Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Musical History of Adelaide Part 2

Welcome to Part Two of our stay in Adelaide during our Rock Around Australia trip.

Paul Kelly
It is beyond difficult to sum up the career and music of Paul Kelly in a short paragraph. However, Adelaide's bard du jour has been making uniquely Australian music for 35 years and he shows no signs of slowing down. He sings in a unique local drawl and his lyrics are fuse Dylan's wit and wordiness with, at times Tom Wait's world-weariness. As Molly Meldrum used to say, "Do yourself a favour" and check out some of his back catalog. Start here:

Cold Chisel
Cold Chisel started life under the name of Orange, and started gigging in Adelaide in 1973 before finally settling (if you could call it that) in Sydney in 1977. Fronted by Scottish-born singer Jimmy Barnes, their sound was shaped by Soul music and the blues, but it developed a tougher, more ragged edge from being in competition nightly on stage with bands like AC/DC and The Angels. The band went on to become one of the biggest selling bands in Australia, selling over 6 million records to a population of 23 million people.

Redgum was started by four students of Adelaide's Flinders University in 1975. They have a strong satirical bent to their songs, which generally have a strict folk flavour. The subject matter of their songs often tackles corrupt politicians, unemployment, foreign ownership of Australian assets, consumerism and more. Their biggest hit was the story of two Vietnam Vets (a subject kept very much under the rug at the time) called "I Was Only 19" in 1983. Their second biggest hit is linked below, the playful skewering of youth tourism to Indonesia (as it seemed everybody was doing in 1984), "I've Been To Bali Too". They split in 1986.

Exploding White Mice
Exploding White Mice take their cues from the hard driving punk sound of The Saints and Radio Birdman. They started their career on influential Adelaide indie label Greasy Pop belting out fast three chord originals and covers of 60s instrumental and garage pop hits. They may not be household names in Australia but they made a healthy income from touring in Europe. They called it a day in the mid-1990s.

Swoop made a name for themselves by taking the groovy retro funk of Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament/Funkadelic into the grunge era. They worked the groove hard and added some rap for good effect. The band issued the independent debut LP "Thriller" in 1993 before signing with a major label in 1994 to release their heavily funkified sophmore LP "The Woxo Principle". By this time, the rap influence was watered down somewhat, and there were some more sunshine pop and psychedelic influences contained within. The band issued another single in 1997 "Teenage Funkazoid" but since then very little has been heard of them...

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