5 Albums That Changed My Life with Christopher Dunn

Richard Kingsmill from triple j once called Christopher Dunn “one of the great A&R guys this country has seen. Even before he had an A&R gig”. Through the years he has been responsible for bringing bands like Something For Kate and Tumbleweed into the nation’s consciousness, and also co-owning pivotal Sydney music label Waterfront Records.

These days, Dunn is at the helm of The Edwards Shop; a record store tucked into The Edwards in Newcastle West. “The Edwards Shop is in theory, a culture shop” Dunn explains. “But due to restrictions of space and finance, it is mostly records at the moment.”

We meet up with Dunn in the middle of April, which means all plans are currently hurdling towards Record Store Day. The day, which celebrates the independent record store, is celebrating it’s 10 year on Saturday April 22nd.

“Not knowing exactly how it was formed, I would say it was formed by a bunch of record store owners, thinking it would be a good way to bring people back into the idea of buying records” says Dunn. “I think it started with the right idea definitely. To say it has been hijacked by the major record companies is a pretty fair assumption.”

“The Edwards Shop is having a mini-market to celebrate Record Store Day; we have clothes, books, art, and people singing, and a free sausage sizzle – with or without onion! Oh, and records too.”

From mail order deliveries, to touring international bands to Australia. We asked Christopher Dunn about 5 records that changed his life.

“Any of these records are the sort of records I can put on in any point of the day, no matter what mood I am in, and it means a lot to me”

Radio Birdman – Radios Appear

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The first time I heard Radio Birdman was when I got my delivery of the Burn My Eye 7” in December of 1976 at 351 Park Avenue. I was seventeen. I had just left school, my mum was cooking chutney on the stove, I was sleeping into 11 o’clock, and my dad threw this mailorder single at me that I ordered through Ram Magazine – because I had been reading about this band from Sydney, and they were, in inverted commas, “Punk”.

I had begun to listen to what they termed as “Punk” now – as in Patti Smith, Sex Pistols, Damned, and maybe the first Saints album was out by then too? So really, that last six months of Year 11 at school, that the advent of London Punk was coming to form. So for me, listening to Punk came from listening to Glitter Rock, and different weird things like Roxy Music and Mott The Hoople, and even American bands like Alice Cooper – nowdays they call his early albums Punk, so I guess it was always there.

Blue Oyster Cult – Secret Treaties

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I already knew who The Stooges and New York Dolls were, but Radio Birdman lead me to discovering Blue Oyster Cult. Birdman were famous for doing two nights at The Oxford Funhouse, and on the first night just playing covers – and the covers would ranged from The Ronnettes to Blue Oyster Cult to MC5 songs, all sorts of interesting things. So what they were doing as a band also lead me to that.

I noticed Secret Treaties because I was in the Air Force, and it had a plane on the front. That definitely drew my attention, and I think as a whole, it’s just eight tracks and every single one of them is a classic.

R.E.M. – Murmur

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I was still in the Air Force, I was living in Melbourne, I was going to see all sorts of interesting Melburnian bands. But at the same time, being a hardcore Sydney music listener, I was seeing The Hitmen and The Sunnyboys when they came down. But for R.E.M., they came out of Power Pop, and I was a big fan of bands like Big Star and The Flamin’ Groovies.

There were a few things that drew me to R.E.M., definitely the Rickenbacker [Laughs]. But also, I think because Michael Stipe mumbled, and there was this element of deciphering the songs.

Fugazi – First 2 EPs

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Discovering Fugazi was easy, because it was the next thing that Ian Mackaye was doing. I was as much into the Egg Hunt 7: and Embrace as I was into Minor Threat. But getting those Fugazi EPs and playing them, you can’t describe it – it just was. It sounded great, everything they were doing was great, and I suppose out of all the punk stuff – [Mackaye’s label] Dischord Records meant more to me as an ethos and as a way of doing stuff.

Dischord has a business ethos of being honest. Do things properly, treat your bands properly, be informative about things. Treat everyone straight up, there’s nothing else going on except what is happening. You weren’t trying to screw anymore, or make extra money from someone. And that’s the ethos that Waterfront Records ran under too.

I was in Washington DC visiting a guy that Waterfront dealt with. He took me to the local record shop where everybody went – which was the funniest looking suburban shop. I just happened to be talking to this guy Steve Lorber, and at the time, we were starting to do tours. I asked Steve how I would contact Fugazi, and he said “Oh, I know him” and just rang him and said “Ian, this is Chris from Australia. He wants to talk to you about touring” and handed the phone to me. So I just talked to him on the phone, and that was that.

DJ Shadow – Entroducing

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I think Endtroducing at that time, was a total revolution in everything that was going on. When I think of the mid-90’s, I don’t think of guitar music, I think of the way electronic music was going to take over the world. That’s the way the music industry thought – “What’s the Next Big Thing?”. But, as a person who had always been listening to that sort of stuff, it just sort of came together. Endtroducing in particular, the way he put it together, and the time he put it together. Like The Avalanches album, it flows like an album from start to finish – it’s a piece of music as much as anything else, but also looked to the future.

Written by Spencer Scott

Spencer is a singer/songwriter from Newcastle. He's also a Triple J Unearthed Super User and writes for many national publications.