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. 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 seventh show of 2016. On this show we continue what we started last month, a trip back home told in the form of relics. This time, relics that we rescued from the duty boxes of my mums house. Seven inches of glory left in the old study and untouched since we left those sunny shores almost eight years ago

Magic Dirt – Redhead
Magic Dirt – Eat your blud

Signs of Satanic Youth was a brilliant debut for this band from Geelong. Released in 1993 on the Au-go-go label and produced by Dave Thomas from Bored, this was a roaring, snarling, distortion filled bastard of an EP. I saw the Dirt maybe just before this EP was released and they smashed the place up. They were so musically tight, complex in their arrangements and just simply amazing. The duelling guitars of Adalita and the sublime original guitarist Daniel Herring gave the songs counter-points of fuzz. These two tracks are from the limited edition double 7” of the EP (351/1000)

The Hummingbirds – Alimony
The Hummingbirds – Swim to Shore

Listeners to this podcast will be patently aware of how important the Hummingbirds are to one DJ Ringfinger. We kick off this set with two tracks from their first and third singles respectively. Released on the Phantom label in 1987, Alimony is one of the great debut singles. Grungy, lo-fi, with a brilliant and distinctive vocal track sung by both Simon Holmes and Alannah Russack, this track was re-recorded for their debut LP Love Buzz. Swim to Shore was a decidedly more jangly piece, although no less impactful. Released in 1988 also on Phantom, this is a transition piece between what went before and what came next (major label signature, top 30 song, inevitable dropping from said major label).

The Moffs – Flowers

Very Sydney, very jangly, very paisley, the Moffs were an incredible band, both on record and live. I am not sure the first time I heard them (late eighties I think on a Citadel compilation I think), but I remember wanting to find as much as I could in Ashwoods record store that week, which I doubt I found! This was their third single from 1986 on Citadel, produced by Chris Logan who had previously been behind the desk for some of the best Scientists cuts

Minuteman – Voodoo Slaves
The Passengers – Face with No Name
J.F.K and the Cuban Crisis – The Texan Thing

Oh dear. CIT01, the very first release on Citadel from 1982. Featuring the founder of the label John Needham, Clyde Bramley later of the Hoodoo Gurus and produced by Radio Birdman tonsils Rob Younger, this is a classic slab of Australian indie. There was only this single, but when you leave a legacy (of morons) like this, who needs a number 2?

Now, I am just showing off as I reel off a track from PH-1, the first release on Jules Normington’s iconic Sydney label. Here we have The Passengers featuring the wonderful voice of Angie Pepper backed with Jim Dickson of the New Christs, Jeff Sullivan and Steve Harris from the Flaming Hands. Once again, it was the only actual single released by this band. Angie Pepper is married to Deniz Tek of Radio Birdman fame but who cares about that? This is a great single released in 1979. Just enjoy it.

And the mic drop moment, the first release on Waterfront Records, the amazing J.F.K and the Cuban Crisis and their 13 minutes of glory from 1983. A lovely piece of Jonathan Richman inspired pop from the noted Sydney Troubadour. Side note: this EP was produced by Colin Bloxom of Spy V Spy.

The Honeys – Gone Away
Catherine Wheel – Almost Blind
Fear of Falling – Butler to the Masquerade

The late eighties was a great period for female fronted bands and one of the strongest voices for me was Andrea Croft. The Honeys were a band out of Sydney and featured the aforementioned Ms Croft plus the duel songwriting talents of Bruce Begley and Grant Shanahan. This brilliant single was their second (and final) from 1989, produced by Greg Atkinson from Big Heavy Stuff and Ups and Downs. Incredibly epic, this track should make immediately seek out their LP and if not the retrospective CD.

Catherine Wheel were formed from the ashes of the Honeys, with Bruce Begley going off to form the Snow Leopards and Grant and Andrea joining together to put out this three track EP in 1990. This style of pop was quite prevalent especially in Sydney during this period, with the slightly jangly guitars and the multi-layered lead vocals.

A slight diversion but similar nonetheless we have Fear of Falling and their goth-pop single Butler to the Masquerade. This was their single on Phantom released in 1990 (on yellow vinyl!!). Fear of Falling were one of those bands I just bought each time a new single came out from the old Phantom shop in Pitt Street. Weirdly, they were also things I listened to once and put away, only rediscovering them about a decade ago.

Happy Hate Me Nots – It won’t do any good
Stephen Smith – Don’t You Wish

Happy Hate Me Nots were great, putting out consistently catchy tunes for almost half a decade on Waterfront. They were formed from the breakup of one of Sydney’s great punk bands Positive Hatred (with their brilliant cover of New World in the Morning). Match those with a couple of consistently (slightly eighties) EPs and you have a canon worth checking out. Brilliant songs mainly written by Paul Berwick delivered some power pop classics.

A one shot pop wonder from 1988 and the Green Fez label here with Stephen Smith. Can’t tell you too much about this track to be fair. My own knowledge is a dead end and the ‘bible’ of Australian indie makes no mention of Stephen Smith. Produced by former members of Adelaide bands The Innocents and the Tall Poppies, this single is a bit of mystery. Know anything more, drop me a line. Like it? Keep listening 🙂

Swirl – Calling Occupants

Let’s wrap this up with Sydney’s own purveyors of shoe gaze, Swirl. This track came out on a free single put out by Half a Cow records in 1992 and featuring tracks by Swirl, Smudge and Godstar. This completely warped Carpenters cover (for a compilation that never happened) also was on their EP ‘The Last Unicorn’ (all of their collection is on iTunes if you want to get hold of it, like most of the HAC label)

Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed this run through the handful of singles I trusted BA to transit 16500km (and the amount my wife will let me store in our tiny London flat). A lot more will be coming to a storage garage near you soon. See you next month