Australian Legends Stamps Albums Countdown
As promised, a countdown of classic Australian albums as important as any other that has been or will be written: Top 5 Australian Albums to be put onto a stamp this year.
Number 5: Men at Work Business as Usual
It was a tough call to chose last place in the list, but ultimately it’s hard to deny that Business as Usual has dated the hardest and is the wussiest. The reason that it nearly yoinked up a notch is that Down Under is such blasting gold. Thankfully this track sidestepped the fact that The Police were clearly a big deal at the time and has didn’t receive a stick up it’s arse as a result. Production so good it manages to sit seamlessly in with the likes of Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul in this notorious Avalanches mix (from 20:30):
But if I’m going to judge the album as a whole, I would have to declare that there are slabs of this that are pretty hard to take. Even if you like The Police.
Clearly number one in the cover art stakes though. I thought it was a mountain riding a skateboard initially.
If Men at Work were being anchored down by The Police then Chisel probably had their compasses set for the first 2 Springsteen albums. It’s bar room music but done a bit too clever. Sounds like what would have been expensive studioing in the seventees and ,for that reason, I feel like Jimmy Barnses vocals come off like tacked on gruffness. Ian Moss manages to slot in nicely, however, to create a touch of Fleetwood Mac, although I’m not sure if this was ever the true vibe of the band. A song like ‘Rising Sun’ sounds like rock and roll karaoke.
If you listen to the Ian Moss songs in isolation there is definitely a nice West Coast pop EP in there that perhaps the band weren’t willing to let happen:
This stamp doesn’t necessarily correspond to any particular album, but the image is from the 1967 Seekers album Seen in Green where it has been given a trippy effect.
You would tend to place the The Seekers in the tradition lampooned in the film A Mighty Wind, but this is much more clued in song writing and production than that. Their choice of covers show that they were tapped into the key folk pop players of the time, traversing the free and easy sixties with a pretty wild interpretation of Simon and Garfunkel’s Feelin Groovy to the dark and resigned in If You Go Away. Judith Durham sounds like she is having to really force her chin back into her neck to hit the lower notes here. Perhaps a toe in the pool that Scott Walker had jumped headfirst into around the same time.
But their originals and co-writes fall in perfectly with these tracks and in many cases outshine them. Angeline is Always Friday could almost be Belle and Sebastian.
You might think that INXS can’t be taken seriously these days because the remaining band have shat across the name with reality TV and replacement singers, but they were well on their way to doing this while Hutchence was still alive (Elegantly Wasted album was not a good time).
But all this does not stop this album from existing and being instant party. And it does so in a way that is original and without having to apologise for it’s Australian origin, the way some of the others here seem to be doing. It makes so many often maligned things sound like the best ideas ever: Sydney, whacking a bass string with a fat white thumb, big noting yourself, saxxing it up, end of song key changes and so much more. Maybe you cold say that the songs cut through all this stuff like the many forgivable albums of the eighties, but these songs are a little bit nonsense and wouldn’t have ever survived an Unplugged appearance. It’s just the genius of the vibe creation. Good time creation.
I think they probably new what they were doing by stacking all the great tracks up the front, though.
This album is seen as the beginning of the Mutt Lange sound and it’s an incredibly lucky thing that it came along when his powers were at their weakest. He’s introduced just enough wizardry to pump the band up naturally. A few years later and Mutt would be pushing the dials to help lesser bands polish turd.
Not over-cooking things let the great AC/DC discovery shine; their inclusion of air and space. By letting the spacing in between the chugging sing they managed to turn the uncontrolled head bang into a funked up neck jerk. That was clearly something they owe to their boogie woogie heros like Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
This album can’t be anything other than number one, because that would require finding a fault. It sounds like what it looks like on the box and leaves you wanting more. They even fade out Angus’ solo at the end of the title track. Smart music in dumb music clothing.