative of the Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA), a not for profit organization dedicated to the welfare of live production crew in Australia. ARCA is assisted by a collective of industry professionals, all freely giving their energy and time.
The BLACK BOX RECORDS recordings were created to raise much needed funds and have aligned with Support Act’s “Roadies Fund” to provide financial, health, mental health, and counselling – Finally, men and women, are being recognized for their being the backbone for major artists tours, corporate events, and even giving ‘their time’ to charitable events.
The series was created by ARCA to raise funds and resources for Support Act’s “Roadies Fund” to provide financial, health, counselling and wellbeing services for crews. ARCA was approached by Support Act after ARCA made the industry and the wider community aware of the plight of many Roadies who were doing it hard, and they created the “Roadies” fund together.
Roadies have amassed a treasure trove of live recordings spanning more than 40 years and made ARCA their custodian. These tapes document the cultural significance of the Australian live music scene and serve as important historical records, requiring a release to ensure they may never be lost.
Each release acknowledges the importance and value that roadies have contributed to making our live performance industry such an outstanding success. They offer recognition to the engineers who documented this wealth of genuine Australian music history. ARCA has established Black Box Records as the vehicle to promote each release, with MGM Distribution providing the means for worldwide distribution.
Each release will be distributed worldwide through all major digital and streaming services by MGM Distribution. ARCA will finance short runs of CD’s of each title for sale if feasible.
The Desk tape Series will be available through: –
Apple Music / iTunes
Desk Tape Series: Doug Parkinson, Live at Gobbles, Perth, 1979
Desk Tape Series: Doug Parkinson, Live at Gobbles, Perth, 1979
Doug Parkinson is the son of an artist. Doug matriculated from high school with honours in all subjects and was also a prefect at school. He excelled at school in every way including sport (Cricket , Rugby Union and Rugby League) and left school at 18 to become a cadet journalist at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, and had made it his creed right from the 1960s to always play with the best.
Doug Parkinson helped put together The Southern Star Band which was made up of some of the best musicians in Australia at the time, playing a fusion of rock, jazz and funk. Absolutely brilliant performance.
As the bands singer Doug Parkinson regarded them as being “a little ahead of their time. They were one of the best bands I’ve played with, and with a red-hot rhythm section.”
By the time of the Gobbles show, two of the members were poised for worldwide fame.
For Tommy Emmanuel, the Southern Star Band was the first time he’d step out of the country-rock of his band Goldrush, and his exuberant free-up creativity is evident on the live record.
Parkinson says of the guitarist’s contribution to the band: “He is a master of the instrument, and as we went along, his musical horizons expanded into jazz and rock, he had a very sophisticated and complicated technique.”
After stints with John Farnham and Dragon, Emmanuel moved to Nashville, USA, and became a multi-award winning global guitar hero and received the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2010.
Frank Esler-Smith, who loved classical music and studied architecture in Melbourne, went on to join Air Supply in America, where he made a name for himself as a master strings arranger for their hits. He died of pneumonia in 1991.
Mark Kennedy, who as a teenage prodigy on drums emerged with prog-rock Spectrum and jazz-fusion Ayers Rock, went on to greater heights as a player and as a record producer.
Keith “Stretch” Kerwin who started in the Brisbane Avengers, later joined Jon English’s Foster Bros.
Mark Kennedy and Duncan McGuire, a foremost bassist who had also played in the Southern Star Band, together went on to form a production company and produced some fine songs.
Parkinson remembers the Gobbles show well. “It was a great night! All the hip people from Perth frequented the place and they liked our band.”
At that time the Southern Star Band were aligned with top promoter Kevin Jacobsen, and they were booked for many shows, including on tours by major international acts as Bob Marley, Genesis, the Four Tops and Randy Crawford.
Also at the same time, the band had just had a hit with ‘I’ll Be Around’, a cover of The Spinners’ 1972 one-million seller written by Thom Bell and Phil Hurtt.
The 16-song Live At Gobbles shows off some wonderful interplay between the musicians, especially on ‘Waiting For The Wiz’, ‘I Know A Little’ and ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere’. It also showcases the astonishing array of songs the band played.
Desk Tape Series: Crowded House, Live '92-'94 Part 2
Desk Tape Series: Crowded House, Live ’92-’94 Part 2
Crowded House were a band that were more about running than standing still. Which is why it’s so difficult to define or describe their music.
There was a certain impetus about what they did. Neil Finn remembers that at their very first rehearsal, at Factory Sound in South Melbourne, they came up with ‘Recurring Dream’ – one of their most loved live staples, and which kicks off Crowded House LIVE ’92-’94 Part 2.
Through the years, Neil (full name: Neil Mullane Finn), jumped from project to project, from solo to duo to various collectives. Crowded House was never about polishing what they achieved but tinkering with the parts and working out how to make them evolve to the next reel. It made them indispensable.
Nick Seymour once described the making of one of their tracks as “a jigsaw puzzle”. In many ways that description could be applied to all, if not, most Crowded House tracks.
‘Fall At Your Feet’, one of the stand-outs of the Woodface album, is a radio, talent quest and karaoke favourite and been covered by many artists.
It’s seamless pop but it came together in the studio from the fragments of two songs that the band was having difficulty with. This was the song that Seymour described as a “jigsaw”.
On the SBS documentary series Greatest Australian Albums, Finn described what he was trying to achieve with the song: “It was really that moment post a conflict or a struggle, when you sense a great sadness in the person you’re with … where you want to offer yourself as some kind of sounding board or a weeping wall. You want to take all their sadness, especially if you’ve been responsible for some of it.”
Neil says it was Tim who came up with the lines “Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you” and “Walking round the room singing ‘Stormy Weather’” and explains, “Ultimately, the theme of the song is of course, that you are creating your own weather, you are making your own environment, always.”
‘The World Where You Live’, the first international Crowded House single, was inspired when Neil was staying at his manager’s house in Los Angeles. He’d be woken up around 6 am when the woman next door enjoyed very loud sex. He never met her, but lines like ‘I don’t know where you go, do you climb into space, to the world where you live,’ was just speculating what was going on there.
The other songs on Crowded House LIVE ’92-’94 Part 2are ‘There Goes God’, ‘Love You Till The Day I Die’, ‘Black And White Boy’ (according to fans, it was either about Paul Hester or Neil’s dalmation dog Lester), ‘Private Universe’, ‘In The Lowlands’, ‘You Can Touch’ (initially a Japan-only release), ‘I Feel Possessed’, ‘Nails In My Feet’ the Hester-penned ‘Italian Plastic’ and ‘When You Come’.
Desk Tape Series: Crowded House, Live '92-'94 Part 1
Desk Tape Series: Crowded House, Live ’92-’94 Part 1
Crowded House make beautiful albums. By July 2010, the band, which formed in Melbourne in 1985 and quickly became a global success story, had sold 10 million of them.
But it is in concerts that they bring a sense of time to the timeless songs, with their improvised humour through whacky onstage patter and the occasional onstage practical jokes on fans.
Crowded House Live 92—94 Part 1 has some of the band’s best ever songs. Part 2 will continue the incredible song list.
‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ was enough of a gorgeous ballad to be a world hit including #2 in the US, #1 in New Zealand and Canada and Top 10 in Australia, Norway and the Netherlands. Neil was feeling lost at the time and wanted to write a song about moving forward. He penned it at his brother Tim’s home, trying to find quiet there while his sibling was away. However, drummer Paul Hester was staying there and had friends over, so while Neil wrote behind closed doors in the piano room, out came the line “when the world comes in”.
In the studio, producer Mitchell Froom suggested changing the flavour, and shifted the key from E to E# to make it more melancholy. Years after its release, fans remain divided on whether the song is of hope or if the title means “don’t dream (any more because) it’s over”. According to bassist Nick Seymour: “You think the song is gloomy? The record’s about not giving up hope and succumbing to the effects of the mass media and consumerism, but there’s an over-riding positive view in all our songs.”
The inspiration for other songs on Crowded House Live 92—94 Part 1 come from different places.
‘Pineapple Head’ was something his infant son Liam yelled out while hallucinating during a fever in Melbourne, as well as “the get away car” and “the detective is flat.”
One interpretation of ‘Better Be Home Soon’ is that Neil is telling Paul Hester he was aware of the demons he was confronting and that he needed to be home where he would be “safe”. At the 2005 ARIA awards, after a depressed Paul killed himself in a Melbourne park aged 46, Neil flew to Sydney from Auckland just to perform the song as an emotional farewell to Paul.
‘It’s Only Natural’, another global hit, featured in the end credits of 1992 film There Goes the Neighbourhood starring Catherine O’Hara.
‘Locked Out` was part of the soundtrack to Reality Bites.
‘Chocolate Cake’ was inspired by an incident in a New York restaurant where a woman loudly chattered, “I don’t know, you think I should have another piece of chocolate cake?” The song’s lines like “excess of fat on your American bones” was viewed as a comment on American consumerism and over-indulgence which led to its low sales in the US.
Other songs on Crowded House Live 92—94 Part 1 include ‘Whispers And Moans’, ‘Love This Life’, ‘In My Command’ and ‘Fingers Of Love’.
Desk Tape Series: Dutch Tilders, Live at the Commune 1975
Desk Tape Series: Dutch Tilders, Live at The Commune 1975
The late Dutch Tilders was a prominent multi-award winning figure who emerged in the folk/blues boom from the late ‘60s, best known for his singing, guitar work and harmonica playing. Dutch is still one of the greatest blues players.
This is a pure acoustic performance with no amplification. Dutch had a Tuesday night residency at the club.
Peter Howell, his long-time double bassist recalls, “The Commune was a small folk club in Victoria St., North Melbourne. Folk clubs in those days were alcohol free and also PA free. You were really frowned upon if you had an electric instrument!
“The best memories of these clubs are playing totally acoustic, no PA”s, the audience sitting at your feet and not uttering a word. It was like being under a microscope.
“It was the best scene to get your act together as a musician and not be self conscious under such scrutiny.”
For the recording he borrowed an Otari 2 track reel to reel and a couple of condenser mics. “This recording is a great example of how it was done in a folk club and I am proud to see it released. A great moment in time for Melbourne music.”
Tilders’ audience was diverse, and his natural no-nonsense charm could win over crowds at rock venues, jazz festivals, parties, bike clubs – and one memorable time at the Box Hill Town Hall, skinheads and sharpies at a Lobby Lloyd and the Coloured Balls show.
Tilders was diagnosed with terminal inoperative oesophageal cancer in May 2010. While the music community gathered around doing benefits to raise money for medical costs, Dutch kept performing despite the pain.
He defied doctors’ orders and kept smoking and drinking until a few hours before he passed away on April 23, 2011. He was 69. Dutch chose quality of life, not quantity, and passed peacefully.
In May 2012 Australian Guitar magazine listed him among the top 40 on its Definitive Australian Guitarists of All Time list.
On October 30, 2019, Dutch was inducted into the Blues Music Victoria Inc Hall of Fame.
Desk Tape Series: Neil Finn, Solo at the Seymour Centre 2010
Desk Tape Series: Neill Finn, Solo at The Seymour Centre 2010
In late 2010, when Neil Finn played an intimate solo show in the York Theatre at the Seymour Centre in Sydney, he took the opportunity to say hello to some old friends from different parts of his life.
From the stage, he told the sold-out 800-strong audience, “I thank you for joining me tonight and allowing me to pass through a few eras and a few songs that I don’t get to play very often because it’s a very joyous thing for me. “
Ten years later Finn has nothing but great memories of that show, and of that trip down the time tunnel. “I remember it fondly as a great room and an audience that was leaning forward and listening to every word.”
There was no specific reason about what it is about those old friends he needed to bring up onstage and breathe new life into them. “I just made it up backstage an hour or so before … I can’t remember what sparked each choice.”
Having built up a loyal following with Split Enz and Crowded House, Neill Finn was able to dig into darker and more experimental themes on his solo albums. “I am truly blessed,” he says of his audience’s willingness to come on his different journeys.
Neil Finn’s songs have appeared everywhere – band albums, solo records, documentaries, movies, and endless collaborations. But he is at pains to point out that he doesn’t write for projects. Rather the songs emerge and land where they may.
The Seymour Centre saw the songs blend into each other, as Neil switched from guitar to piano, and infused the proceedings with humour and with wry quips like “Is it contradictory we’re in the Seymour Theatre (sic) and there’s no Nick Seymour?” and bringing up an audience member (Adriano) to play two-finger piano with him during ‘Anytime’. Brilliant.
Representing the solo albums are stand-outs like the melodic ‘Into The Sunset’ which Neil describes as “a literal inspiration sitting watching the sun go down at Piha (a beach on New Zealand’s north island) after a long time away.”
Desk Tape Series: Goanna, Live at Canberra Workers Club 1985
Desk Tape Series: Goanna, Live at Canberra Workers Club 1985
Shane Howard recalls of the show: “Having been off the road for nearly a year, recording and mixing, finances were grim and we’d taken to the road with some urgency, to raise some much needed wages, promote the Common Ground single and prepare for the upcoming album release.
By the time we did the Canberra Workers Club gig we’d already been touring pretty solidly through November, December and January 1984, to promote the ‘Common Ground’ single.
We’d had a short break and done a few days of recording and a few days of final mixes for the following single release before driving to Canberra. It was one of the first shows in a very long tour run that would take us from Melbourne to North Queensland, to Tasmania and West Australia. Like all touring in those days, it was nearly all done by road.
There’s some rough patches here and there and a bit of patchwork and spot welding that had to be done in a few spots. They’re certainly imperfect.
That said, the tapes are impressive and I think you’ll be struck, dear listener, by how good a live band Goanna were and how great the crew were who pulled these shows together, night after night, on the road. They’re a faithful portrait of a band in full flight, with a six man road crew, that you don’t see in the background, pulling every show together.
It was no easy life but our core crew guys were the salt of the earth and stood by us through thick and thin.”
Desk Tape Series: Men at Work, Live at Christchurch Town Hall 1982
Desk Tape Series: Men at Work, Live at Christchurch Town Hall 1982
A recently surfaced live album from Men At Work, recorded just before their massive US breakthrough showed the band from Melbourne was more than ready for what was to come.
By the time Men At Work played New Zealand, they’d repeated their Australian success, with ‘Who Can It Be Now? and ‘Down ‘Under’ storming the charts and their first album Business As Usual perched at #1. On the tour, they broke attendance figures at every venue, were given the rock star treatment, and the Christchurch show was broadcast nationally on a radio network.
Men At Work’s Christchurch show before 2,500 fans, recorded by long time friend and front-of-house operator Mark Woods, follows successful issues by ARCA of rare desk tapes by Redgum in 1985, TISM in 1988, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band in 2010, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons in 1976 and Australian Crawl in 1981.
Mark Woods explains: “The American producer Peter McIan massaged songs, and turned them into radio hits. Men At Work’s rise to success was so quick. Within six months they moved from the tiny pub, the Cricketers’ Arms in Richmond, to playing to tens of thousands at beachside concerts.”
Live At Christchurch Town Hall 1982 abounds with hits like ‘Who Can It Be Now?` which began life by Hay on a treetop house in NSW and finished off in the seedy suburb of St. Kilda in Melbourne where residents feared being mistaken for criminals and drug dealers. ‘Down Under`is credited to Hay and guitarist Ron Strykert. But they never sat in the same room to write it. Strykert came up with the riff as part of a cassette tape of soundscapes. Hay listened endlessly to the tape and one day while driving around Melbourne, the phrase “I come from the land down under” popped
in his head. Says Hay, “It was a marriage of two totally different approaches. But it wouldn’t have become a song if not for that tape that Ron made.”
‘Overkill’ captures Men At Work’s anticipation of their massive success, “of stepping into the unknown where you have no control and having a certain amount of steel about that.” All in all, this live recording captures an incredible moment in time and a piece of historical Australian music.
Desk Tape Series: Australian Crawl, Live at Billboard 1981
Desk Tape Series: Australian Crawl, Live At Billboard 1981
Australian Crawl: Live At Billboard 1981 was recorded as the band from Victoria’s surf coast Mornington Peninsula, hit its strides as a live act.
They consisted of singer James Reyne, drummer Bill McDonough, rhythm guitar and vocals Guy McDonough, bassist Paul Williams, lead guitarist Simon Binks and rhythm guitarist Brad Robinson.
Their healthy swimming and surfing passions initially gave the band a surfer and college student following before they became household names.
By the time of the Billboard show, Australian Crawl had sold 600,000 copies of their first two albums The Boys Light Up and Sirocco, and voted the most popular group at the 1981 Countdown Awards.
They were breaking attendance records at clubs around the country. They drew 100,000 to Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne and 90,000 to The Domain in Sydney.
The 20 songs on Australian Crawl: Live At Billboard ’81 include all their hits at the time, as ‘Beautiful People’, ‘Downhearted’, ‘Errol’, ‘Things Don’t Seem’, ‘Lakeside’ and ‘Oh No Not You Again’.
There are also album standouts as ‘Unpublished Critics’ (written by Reyne and Williams), ‘Indisposed’ and ‘Love Boys’ (which Bill wrote about two of their road crew), reviews of the next album (‘Daughters Of The Northern Coast’ got its first airing this night) and crowd-punching covers as ‘Six Days On The Road’ and ‘Slow Down’.
The year after, Crawl went on to have another #1 album with their third album Sons Of Beaches.
Desk Tape Series: Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons’ Live At San Remo, NYE 1976
Desk Tape Series: Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Live At San Remo, NYE 1976
Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons were one of the most powerful bands to emerge out of the Melbourne clubs in the mid-70s – with a glorious blend of originals and obscure covers with tight musicianship and a laddish sense of entertainment.
They were fronted by ball of energy Joe Camilleri who sang and played sax, and his nickname derived from Giuseppe, the Maltese name for Joseph gave the new band their name.
Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons hit the ground running. Within weeks they were packing out clubs, eventually playing 300 shows a year around the country and abroad.
Live At San Remo, NYE 1976 features Wayne Burt classics as the blues ballads “King Of Fools” and “I Need Your Loving (I Remember)”, the swamp rock guitar interplay “Dancing Shoes”, the horn driven tribute to Willie Dixon “Yes Indeed” while “Beating Around The Bush” from the Oz movie soundtrack is a formidable performance with horns and guitars whipping around each other. The opening track of Live at San Remo NYE 1976 John “Boodle” Power plays bass and sings the Muddy Waters blues classic “Just to be With You”
Their covers were not obvious ones. Camilleri would go to hip underground record stores and find imported R&B, jazz and soul compilations.
From these came Joe Liggins’ cool shuffle “The Honeydripper”, Louis Jordan’s 1958 “Barnyard Boogie (Boogie In The Barnyard)” and rollicking 1949 “Saturday Night At The Fish Fry” and Sammy Kershaw’s 1958 hit “All In The Same Boat”. They were discoveries for much of the crowd and became live favourites.
Dave Ridoutt’s tape captures the last blaze of glory for the original lineup.
Desk Tape Series: TISM, Live at the Corner Hotel 1988
Desk Tape Series: TISM, Live At The Corner Hotel 1988
TISM (This Is Serious Mum) formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1982. Their collision of electro pop, vicious satire and performance art, made them one of the country’s most popular live acts and even saw them achieve mainstream chart success.
Hiding behind masks, pseudonyms and elaborate stage costumes, TISM turned every performance and interview into an art event. In one such interview, journalists were stood at the opposite end of a football ground to the band, and forced to communicate via megaphone. On their first appearance on national TV in Australia, TISM appeared with 28 fully costumed members, performing their latest single, ‘Saturday Night Palsy’
TISM shows featured all manner of distractions, including debating competitions, an onstage wedding, a stock market simulation, a full costume performance of Shakespeare, a ‘Save Our TISM’ telethon, and even a show where two TISMs performed simultaneously at either ends of the venue.
The 1988 gig at the Corner was a more stripped-down affair, however it still saw the band revving two lawn mowers onstage during the set, highly dangerous behaviour in those pre-safety-conscious days of overcrowded venues.
Desk Tape Series: Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band Live at Ormond Hall 2011
Desk Tape Series: Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, Live at Ormond Hall 2011
The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band emerged in the early 1970s playing a mix of jugband, swing, blues, cabaret and jazz.
They incorporated underground theatre, circus, visual arts, counter culture politics, irreverent humour and vaudeville routines as tap dancing, juggling and fire-eating, and became one of the biggest bands of that time.
The Ormond Hall in Melbourne was their spiritual home. So it’s not surprising that when they reunited as an eight piece in 2011 for the Reignited Tour, they would return there for a three night run.
“The audience was always crazy when we played there,” says Matchbox’s long time sound engineer Ian Bowles, who recorded the tapes with Ormond Hall’s house engineer Tim Marmach.
Live At Ormond Hall 2011 includes all their stage favourites, including “My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes”, “That Cat is High”, “Smoke Dreams of You”, “Hernando’s Hideaway”, “The Masochism Tango” and their famed set-closer “Wangaratta Wahine”.
Desk Tape Series: Redgum, Live in Amsterdam 1985
Desk Tape Series: Redgum Live in Amsterdam 1985
The grey wintry rains had well and truly arrived in Amsterdam when Redgum made their debut visit to the city in late1985. It was part of a three month tour through Europe and the United Kingdom — later extended to four months – as the band took their music to that part of the world for the first time.
The Melkweg (The Milky Way) club, one of Amsterdam’s best known music venues is where U2 and The Clash played their first shows in the Netherlands.
Located on the Lijnbaansgracht, near the Leidseplein – the prime nightlife square of Amsterdam – the former dairy farm was renovated into a number of music rooms in different sizes in 1970.
It was here, in a bitterly cold and wet night, that this Redgum live album was recorded by front-of-house engineer Mark Williams.
He recalls, “It was the only venue I’ve worked in where you could legally buy drugs! On the tape I wrote, “Mixed by Colombian Gold”. You could have a joint when you were mixing, which is exactly what I did!”
On the tapes, the band sound strong and confident. Two years before they had broken through into the mainstream in Australia with the ode to Vietnam War vets “I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green)” and “I’ve Been To Bali Too”.
The touring that followed saw them fuse into a tight live unit that operated on all six cylinders.
Redgum co-founder John Schumann agrees: “Prior to leaving for Europe we had been playing six nights a week up and down the east coast of Australia for what seemed like years on end.
So there was a maturity and a confidence about the band that I don’t think we recognised in ourselves. But, listening to these tapes, I can hear it. Frankly, I’m surprised we were that good.”
He adds, “I really think the spirit and the confidence was simply born of us being a well- honed touring act.
I also attribute a lot of our musical confidence and competence to having Brian Czempinski in the band. Brian was the session drummer who played on ‘19’ – and we asked him to play on the ’19’ tour and on the ‘Frontline’ album.
“He quickly became a full-time member of the band. Brian was about 10 years older than us – and is a sensational musician. He taught me a great deal about playing in a band. He was also my roommate and confidant on the road. I loved “Chimp” to bits – and I still do.”