|Issue No 109||31 August 2001|
Let There Be Rock
Kid Rock and Beer Bong, Australia's Oldest Rock Fans review the week's music and political events from the safety of the bar stool.
Long Way to the Top, far from being the definitive view of Australian rock history, is at least a window into the sociological environment that generated the vibrant performance based culture of "pub rock". Sure, they spent fifteen minutes talking to Hush guitarist Les Gock (better known as the bloke from Popstars and who wrote "...this goes with this at Susan's") and didn't mention the Blitzkrieg rock of Radio Birdman, who incidentally were formed by a couple of North American ex-pats. Yep, they spoke to "Molly" Meldrum about Countdown and Go-Set but ignored RAM magazine and Sounds Unlimited with Graeme Webb or, for those who came in late, Donnie Sutherland but as it stands, Long Way has managed to strike a chord with the generations of Australians who spent most of their youth traipsing from beer barn to beer barn having their hearing blown apart by some of the most energetic and vibrant bands any where in the world.
Today's push for the gambling dollar has shifted revenue away from a varied and vibrant music culture within Australian pubs. Sticky beer drenched carpet has been replaced with the jingle of poker machines and casino style settings or a move to raves with dance floors covered in water and happy drugs. This shift in Australian musical culture has resulted in the Howardisation of blandness within pubs that now such cultural high points as poker machines, jelly wrestling and wet t-shirt competitions. We're actually kind of partial to the move to free fried dim sims.
Anyway, this blandness of local pub music culture in no way acknowledges current musical talent or cultivates the expression of difference. It is about the acceptance of soulless conformity for short-term gain. In this maze of greed and struggle for the dollar, we are strangling one of Australia's cultural engines - live music. The corporatistion of Australian music has lead to the demise of the rugged individualist culture of Australian pub rock and propelled the myth that the dance culture's bland Howardisation of Australian culture is acceptable. We are being forced to accept the insipid blandness of mass conformity within the genre of 21st century disco with a little more treble and bass then the good old days. We are hurtling towards a new romantics period and we ain't gonna take it, no we ain't gonna take, where not gonna take it anymore!!!!!
And what about that period not so long ago, or maybe it was, when a group of young musicians honed their skills in the Immigrant Detention Centers. These new arrivals went on to lead to way in such bands as the Easybeats, AC/DC, Cold Chisel, Swanee (not Al Jolson for those who have forgotten him) and possibly Glen Shorrick if our information is correct. Unfortunately we can't remember for sure. Anyway, this just goes to show that Australian culture has been about accepting diversity rather than supporting an insular shut the doors approach to music and our culture. If nothing else Long Way To The Top, the current history of Australian Pop music on channel 2 shows us when the world really began to open up to a global market place where Australia learnt from other cultures and export the best of our own cultural energy to the world.
Borders are a construct of people and economic in order to ensure free trade and the open exchange of ideas are managed by a select few in order to develop conformity by the masses. Similar to what Molly Meldrum did once he decided to move away from wacky presenter and took himself too seriously and moved to being a music critic in the commercial blandness of a certain TV station. Similarly, globalisation provides an opportunity to live in a world potentially without boarders allowing greater cultural interaction between different groups of people, which in our music analogy, would equate with the arrival of Countdown. Liberation at a respectable hour. However, this weeks Tamper incident has shown how people are not able to make up their mind and will fall back into 1950's Menzian Dad and Dave rock around the clock fear that drives simple people to open their mouth and say stupid things and drive us towards an insular mono-cultural world without the colours and sounds of difference.
Long Way to the Top, is not just about music, just as the Tamper is simple not just about 400 people who decided to go for a boating trip with the Captain and Merryanne. It is about the bigger picture of where Australians want to position themselves today and in the future. We have the opportunity to revisit disco as the current dance culture has done and add a few more flashing lights or we can attempt to develop a diversity of individuals that complement each other in order to develop a country that is able to accept diversity and difference. Do we want to suffer the new romantics again? Will we let ourselves be forced to wear the puffy shits to gain acceptance and have to pretend to enjoy Pseudo Echo? Or do we want to push the boundaries and ensure we write the perfect pop song?
Interview: Union Power
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Bernie Riordan surveys the union movement's troubled relationship with Labor.
International: Spreading the Word
Veronica Apap profiles Kamal Fadel and the battle he is fighting for the independence of his homeland of West Sahara.
E-Change: Training for a Wired Workforce
Education is the entry point into the new economy; but the system still reflects an industrial age view of the world.
Unions: AWU Defends Millennium Train Workers
Mark Hearn looks at how a group of Newcastle workers are setting a new standard in the railways.
Politics: Chatting with Enemies of the State
Brazils MST is the largest and most radical social movement in the Americas. The CFMEU´s Phil Davey drops in for a chat.
History: Struggle and Inspiration
Rowan Cahill argues that it is only through understanding history that we can make sense of the present plight of workers.
Technology: A World Without Microsoft
Heather Sharp argues that all technologies involve political choices and moral values. Computer software is no exception, and it is Bill Gates' choices that dominate.
Review: Let There Be Rock
Kid Rock and Beer Bong, Australia’s Oldest Rock Fans review the week’s music and political events from the safety of the bar stool.
Satire: Tampa refugees ask to go home: "It's less inhumane than Australia"
The 460 asylum seekers on board the Tampa freight vessel have demanded to be taken back to their oppressive homelands, which they now realise aren’t nearly as hostile as Australia.
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