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 rare sounds of a single that none has played in decades, through to the b-sides of Birdman to the early sound of Melbourne post punk and Birthday Party afterglows, Wide Open Road is the vinyl beat in the heart of the digital jungle. 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, Wide Open Road is up for our sixth show of 2016. Right ho, it is that time of the year again. Wide Open Road visits ‘back home’. We check out all our local beer joints and find they have gone ‘craft’. We check out all the venues we used to love and discover that the walls of sweat have been stripped back to exposed brick and the PAR 58 cans have been replaced by vintage exposed light globes and we check out all the record stores and discover the pound don’t buy as much as we would like in 2016 Sydney. There are no connections to be had in this show, just heaps of dusty, dirty, hard dug tracks from the deepest depths of Australian indie. No doubt it will be obscure, no doubt it will be rare, no doubt you may not have heard most if it, but goddamn its good.

Disco Death – Celibate Rifles

We start with the Celibate Rifles, and why the hell wouldn’t we? This track comes from the bonus 7” that came with their ‘best of’ compile released on Hot in 1990 called Platters Du Jour. Disco Death is classic Rifles with fast, fast riffs matched by biting lyrics bemoaning the death of the music scene in Sydney. Magic

Dancin’ Time – The Hitmen

The Hitmen are one of Australia’s greatest and most unappreciated rock bands, perhaps because of the Radio Birdman connection (members included Chris Masuak from Birdman and vocals by Johnny Kannis, the Birdman MC) or perhaps because Sydney mainstream radio sucked!. This great track was the B-Side from the Everybody Knows (I don’t like Love) 7” from 1982 and is an absolute stomper.

Dig it! – Johnny Teen and the Broken Hearts

Released in 1989 this track came out on the Timberyard label, this band of sleazy origins grew into the more acceptable Pearls and Swine who put out a few LPs in the early 1990s. This is dirty rock and roll at its best, and according to the sleeve, which is almost always true, features Larry Emdur.

People go Home – The Sometimes

This is one of those great singles that you have no idea about when you buy. Released in 1988, the production by Paul Kosky caught my eye (he has produced stuff as diverse as world music wunderkinds Not Drowning Waving and Spilt Enz alum Schnell Fenster. It came out 1988 and was self-released. Anyone who can tell me anything more is a hero.

King America – The Divas

Aight, another slight mystery. This 7” popped into my brain when I recognised the name of the drummer (Paul McQueen) who did a much underrated but cool show on my community radio station, 2RRR in Sydney. Also self released in 1987, this oddity has bits of REM, bits of Nick Cave and some absolutely stunning sax. It is a totally lost gem and much deserved of this re-discovery. For the nerd, it was recorded in Surry Hills, Sydney!

Let’s Be Sophisticated – International Exiles

Let’s go back to 1980 and to Melbourne. This track was recorded there and produced by the legendary Keith Glass and released on the Missing Link label. Aside from being a great place of early 80s pop, what can I tell you about the band? It featured future member of Blue Ruin and Little Murders, other underrated Melbourne bands of the era. The put out one other track in the same year as a split single with the Jetsonnes (soon to become Hunters and Collectors). Find out more about the band here

When Stan was the Man – Keith Glass and the Tumblers

A change of pace but not a change of label. This is Keith Glass, on Missing Link (a little wonky sorry). this is the Keith Glass I know from hanging at tables with him at the Basment watching country gigs and doing fill in shows on 2RRR. This little ditty comes from 1988 and was produced by the aforementioned Paul Kosky. There you go, connections rear their ugly head on the show again. And now, normal rock and pop service resumed.

Sounds of Now – Surprise Surprise

Back to 1983 for the rare little debut from Sydney band Surprise Surprise. They were a kind of mod ska band that put out a few singles and a cassette only LP in 1985. They were one of the bands featured on the sought after compile LP ‘Sounds of Sydney vol.3’. They were later signed to Method Records.

Action Grabber! – Titanic Lifesavers

Some indie pop from 1985, this time from Southern Sydney combo Titanic Lifesavers. Once again, very little is known about this band other than this single itself. Other than the amazing insert with all the cool facts about the band (I wish I had written: I send a message by INXS)

Middle of Time – The Sparklers

I first bought a Sparklers LP in the nineties at a record store in West Ryde that became Discovery and then a litany of other stores run by two blokes called John and Nick. This 7” comes from 1988. Sparklers featured Chris Abrahams (of everything, including Laughing Clowns and the Necks) and Melanie Oxley (sister of Jeremy and Peter Oxley of the Sunnyboys)

Alone with You – Sunnyboys

Simply, without a doubt, one of there best singles ever released in Australia. EVER. Alone with you is majestic, jangly power pop of the highest order. Written by Jeremy Oxley and released in 1981 it is masterclass in songwriting (all i have is alcohol so let me go or don’t you know you’re really attractive). I will just let this speak for itself.

In the mirror – The Saints

1980 saw the Saints return without Ed Kuepper but with Chris Baileys voice intact and beginning the journey towards the pop zenith he reached on Just Like Fire Would in 1985. From the ‘Monkey Puzzle’ LP this version of the Saints features Janine Hall and Barrington Francis who played with Chris in 2015 when I saw the Saints in London

Badland Yard – The Wreckery

Melbourne in 1986 has a bit of Birthday Party tribute fest, with bands like the Wreckery working the same deep rut as their mentors. Featuring future Bad Seed Hugo Race and pop poseur Nick Barker, the Wreckery were a dark and semi dangerous player in the Melbourne scene. This brilliant growler comes from their 1986 EP ‘I think this town is nervous’

The Mercy Seat – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

OK, OK, perhaps I lied about the connections, but honestly, every track I am playing I picked up in Sydney during my brief sojourn home. This is actually an UK edition of this Nick Cave released on Mute in 1988 from the Tender Prey LP. This an edited version from the original 7 mins plus version on the LP. A nice counterpoint to the Wreckery track that went before. On the 12” this edit was called the ‘video mix’

Heaven – Vultees

An early Waterfront records release (DAMP 29) released in 1986, this slice of Aus rock was slightly different to the stuff being pressed by the boys from the ‘front (Hard-ons for example) although the H-O get a shout out in the liner notes. Enjoy

And there you have it. Barely scratched the surface of all the killer tracks dug out of random crates in Sydney this August. The lesson Ladies and Gentlemen is two-fold. There is nothing left to dig, don’t go searching the record stores in the preceding months before August 2017. Please. The second lesson is that just because you have not heard of it, seen it compiled on some trendy double CD or heard it on the radio, doesn’t mean it ain’t good and part of the grand tradition of indie music in Australia. I will see you next month with tracks I dug out my archived collection in a storage warehouse in outer Sydney (mums house), many of which have not been touched in the eight years I have been away.