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 (and this week, digital) beat in the heart of the alternative jungle. It is with the glitching beats edgy, frantic guitar that we start this series of shows showcasing the experimental edges if th indie scene

This show we get all experimental and check out the fringes of the indie scene that bled through in every capital city of the country. due to the amazing sharing capacity of the internet, these incredibly rare tracks have had a second life, able to influence another generation of musicians, but also been seen as they were, incredibly influential and seminal for the Australian scene of the time, featuring many players who went to be part of more mainstream bands (or they themselves become mainstream, like Severed Heads)

So, lets start this journey in Brisbane. We start with three tracks from the band Zero (Xiro in some instances). Formed in Brisbane in 1978 as a feminist punk band that featured Go-Between Lindy Morrison on drums, they drafted in john Wilsteed (also later of the Go-Betweens, especially on the 16 Lovers Lane record). Releasing everything from punk to avant experimental Xiro and all all the various manifestations and solo ventures are a greta example of how experimental music cross-pollinated and then morphed into more mainstream ventures. The first track is Beirut, recorded in 1981 and released on a experimental compilation from 1983 called ZIPtoo, I have taken this from a collection of over 250 Brisbane experimental tracks from a book called BNE: the definite archive written by Dennis Remmer in 2014. It is amazing chronicle of the era with so, so many rare tracks. Next ups e have a little bit of John and Irena from 1981 on a Fast Forward cassette (more about that later). We follow that with a track from their 1982 mini-LP on the legendary M- Squared label called Lust in the Dust, and finally a track from their 1981 cassette EP called Religious Wars, very worthy of the tag experimental. If you want this stuff, bandcamp has a giant tranche of it.

Beirut – Xero
The Girls – Xero
Behind the Chagall – Xiro

    The Melbourne experimental scene spawned a plethora of stuff, ranging from the truly edgy (chronicled on the M Squared label for example) through to the emergence of the Bad Seeds. Dogs in Space was a 1986 movie directed by Richard Lowenstein based loosely on what was known as the Little Band scene (based around the band Primitive Calculators). Starring Michael Hutchence the soundtrack was a cornucopia of post punk, reformed Melbourne bands and the sounds of Ollie Olsen, a stalwart of the Melbourne experimental scene. We are going tp play the tracks Dogs in Space here, performed by the titular band (featuring Hutchence on vocals). We move onto Hugo Klang, another band featuring Olsen and John Murphy (SPK, Associates, too many other bands to mention). This track was released on the Prince Melon label in 1982. We end this bracket with another Olsen composition and band, this time called No. They were a post punk/electro band, very much in the style of Suicide, featuring Olsen and Murphy. We have picked a track from the No Glory for Shit for Brains EP which came out in 1987.

    Dogs in Space – Michael Hutchence
    Grand Life for the Fools and Idiots – Hugo Klang
    Skin – No

    Covers. Pretty simple really. Kind of a staple of any scene, especially vaguely idiosyncratic or ironic ones. We start with a cover of the 1985 classic ~Man Overboard by the recently reformed Do Re Mi, played by the electronic artists Hardcorr and Groovescooter from a 2001 compile of reimagined Aussie electronic classics. Aural Indifference were one of the two bands by M Squared in house producer, Brian Hall ( the other being Denial). This shits and giggles version of the Motown classic came from an M Squared compilation called ‘A Selection’ in 1981. Next up we hear from Sydney band Matrimony and a track from their only LP Kitty Finger from 1989, covering the Scientists and their first single Frantic Romantic. And why the hell not, lets round this bracket out with the insane Mr Floppy, off their 1993 LP The Unbearable Lightness of being a Dickhead and their absolute banging classic cover of Kate Bush (Heathcliff, its me, I’m floppy).

    Man Overboard – Hardcorr vs Groovescooter
    Baby Love – Aural Indifference
    Frantic Romantic – Matrimony
    Wuthering Heights – Mr Floppy

    A complete change of pace now. Scattered Order were one of the very first Melbourne post punk bands to break through into the mainstream signing with Volition in 1985). Featuring Mitchell Jones, Michael Tee and on earlier releases, Patrick Gibson (of the Syetmatics, Yay Ya Choral and No Night Sweats amongst many others), Scattered Order were central to the M Squared scene releasing their first EP called Prat Culture in 1982. It was reissued in 2009 by Austrian label Klanggalerie and can be found for download on Bandcamp. Next up we have two tracks from the M Squared box set called Pardon Me For Barging In Like This… (M Squared: Rare Recordings 1979-1983, which brings together dozens of rare tracks from a whole host of M Squared bands. Look out for the found sound recoding from an actual Greek airport! Next up we have a track from the second Scattered ORDER LP Career of the Silly Thing, released in 1985 on Volition, and we have the ‘single’ 1000 Gene Autrys (although the song Escape Via Cessnock is pretty well known from this period as a dance/electro crossover). We finish with the band Patrick Gibson was doing at the same time as Scattered Order and The Systematics. Also released on M Squared we have the classic cut, Bovine from the 1982 EP My life in the Field of Cows, in the case from the 2008 German compile called What we Did in the Afternoon. It is quite interesting that it is mainly European labels who have put all these reissues out, I think there is a close alignment between this scene and the German industrial scene that spawned bands like Einstürzende Neubauten. We end this set with Patrick Gibson’s Ya Ya Choral and their track from their 1982 single, Such a Dutch Man (also featuring Michael Tee, one of the founders of the M Squared label).

    Slot Car Synth – Scattered Order
    What / Not Now/Greek Airport 80 – Scattered Order
    1000 Gene Autry’s – Scattered Order
    Bovine – The Systematics
    Waiting Time – Ya Ya Choral