What’s a great Aussie song?

Switched the TV over to one of the music channels yesterday and caught a playlist of, allegedly, the 50 best Aussie songs. I listened to it in the background, then watched for a bit switching between the footy. I agreed with a lot of the picks, and disagreed with a few too. Anyway, it got me thinking, and being a bloke I decided to put my own list together.

Now I’m not going to list 50 songs, and I’m not going to put them in order either because I reckon that’s impossible.

  • Buy Now Pay Later (Charlie No. 2) – The Whitlams
  • No Aphrodisiac – The Whitlams

Coupla Whitlam’s songs, which won’t be popular with everyone, but Buy Now is a very poignant song, and No Aphrodisiac was a quirky hit at the time, added more for spice than any other reason.

  • Harpoon – Something For Kate
  • Captain – Something For Kate

Something For Kate are a forgotten, overlooked band, but they had a couple of cracking songs. These aren’t the very top shelf, but they certainly belong in a top 40. Harpoon was a cover of a great Jebediah song, and a better version.

  • These Days – Powderfinger
  • Passenger – Powderfinger

Long, celebrated Australian career, but a tad unfashionable Powderfinger. IMO these are their two best songs.

  • State of the Heart – Mondo Rock
  • Cool World – Mondo Rock

Now we’re going back to the early eighties. Ross Wilson, stalwart of Australian rock music, lead singer of Mondo Rock and been around forever – he’s also got another track on this list with Daddy Cool, when he had long hair. State of the Heart is just a very beautiful, very true song, and has memory associations for me. Cool World is just a very catchy, very clever pop song.

  • Power and the Passion – Midnight Oil
  • Short Memory – Midnight Oil
  • Blue Sky Mine – Midnight Oil

The Oils have got to be on this list, and probably unlucky to have only three songs on it. I reckon they were the best band in the world for a bit, and their passionate, hooky songs are classics. I don’t know which is my favourite. Great band.

  • Because I Love You – Masters Apprentices

Hands up who knows this song? Kinda psychedelic, late 60s/early 70s, this song creeps up on you.

  • Great Southern Land – Icehouse

This is a great song in its own right, but it also rouses a patriotic urge in me too.

  • Throw Your Arms Around Me – Hunters and Collectors

A classic Australian band, but this is their standout song. They recorded a few versions of it, most of them not it justice, but they got it right in the end. Much covered, this features Mark Seymour’s raw, imperfect voice, but it adds something to it. Has some great lyrics. Close to the top of this list.

  • What’s My Scene – Hoodoo Gurus
  • Bittersweet – Hoodoo Gurus

The Hoodoos are just a great Aussie band, catchy, fun songs, these are their two best.

  • Better Off Alone – Grinspoon
  • Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye (w. Kimbra)
  • Friday On My Mind – The Easybeats

What’s to say – this is just a classic, and terribly infectious.

  • Boys In Town – Divinyls
  • Back To The Wall – Divinyls

No, I Touch Myself isn’t included – that was the song that got all the publicity, but these are the better songs. Was a character Chrissie Amphlett, but she could sing too. You could almost add Science Fiction to this list too.

  • Eagle Rock – Daddy Cool
  • Cheap Wine – Cold Chisel
  • Bow River – Cold Chisel
  • Flame Trees – Cold Chisel

Aussie pub rock favourites, working class rock, really Cold Chisel are a bit better than that. Great songwriting by Don Walker combined with Jimmy Barnes with his big voice and larger than life personality, and the precise guitar of Ian Moss, they were a great band. These are my favourites – Bow River is just one of those anthemic, play it loud songs that gets the blood pumping, jangling guitar, Ian Moss take the lead with Jimmy Barnes doing the chorus (“piss all my money against the damn wall”), this is just a great song. And so too is Flame Trees, which is completely different, quiet and reflective. And guess what – no Khe Sanh.

  • The Unguarded Moment – The Church
  • Under The Milky Way – The Church

What a great band The Church have been. These are fucking classic songs, and I nearly added Almost With You to the list. Enough said.

  • Oh No, Not You Again – Australian Crawl

The only Aussie Crawl song on the list, and maybe an unexpected one, but this is a personal favourite – laconic and dry, very Australian.

  • Jailbreak – AC/DC
  • It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) – AC/DC

An all time great rock band, their best (IMO) was in the seventies with Bon Scott out front.

  • Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House

Doubtless, I’ve missed some songs, or if I did it again I’d have a different take on it. Interesting that a band like INXS – a great band – misses out altogether. Loved a few of their songs, but in general they bat deeper than they do high. No Died Pretty either, or Silverchair, no women outside of Kimbra, no Vines, no Jet, and other bands (like the Models, The Cruel Sea), who had great songs, but not quite great enough. And perhaps I’m a creature of my era as the greatest proportion of these songs come from the eighties – which, in retrospect, was the golden age of Australian rock music.

Just my opinion. Lists are fun.

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