It is with that unmistakeable, gut wrenching scream of Rob Younger and it’s 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.  We continue our exploration of scenes, how they evolve, how they create and form bonds both tenuous and lasting between 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 Melbourne indie scene is as complex and multi-faceted as they they come.  For this bracket, I wanted to centre on the skills of the producer.  And for that, we are going to highlight the production skills of John Archer.  Most notably, a member of the Hunters and Collectors, laying down the bass on someone of their most angular works (and right up to their last LP Cut).  We start with a track from the band Harem Scarem (who later were joined by latter day Hunter Barry Palmer), produced by Archer and released in 1986 on the legendary Au-go-go label, Hard Rain is driven by a country style guitar and harmonica courtesy of Charlie Marshall.  Next up we have the Breaknecks, another Melbourne band who released an EP and a small handful of singles also on the Au-go-go label.  We play the lead single called Bad Boat (ANDA 82). Finally, we end of up something all together poppier from the Archer production canon, and that is Melbournes Crashland.  This band is fascinating, as they are built around the experimental legend Ash Wednesday (who has played with the likes of German industrial pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten) and the vocals of Lyn Gordon who had played with Ash Wednesday in the electro pioneers Modern Jazz in the mid-80s.  On this cover of the Runaways classic Cherry Bomb the link to the Hunters is apparent in the slightly krautrock feel of the production.  And why not finish with some Hunters, from their 1981 UP World of Stone, let’s play the title track, which seems to wrap this little ball up nicely.  Thumping bass (courtesy of John Archer) and darkly snarling vocals of Mark Seymour underpin this epic, clanking early Hunters song (produced by the legendary Tony Cohen)

Hard Rain – Harem Scarem

Bad Boat – Breaknecks

Cherry Bomb – Crashland

World of Stone – Hunters and Collectors

Rock family trees is a great game.  Perth’s Kryptonics are a great starting point for you to pass go and collect your $200.  I am not going to reproduce the brilliant summary on their Discogs page (https://www.discogs.com/artist/1244964-Kryptonics) which chronicles all the connections of this band to the scene that spawned the Stems (who they supported for the first gig) to providing a letter day vehicle for members of You Am I (Rusty Hopkinson) and too many cool bands to mention (Greg Hitchcock).  We are going to family tree these bands like there is no tomorrow.  We start with their debut single, recorded in Myaree in WA in 1985 called Plastic Imitation (and featuring the original band pre Hopkinson and Hitchcock, but a pre-Bamboos Michael Reynolds (which would go onto also feature the aforementioned Hopkinson and Hitchcock). We then move  onto the Bamboos, a band featuring GH and RH and their track from 1986 single on the Citadel label (which was of itself a scene(.  We move rapidly onto the band Challenger 7 who future Ian Underwood of the Kyptonics and a track from their 1996 EP The Great Slump Forward on Tomboy records.  We end up back where we started with the Kryptonics and the song Trapped Inside from the mini-album released on Waterfront called Sixty-Nine in 1989, which was a reformation project featuring IU and GH. A lovely little set to bring together how these bands have very porous boundaries and members.

Plastic Imitation – Kryptonics

Virginia – The Bamboos

Because we can – Challenger 7

Trapped Inside – Kryptonics

Cross-fertilisation is an important part of how scenes develop and grow.  Appearing on each others records, joining as members, or simply getting on stage and doing a guest spot is a fundamental principle of many scenes.  It’s a club, one where the audience are members or are let into the cameraderie.   So, lets just sat it loud one time. The Clouds. A wonderful nexus around which this kind of scene is beautifully evidenced.  We start with A Winter’s Tale, a track from the 1992 Falling Joys LP Psychohum which highlights the girls from the clouds (Jodi and Trish) doing backing vocals with Suzie Higgie making this beautiful choir. Suzie returned the favour of sorts by playing drums on the Jodi Phillis solo project Lounge O Sound which came out in 1996 on the Red Eye label (just to confuse EVERYTHING, Greg Hitchcock from the previous set plays slide on this track!).  From their 1992 LP Difficult Loves, Melbournes Weddings, Parties, Anything were kind of (in part) like a Melbourne Pogues playing authentic folk music through an indie lens,  This track features Trish from the Clouds on backing vocals (and there is a great live clip just below of her singing with lead singer Mick Thomas.  This track also featured Bad Seeds members Mick Harvey and Conway Savage.  We then move to Decoder Ring and their 2002 EP Spooky Action At A Distance, which features on vocals, go figure, Jodi Phillis. Finally, lets bring it all back to the Clouds, with a track from the EP where they appeared as themselves, but not as the Clouds, and that would be the Girls from the Clouds and the 2005 EP Lalalala

A Winter’s Tale – Falling Joys

Protest Song – Lounge O Sound

Step in Step Out – Weddings, Parties, Anything

The Night Shift – Decoder Ring

Beyond the Clouds – The Girls from the Clouds

Until next time y’all