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 organisation 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 Crew Fund to provide financial, health, mental health, and counselling – Finally, men and women, are being recognised 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 Crew 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 crew who were doing it hard, and they created the Crew 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 is available through; Amazon, Anghami, Apple Music / iTunes, Black Box Records, Boomplay, Deezer, MGM, Pandora, Shazam, Spotify, TenCent, Tidal, TikTok and YouTube Music.


The Tour of Duty Xmas Concert for the Troops, LIVE in Dili, East Timor, 1999 is the 40th release of the Australian Road Crew Association’s Desk Tape Series.

For the Tour of Duty release, ARCA worked closely with Luke Gosling OAM, who served in
East Timor and is MP for Solomon in the Northern Territory.

The Tour of Duty audio was supplied by Rev. Darren Hewitt, a chaplain with returned veterans
in South Australia, spiritually dealing with their depression and anxiety.

The show, to 4,000 troops and local civilians, featured John Farnham, Doc Neeson, Kylie
Minogue, Gina Jeffreys and her record producer husband Rod McCormack, James Blundell,
The Living End, Dili Allstars and the RMC Band, and hosted by Roy Slaven and H. G. Nelson
(John Doyle and Greig Pickhaver).

John Farnham said shortly after arriving in Dili: “I’ll never be able to explain to my family and
friends how I felt being transported in a green truck accompanied by a soldier brandishing
arms, and looking at children and women on the streets in what’s been a horrendous

Added Kylie Minogue: “Even if it takes people’s minds off this situation, even for an hour, I’m
fully honoured to be part of it.”

As to be expected, it was an emotional show, both for the performers and for the audience.

John Farnham stole the show, in top voice throughout, causing tears during “You’re The Voice”
and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

Chris Cheney: “When John hit that really high note at the end, it was spine-tingling. Twenty-
five years later, I am still transported back to that moment.”


Ariel live at Martinis, 1976 is the 39th release of  Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) Desk Tape Series. 

Ariel played many shows at the iconic Carlton venue, Martinis, which was the launching pad for names such as Ariel, Skyhooks, The Dingoes and Little River Band.

This night they set a new attendance record, with more than 400 people crammed in. Singer and guitarist from the band Mike Rudd recalled “Martinis was one of Ariel’s favourite venues and we were one of their favourite bands. It was the last day of school exams, and there
were a lot more younger people in the audience than usual.

“It was very, very cramped. I don’t think the roadies could have made from front to back of the room, which was only metres.”

The sound engineer for the night Michael Wickow mentioned “It was incredibly hot, the instruments were going out of tune, the band were complaining about how they were sweating, and
the air was thick with cigarette smoke.

“The show had such an incredible energy to it. I’d never seen a crowd so packed in a club. Ariel not only broke the attendance record, but probably also broke the law several times!

“You literally couldn’t move, you were stuck where you were. I was in the back of the room, and I couldn’t see the band unless I stood on a box. It was a low stage, probably one or two feet high.

“Ariel were a hard working band, getting up there and doing a pretty tough gig. They’d do that, five or six times a week. A real working band.  Piggy (lighting) and I were working our arses off every week but we enjoyed being part of the band. Piggy did a great light show.”


Jon English & The Foster Brothers live at Billboard 1981 is the 38th release of the Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) Desk Tape Series. 

The Foster Brothers’ rhythm guitarist Keith ‘Stretch’ Kerwin mentioned “Jon was an incredible front-man, he knew his craft to a tee. He could be spellbinding. He knew how to reach an audience. Sometimes it would take him 20 minutes to introduce a song like ‘The Shining’ or ‘She Was Real’ because they had a story behind them which he wanted his fans to be involved in.”

“The lighting and the sound at the shows were stunning, and people would be really spellbound.”

Jon English was a household name since he was 22, but the Foster Brothers came into being in 1981 at a time when his career was exploding globally.

As LIVE at Billboard 1981 shows, the band’s interplay is superb, as shown on “Words Are Not Enough”, “I’ve Been In Love Before”, “Handbags And Gladrags”, a Rod Stewart album track, and English’s first hit “Turn The Page”. 

English’s attraction to a good story came from his love for theatre and the English Literature course he did at college.

The global hit “Six Ribbons” was written by Jon English for the 1978 miniseries Against The Wind. Jon and childhood friend, guitarist Mario Millo of Sebastian Hardie, shared writing credits for the miniseries Against The Wind which English starred in. “Initially the producers were going to use music from a production library but I talked them out of it. They paid me $600 an episode for the music so I kept costs down by playing the instruments I knew.”

The Foster Brothers, though, are in fine rock-out form on “You Might Need Somebody”, “Straight From The Heart” and “Stranger In A Strange Land”, capturing everything that is exhilarating about rock and makes both audience and band swell up under the spotlight, building up until the finale cover of The Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” tears the room apart.


The Anne Kirkpatrick and Alan Bowles featuring HOTSPUR live recording is the 37th release of the Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) Desk Tape Series. 

It was a full house of country music fans in the main room of the Pier Hotel in Frankston. HOTSPUR backed country hitmaker Johnny Chester, when he was off, Alan Bowles did front man duties. Bowles invited Anne Kirkpatrick, daughter of Slim Dusty and Joy McKean to perform three shows, during the success of her Come Back Again album. 

The sound engineer for night Simon Glozier recalls, “What I remember about that gig was the audience was so appreciative of what they were doing.”

At the time of the Pier Hotel show, Anne’s son Jim Arneman was two years old, who later formed the band Small Town Romance and became a filmmaker who was behind the 2020 doco Slim & I.

During this time also, Alan Bowles had made a name for himself as a multi award-winning harmonica player. Alan Bowles wrote songs with the Bass player Ken Firth, one of which was used as the title track of Ian “Molly” Meldrum’s anti-heroin doco On A Slide Going Down

Alan performed the song on Countdown with Joanna Kamorin who was touring with the Lou Reed band and agreed to sing the song.


Melbourne band Zydeco Jump are the latest act to get behind Support Act’s Roadies Fund through the Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA)’s Desk Tape Series.

Like other ARCA releases, Zydeco Jump At The North Melbourne Town Hall 1990, also works as a historical document. This tape captures the move in the Melbourne scene from the late 1980’s to fuse the traditional roots sound of zydeco with contemporary rock guitar, and to also make the accordion sound cool.

The North Melbourne show was a benefit for Friend Of The Earth. George Butrumlis, accordion player and band founder recalls, “It was an early evening show, about 6 because we had a second gig, at the Prince Patrick, at 9.30.”

“But we started an hour late, and I thought we were anxious as a result and played a bit rough.

“But when I heard Simon’s tape from 33 years back, I realised we had played really well!”

Zydeco music came from southwest Louisiana and is an upbeat syncopated rhythmic music which often incorporates elements of blues, 50’s rock and roll, soul, R&B, Afro-Caribbean, Cajun and early Creole music. Its main instrument was the piano accordion.

One thing stands out about this recording, it shows Zydeco Jump not only brought Australianness into the zydeco sound but a variety of sounds.


Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) 34th edition of its Desk Tapes Series features PANTHA live at the Sydney Showgrounds and Tamworth Workers Club, 1976. This iconic Desk Tape is also available to purchase on CD.

PANTHA are a progressive band from the mid-70’s that were formed in Melbourne who later moved to Sydney as their workload increased, and were at odds with the dominant pub-rock sound.

As favourites at music festivals, PANTHA would commonly sing about topics of community love and peace, and a quest for the spiritual path.

“We were trying to find an Australian voice,” says Roger Pell who wrote the songs, played guitar and handled their business affairs with manager Graeme McKee.

Many funk and psychedelic musicians said at the time “May the music set you free.” Pell agrees, “There was a sense of adventure and pioneering, being progressive was very interesting.”

An interesting aspect of many PANTHA song titles is that they were in a made-up language to fit in with the song’s rhythms. “Doway do Doway Do”, one of their best known songs, was one, derived from a chord sequence.

The Sydney Showground show on the ARCA tape was opening for the Doobie Brothers, before an estimated 15,000. PANTHA did the entire national tour with them, which boosted their following.

Pell: “We got on really well with them, they’d come to our club shows and play with us…At the Showgrounds show, at the end of the tour, they got us up onstage with them for a song.”



Melbourne punk metal thrash band Depression are the latest act to get behind Support Act’s Roadies Fund through the Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA)’s Desk Tape Series.

Like other ARCA releases, DEPRESSION LIVE At The Seaview Ballroom 1987 also works as a historical document. In this case, the gig at the Seaview Ballroom – one of Melbourne’s original punk meccas – was Depression’s first gig in two years. They went off the road as they couldn’t find the right drummer, but guitarist Smeer and bassist Liddy spent the time writing their best songs.

All but one of the songs on the tape are played for the first time, Smeer is singing for the first time, and new drummer Dakka (16 or 17 at the time) displays his Slayer love by being the hardest hitting skinsman Depression ever had.

Mark Woods, the gig’s sound tech, recalls Smeer’s amp being exceedingly loud. Woods’ encounter with Depression came via the production deal their record label Musicland Records had with Trees Music, the studio which he co-ran with Men At Work bassist John Rees.

The Seaview Ballroom show was a preview of the new songs that Trees Music would produce that year on an album called Thrash Til Death. As a result, the Seaview Ballroom show was recorded on Trees’ eight-track 1/2” tape recorder with decent live production.

Mark Woods did FOH sound with Tracker (lights) and Phantom (monitors), both from Men At Work’s crew were also on board. Depression friend Paul Waste ran the stage.

DEPRESSION Live At The Seaview Ballroom 1987 sets off like a firecracker from the get-go. “Welcome to our first gig for two years”, Smeer calls out, impatient feedback almost drowning him out.

Depression spend no time thundering into their world of darkness, evil and alternate culture. Opening song “Pagan Rites”, about when the guitarist and his girlfriend would attend pagan camps, is followed by the crowd favourite “Eternal Genocide”, about humankind’s creating their own mess with lines as “Is there no way out, is there no escape, we suffer the consequences of our greed”. “Kill For Christ” allows him to rip off another guitar solo.

Strong newcomer “Money” was written by Smeer before Depression about the evil influence of the green stuff – “You never get anywhere until you have money/ You never put your foot in the door unless you know somebody” – in which the young musician is adamant that every life and musical decision he makes is for passion only.

Whiplash-inducing change of pace “Big Brother” laments lack of privacy, “Endless Armies” is about human beings’ capacity to find excuses to start wars, and the stand-out “Out Of Touch” sneers at how middle class politicians have no relevance to people living on the street.

“Filthy Trash” is about his life as an outlaw, “Have A Look” is how things never change for vulnerable people, “Du-Pre-Sion” is a singalong, the vicious and vein-bursting “Riots Of Death” and “Civilisation Of Destruction” are in the frantic race-up to “Fifty Bucks”, a woe to how many in the punk scene were getting into smack.

Smeer says the Seaview Ballroom tape evokes the same adrenalin rush as the gigs.


Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) 33rd edition of its Desk Tapes Series features country music supergroup Hired Hands, live at the West Tamworth Leagues Club, 1987. 

The Hired Hands band had broken up in October 1984 with the members moving on to other projects, however the next three decades saw the band do a reunion show each year at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Co-founder, singer and guitarist of the band Lawrie Minson recalled that the 1987 show started at midnight and finished at 6am. 

Simon Glozier, who was in town at the time as a PA clinician for Yamaha, stated that: “They were all friends, bantering with each other and playing stuff they liked and which I really liked, and the crowd was responsive as well.”

Minson described Paul Green, another player on the live tape: “He was a way better guitarist than anyone else on the block, we’d stand and watch him play with our jaws on the ground, and he was a really good singer too.”

Live at the West Tamworth Leagues Club 1987, shows that the band went from an up-tempo Boogie Woogie Country Girl and Long Haired Country Boy, to exceptional Got Me Talkin with Steel’s brooding playing and Cate McCarthy’s vocals, and the gospel Wayfaring Stranger. During the set, Minson asks for applause for the crew: “They’ve been working night and day, this is the best sound we’ve ever had for Hired Hands.”


The 32nd edition of Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) Desk Tapes Series features Aussie legend Brian Cadd and his band live at the Sundowner, Geelong 1982. 

Cadd returned from his home base in America for a four-week tour in Australia, packed with sold-out dates including the Sundowner. 

The atmosphere at the Sundowner was memorable for Cadd, “The band was incredible. Pub rock was at the epicentre, and people of that generation knew one thing – go to a pub and rock!” 

Brett Allen toured with Cadd around Australia doing the stage, he noted how phenomenal the band was, and continued to improve as the tour progressed. 

Allen highlighted how world-class the Australian crew were, “Through that Cadd tour people were telling me how great the band sounded, and that’s because I count Andy Rayson as among the best sound guys in the world.” 

Many songs on this edition of Desk Tape Series came from Cadd’s latest album, No Stone Unturned. This guitar-heavy record, accompanied by some inventive playing from Little River Band’s Steve Housden and Cadd’s use of sequencing for the first time, made for memorable live shows on this Australian run, “My live show then was a pretty wondrous time for me. So many new musical things were happening in my life.” 

Cadd’s work is now being covered by global music stars such as Joe Cocker, The Pointer Sisters, Ringo Starr, Bonnie Tyler and Little River Band just to name a few. 

In 1997 he moved back to Australia where he continued his career with not only just sell-out shows, Cadd was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame both in 2007. Additionally, he was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) in 2018 which he defined as an “amazingly different kind of honour”.


LIVE At The Old Lion Adelaide 1982 is the latest initiative by the Oils to support roadies and crews in crisis. 

Rob Hirst readily admits that the members relied heavily on their crew, “we had the best sound and lighting guys in the business”. It is the crew that helps with any bands success.

The tape was recorded Friday March 26, 1982 and was part of a two-week run through Victoria and South Australia. 

At that stage, the band were doing 180 shows a year, and firing on all eight cylinders. 

Rob Hirst admits: “I’m exhausted listening back to the tape, it’s relentless! We were, excuse the pun, a well-oiled machine, angry young men against the world.”

Mark Woods, who filled in as sound engineer on the run, called it the Speed and Dust Tour. It was hot and the tour moved at a frantic pace. 

“It wasn’t that they were loud, it was the power. They weren’t ‘screamy’ or harsh listening, they just had a very full solid big fat sound.” 

They were all red hot players, Woods recalls, citing how Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey’s guitars intertwined, and how the Peter Gifford/ Rob Hirst rhythm section locked in.

Hirst’s drum kit had to be nailed down. Not only did he attack them with exuberance, breaking pedals and sticks, but he’d also jump into the air off his stool for greater power when he landed.

The Old Lion tape shows how the Oils were starting to musically move around at that time and captures how some of Postcard songs should have sounded. 

The creativity and the song writing was getting stronger. But the band were frustrated with the sound on the albums so far.

“They didn’t grab you by the throat and wrestle you to the ground.”

It was only working with Nick Launay and disassembling the Midnight Oil live sound in the studio and starting again that they started to understand studio craft.

LIVE At The Old Lion Adelaide 1982 also highlights how dedicated the fans were. Oils fans have done everything from tattooing Garrett’s face to their backs to spending tens of thousands of dollars following them around.

The craziest were at the Oils On The Water triple j show in 1985 on Goat Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

It was for 150 competition winners only, which peeved the hardcore fans. “So they swam across, avoiding big tankers, fire tugs, ferries and yachts who were moored there listening to the music, and dragged themselves up on the rocks. 

“They were allowed to stay. It was risky but such commitment!” –  Rob Hirst


The ZARSOFF Brothers live at Yella Rock 1991 is the 31st release of the Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) Desk Tape Series.

The Zarsoffs were a great band, who continued to break attendance records with lowbrow toilet humour and highlights like the Dance Of The Flaming Arsehole.

Bassist/singer Peter Knox, keyboard player Greg Deane and drummer Tony Verhoeven met in singer Robin Lee Sinclair’s backing band & changed their names to Izzy Foreal, Bernie Zarsoff and Terry Zarsoff.

While going through numerous line-ups, each member took on the Zarsoff name. Road crews too had to adopt the name too. 

The official story was that they were the children of a Russian minstrel. Russia’s president saw them at a show and considered them so ugly they were such an embarrassment to all Russians he banished them to Australia. 

The humour was never aggressive. As a result there were very few, if any, fights at their shows. Cops called because of venue over-crowding and noise complaints, would stay on and chuckle over the onstage antics.

Releases included the Bumsweat And Other Popular Filth and Nose Pickin’ Boogie EPs and albums such as Rude Awakening. 

“What we are about”, Izzy once explained, “is being the catalyst for a good time, with an irreverent approach to the whole idea of rock & roll as an industry. 

“To the punters, we are just a bunch of looneys who happen to be able to play music, and who would be just as comfortable beside them at the bar.” 

While Izzy was boisterous, crude, offensive and drunk-rowdy, Knox was quiet, kind, gentle, highly intelligent and neither drank nor smoked.

Know studied English Literature and poetry, completed a Master of Arts with Honours, wrote and published The Errant Apostrophe, and penned science fiction short stories for magazines.

Peter Knox was conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War but being a pacifist there was no way he would have picked up a gun. So he changed his name to Peter Wilson and dodged the draft. 

After his death, his family had his ashes registered with US space travel agency to join Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and actor James Doohan in the first mission to send human remains into deep space. 


BUFFALO Revisited LIVE at the Bridge Hotel, December 2013 captures what made Buffalo so great– loud, tight, powerful and totally uncompromising.

Guitarist John Baxter was one of the first in Sydney to get a 100watt amp. Singer Dave Tice emphasises Buffalo Revisited is not a Buffalo reunion, but a tribute to its songs. He already had the Dave Tice Trio, in which he writes new songs, plays instruments, and new styles, “to keep moving forward as a musician.”

But festival promoters and venue bookers urged him to form Revisited as younger generations of music fans were discovering their music. “There was much interest generated worldwide and here, in the music that came out of Australia in that era,” says Tice, a driving force in Buffalo alongside bassist Peter Wells who later formed Rose Tattoo. Not only are Buffalo, Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs and Blackfeather recognised as pioneers of pub-rock, but overseas sites such as Heavy Planet cited Buffalo as early doom metal and stoner rock.

BUFFALO Revisited LIVE at the Bridge Hotel 2013 captures that greatness, their own songs complemented with covers of Ten Years After’s “I’m Coming On” and Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie”.  They received no radio airplay, but the size of their live following saw their albums go gold.

Part of their appeal was their shock-rock image. They exuded evil, smashed up motel rooms, got banned from Countdown and record stores refused to stock them because of their cover art. The cover of Dead Forever was a blood-soaked face peering through the eye sockets of a skull. Volcanic Rock depicted a female form menstruating volcano lava.  On “Only Want You For Your Body” a fat screaming woman was tied to a torture rack with shackles. Their publicist got them headlines with tales of sexual appetites and plans to give away a vibrator with each copy of Mother’s Choice.

Many Buffalo lyrics came from Tice’s love for reading books – “Dune Messiah” from Frank Herman’s sci fi series Dune, “The Prophet” from religious texts and “Shylock” from Shakespeare’s Merchant Of Venice. However, the title of “Dead Forever” came from the reply of a spirit whom they asked during a séance what life was like in the underworld.

The one new song on the tape, “The Dark Side Of Eden”“Don’t try to talk back, Jack, because your brother is living in a one-room shack. While you are driving around in a brand-new Cadillac” is his anger at how humans are selfishly destroying the paradise that is Planet Earth.

The tape starts midway through opener “Dune Messiah” with the band already in full wah-wah blast, giving the impression to the listener of coming late into the venue. What really happened was that the band was to start off on a jam and Tice was to run onto the stage from a side door for dramatic effect. Alas, the door was unexpectedly locked, so Tice had to run around to the front door. In the chaos, Dracoulis forgot to press Record until later.

The power on BUFFALO Revisited LIVE at the Bridge Hotel is what you get from a sound engineer with a broad audio knowledge. Phil Dracoulis has the reputation of being among the best in the business, and being able to get a thick concert sound even in a small room.

He started out working in a recording studio in Melbourne, then did sound for Pantha for three-and-a-half years, moving to Sydney with them. Aside from doing sound for the likes of Billy Thorpe, Marcia Hines and Richard Clapton, he worked in production houses Jands and Sounds, and did live feeds for TV’s The Today Show, The Midday Show, Spin and Ground Zero. Drac is currently recording two young Sydney bands.

Buffalo were generating overseas interest 50 years ago. They were released on Britain’s Vertigo label. They got radio airplay in New York but their Australian label wouldn’t fund a US tour. More recently US hard rock/metal label Ripple Music wanting to re-release Dead Forever, Volcanic Rock, Only Want You For Your Body, Mother’s Choice, and Average Rock ‘n’ Roller. Universal Music, which now owns the rights, refused permission to licence these out. So Ripple went to Tice, and globally released Buffalo Revisited Volcanic Rock Live, cut at Sydney’s Bald Faced Stag with a newer line-up. Another, at Marrickville Bowling Club, is being remixed.

The original albums sound powerful because producer Spencer Lee and engineer Wynn Wynyard got them to set up all their gear, and placing mics away from the amplifiers and speakers to get a delay effect. One mike on the speakers and one 10 metres away for a full sound.

Dracoulis recalls those days: “There was no education or limits on sound levels. I was quite mad, I used to put the PA and the guitar amps at 12. The idea in a small room was to make sure the drums and vocals went over the guitar amps. But ultimately it’s not the level they’re playing at, it’s the dynamics they’re pulling together.”







Phil Manning Band LIVE Around Oz 1975 was recorded by Phil’s sound engineer, the late Dave “Nightowl” Ridoutt (02/01/1950 to 19/12/2021, who originally was the inspiration for ARCA to put the Desk Tape Series together. Dave also was the sound engineer for Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons live desk tape from 1976, which was released by ARCA in June 2020)

Dave, like many other roadies, were the glue that kept the Aussie live music industry together at the very start. Consequently, if the bands did not sound or look good in a live environment, generally, they never went very far. Roadies, like Dave, were and many still are the backbone of the Australian music industry. 

Live Around Oz 1975 is a master lesson on the many shades of blues guitar. This line-up with Paul Wheeler and Trevor Courtney only lasted a year. But as the performances show, they knew how to come together at just the right time. (Paul Wheeler is now with Icehouse and Trevor Courtney is an organic hops farmer in his native New Zealand).

The impression of the live recording is that there’s a lot of improvisation during the show. But in reality, everything is kept tight and focussed – something Phil Manning learned when he toured with his idol Muddy Waters and his band.

Many of the songs were written just after his first marriage, so Manning’s skill at catchy melodies work well with lyrical heart-on-the-sleeves love songs as “Angel Surrender”, “Sunset Song” and “Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me”. The band take Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and the George Harrison-penned Beatles album track “Tax Man” and put their stamp on it.

In the psychedelic ‘60s, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton saw a generation of Australian guitar shredders rush out to get wah-wah pedals to add to their arsenal of tones.

Phil Manning was no exception. Live Around Oz, 1975 is sprayed throughout with wah-wah sounds, demonstrating his perfect pitch whether using the sound to drive “Lover Baby”, “I’m Free” and “Taking Your Chances” or using it as a sound effect at the beginning of “Train To Ride”.

Phil Manning moved to Melbourne in late 1966 and joined Tony Worsley and The Blue Jays. He played with a series of bands including Bay City Union, where he met singer Matt Taylor. The pair later worked closely on Chain, one of the best blues bands to come out of Australia.

Their January 1971 single, “Black and Blue”, which Manning helped write, reached the top 20. They had a second top 40 hit with “Judgement” issued in July. That year Phil Manning was voted third best guitarist in Australia by the readers of Go-Set magazine. Chain’s debut album Towards The Blues went Top 10 and certified gold.

Touring American bluesmen like Albert Collins were astounded by the Australian-ness of Chain’s music. “I know it’s blues but it ain’t anything like the blues I’ve heard!” he said famously.

Phil would go off to do solo projects but would return to Chain to record and perform. His debut solo album I Wish There Was A Way came out at the end of 1974, after which he formed the Phil Manning Band with an ever-changing line-up.



Archie Roach LIVE in Key Largo ’92 and Darwin ’93 shows the healing continues each time he plays a concert – both for himself and the audience. “It’s a two-way thing,” the Gunditjmara / Bundjalung man said. “The audience gives me so much back – it’s hard to explain. But that’s actually what I do this for … to get that interaction with the audience.”

Paul Kelly, who co-produced Archie’s first album Charcoal Lane, said, “Everything we do is political. No one bears that out better than Archie. All his songs are love songs – love songs to country and clan – and at the same time they cry out for a better world. He refuses to despair. Although many of the stolen children never came back, and although many of the children of the stolen have never known the way, Archie still keeps singing them home.”

Kelly helped kickstart Archie Roach’s career in 1990 by putting him on as a support at a gig with The Messengers at Melbourne Concert Hall (now Hamer Hall). Messengers guitarist Steve Connolly had seen him perform ‘Took The Children Away’ on ABC TV show Blackout and told Paul: “I’ve just seen the most amazing singer on TV. We should get him.” Archie’s first song that night was ‘Beautiful Child’. Total silence from the sold-out crowd. Then came ‘Took The Children Away’. Again total silence. Just the sound of crickets outside. Feeling he’d bombed, he began walking off the stage, promising himself, “I won’t do this again.” Realising he’d finished, the 2,466 people in the audience began clapping.

Greeting him side-stage, Paul Kelly told him it was the most powerful thing he’d ever seen. He and Connolly chased him up and offered to produce an album and get him a record deal. Archie was reluctant. He just wanted to remain playing gigs to his people and having community radio stations play live versions of his music. He ran it past his wife and muse, Ruby Hunter. She looked down at her feet and then, hands on hips, looked straight at him. “It’s not all about you, Archie Roach.” Archie knew immediately what she meant. “Because when one Aborigine person shines, we all shine.”

Archie Roach LIVE in Key Largo ’92 and Darwin ’93 captures the early part of their careers. The US and Canadian tour was the first time they had been on a plane, much less been out of Australia, so much of it was a culture shock. The three-month trip consisted of a six-week headliner run of small folk clubs, and another six weeks opening for Joan Armatrading. Canada and the US took to the Australians immediately because of the emotion and reality of the shows.

At the end of the tour, they got a letter from an American folk legend. She explained her record company had sent her a copy of his album. “They thought I’d like your music. I love it!” The letter was dated August 13, 1992. It was signed Joan Baez, who in the ‘60s was Queen of Folk to Bob Dylan’s King of Folk.

The Darwin Casino show, to a few hundred fans, showed Archie becoming more confident. It was recorded by Andy Rayson, who was based in Darwin from the beginning of 1992 to the end of 1995, working with local and islander First Nation bands, touring southern acts along the Top End, serving as technical director of the Pacific School Games and the Barranga festival.

What he remembers about the show was how the audience lapped up Roach and Hunter. The standout on the ARCA live tape, of course, is ‘Took the Children Away’ which brought to attention the plight of the Stolen Generation. Initially when he started writing songs, they were country music themes.

During a visit to Framlingham Aborigine Mission on Gunditjmara country in south-western Victoria – where he grew up as a toddler until he and his siblings were seized by authorities – an elder, Uncle Banjo Clarke, told him he should be writing songs about being stolen. Another Uncle Banjo recollection, which yielded ‘Weeping In The Forest’ was about how the forest became silent without children playing.

‘Down City Streets’, written by Hunter, and ‘Charcoal Lane’ recall their days on the street – of the warmth and camaraderie they found with other indigenous people, like’ Aunty Sissy’. Charcoal Lane, after which he named his debut album (on Mushroom) is an alley off Gertrude Street in Fitzroy where the homeless hung out. ‘Change Gonna Come’ is about breaking the cycle of domestic violence, and ‘Life Is Worth Living’ is a warning to one of his sons who’s flirting with the wrong end of the law. In ‘Old So And So’ (not included on this tape) he recalled the day he met Ruby.

At 17, after a stint picking grapes in Mildura in country Victoria, Archie stood on the side of the Sturt Highway, smoked three cigarettes and flipped a 20 cent coin to decide where to go next. Heads was Adelaide where he’d never been, tails was back to Melbourne to his siblings who had rediscovered a few years before. A few days later he was in Adelaide, staying at a run-down Salvation Army accommodation called People’s Palace on Pirie Street. While waiting at the lift, out stepped a 16-year-old girl in a blue dress, white cardigan, black shoes and the biggest brown eyes he’d seen. The Ngarrindjeri 16-year-old was stolen at eight from her grandparents’ home in South Australia’s Coorong region. The authorities had told they were taking her to the circus. Hunter died from heart failure in 2010, aged 54. The world lost a beautiful soul.



It’s totally appropriate that The Dead Livers LIVE at “The Espy” 1986 should be recorded at the Esplanade Hotel in Melbourne’s St. Kilda. They had a Friday night residency there.  It was a wild room, with crazy people singing and dancing and where the sight of bikies and drag queens dancing together was not uncommon.

Bassist Michael Schack said: “We played mainly inner-city hotels. So it was people of our age, late 20s to 30s, looking for a good time.” He recalls doing the Prince of Wales in St. Kilda for a live PBS broadcast, and the publican approaching them after, inviting them back. “Our jazz nights have three times as many people as you had tonight but your crowd drank three times as much.”

The “outlaw” image drew bikies. At a show for the Motorcycle Riders Association, a couple got married with a chapter chief officiating.

The foundations for The Dead Livers were laid in country Victoria, when Schack and singer Marty Atchison were at school together. They did shows together and in 1978 officially formed the band. Simon Glozier knew them through good friend Craig Reeves, of Spot The Aussie, another Espy regular act whose line-up intertwined socially and musically with the Dead Livers. He did sound for them at their larger shows and occasionally played with them at parties.

The Dead Livers’ inspiration came from the U.S. West Coast and Austin, Texas “redneck rock” sounds, sourcing recordings in import stores and exchanging cassettes with American friends. Members dug original country rock Melbourne bands, catching Saltbush and Hit And Run at their residencies at the Polaris Inn in Carlton, and the Dingoes at the Station Hotel in Prahran.

The Station Hotel’s weekly flyer advertising the next week’s acts would have a caption inviting patrons to come and drink heartily,” Come to the Station where dead livers live!” Hence the name.

LIVE at “The Espy” 1986 features hard boogies such as “One More Shot”, “The Bottle Let Me Down” and “We Can’t Send Them Out To Play” to singles like “Grandpa” and “A Stud Like Me”, and originals like Atchison’s ambitious “Rosemary” and Russell Smith’s “The End Is Not In Sight”. Covers included Al Green (a high riffing rendition of “Take Me To The River”, Bob Dylan (“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” underlined by swirling Hammond organ).

One of the Dead Livers’ most ardent fans was prominent journalist David Dawson, a champion of outlaw country music, and promoted the Melbourne band through his Nu-Country platform and the High In The Saddle country column in Juke magazine.

Dawson was also responsible for one of the band’s most mainstream moments. He convinced the band to record a spoof of Slim Dusty’s “I’d Love To Have A Beer With Duncan” and called it “I’d Love To Have A Joint With Willie” just before a Willie Nelson tour in 1981. Nelson loved it, adopting it as the tour’s unofficial anthem, and playing it on the PA system before each show. The band were invited to meet him backstage, and Nelson fans scooped on it when it was sold in the car park from the back of a station wagon.

Dead Livers aroused the attention of music executives, including Keith Urban’s future manager and an early AC/DC manager, who offered to record but the planets never aligned. They made it to the finals of band competitions, opened for Leon Russell and the Amazing Rhythm Aces, played to 20,000 at country music festivals, and were nominated for best group at the Tamworth Country Music Festival awards.

But, Michael says, “We were the band that never quite made it (to the big time). Maybe we weren’t ambitious or confident enough. Looking back maybe we should have tried a bit harder. But we were having too much fun!”


The Bushwackers are one of the great live folk-rock bands to emerge in the global folk renaissance of the early ‘70s. They used fiddles, accordions, guitars, harmonicas, concertinas, lagerphones, tin whistles, 5-string banjos, bodhráns, bones, spoons, electric bass and drums.

Formed at La Trobe University in Melbourne in 1971, with guitarist Dave Isom, tea-chest bass player Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky and lagerphonist Bert Kahanoff, they were joined by Mick Slocum on accordion and Davey Kidd on fiddle in 1972. It became a serious full-time concern when Dobe Newton joined in 1973.

Dobe Newton was playing drums in a soul-blues band in Sydney when he met his future wife Sally at a New Year’s Eve party and followed her to Perth. While training to be a teacher, he joined an Irish folk group playing tin whistle and lagerphone.

On a trip to the East Coast, the engine in their panel van blew up, so they set up benefit shows to raise money for a new one. Among the acts playing were The Bushwackers. They hit it off, and offered Dobe a gig. He insisted on returning to Perth to finish his Uni course before joining them, a few months before the first of their four UK/European tours.

They initially couldn’t get a gig in an Australian folk club. They were run by UK expats who only wanted to recreate music from ye olde country. It’s only apt that this Desk Tape was recorded at the Dan O’Connell in Carlton, Melbourne. It was one of their spiritual homes, where they played wild shows to a fervent crowd where sweat poured down walls. Three to five encores a night was the norm, but the record amount of encores, eight, was at the Embankment club near Dublin when the publican had to turn the lights off for ten minutes before the crowd stopped braying for even more.

The Bushwackers early setlist of Australian folk songs, some which drew back 100 years, pricked up the ears of audiences who identified. They were about anti-authority larrikins like “The Ryebuck Shearer”, “Flash Jack from Gundagai” from 1905, Banjo Patterson’s 1892 poem The Man from Ironbark, “The Wild Colonial Boy” and “Lachlan Tigers” about sheep shearers from a specific part of NSW.

There were dreams about a new life (“The Shores of Botany Bay”, “Ten Thousand Miles Away”, “Bound for South Australia”) and places like “Augathella Station”, a town in Queensland where cattle drovers headed, “The Road To Gundagai”, and life on the road (“Billy The Tea”). The Bushwackers’ rendition of “Waltzing Matilda” is actually the Queensland version which varies tune-wise, and not the better known original tune Banjo Patterson composed the music to.

After the arrival of Roger Corbett in 1980, he and Newton became a strong songwriting team, with socially conscious songs as “Beneath The Southern Cross” and “When Britannia Ruled The Waves” fitting in between the traditional material. Newton wrote “I Am Australian” with The Seekers’ Bruce Woodley, regarded as the unofficial national anthem and which won The Bushwackers a Golden Guitar country award.

Musically The Bushwackers had always been far more imaginative than their peers, with more complicated multi-tempo instrumental passages. This was partly for the benefit of their rock audiences, and partly because they themselves were excited by what British folk-rock bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span were doing on the albums they found in Melbourne import record stores.

They were eager to get to the British Isles to be part of this movement, so headed to London. They starved for the first three months. Clubs and festival gigs began to roll in through the UK and Europe, and they stayed for almost a year. When they returned to Australia with a more electric sound, purist crowds at folk festivals were outraged. A show at the Melbourne Town Hall was met with resounding booing, and someone took a swing at Rutledge. At the 1987 National Folk Festival in Melbourne chairs were thrown at the stage.

Michael Rutledge got into music through a love for audio. He was interning at a recording studio when a friend in The Bushwackers asked him to do sound on a Victorian tour for a few weeks. He ended up staying with them for five years. In between he got a day job at Armstrong Studios while at night he mixed live sound and helped big acts build home studios. He started his own production company in 1978. Work piled up, and when he and wife Sandy started a family, he quit The Bushwackers before their second overseas tour.

The Bushwackers, meantime, were home to 95 members over 50 years. Tommy Emmanuel, Pete Farndon of The Pretenders, Freddie Strauks of Skyhooks, Little River Band’s Steve Housden, Phil Emmanuel, Redgum’s Hugh McDonald and Jimmy & The Boys’ Michael Vidale were among those who passed through the ranks. As part of their 50th anniversary, they were inducted into the Country Music Roll of Renown as part of the country music awards.


Vince Jones played two shows over a weekend at the Theatre Royal, Castlemaine. He speaks lovingly of playing in the vintage venue, built during the 1850s gold rush and still features hanging lamps and vintage tiling.

The shows were not by Jones’ regular band. But he’d played frequently individually with each of the players. Their performance throughout is superb, each giving the other their space and never overplay.

Castlemaine is a town in country Victoria with a large contingent of creative people. Vince Jones’ crowds were respectful and musical. There was great expectation for the concert. He tells the crowd their town is a “beautiful place, I love the psyche. I’m an organic gardener, I live on an acreage a lot like you cats and breathe a lot of fresh air.”

Before a version of folk singer Iris De Ment’s “Our Town” he drawls, “I love these old towns, like this one, which the powers-that-be didn’t demolish and put up Westfields (shopping centres).” “The Parting Glass” is an ancient UK folk song, which was sung on New Years Eve, before it was superseded by “Auld Lang Syne”. The songs on the tape are there because they struck a chord, not just for their beauty but because they say something about his brand of environmentalism and politics. Before “Don’t Jettison Everything”, he makes the wry observation, “We’d definitely struggle to get our bond back from our landlord Mother Earth.”

He first heard Gil Scott-Heron’s “Winter In America” when he visited New York for the first time in 1982 and saw the US musician and social activist perform at Central Park. “No other song says more about America today even though it was written in the 1970s,” Jones tells ARCA.

On a flight, the singer and trumpeter was seated behind two businessmen. One was reading The Australian, the other The Daily Telegraph. Lamenting on how Murdoch media has such a stranglehold on the way we think, he pulled out a piece of paper and wrote “Wonderworld”.

“The Rainbow Cake”, about a sister who nursed her brother after his return from war, leads to his observation that bravery medals be given by the government to their families “because they’re the ones who have to pick up the pieces when the soldiers come home.”

Vince was born near Glasgow in Scotland. His parents John and Mary were in a folk duo, she singing and he playing piano accordion. John also played jazz. Only jazz was allowed in the house. Sinatra was an exception, there were 20 of his albums at home. This is how “Just In Time” is on the tape.

But Elvis Presley and The Beatles were banned. Vince had to go to friends’ houses to hear them. John Lennon’s “All My Love”, written for The Beatles’ White Album in 1968 but emerged on his second solo album Imagine three years later. “John was a beautiful soul, tortured at times, and I’m drawn most to his songs in The Beatles. I love the way he was seeing things ahead.“Oh My Love” was a preface to “Give People A Chance” and all the bed-ins. As we get older we get to see life clearer.

The Jones family arrived in Wollongong from Scotland on April 19, 1963. His father had tossed up between Australia, Canada and Africa. Would Vince music have been different if the family had gone to the other two places?


Legendary Australian and New Zealand folk, jazz and blues performer, Paul Marks, was a major name in Australia’s growing acoustic scene.

He arrived in Australia at the age of 23 and gave the locals the first live taste of the blues, skiffle and New Orleans spirituals he picked up while serving in Britain’s Royal Air Force. After he finished with the air force, his mother suggested Australia was a place to go, and a relative in Perth was happy to put him up.

On the boat, Paul shared a cabin with a Maori guitarist with a New Zealand string quartet who taught him during the 60-day voyage in 1956. He also learned to develop his singing voice. Paul soon moved east to Melbourne.

Paul Marks LIVE at the Christchurch Folk Club 1968 explains the appeal he had lay in the diversity of his music, the passion with which he performed, the lengthy explanations behind the lyrics and how he came across the songs, and the easy rapport with the audience which often led to sing-alongs.

The styles ranged from the slinky blues of “Easy Rider Blues” and “What Jealous Love Can Do” to the gorgeous gospel ballads “If I Had Wings” and “I Will Give My Love An Apple”, to ye olde British folk of “Lord Randall”, “The Bonnie Boy” and “The Friar And A Well” and sea shanties “Rueben Ranzo”, “Goin’ Where Them Chilly Winds Don’t Blow” and “Row Bullies Row”.

Paul Marks was credited with influencing a new wave of folk artists as Judith Durham  and Keith Potger of The Seekers, Margaret Roadknight and Dutch Tilders, and he struck up close friendships with jazz luminaries such as trombonist Frank Traynor and drummer/pianist Len Barnard.

Work was plentiful, with Paul playing a couple of shows each evening, moving between clubs and restaurants like the Esquire Club, Little Reata, the Arab Cafe/Wild Colonial, Jazz Centre 44, Hernando’s and the Melbourne Jazz Cellar. He’d also be playing in the Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band as well as his skiffle group The Paul Marks Folk Singing Group.

On the weekends he headed off to Sydney to do a relentless round of clubs and appear regularly on former Kingston Trio member Dave Guards Sunday night ABC-TV show Dave’s Place.

From 1960 he released recordings like Sings Blues and Spirituals (1963) through the Swaggie and Score labels.  Around this time, he met his future wife and cosmic soul mate Eleanor in Melbourne. The hectic work schedule started to burn him out though and things came to a head in 1961, when Paul Marks and his new family travelled through Europe and the United Kingdom with the Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band for a seven-and-a-half-month tour.

Paul met Muddy Waters, and they did stunning shows at air bases where they’d play until 2am. A low point was when stepson Simon Glozier, then aged four, got lost in Paris, and Paul ran out of money and left the tour early to be replaced by Long John Baldry. By this stage Paul Marks was “totally exhausted”, says Eleanor, and he had a nervous breakdown, which deeply affected his career.

By 1967 he and Eleanor moved to Christchurch, New Zealand where Marks played local clubs and festivals, and opened for Tom Paxton, John Renbourne and Fairport Convention. The Christchurch Folk Club opened in 1968, and that year NZ folk singer and archivist Phil Garland recorded one of Paul’s shows there. Mark still busks every day in Christchurch for a few hours to put a smile on people’s faces.


After hectic global touring in support of their hit albums, Split Enz took a break.

Tim coalesced his new found freedom with a group of talented musicians and friends in Sydney at a mansion owned by ex Beach Boys/Bonnie Raitt drummer Ricky Fataar and his wife Fashion model elite, Penelope Tree. What eventuated was an ongoing relationship that produced Escapade with guitarist Mark Moffatt.

No-one thought it would do as well as it did. But it had too many great songs as “Fraction Too Much Friction”, “Made My Day”, “Through The Years”, “Staring At the Embers” and “In A Minor Key” which resonated with fans.

Released on Mushroom Records, Escapade went to #1 in New Zealand #8 in Australia. At the 1983 Countdown Awards it took home Best Australian Album and “Fraction Too Much Friction” won Best Video.

Tim Finn and The Escapade Band Live At The Venue, St. Kilda 1983, came from two shows at the Melbourne music venue. The only other dates on the tour were two in Sydney. All four sold out instantly.

For Finn, the album was about making music with a whole bunch of new people. He used some of those musicians on the album. In the core studio band were Ricky Fataar who also played drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals; one time Stylus member Sam McNally on synthesizers, and US born singer Venetta Fields (Boz Scaggs, Tina Turner, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Humble Pie) on backing vocals.

Wilbur Wilde and Joe Camilleri of Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons had also made guest appearances. The rest of the band included guitarist Mark Punch (Peter Blakeley, Mother Earth), bassist Joe Creighton (Billy T, The Revelators), Alan Mansfield (Dragon) on keyboards and guitar, Mark Williams (Dragon) on congas and backup vocals, and Sunil Da Silva (Marcia Hines, Renee Geyer) on percussion.

Richard Bilinski, John Farrelly and stage tech Colin Skals had worked with Split Enz on their True Colours run.

After playing bass at high school and helping mates set up amps for their bands, Richard worked with Melbourne bands Dove and Stylus, before landing a job with Ron Blackmore’s Artist Concert Tours working on Australian and NZ tours with local and international artists.

On the live tape, “Fraction Too Much Friction” and “Grand Adventure” display burnished beats and piano, while they work in the spaces of the experimental song structures of “I Only Want to Know”, “Staring At The Embers”, “Through The Years” and the vaudevillian “Growing Pains”.

They nail the gospel “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “Made My Day” and embroider Tim’s instinct for a gorgeous pop hook on “Livin’ In A Minor Key”, “Below The Belt” and “Wait And See”.

Finn does a song he’s always wanted to do – Otis Redding’s “Dock Of The Bay” as a duet with Mark Williams, lets Joe Camilleri sing his “Shape I’m In” while Venetta Fields does a breathtaking acapella gospel “Good News”.

Both audience and band have a ball, but for the road crew the Venue shows had their problems.

The Venue was on the second floor, which meant carrying the gear up flights of stairs. The stage was around five feet high with the PA placed on the wings, the venue floor developed a bit of a bounce along with the PA system so we had to keep an eye on that as the crowd jumped up and down.

Venetta Field had a costume malfunction, and had to run to the side of the stage for Bear to hastily fix the issue. Tim inadvertently forgot to mention Alan Mansfield’s name when thanking the band. He was so angry with himself that he punched a hole in the wall.

For Tim Finn, Escapade opened a lot of doors. Within a year he would quit the Enz and work on a number of projects.


Models LIVE At The Overlander Hotel 1980 was recorded two years after the band formed in Melbourne.

Audiences insist there have been two totally different Models through the years. There was the early art-rock industrial line-up which was miles ahead of US bands like Nine Inch Nails, and the later chart busting version with “Barbados” and “Out Of Mind Out Of Sight”, but Models have always insisted their approach to their music has remained the same.

By the time of The Overlander Hotel tape, the “quirky” version was drawing big crowds to inner city venues in Melbourne and Sydney. Record companies were already circling but the band wanted to release its first album independently to keep creative control.

Models were formed in August 1978 by singer and guitarist Sean Kelly, who’d emerged in the punk era in Spred and Teenage Radio Stars with school mate James Freud. With Models, Sean Kelly expanded his musical palette to include David Bowie, Lou Reed, Eno and Roxy Music, thus augmenting his earlier influences, Top 40, classical music, show tunes and the theatre record collection of his parents.

Sean started playing piano and drums but switched to guitar. Original drummer Johnny Crash (aka Janis Friedenfelds), who died in on January 24 2014, came from Adelaide’s electro-industrial scene and proved himself a dynamic addition. Mark Ferrie replaced Peter Sutcliffe (aka Pierre Voltaire) who later won $503,000 in May 2014, on TV quiz show Million Dollar Minute.

Ferrie grew up in the western suburbs (“with an accent to match”) before studies at Melbourne University opened him up to the new sounds from the Carlton scene and later the St. Kilda movement when he moved to live there. By the time of The Overlander Hotel tape, original keyboard player, the gifted and experimental Ash Wednesday, had been replaced by the innovative Andrew Duffield.

Andrew studied electronic music and emerged with electro-pioneers Whirlywirld with his school friend Ollie Olsen. Aside from being a pioneer in synthesiser music, Andrew was also a fan of left-of-centre names such as Captain Beefheart.

Models’ spiky mix of new wave, glam, dub, pre-industrial and pop struck a chord with a new generation of punters looking for their own heroes rather than adopting those of older siblings.

Mark Woods recalls much of the audience were college and post-college students. Some of their biggest fans were The EMUs (Ex Melbourne University Students), a drinking club mainly but they booked a few Models gigs.

Models LIVE At The Overlander Hotel 1980 captures the way the band would switch from hard hitting (‘The Other People Incident’, ‘Holiday House’, ‘Golden Arches’) to synth-driven new world epics (‘Atlantic Romantic’, ‘Happy Birthday IBM’, ‘Keep It A Secret’ and ‘Early Morning Brain’) to left of centre dance pop (‘Brave New World’, ‘Strategic Air Command’).

They played five sets in that one day – three in the afternoon and two at night – at the country hotel in Shepparton in central Victoria. It had a 50’s style ballroom with a large dancefloor.


In 1984, Sydney trio v. Spy v. Spy were on a high. They’d almost broken up but signed to Midnight Oil’s management and label, and the mainstream was opening up to them.

Around the time of the Prince of Wales gig in Melbourne, they were playing powerful shows around the country.

The songs often had pop melodies but the lyrics addressed issues as homelessness, racism, irresponsible consumerism, destruction of heritage landmarks and corrupt cops.

The last song on the tape is the cataclysmic version of the theme song to late night ‘60s TV spy series Danger Man, which they watched every night at 3am in the squat, and “Mugshot” was inspired by the spy thriller novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammet.

What stands out about them on Live At The Prince of Wales 1984 tape was how tight they were, whether on the frantic “Injustice”, “Where Are We Going”, “Slow F***” and “Mugshot” or the more ethereal “Out And Dreaming”, “One Of A Kind” and “Good For Business”.

In 1984, Mark Woods was living in Los Angeles. After long stints as a sound engineer with The Models and Men At Work, he was working with US band The Call when he got the call to join Tina Turner on a three-month US tour. It ended in October and was to resume in Australia a month later. Woods returned early to Melbourne to catch up with family and friends to await her arrival.

During this time he got a call from the Oils office to do a v. Spy v. Spy’s show. He hadn’t worked with them before, but loved what he heard of them on community radio.

Craig Bloxom remembers the show for another reason. Some young girls joined them in their rooms at the hotel after, and collapsed from excess partying.

The v. Spy v. Spy story began when California-born Bloxom met English-born guitarist Michael Weiley at Nelson Bay High School in 1976.

They started playing around in bands on the north shore and were introduced to drummer Cliff Grigg, who was living in a squat (72 Darling Street) in the inner Sydney suburb of Glebe.

Naming themselves after the Spy. Vs. Spy strip in US Mad Magazine (the V in front was to prevent being sued), the two moved into the squat (which at the time had no roof or heating) and practiced. Others living there were illegal refugees, drug dealers and bohemians, and they could make as much noise as they wanted to.

There was a lot of drugs and alcohol around, and Bloxom admits v. Spy v. Spy music was as inspired by chemicals as the squat mentality.

By 1982 they were releasing singles and opening for the likes of U2 and The Clash.

The pub audiences responded to their rowdy showmanship, sense of community and the issues they were singing about which came from observing in Australian society.

Around the time of the Prince of Wales show, they’d released the Meet Us Inside EP and the single “One Of A Kind” which got them on Countdown.



Jimmy and the Boys were a Sydney cabaret/punk band fronted by singer Ignatius Jones and keyboard player Bill O’Riordan, who dressed up as drag queen Joylene Thornbird Hairmouth.

Their two studio albums Not Like Everybody Else and Teddy Boys Picnic had strong musicianship, but it was their outrageous onstage antics and Top 10 hit “They Wont Let My Girlfriend Talk To Me”, written by Tim Finn and with a video based in a mental hospital, that made them one of the biggest live acts in Australia.

LIVE At The Astra Hotel 1982 was taped by “Yogi” Harrison who regards it as far superior to the band’s live album In Hell With Your Mother, recorded at Selinas from that time. It was also the last show ever by Jimmy and the Boys.

The tape includes “Teddy Boys Picnic”, “Dr Cairo” about a surgeon who performed sex changes, stage faves “Butchy Boys”, “Babies On Fire” and of course “They Won’t Let My Girlfriend Talk To Me”.

LIVE At The Astra has two bonuses. It includes the band’s only live version of Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”, always a showstopper, and “In Hell With Your Mother”, which they had written for the live album of that name, but never used.

The band’s onstage antics included blood capsules, burning babies and effigies of politicians, and a menacing tank backdrop. Their songs covered leather’n’chain sadomasochism, violence, cross-dressing, individualism, mental health, self-mutilation, sex change, drug abuse and simulated sex.

They were hated by Christian groups, cops and family associations. They caused riots at an outlaw motorcycle gang’s music festival (Ignatius Jones goaded them from stage and had to hide in a caravan which the enraged bikers tried to topple) and a Christmas show in Brisbane after a local paper claimed that the Baby Jesus was to be set alight and Joylene was to appear as the Virgin Mary.

Part of Phil Dunesky’s role as tour manager was visits to police stations to bail out band members and emergency departments of hospitals. There was an overnight stay at Blacktown Hospital in Sydney after Ignatius put his arm through a plate glass window coming off stage. As the live tape shows, Jimmy and the Boys had the musical chops.

The key members of Jimmy and the Boys had met at exclusive private schools Cranbrook and Riverview. The name ‘Jimmy’ came from a schoolboy slang for someone not too bright.

Bassist Michael Vidale and drummer Scott Johnston, for instance—highly accomplished players and well respected by other musicians— had their roots in jazz fusion, rock and the avant garde.

Bill O’Riordan played in Vidale’s fusion band Stepps until a nasty motorbike crash sidelined the bassist for a time. The keyboard player then joined Jimmy and the Boys which already had Scott Johnston in the ranks, and he later invited Vidale to join.

Ignatius Jones was among the last to join. Born in the Philippines to a multi-generational Spanish speaking family of classical music players, he moved to Sydney as a toddler. Later at school, fellow students were Mel Gibson and Tony Abbott.


LIVE at the FAIRFIELD HOTEL, 1982  was recorded when TMG were becoming a heavier band. It includes hits such as “Jump In My Car”, “Darktown Strutters Ball”, “My Little Girl”, “Lazy Eyes”, “Heart Of Stone” and “(You’ve Got) The Devil In You” and The Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women”.

Herm Kovac says that TMG were always a working class pub band who fitted in with their record company Alberts’ famous sound, which included AC/DC, The Angels and Rose Tattoo. In fact Herm Kovac and Les Hall earlier played in a band with AC/DC’s Malcolm Young. That LIVE at the Fairfield Hotel, 1982 got recorded and was released by accident.

Garry “Squirt” Brokenshire was 17 years’ old when he joined the TMG crew as a lighting designer in 1978. He met them when he crewed for Sherbet as a 15-year-old and the two bands toured together. In fact, Brokenshire used to join TMG onstage each night playing congas on “The Devil In You”. By the Fairfield show he was no longer in their crew, but he was interested in sound, so he and their sound engineer Steve Donkin worked it out he could set up in a truck and record the show. The resulting cassette was “lost” for 40 years in a box with other cassettes in a storage space, and he found it quite by accident.

It is only appropriate that LIVE at the Fairfield Hotel, 1982 is released on September 1st, 2021, the date of Ted’s passing. That month features a lot in TMG’s history. Ted Mulry was born on September 2 (1947) in England and died from cancer on September 1 (2001) in Sydney at the age of 53.

TMG played their first show on September 2, 1972. “Jump In My Car” reached #1 in September 1975 and stayed there for six weeks. “Steppin’ Out” b/w “It’s All Over Now” was released on September 2,1976.

Ted Mulry started out as a balladeer with hits as “Falling in Love Again” and “Julia”. In the early ‘70s, after a visit to England, he returned excited after seeing bands like Slade, T-Rex and Status Quo and wanted to form a band with them. They had a mutual love for The Beatles, comedy troupe The Goons, and Heinz Baked Beans.

They were also tennis fans. Herm Kovac remembers the Fairfield gig, because it was the day Bjorn Borg lost to John McEnroe at Wimbledon, and he was so excited listening to the match on the radio on the way he almost totalled his car.

TMG were a real “gang”, with recording royalties split four ways, and majority rules indecisions. The live shows were split five ways, with their “fifth” member, Ron Clayton, their long-time tour manager, production manager and driver.

TMG’s starving days ended when “Jump In My Car” went to #1. The song, written by Mulry and Hall, was an album track. But influential DJ Barry Chapman of Sydney’s 2SM started to play it and urged them to release it as a single.

TMG were in a bind. They knew Alberts wanted them to record a new album and would not issue another track from an early album. The band had a meeting with Ted Albert, head of their record company. As they crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Kovac told Mulry “Say to me, ‘We have to release ‘Jump In My Car’”. Mulry was mystified but did as he was told. Their meeting with Albert did not bring up the song.

Afterwards the band went to the office of the label’s A&R manager and pulled off a scam. A few weeks later Ted Albert severely told the band, “I heard what you did. You’re lucky it was a hit!”

Desk Tape Series: Dave Tice and The Headhunters live at Yella rock 1991

Dave Tice And The Headhunters are the 16th act to throw their support behind Support Act’s Roadies Fund through the Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA)’s Desk Tape Series.

The set reflected the blues and R&B that Dave helping to spearhead in Australia from the ‘60s. The audience was transported from the swamp rock of Creedence’s “Green River/ Run To The Jungle” and Latino blues of Los Lobos’ “Don’t Worry Baby, It’s Gonna Be Alright” to the slow burning “Stop” by Lonnie Mack to sturdy workouts as “One’s Too Many”, Muddy Waters “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights” and the encore, a grittier rendition of UK outfit Johnny Kidd & the Pirates.

A highlight was an eight minute frantic rendition of “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, first popularised in the 1930s by Delta bluesman Big Joe Williams.

The tape nails why Dave Tice and The Headhunters became so popular. When Dave returned in 1984 from the UK where he was frontman for R&B/punk Count Bishops, he formed the band with Rose Tattoo’s Mick Cocks and former AC/DC bassist Mark Evans. They all had other commitments, and The Headhunters operated as a revolving lineup as various members went off to do other stints.

The lineup on LIVE At Yella Rock 1991 had only played two or three times together, which made their tightness even more remarkable. “Baby, Please Don’t Go” showcased the Headhunter solo skills – guitarist Steve Edmonds displaying why he was being hailed a virtuoso, Paul Balbi kicking off with a steady drum pattern, John Carlini’s solo going higher than what a bass guitar was built for, and Tice driving things along with a harmonica solo.

Dave Tice met the blues in his early teens. Born on Christmas Day in 1950 in London, he grew up in a farm with no TV or even electricity. He was visiting a friend whose family had a TV set, and watching a show called Ready Steady Go. On came a fierce looking uninhibited band with long hair and skinny legs. They were The Rolling Stones and they triggered in Dave a long time love for the blues.

At 14, Dave and his family moved to Brisbane. At the migrants’ hostel he hung with black African teenagers equally as passionate over the blues. But meeting Pete Wells changed his performing career. They played in a number of bands before moving to Sydney where they became Buffalo.

In Buffalo Dave perfected his approach to performing – to be as ‘on edge’ as possible. Booking agents hated they were loud and brutal. But without radio airplay, their albums went gold in Australia and found a following in Europe.

LIVE At Yella Rock 1991 features a cover of Chain’s “Snatch It Back And Hold It”. Tice loved the Melbourne band. When the singer relocated to the UK in 1977 after Buffalo split, Towards The Blues was one of three albums he took.

During this time Dave Tice flexed his muscles as a songwriter, writing with Doctor Feelgood’s Johnny “Guitar” Crippen and Dennis Walker of the Robert Cray Band. LIVE At Yella Rock 1991 features a number of his songs: “Louise” written with Australian guitarist Mal Eastick, the boogie “On The Prowl” and also Dave’s version of riff-laden “Cadillac Walk” by Mink Deville.

The Yella/Yellow Rock show was an emotional reunion for legendary crew figure Grahame “Yogi” Harrison. He’d worked with Dave Tice and Paul Balbi in Buffalo when he was paid $5 a gig. He’d gone on to crew for Rose Tattoo, Air Supply (“I loved mixing their vocals, they were wonderful musicians), Jon English, The Sunnyboys, The Johnnys and The Saints, with whom he went to the UK. Grahame once went into the offices of EMI with his cassette bag and played them LRB, Air Supply, Dragon and AC/DC. The execs said they had no potential. Most of these acts went on to sell millions of records.

Desk Tape Series: Albert Lee and Vince Gill live at The Prince of Wales Hotel 1988

Highly acclaimed US-based country music guitarists Vince Gill and Albert Lee are the latest artists to throw their support behind ARCA’s Desk Tape Series.

The live show at The Prince of Wales Hotel Bandroom in St Kilda, Melbourne in 1988 was part of a 10-date run, which included a run of shows at The Prince of Wales Hotel. The backing band was comprised of two legendary Aussies, Malcolm Wakeford on drums and Graham Thompson on bass.

The live tapes are made straight off the mixing desk and made by a road crew member, in this case it was the sound engineer for the tour, another great Aussie, Noel Bennett.

Now a country music superstar, winner of 22-Grammys and who last toured Australia as part of The Eagles, Vince Gill was still establishing his solo career when the Australian tour took place. Now based in Nashville, he knew Albert Lee when they were both living in Los Angeles and moving around in the same music circles.

In 1988, Albert Lee enjoyed legend status among other musicians. Born in England, he was “the guitarist’s guitarist”, for his technical virtuosity and for playing his Telecaster at breakneck speed. This was the time of squealing feedback courtesy Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. Lee wanted to play country music and thought he’d try his luck in Los Angeles in 1974. He was embraced there, recording and touring with heaps of musicians, notably with the Everly Brothers and Emmylou Harris.

On Live At The Prince Of Wales, 1988, the mood is both laid-back yet intense, the crowd cheering them along as they exchange licks, harmonies and affectionate stage patter. The set included Lee’s “Evangelina”, ”So Sad” and cover of John Hiatt’s “Pink Bedroom” while Gill contributed “Colder Than Winter” and “Just Enough To Keep Me Hanging On”. Because of time constraints in rehearsing with their Australian backup band, much of the second part of the set was filled with uptempo rockabilly classics as “One Way Rider” and “Tear It Up”.

“Sweet Little Lisa”, which Albert Lee had recorded with Dave Edmunds, saw the duo joined on the night by Stephen Housden of Little River Band. They knew him from LRB’s American tours, and had dinner with him before the show. Also at the meal was Russell Morris, whom they knew when he lived in the US. Morris was in the audience that night but didn’t join them on stage. The classics “That’s Alright Mama” and “Mystery Train”, popularised by Elvis Presley, were more a tribute to the King’s guitarist Scotty Moore.

The 1988 tour was pulled together by folk music promoter and wine grower Andrew Pattison. In 1973, he and a friend drove in an old London taxi from England through Europe and Asia and ended up in Australia where he ran the Troubadour club in Melbourne.

Desk Tape Series: Wendy Matthews live at Mudgee RSL 1991 & Bunnemah Estate 1994

The first show was at the Mudgee RSL (NSW) in April 1991, a year after her debut album Émigré went platinum and won her ARIA awards for best female singer and best newcomer (single). Her hit singles included ‘Token Angels’ (inspired by a tragic school bus crash in Grafton,NSW), ‘Woman’s Gotta Have It’ and ‘Let’s Kiss (Like Angels Do)’.

It was one of the first shows her band did after just three weeks of rehearsals. Already they were red-hot, quickly adapting to Wendy’s mix of soulful ballads and funk-jazz slammers.

By the time of the second tape, recorded three years later at Bunnamah Estate in Margaret River (WA), she had international tours under her belt,and her stage confidence had soared.

The second album Lily, which reached #2 and certified triple platinum, yielded more hits as ‘The Day You Went Away’, ‘Friday’s Child’ and ‘If Only I Could’ and even led to her making her acting debut as a nightclub singer in the 1993 movie Flynn about actor Errol Flynn.

Many of the band and crew are still with her today. Jim Blackfoot, her front-of-house and tour manager for five years who recorded Wendy Matthews Live 1991/1994.

Wendy Mathews and her songs celebrate being a free spirit and outsider and lover of nature. She’s been these all her life.

Born in Montreal, Canada, her art school parents split when she was 14. Two years later she left school and went busking across North America with friends. At 18 she was in Los Angeles busking, making jewellery and working as a session singer.

She did backup vocals on Little River Band co-founder Glenn Shorrock’s solo album, and he invited her back to Australia to sing on tour. She stayed, singing backup on albums by Jimmy Barnes, Richard Clapton, Tim Finn, Icehouse and Cher, and joining bands as The Models and The Rockmelons (where she first started working with Jim Blackfoot) and Peter Blakeley and The Resurrection.

In 1989 she was part of the supergroup Absent Friends, which included members of INXS and The Models, who had a Top 5 hit with ‘I Don’t Wanna Be With Nobody But You’ (which is also on the ARCA live tapes) before going solo.

The nature of her relationship with her audience came from her childhood idol Joni Mitchell. The legendary fellow Canadian said in interviews it was important for her fans to see themselves, and not her, in her songs and that how they responded was uniquely theirs and made them understand themselves better.

Wendy has lived for the past 20 years on a 10-acre spread on a mountain top outside Coffs Harbour on the NSW in a mud-brick house. Her only companion is her six month half border collie half kelpie Odo, whom she got after her long time border collie companion Bear moved into her next universe.

Wendy is bemused by how strangers she meets insist that she lives in a teepee, is vegetarian, abstains from alcohol and meditates every day. She is currently writing her next album, to release through her own Barking Bear record label.

Desk Tape Series: Russell Morris and The Rubes live at The Palladium 1982

The Rubes were formed in 1980 as a vehicle for Russell Morris’ songwriting after he returned to Australia after a lengthy stay in the US.

His early hits like ‘Hush’, ‘The Real Thing Pts. 1, 2 & 3’ and ‘Rachel’ were written by others but he wanted to concentrate on his own work. The self-penned ‘Wings of An Eagle’, ‘Sweet Sweet Love’ and ‘Mr America’ continued his run of hits.

The Rubes formed in 1980 from the ashes of The Russell Morris Band, who imploded through personality clashes between some members. The new line-up included Bruce Haymes and Max Chazan.  They’d been in a band called The Rubes, so the name was kept.

The Rubes’ set centred on interplay between Haymes’ keyboards and Chazan’s guitars, and did wonders for Morris’ newer songs as ‘Roar Of The Wild Torpedoes’, ‘Surprise Surprise’, ‘Thunderground’, ‘In The Heat Of The Night’ and ‘One Way Street’, all featured on Live At The Palladium. The set also included hits as ‘Hush’, ‘Eagle’ and a gritty ‘Mr. America’ and album tracks as ‘So Tough’, ‘Love Stealer’ and ‘How We Run’.

The Rubes’ music got critical acclaim but mainstream radio refused to play their tracks as they considered Morris – and many of his contemporaries – “old hat”.

However ‘The Roar Of The Wild Torpedoes’ still remains in his current set, and fans who recently discovered Morris through his blues/roots renaissance have hunted down these songs.

By 1983 the five Rubes made a decision: if their single ‘Get It Right’, which they rated highly, wasn’t picked up by radio, they’d call it quits.
Morris remembers The Rubes with great affection.
Haymes went on to play with Bachelors from Prague and Paul Kelly, and won an ARIA for soundtrack for the feature film Lantana (2001). Chazan, an economic graduate, made a fortune on the stock market. Puchala went on to work for a trucking company. Philipas died in the 1990s.

What followed was a tough period when the music work dried up. It was a stressful time during which time a marriage broke up. He tried music theatre (Jesus Christ Superstar), wrote jingles and teamed up on retro-acts as (Ronnie) Burns (Daryl) Cotton & Morris and Cotton (Jim) Keays & Morris.

One day he saw a faded newspaper photo of the criminal Thomas Archer, which virtually spoke to him, “Write a song about me.” It struck a chord and he started writing of real-life Australian characters, locations and experiences.”

The 2012—2015 trilogy Sharkmouth, Van Diemen’s Land and Red Dirt – Red Heart saw him back in the charts and in demand for gigs. He followed up with more successful albums.

People suddenly remembered his songwriting and singing prowess, and Russell Morris went on to be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and Australian Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2018 given the Order of Australia medal for his services to music.

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.

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Doug Parkinson, Live at Gobbles, Perth, 1979 HERE

Desk Tape Series: Crowded House, Live ’92-’94 Part 2

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.

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Dutch Tilders, Live at The Commune 1976 HERE

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’.

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Crowded House, Live ’92-’91 Part 1 HERE

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.

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Dutch Tilders, Live at The Commune 1976 HERE

Desk Tape Series: Neil 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.”

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Neil Finn, solo at the Seymour Centre 2010 HERE

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.”

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Goanna, Live at Canberra Workers Club 1985 HERE

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.

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Men at Work, Live at Christchurch Town Hall 1982 HERE

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.

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Australian Crawl Live at Billboard 19981 HERE

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.

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Live at San Remo HERE

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.

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream TISM Live at the Corner Hotel 1998 HERE

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”.

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band’s Live At Ormond Hall 2011 HERE

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.”

Find out more about the Desk Tape series HERE. Purchase or stream Redgum Live in Amsterdam HERE