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, from the shoe gaze soundings of the obscure through tracks that seeped from across the Nullabour, the reformation through solo albums of one the greatest Australian bands ever to some epic Sydney sounds that indulge your hosts tastes, this show we bring back the 1990s, replete with the stone wash denim, faded band t-shirts, Converse and bodgy hair. Oh wait, that is pretty much 2016 🙂

Wide Open Road is the vinyl beat in the heart of the digital jungle. It is with the clang of guitars, the smash crash of drums and the slow flashback of memory to just the nineties that we kick off rocking your April and May with next tracks, rarities, hits and deep cuts you may never have heard before, and the first of those comes all the way from 1994 and the Sydney band Lodestar, What I see

What I See – Lodestar
Your Eyes – Underground Lovers
Paydirt – Drop City

Sydney band Lodestar put out a single EP in 1996 and this song is the lead track. This is great example of locally made shoe gaze, and is one of those times when a band put out a single EP, which a few people bought and vanished into real life. I only found out about it because the drummer (Geoff) used to work at Red Eye Records in Sydney where I was a regular. We then interviewed him on my old 2RRR radio show ‘A Walk in the Black Forest’ for which he recorded the two promos you heard at the end of the song. After Lodestar, we have Melbourne’s Underground Lovers. I adore this track. This was a single on their 1993 LP Leaves Me Blind which released in the UK on the 4AD label Guernica. Produced by ‘Brother’ Wayne Connolly, the creative pairing of Vincent Giarrusso and Glenn Bennie never fails to disappoint. Much of the Lovers catalogue has been re-released and comped in 2014, including a few extra mixes of this track, which appeared on a 12” in the UK. Finally, we have the underrated and brilliant Drop City, and one of their most propulsive tracks, coming off their debut EP Chiaroscuro released in 1994. Paydirt is a fine example of lead singer and guitarist Matthew J Tow’s style., which later featured on 3 LPs and a bunch of great singles. Hard to pin down as psych, sixties influenced, indie, alternative or just plain flamenco, Drop City were a great nineties band, drawing some national attention through the national youth network and a major label releases, which is where I first heard this track, on the RooArt sampler YoungBlood 3.

Drugs – Ammonia
Turn up your stereo – Eskimo Joe
Nailed – Diolene

Three tracks now from the rising Perth scene in the 1990s. We start with Ammonia and the lead single off their 1994 LP Mint400. Ammonia were one of the early signings on the CBS offshoot label Murmur which of course had signed Silverchair and then everything followed in their giant wake. Ammonia were the first band I ever interviewed, when I got a freebie to their gig at the Metro in 1994 and recorded the interview on a giant VHS video camera. Scared the living shit out of me 🙂 Onto Eskimo Joe from their second EP released in 1999 and the JJJ fave ‘Turn up your stereo’. I always felt that this band was a little too poppy teen for me, until they released their 2000 LP Girl, and it all changed. That record is brilliant from first to last. However, it ain’t the nineties, so it ain’t getting a spin! Next up, from 1995 is Perth band Diolene, who released a single EP on the Fellaheen label called ‘Dee-O-Leen’. This label was the ‘in-store’ label of Waterfront founder Steve Stavrakis and put out killer stuff by bands like Fur, Gerling and some very early Magic Dirt. A slightly more angular sound from Perth, but uniquely ‘west’ all the same.

Pale Grey Eyes – Pollyanna
Frail – Pollyanna

I adore Pollyanna. Matt Handley brought forth such a heavy pop sensibility, dark, intense and brooding. This track is from the second EP which was released in 1995 called Junior. Often blamed and pigeonholed for their ‘hit’ (the next year’s Lemonsuck), you really need to get your hands on these first two EPs. Brilliant music made by a three piece finding their recording feet in the best possible way. And why the hell not, let’s play a track from the debut EP Fordgreensilverocket, released in 1994 and the brilliant Frail. I bought this EP randomly from Red Eye, I think because there was a review of it in Drum Media. Never looked back. Oh, and this show’s title is drawn from the lyric of this great nineties song.

Lighting Fires – GW McLennan
Thank You – Cleopatra Wong
Cryin’ Love – Robert Forster

The nineties were a dark era for fans of the Go-Betweens as a band, but an absolute joy for fans of the band. There was such a rich seam of solo material to draw from from both Robert and Grant. We start with the lead single off the second Grant solo LP ‘Fireboy’released in 1993. Produced by Dave Dobbyn (DD Smash, Slice of Heaven) this was a such a powerful statement of Grant’s pop skills. Next up, we sandwich the songwriters with the other two members of the band and their solo contribution called Cleopatra Wong. Featuring Lindy Morrison and Amanda Brown, this 1992 EP called Egg was released on Rooart. It was a minor hit in the same year. More electronic than the GOBE’s sound of the late eighties, this was primarily written by Amanda. They released one more EP before breaking up on the eve of a US deal. Lastly, but by no means least, we have Robert Forster from his Edwyn Collins produced 1996 LP Warm Nights. This is an underrated solo LP, which has the classic ‘Rock and Roll Friend’ contained in its grooves.

Red Serenade – Clouds
Gone – The Hummingbirds
Breakaway – Falling Joys

OK, really, I am now going to simply indulge myself. These three bands are at the heart of my love and my passion for this music. I would not be a fan without them. They are the soul of the nineties for me. I could have picked pretty much any track from Sydney’s Clouds. I went with this belter from their second LP Thunderhead released in 1993. I think it is a great example of the precise and textured interaction between the vocals of Jodi Phillis and Trish Young. Next up, the lead track from the second last Hummingbirds EP ‘Gone’ released in 1993 and produced by Nick Mainsbridge, this EP was their first angry foray into recording after being dumped by Rooart after the poorly performing ‘You just gotta know my mind’ EP (although it is still one of the strongest slabs IMHO). Finally from 1993 again we have a track from the Falling Joys and their final LP Aerial (leaving only 1995’s Universal Mind EP to come). This was the lead single, produced by Paul McKercher, and was eventually overtaken in popularity by the track Amen which was remixed and remixed and remixed…

And with that ladies and gentlemen, we end our nineties show. Hope you enjoyed it, remembered it, discovered something new and had the wheels of memory churn into action. See you next month.