SPECIAL FEATURE – AUSTRALIAN BLUES
- Blues music has long been a part of the Australian recording scene, and although often existing on the fringes of mainstream rock and pop, it has always enjoyed a dedicated and loyal audience. Blues music was a seminal influence on Australia’s early rock ‘n’ rollers, JOK, Lonnie Lee, Col Joye, Colin Cook and Johnny Devlin, who were in turn influenced by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins. In the early sixties the British Invasion explosion was the catalyst for a steady growth in blues music here, that was hugely influenced by the likes of The Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. In the 60’s and 70’s Australian bands started to include blues songs in their repertoires, albeit derived from English versions; and major rhythm and blues bands emerged locally including the Purple Hearts (with Lobby Lloyd), Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues, Running, Jumping, Standing Still, Bay City Union, and Chain. Blues-based boogie bands also emerged in the 1970’s and Carson, Kevin Borich Express and Dutch Tilders Blues Club, continued to evolve what would become the unique Australian version of the blues.
- Matt Taylor has rightly been described as the Father of Australian Blues, and as front man for such seminal electric blues bands as Bay City Union and Chain, he has co-written and performed some of the most iconic blues records in this country. Chain’s Black and Blue aroused the primal senses of suburbanites like no other song before, and their epic album Toward the Blues, remains one of Australia’s most iconic blues albums of all time. Our Special Blues Feature this week also looks at a Matt Taylor solo hit, the disarming rights-of-passage bio, I Remember When I Was Young.
- Jeff St. John was a rock and blues road warrior for over fifty years, which was remarkable considering that he was born with spina bifida and spent most of his life in a wheelchair. Through various incarnations of his backing band – The Id, Yama, Copperwine, Red Cloud and Embers – he delivered some of the most memorable rock/soul/blues performances of his era, we are featuring several of his big hits this week from the 1960’s and 70’s including his barnstorming debut hit Big Time Operator (1968) and the soaring and soulful Teach Me How to Fly (1970).
- Wendy Sadington was a unique blues performer in the 60’s and 70’s, a punkish, uncompromising, disciple of the blues legend Bessie Smith, she was a close as the local scene got to having its own Janis Joplin. Under-recorded and under-rated, we feature WS at her angsty, earthy, unvarnished best with her only commercially-released single, the Billy Thorpe/Warren Morgan composition Looking Through a Window from 1971.
- The Drones came out of the West to arrive in Melbourne in 2000, and quickly became alternarock indie favourites. They eschewed commercial success for a confronting, visceral, working class brand of blues/rock, their second album yielded the songwriter’s favourite song, Shark Fin Blues, a tortured, melancholic writhing of guitars and brutal grieving vocals, as songwriter and front man Gareth Liddiard struggles to deal with his mother’s death.