It is with that unmistakeable, gut wrenching scream of Rob Younger and its clarion call exhorting us all to play some Stooges that Radio Birdman signals the start of another Wide Open Road, playing the things that connect and link the vast catalogue of Australian independent and alternative rock and pop.

Wide Open Road is the vinyl beat in the heart of the digital jungle and It is with the twang of guitars, the smash crash of dusty grooves and the slow flashback of memory to the, seventies eighties and nineties and an exploration how things are connected within scenes, between bands and inspirations. Scenes unite bands artists and fans across venues, on labels, and with people moving in and between musical styles, fandom and performance, and with a country the size of Australia, scenes formed in splendid isolation, only exposed by long hours on the road or the risk taking curation of local record stores

The Australian and NZ post punk scenes were diverse and populated by so many small bands, many of which put out maybe one or two singles. We are going to feature four bands in this track, two from Australia and two from across the ditch that exemplified the diversity of styles inherent in post punk.

We start with Adelaide band Foreign Body, an all female band that made just this one single in 1981 called Gang Land. We move from the new wave end of the spectrum to the more poppy, even slightly rocky Kiwi band Pop Mechanic and the ir classic Jumping out the Window, which is listed in many top 100 Kiwi songs lists. Produced bY Eddie Rayner of Split End, the Christchurch band went onto record several other singles and LPs but none as popular as this slice of Kiwi pop. We stay on the other side of the ditch and the band, The Screaming Meemees. Originally from Auckland, the Screaming Meemees had number one hits in their homeland as well as over here, with this single from 1982 earning a full Aussie release. Finally, we have Scant Regarde, a one single wonder from Perth and the track Cabbage Hat Virgin Head. I don’t know very much about this band. I found the single in a shop in Fremantle and was drawn to the EMI Custom label (which often releases some very rare singles recorded independently). The dude behind the counter asked me, what did I know about this single. I could honest reply, very little! Although it does feature in the history of WA indie/alternative published a few back called Way Out West by George Matzkov(get a copy if you can) and on the amazing CD that comes with the book that chronicles so many of the tracks in the book.

Gangland – Foreign Body
Jumping out the Window – Pop Mechanic
Stars in my Eyes – The Screaming Meemees
Cabbage Hat Virgin head – Scant Regarde

Nic Dalton has been at the centre of the Sydney indie scene for decades, with as an artists and as founder of the label Half a Cow. He has been in bands as diverse as the Hummingbirds, The Plunderers, Godstar, the reformed Ratcat and the Lemonheads. It is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel to play songs connected to him, so I decided for this to avoid the ‘obvious’ and play some stuff that represents his prolific contribution to the canon and his collaborative spirit. Let’s start with the Booster Valves, a short lived band from 2002 (bur recorded in 1998), featuring Nic plus Jeff Conolly from MN band DMZ and Winston Braman from the band Fuzzy, another great US band whose singer Hilken Mancini appeared on the very track, also with Nic. Girls with Money put out this LP (called Secret Techniques) on the Blind label in 1999. I have always love Hilkens voice (right back to the Fuzzy days when they were a band we used to play on my old radio show in the day). Also on the Blind label and released in 1998 was another Dalton supergroup featuring Dan Buhagiar from the band Twelve24 and this little gem of a 7” called There’s nobody coming over

Together all the time – Booster Valves
Miss You (Faraway eyes) – Girls with Money
There’s nobody coming over – The Kombi Nation

If I had to pick a band that defined the intention of this show it would be Radio Birdman. To understand how bands formed and coalesced in and around being fans of a band its to understand the very nature of independent music. Radio Birdman were ground zero for many people in Sydney, with their shows being events rather than the grind of the scene as it was in the 1970s. Instead of playing shows all over Sydney from east to west to south to north in venues like the Family Hotel in Rydalmere or the Starlight Ballroom in Ermington (not picked randomly, they were both in my hood) they put on shows at their own venue, the Funhouse at the Oxford Tavern and brought together a giant crew of band members, fans and devotees. We start this set with a track recorded not at the Funhouse, but about 1000m up the road at Paddington Town Hall on the 12th December 1977 and the classic thrasher from the first LP Non-Stop Girls. We move onto another live Birdman track, this time released by the supergroup New Race (named after the Birdman track) featuring three members of the band along with Ron Asheton from the Stooges and Dennis Thompson from the MC5. Playing with players from the bands that were the roots of the Detroit sound that influenced Deniz Tek and Rob Younger, New Race was a chance to finish what Birdman had started. We play two tracks, the first from the Hell to Pay LP which was the non-overdubbed recording of a show on the tour and the tracks Haunted Road, originally released by the Tek led post bird man band The Visitors. We then play Crying Sun, a song originally recorded by Birdman for the second LP Living Eyes. This version comes from the official chronicle of the tour called The First and the Last which was recorded live at Salinas in Coogee Bay (amongst other venues) in 1982. We need this set with the New Christs (Rob Younger’s post bird man outfit featuring a cavalcade of indie royalty all of whom were influenced in one or another by Birdman. This is a live recording from 1988 which features the New Christs playing with Birdman fans the Celibate Rifles in Backnang Germany doing, would you believe, Crying Sun!

Non-Stop Girls – Radio Birdman
Haunted Road – New Race
Crying Sun – New Race
Crying Sun – The New Christs (live 1988)

We end the show with the fucking Stooges. Seminal in their own right, critical because of Iggy Pop, influential to more bands than can be counted, the Stooges are ground zero of so much we play on this show, especially the likes of those who were in the band we just featured the hell out of earlier in the show – Radio Birdman. So, we start this set with two songs from the Stooges tribute compile ‘Hard to Beat’ that came out on the Au Go Go label in 1989. N.R.G features members of the Cosmic Psychos and Bo-Weevils and pay respectful tribute to the Stooges with a cover I wanna be your dog. After that we have the Plunderers featuring Nic Dalton (going full circle to an earlier scene) doing cover of No Fun. We end the show kinda where we started (although not right at the start, as that would be Radio Birdman covering the Stooges TV Eye) with Deniz Ten from Birdman and Scott Morgan a Detroit legend noted for playing in Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith’s (MC5) Sonic’s Rendezvous Band in the late 1970s covering TV Eye. This comes from a record called 3 Assassins which was released in 2004. It is a hugely extended jam version of the track recorded in France and Italy with a bunch of local Birdman fans (and coincidentally musos)

I wanna be your dog – N.R.G
No fun – Plunderers
T.V Eye – Deniz Tek and Scott Morgan

Until next week y’all