Anybody who compiles a list of Australia’s supposed ultimate songs is basically making an extremely lofty statement, in fact one that in the lofty stakes makes Mount Everest look somewhat akin to a pimple on a bottom. Still, if you’re going to have a bash at it, who better to get involved than APRA – the Australasian Performing Rights Association – that body much beloved by local musos for often being the fine line between a full tummy and starvation?
However, despite APRA’s remarkable alacrity at getting their members to vote for all manner of things with alarming regularity, they decided to be snobby with this project, deigning only to nominate who they believed were 100 or so of the worthiest in the industry to vote. As such you could argue that the final list isn’t necessarily as it would be if everybody had been considered good enough to have had a say, however looking at the list you just know that whether one or 10,000 people voted, some of those tracks would undoubtedly – and deservingly – have been present. Then there are the ones that seem to have been included more for “worthy” status than actual songwriting magic - a sad inevitability in these overly politically correct times...
This disc takes the actual top ten songs as voted and adds the next 20 – sort of. An obvious omission is the number nine entry, Acca Dacca’s It’s A Long Way to the Top, so if you’re itching to relive memories of Bon and the lads trundling down Melbourne’s Swanston Street on the back of a truck then get ready for disappointment. The other omission is Savage Garden’s Truly, Madly, Deeply - oh well. Meanwhile three ringers are included, two obvious ones in No Aphrodisiac from the rather overrated Whitlams and Anthem for the Year 2000 by Silverchair and a surprise omission from the real top 30 in Icehouse’s Great Southern Bland (sic). If the maths seems wonky there then you score an elephant stamp – there are actually 31 songs featured on this disc, in no particularly relevant order to that in which they were voted. Following an introduction on disc start-up backed by Goanna’s awesome Solid Rock, they are...
Along the Road to Gundagai - Jack O’Hagan
Sing along now! “And no more will I roam ‘til I’m heading back for home...”
The Real Thing - Russell Morris
A masterpiece, despite the involvement of Johnny Young (writer) and Molly Meldrum (producer), sadly this is a butchered remixed version (the Berlin Wall did NOT tumble in the ‘60s!), with sound bites and vision from/of everybody from the downtrodden to peacemakers to despots such as Hitler and Thatcher...
Friday on My Mind - The Easybeats
Number one in the APRA vote, this is a live performance of the pop classic, featuring a very pimply Stevie Wright and an interview snippet from George Vanda.
Eagle Rock - Daddy Cool
The number two – complete with intro from Ross “The Boss” Wilson – in live clip form complete with dancers in t-shirts and fishnets, rather than the clip most would remember of them mucking about in what appeared to be a fish and chip shop.
The Loved One - The Loved Ones/INXS
OK, the authors of this DVD must have been on bad drugs when it came to this number six song. Rather than delivering either version in its desired completeness, it haphazardly cuts between the ‘60s original and INXS’s version. Humph!
I’ll Be Gone - Spectrum
Probably the only band to have ever been embarrassed about having a number one hit (as distinct from all those who SHOULD have been), Spectrum were all serious prog-rockers for whom singles simply weren’t cool. This is the classic old clip with Mike Rudd going walkabout.
(I’m) Stranded - The Saints
The inventors of punk rock’s original clip in all its glory, and complete with the gorgeous, nonchalant charm of Mr Chris Bailey. Sheer, unadulterated genius.
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda - Eric Bogle
A live performance, this is proof positive that a Scottish accountant was capable of penning one of the most moving songs about the stupidity of war and its glorification that you will ever hear.
Cool Change - Little River Band
Well, the Americans liked them. With an intro by Glenn Shorrock, this is another live clip.
Reckless - Australian Crawl
Honestly, I still have no clue what the hell James Reyne was singing about 90% of the time, but it’s a fab little tune shown here in its original clip form complete with twangy bass string close-ups.
Wide Open Road - The Triffids
This is taken from an outdoor live appearance and comes complete with a delightfully sarcastic introduction from David McComb (RIP). At least the English were savvy enough to get it.
Throw Your Arms Around Me - Hunters & Collectors
The promo clip for the pub anthem in all its re-recorded, clonk-laden unnecessariness. The song’s a gem, but why not give us the original guys?
Power and the Passion - Midnight Oil
Arguably the mighty Oils’ most famous moment, thrill to Peter Garrett’s “unique” dancing style in this original clip that any Countdown disciple will remember every nanosecond of.
The Ship Song - Nick Cave
Who would have thought that the same bloke who scared the bejesus out of all and sundry wailing The Birthday Party’s Release the Bats would later come up with an utterly beautiful love song capable of raising goose bumps on goose bumps? This is the original and quite gorgeous clip.
To Her Door - Paul Kelly
Another live clip from an outdoor festival, thrill to the cowboy hats, recoil in horror at the dropping of the ‘F’ word and revel in one of Mr Kelly’s many, many fine examples of storytelling genius.
My Island Home - Christine Anu
Sadly we don’t get the original Warumpi Band version with songwriter Neil Murray up front, instead we get the dancified version complete with Ms Anu – and the biggest hair this side of the ‘70s.
Science Fiction - Divinyls
Come on, hands up who didn’t want to grow up and be Chrissie Amphlett? OK, so all the guys are flailing limbs in the air... This clip gives us Little Patty’s niece in all her smouldering glory and Mark McEntee giving off more pouty rock poses in three minutes than most band’s manage in an entire career.
Even When I’m Sleeping - Leonardo’s Bride
The sweet little ditty, performed live at the Mushroom 25th Anniversary concert at the MCG. You have to love Abby’s cutesy little angel’s wings...
No Aphrodisiac - The Whitlams
Somehow managing to crowbar Tim Freedman’s head into the MCG, this is also taken from the Mushroom 25th Anniversary concert - Even though they weren’t on the label. Go figure.
Anthem for the Year 2000 - Silverchair
Grind-o-rama for the young’uns – complete with Maggie ‘The Freak” Kirkpatrick in this promotional clip – well, half of her at least.
Great Southern Land - Icehouse
The original video, full of sweeping landscapes almost as boring as the song... (C’mon - Iva did MUCH better than this!)
Cattle and Cane - The Go-Betweens
Name another classic pop song that wasn’t in the time signature of 4/4... OK, bits of The Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky... But anyway, this is the unforgettable clip of the criminally ignored on our own shores band doing their barn thang before they imploded rather messily.
Down Under - Men at Work
Number four on that list, thankfully this is the very silly and very enjoyable original clip of the novelty world-beater.
Pub With No Beer - Slim Dusty
Yay Slim! Here he teams up with the guy he kidnapped this ditty from – Gordon Parsons – for a fun live run through of the song voted into number five. And yes, there are trucks – naturally!
Quasimodo’s Dream - The Reels
What, no Prefab Heart?! It’s funny how time changes perspectives. The Reels were ignored by most in their day, as was this song, now it gets voted as the tenth best Australian song of all time. Paul Clitheroe look-alike Dave Mason has every right to stick a middle finger or three up at the establishment.
Only Nineteen - Redgum
Whilst some may have argued for Roll it on Robbie instead, despite being much parodied and maligned by many this song did a hell of a lot of good for the plight of Vietnam veterans – despite the line about the Channel 7 chopper. Respect then.
Khe Sanh - Cold Chisel
Ha! You thought you were safe from the Barnesy touch! Speaking of Vietnam vets, this little puppy got voted at number eight, and is the live clip featuring Jimmy in all his doubled over, poodle-permed fury which we all remember so well.
The Day You Come - Powderfinger
One of very few ‘90s songs to make it (don’t get me started...), this is the promo clip for the intricately produced modern classic in all its debauched opulent boorishness. I want that dress!
Treaty - Yothu Yindi
Yes! This is the original clip of the original version, not the silly dance mix that just repeated “treaty yeah, treaty now” over and over and over and over and... Still, the remix got it noticed.
Beds Are Burning - Midnight Oil
Number three finally pops its head up, this majestic song and dusty clip should need no further explanation.
Don’t Dream it’s Over - Crowded House
Number seven ends the disc, the greatest tourism jingle you’re ever likely to hear as performed at their farewell concert outside the Sydney Opera House, complete with a brief interview intro from Nil. And for anybody wondering, two thirds of the band were Australian and they formed in Melbourne, so they do belong here.