Over the years, there have been some impressive debut albums from Australian artists. From Crowded House’s epic debut and Skyhooks’ landmark Living In The Seventies to Men At Work’s Business As Usual, Missy Higgins’ Sound Of White and silverchair’s Frogstomp, Aussie artists have delivered a diverse and ultimately brilliant set of debut offerings.
Back in the early days of Australia’s music industry acts like The Masters Apprentices, Daddy Cool, Axiom and Chain all released debut albums that are now justifiably regarded as classics. But there are some lesser known ones too. Here’s a taste of just five you may not have heard of but are deserving of your ears!
ARTIST: Mark Gillespie
ALBUM: Only Human
YEAR: 1980 (CD release 2010)
This is an explosively brilliant debut album from an extraordinary Australian singer/songwriter.
Mark Gillespie is a Melbourne singer-songwriter whose earthy brand of rock seamlessly fuses a number of styles, blending soul, funk, reggae and pop with consummate ease and polished performance. His profile was enhanced by support slots on tours by Tom Waits, Maria Muldaur and Rodriguez. Joining him on this album is a stellar line-up of amazing musicians: Joe Creighton (b, Billy T), Ross Hannaford (g, Daddy Cool), Rex Bullen (k, Bakery), renowned session drummer Mark Meyer and Lisa Bade, whose backing vocals are just compelling. Every track is a piece of musical craftsmanship, a masterclass in style, technique and sheer verve, from sexy high-hat beats to slices of gorgeous guitar.
The songs are superb, with the singles ‘Only Human’ and ‘Small Mercies’ just some of the gems here. ‘Long and Strong’, ‘Mercury’, ‘Mayday In Arcadia’ and the sublime ‘Suicide Sister’ are all excellent. A genuine classic.
ARTIST: Matt Finish
ALBUM: Short Note
Back in the 80’s, if you didn’t get radio airplay, you didn’t sell records. At first, radio didn’t play Matt Finish’s stunning debut album Short Note but, such was the word of mouth from those that did risk their dollars to buy this album, that the buzz soon spread and, beginning with 2JJ, stations stared putting it on high rotation.
The title track alone, a deftly crafted ballad, was enough to make this album a classic. But then add the staccato infused ‘Layman’s Day’, the pop strains of ‘Hanging On’ and the riffery of ‘Hot Cover’ and you have an album of such strength and maturity that it will be on your turntable for weeks. ‘Look At Me’, ‘You Get So’ and ‘Forecast’ are also exceptional songs, delivered with a pop/rock hybrid that is infectious and compelling.
Headed up by the late Matt Moffitt, Matt Finish were also an explosive live act that delivered a sweat-soaked show to hungry punters time after time. An impressive debut that stands the test of time.
ARTIST: Ayers Rock
ALBUM: Big Red Rock
YEAR: 1974 (CD re-issue 2016)
A brilliant Australian album that was recorded live in the studio on the then fledgling Mushroom label, keeping recording costs down to just $5000. The band features former members of Friends, Spectrum, The Executives, Doug Parkinson’s In Focus and The Delltones – now some of the best known names in the industry – drummer Mark Kennedy, bassist Duncan McGuire, saxophonist Col Loughnan and guitarist/vocalist Chris Brown.
The Big Red Rock album, the first of three albums for the band, features the McGuire song ‘Lady Montego’, as the lead single. This song had appeared on the earlier fabled Garrison recordings. Other notable songs on the album include ‘Get Out To The Country’, ‘Goin’ Home’ and the delightfully atmospheric title track. The band’s superbly crafted blend of blues/rock/jazz/soul also appeared on Sunbury and the Reefer Cabaret live albums. The original Mushroom vinyl album came with a now collectible cut-out cover. A genuine classic!
ARTIST: Kevin Borich Express
Put simply, this is a bloody great album. Long regarded as Australia’s premier rock guitarist, Kevin Borich first came to prominence as a member of the La De Das in 1971 with the hit single “Gonna See My Baby Tonight”.
Celebration, his first solo album, is a true classic containing a superb collection of songs and performances. Songs like ‘Goin’ Somewhere’, ‘Goin’ Down Town’ and the delightful ‘Mon Ami’ were all released as singles and, despite not charting, are all deserving of iconic status in Australian rock history.
The title track ‘Celebration’ and ‘Snowball King’, referred to on the cover as “a chosen one’s blues”, are also notable songs here and well worth a listen. The album features KB’s Express players Tim Partridge (bass) and John Annas (drums) as well as a guest appearance by Wilbur Wilde (sax). Strong songs, a solid rhythm section and some very nifty guitar licks make this a rock guitarist’s album for the ages.
ARTIST: Stockley See & Mason
ALBUM: Beg Steal Or Borrow
Chris Stockley, Sam See and Glyn Mason, between them, have played in a plethora of such great Aussie bands as Chain, Home, Ariel, Sherbet, Flying Circus, Fraternity, Axiom, The Dingoes, Copperwine and Southern Cross. Wow!
With a pedigree like this, you’d expect an album full of real delights, a brand of genuine blues based rock these guys can deliver honestly – and they don’t disappoint. The three guitar/vocalists have a way of putting a very catchy edge on terrific guitar-based boogie and this live album is full of gems.
The single ‘Endless Love’ (#xx) is an excellent toe-tapper while the brilliant ‘Blue Horizon’ is such a wonderfully constructed song, perfectly combining rhythm, melody and harmony to create what should have been a platinum classic.
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