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 and It is with the twang of guitars, the smash crash of dusty grooves and the slow flashback of memory that we revisit what many consider a forgotten (rightly and/or wrongly) era of independent and alternative music – the nineties. Often seen through the prism of the launch of the national version of JJJ, nineties indie was an era of stunning growth, unexpected stardom, some welcomed returns and the arrival of a generation of kids brought up with bands like Spiderbait, Powderfinger, ‘the ’gurge and Something for Kate as their soundtrack

Cousin Angel – Jack Frost
Don’t Blame the Beam – Far Out Corporation
Clouds (Live in 1991) – GW McLennan
If I should fall behind, wait fore me – GW McLennan
Fell from a great height – Stephen Cummings

Let’s start with the nineties story of Grant McLennan from the Go-Betweens.  During mots of this decade, the band was in hiatus (or booked up depending on what you read or who you believed).  Robert Forster was in Europe making records with various Bad Seeds and Edwyn Collins amongst others. Grant on the other hand ad navigated an initials based identity crisis (recording under the GW McLennan moniker).  He also was part of several collaborative projects in the same decade.  We start with a track from Steve Kilbey collaboration project Jack Frost.  We have Cousin Angel from their 1995 second LP Snow Job.  Second up we have a track from Far Out Corporation which features Ross McLennan (no relation) of the Predators and Ian Haug of Powderfinger, and we play a track from their 1998 self-titled debut record. A real mash up style, this record kind of sunk but is due for a revisit IMHO.  FOC also featured future Go-Between Adele Pickvance on bass, which was a precursor to the second golden era.  The next two tracks are Grant solo jams, the first is a ‘cover’ of his track from the final GBs record of their first incarnation and the sublime Clouds. We then finish with his cover of the dark Springsteen classic, If I should behind, wait for me, originally released on the under appreciated 1992 record Lucky Town. And finally from 1994 we have a track from Melbourne indie legend Stephen Cummings released on the amazing Falling Swinger record and Fell from a great height which featured Grant on backing vocals and guitar (as well as Russell Kilby from the Crystal Set in there as well). A brilliant song done a year later by Cummings and Toni Childs, it is a beautiful way to end this long set.

Might as well be gone – Knievel
Buried – The Welcome Mat
Paydirt – Drop City

Wayne Connolly is one of the most ubiquitous names of the indie scene. By ubiquitous I mean, commonly seen on the credits of any, many records, producing over 150 records in the past three decades. Se start with his supergroup Knievel which comprised of himself, Nick Kennedy on drums from Big Heavy Stuff and Tracy Ellis on bass . Released in 1995 on the We Fear Change LP, Might as Well be Gone was the lead single and indie chart hit. Next up is a track from Wayne’s main band, The Welcome Mat. Another underrated band I reckon, the Welcome Mat used gig all around Sydney, out out 2 LPs (including this off the 1995 Lap of Honour album) plus a handful of masterful EPs including a few produced by legendary alt producers Paul Q. Kolderie and Sean Slade (they of Radiohead, lemon heads, Juliana Hatfield fame). Lastly, we feature the production skills of Brother wayne, showcased four times on the RooArt Youngblood compile series. I can’t go past this Drop City track from Youngblood 4 released in 1994. Drop City were the vehicle for Matt Tow and his psychedelic dreams. Loud, dense and very driven by the sounds of bands like Ride, Drop City also added a slightly paisley edge to their records, culminating in a song like Apple Tree from their second LP, released in 1995 called Magic Transistor Radio.

Disco Inferno – Lovelock
The Dalai Lama – Damien Lovelock
Groovin’ in the Land of Love (Live) – Celibate Rifles

We lost one of the seminal and larger than life figures in Australian indie this month when we said goodbye the lead singer, raconteur, spoken word performer, football commentator, cookbook writer and well, just Domo of the Celibate Rifles Damien Lovelock). Blessed with a laconic wit, an ever present durrie and a swagger that suited the front of the stage, Damo was an iconic voice for a band that enjoyed both celebrating their influences and being the launchpad for many others to be influenced by. In keeping with the nineties theme of this show, three songs from the nineties era Damo. We start with his cover of the 196 Trammps disco classic ‘Disco Inferno’ released in 1990. Done without irony or taking the piss, this just sounds like a straight up rock song with great guitar from Chris Townend (from Kiss my Poodle’s Donkey) and soul era backing vox courtesy of Mercia Deane-Johns, an Aussie across who became the first person to pose nude for Playboy whilst pregnant. The things the internet tells ya. Next up is another none-single, this time from 1991 when Damo (along with Chris Townend again) put out this tribute to the Dalai Lama. Pretty simple really. It rhymes karma and Lama. As you do. Finally, a track from the 1993 Celibate Rifles live LP called Yizgarnoff and a live version of the lead track from the 1992 LP Heaven on a Stick, recorded live at CBGB’s in New York City, NY, USA on October 30th 1992.

What Am I – Fur
Redhead – Magic Dirt
BONUS TRACK: Heroin – The Jim Jams

Fur and Magic Dirt are great examples of loud, passionate female fronted rock and roll. Fur hailed from the Gold Coast. This track comes from their debut EP called ‘Find out what you like, and ket it kill you’ from 1993. It was released on the Fellaheen label, an offshoot of the Waterfront record store in Sydney (a label which spawned bands like Gerling and Sandpit as well). I still own my Fur t-shirt from 1993 and wear it when I feel like being old school and original. It is getting very, very thin. Also released in 1993 (but preceded by a single released on Fellaheen) is Geelong’s Magic Dirt, a band who grow more popular as they signed to a major label. However, this amazing track comes from the first EP Signs of Satanic Youth produced by Melbourne legend Lindsay Gravina and Dave Thomas from Bored. My mate Richard and I used to go and see Magic Dirt in Sydney before this EP came out and then all the way until they released their debut LP Friends in Danger. Nothing as as good (we thought in our arrogant youth) as their debut EPs and that rare single only released on Fellaheen (which we had, of course). Wankers. Both of these records were re-released on vinyl in 2019, and if you can find them, pick them, they are great slices of youthful, snotty, driving rock and roll made in far more innocent times. As a bonus track, we have a rare Magic Dirt track from the compile ‘Check This Action’ released in 1992 (as the Jim Jams) covering the Velvet Underground classic Heroin.