Bad//Dreems' Aussie Pub Rock Playlist
Suburban pub tunes from our nation's hallowed history, perfect for your Oz day boozin'.
Header photo by Wade Whitington for YEWTH.
Popular music history lesson incoming! Back in the 70s, Aussie bands made their bread and butter in the backrooms of local suburban pubs. The pub rock touring circuit grew to the point where pubs became an important place for acts to not only cut their teeth, but build legendary followings (see: Midnight Oil, The Angels and Cold Chisel). But not without some hard yakka: when pubs started getting used as venues, it was a radical departure from how they were socially used prior to that (i.e. not as music venues). Drunk men in pubs proved difficult audiences to win over (surprise) and Australian bands were supposedly instilled with a mental and physical 'toughness' if they could handle the hecklers, and survive the rowdy brawls (with many bands the favourites of biker gangs, troublemakers tended to abound).
Above: "Brisbane - At the Pub" by Rennie Ellis, 1982
We're not sure how many bikers number among Bad//Dreems' fans, but we do know that this Adelaide four piece's particular brand of underground guitar-rock makes a nostalgic nod to those pub rockers of yore, as does the fact their killer debut LP Dogs At Bay was produced by Mark Opitz (AC/DC, The Angels, INXS, Cold Chisel). By the same token, their sound is very much fresh, and not re-hashed. In the words of Weirdo Wasteland: "Australia has a long lineage of bands that embody the dusty, driven and desperate nature of the populace and Bad//Dreems has been hailed as pioneers of the next generation of Australian mongrel."
Live, these blokes have a vital, noisy energy: there's spit, there's sweat, there's muscles pumpin' out their singlets, there's big guitar solos, there's impassioned drumming, there's rip-roarin' renditions of triple j hits Cuffed & Colllared, Hiding to Nothing, and Bogan Pride. There's likely no better time of the year than the time around pride-soaked Australia Day to catch these guys in all their glory - Jack Rabbit Slim's in Perth is having an Aussie Day Eve BBQ, with cheap beers, snags and Bad//Dreems for everyone! Grab your ticket here and roll through (no work the next day!). If you're NSW way, catch them at The Vic the previous evening, Sunday Jan 24. We asked the Bad//Dreems lads to dig deep into our nation's musical heritage, and they created a ripper playlist that's going to be perfect for your Oz day boozin'. Thanks, boys!
"Pub rock isn't a dirty word," says Bad//Dreems' guitarist Alex Cameron, "Big successful bands begat crossover audiences begat cultural cringe. Which is a shame because a lot of the music that "pub rock" encompasses is the best this country has produced. Whatever pub rock is, to us it is inherently Australian. It is visceral and raw, but a lot of the time has lyrical and musical complexity, albeit it in a totally unpretentious manner." Bad//Dreems offer some more insight into their selections below:
Easybeats / Stevie Wright / ACDC
You can't talk about pub rock without starting with the Easy Beats. One of the first Australian groups to make inroads overseas, they contained George Young and Harry Vanda. Vanda and Young went on to become hit makers, producing John Paul Young before melding George's younger brothers band into the global behemoth that is AC/DC. They also produced and wrote Easybeats frontman Stevie Wright (RIP) debut album featuring the seminal rock opus Evie part 1,2 and 3.
Coloured Balls / Sunnyboys
Another forefather of pub rock was Lobby Lloyd. Originally a member of Billy Thorpe's Aztecs, Coloured Balls was his own band. It's an amazing album of soulful boogie protopunk, which came to soundtrack the sharpie. movement and predated Motörhead and better known punk acts. He later produced the timeless guitar pop debut of the Sunnyboys, including the haunting Alone With You.
The Saints / Radio Birdman
Many purists would be loathe to include Pig City punk royalty the Saints and Radio Birdman on. List including the Angels and Cold Chisel. While these groups undoubtedly had different artistic and commercial ambitions, to me they are cut from the same cloth. The Saints debut is simply one of the greatest guitar albums of all time, an unholy bolt from the blue recorded somewhere in a Brisbane shed. Radio Birdman is more calculated and self aware, but just has some much irrepressible energy and spirit.
AC/DC / Cold Chisel / The Angels / INXS / Australian Crawl
What do these tracks have in common? The godlike genius of Mark Opitz behind the desk. Opitz learned his trade from Vanda and Young and went on to produce hit after hit throughout the 80s. Starting with Face to Face for the Angels, he produced East and Circus Animals for Cold Chisel, and later INXS' Shaboo Shaba. These bands found huge commercial success, which for better or worse made "pub rock" a thing.
Eddy Current Suppression Ring / Bed Wettin' Boys / Royal Headache / Peep Tempel
Pub rock?? Would a previous rose by any other name smell as sweet?
Stream Bad//Dreems' Pub Rock Playlist below, or FOLLOW IT DIRECTLY ON SPOTIFY.
Above: Bad // Dreems