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 our first for 2017, playing the things that connect and link the vast catalogue of Australian independent and alternative rock and pop, from the bluesy primal roar of Tex Perkins, through pop stylings of the irrepressible Smudge to rare sounds of the solo golden Go-Betweens, Wide Open Road is the vinyl beat in the heart of the digital jungle and this month we go underneath the covers.

Welcome to the first of the 2017 ‘summer’ specials. I say summer in inverted commas because its about to snow here in London and its getting cold. I knew I moved over to the other side of the world for a reason. This first special is a reprise of a show we did four years ago called ‘Underneath the covers’ – a special of just covers (he said totes obvs). We start off this show with some NC&TBS

Running scared – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Harley Davidson – Mick Harvey and Anita Lane
Shivers – Courtney Barnett

Running scared was recorded by Nick Cave in 1986 for the Kicking Against the Pricks LP. The track was originally recorded by Rob Orbison in 1961. This is a lush version replete with strings and the bass of former Birthday Party player, the late Tracey Pew

Harley Davidson is a song from the Serge Gainsbourg canon. Written by Serge directly for and recorded by Brigitte Bardot in 1967, the track has a real dance floor belter ( I should know, I am a 60s french DJ in my spare time). This version is by BP and BS member Mick Harvey, with his chanteuse being Anita Lane, who has been around and in the whole BP crew and collective since the beginning. This is the single version of the LP track which came out in 1995 on the Intoxicated Man LP (of just Serge covers)

Finally, we have Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett putting out this Jack White produced version of the Roland S Howard classic Shivers, originally recorded by the Boys Next Door. This was released in 2015 on the wonderfully idiosyncratic Third Man Records.

The Low Road – The Devastations
Moanin’ at Midnight – The Beasts of Bourbon

Recorded in 2004, this cover of the 1991 Beasts of Bourbon song from the LP of the same name is absolutely brilliant. To many people the Beasts are uncoverable; the primal growl of Tex Perkins, the dirty guitars of Salmon and Jones. And the Devastations pull it off masterfully. Next up we hear from the Beasts themselves in all their dark, dark glory. This is a a cover the of the old Howlin’ Wolf blues burner,. It was recorded in 1988 and was released as a bonus single from the 2nd BoB LP ‘Sour Mash’. This track shows how rooted in the blues the Beasts really were.

TV Eye – Radio Birdman
Kill City – Johnny Kannis
No Fun – The Plunderers

From the legendary Murder City Nights boot comes this kicking version of the Stooges classic by Radio Birdman. recorded someone in Australia between 1976 and 1978 this version of what is now a Birdman standard highlights the simply amazing guitar work of ‘Steve’ (actually Deniz Tek!) and the almighty rock bellow of lead singer Rob Younger. Superlative. The King of the Surf is up next with his cover of the Stooges ‘Kill City’. Kannis was the Minister of Information for Radio Birdman, working as the MC to gee up the crowd before the band burnt the stage to the ground. This slightly eighties production is courtesy of Birdman axeman Chris Masuak. This track and the next one come from the AuGoGo compile of Stooges covers called ‘Hard to Beat’. We end this bracket with the Plunderers and their cover of ‘No Fun’. Featuring the late Steve Plunder, Nic Dalton and Pete Velzen, the Plunderers were Canberra and later Sydney rock royalty and this high energy cover is slimy, messy and distorted, just like the fucking Stooges.

Hell on Hot Bread – Ratcat
Bodyshirt – Simon Holmes and Alannah Russack

Two tracks now from the Smudge tribute LP to their 1994 album Manliow. Released in 2015, I have chosen a track covered by nineties popstars Ratcat and Hummingbirds alumni Simon and Alannah. There are some scary good covers on this LP which you can bet from Bandcamp. Do it, do it now

Ballad of Easy Rider – Grant McLennan
Freddy Fenders Sohn – Robert Forster

Grant did a heap of classic rock and country rock covers as B-Sides of his singles from ‘the solo years’. This Roger McGuinn/Byrds cover has some really love slide guitar on it and a clear passion for the music from Grant’s vocal performance. It was on the B-Side of the Horsebreaker Star single ‘Simone and Perry’ from 1994 (and on the LP btw). OK, this one is pretty obscure, but what the heck. This is Robert Forster and wife Karin Bäumler doing a cover of an obscure German country rock band song from The band, called FSK or Freiwiliige Selbstkontrolle (voluntary self control) put this song out on the 1991 LP called ‘Son of Kraut. There is a bit of full circle here as Karin was a member of another noted German new wave band around the same time called Baby You Know. Well worth checking out. I think this may have been the first time Robbie had sung in German on record, which might explain why his vocals are not much than a mumble 🙂

NSU – Lime Spiders
Action Woman -Lime Spiders

We start with Sydney’s Lime Spiders off their Cave Comes Alive LP and the Cream classic NSU. The Lime Spiders were (on top of their original songs) an amazing covers band. And this cover of the Cream song from the 1966 LP ‘Fresh Cream’ is a great of the screaming vocals of the mighty Mick Blood. We follow this up with the garage classic by the Litter as reproduced by the mighty Spiders. Originally released in 1967, this track was a small town garage classic that rocked Minneapolis, Minnesota. Awesome

She Comes in Colours – The New Christs
Wild Child – Celibate Rifles

You can’t beat the amazing Arthur Lee and Love. This track comes from the New Christs EP Pedestal which came out in 1994. The original Love song was from 1967. The cover is a good example of the influences of Rob Younger as he moved from Birdman to the New Christs. This EP also has an amazing cover of the Who track ‘The Seeker’. The next track was originally recorded by Lou Reed on his debut LP from 1972 (and even earlier was a VU song from 1970, only recorded live with Nico and John Cale at the Bataclan in 1972). Oh did I mention that this is a cover by the Celibate Rifles, from their 1992 LP ‘Heaven on a stick’.