Tim Ritchie was a school boy when Double Jay started (the early, AM band version of Triple J). He was the only one he knew who listened to Double Jay. It was an escape from top 40 radio and an entree into the world of non-commercial music. He loved it and used to listen to the radio as much as he could. Then when his favourite presenter wasn’ there anymore, and he was running early for the school bus, Ritchie rang the station to tell them how to do better. The next day he presented the Double Jay breakfast program and has been searching out new music for radio ever since.
The Pop Group – Y (1979)
I had enjoyed the mayhem of the punk scene, but musically, it wasn’ that deep or ultimately challenging. Then I heard Y. It was a sonic assault different from anything that I’d ever heard. The label of post-punk avant jazz was slapped on it, but it was production as an instrument that caught my ear. Intentional distortion, over the top effects and reggae rhythms along with Mark Stewart’s lyrics and vocal style spun me on my ear. Reggae legend, Dennis Bovell produced this gem for 400 pounds (after a 4000 pound advance from EMI), and it was rumoured that On U Sound master, Adrian Sherwood sat in on the recordings – I asked him about it and he just gave me a smile. It was a life changing moment – seriously, my life changed and I found that my ears opened to jazz and improv in a way that they previously hadn’. No one bought the record, but many claim to have owned it. Seek it out!
The Gang of Four – Entertainment (1979)
1979 did see more than its fair share of stunning debuts, but the Gang Of Four’ Entertainment hit just at the right time to appeal to any of those who wanted some pretty solid rock, those who were into the punk/funk sound and the disenfranchised youth who thought that Thatcher was a fuck (the latter found much to cheer about in the egalitarian statements in most tracks on this album). And it sounds so good, still does. And when I hear solid drumming and heavy bass with a distorted guitar from a new act, I’d love to tell them to have a listen to the tightest rock act I’ve ever heard.
Prince Far I and the Arabs – Cry Tuff Dub Encounter (1978)
There was a reggae show on Double Jay that played fantastic music that went way beyond what reggae I could get my hands on. It was called The Dogs of Babylon. Anyway I heard great stuff that they would back announce in a way that you heard lots of words, but artist, track and album title were not discernable. One day I was going through the dub reggae wall of the library there, and I came across a white label that Double Jay had a long time before the release date. It had no info beyond the words Cry Tuff stamped on the label, nothing on the sleeve. I put it on and every track on it was the best music on the Dogs of Babylon. It was like finding my unnamed best friend. An album of rare production and beautiful rhythms was now a life partner. I still play it often (not the old vinyl from the library but one of the many re-releases).
Kraftwerk – The Man Machine (1978)
There’ nothing I can say about Kraftwerk that hasn’ been said. This, their 7th album, is the perfect summation of their work ethic, their sound and their philosophy of music. Beautiful simple melodies with the message being in that simplicity of sound and lyric making for a timeless comment on perfection. Kraftwerk are the fathers of hip hop and electro and will always be referenced as a pivotal act for contemporary music and production.
Severed Heads – Since The Accident (1983)
Google Severed Heads for a history of the band, I just want to say that this album moved them (really just Tom Ellard by this time) from a noisy difficult thing to a noisy intelligible thing. The harsh loops are still there, but there are soft synth lines as well. Ellard vacillated between claims that Severed Heads was a joke to a smirk indicating he thought that it was great music. This album is the critical point from when the sound went from inaccessible to the all too familiar trait of trying to get a larger audience through adopting a more accessible sound. This album straddles the fence and delivers something that is a standout in music generally and an indication that Australian players are equal to the world’ best.
The Slits – Cut (1979)
Yes, back to 1979, and there were many more great albums from that year, but girl bands of the 70s did not have anything on the Slits, sure Siouxsie was great, but she wasn’ a girl band, same with Polly Styrene from XRay Specs. And the reggae influence mixed with the post punk sound and a really great hand at making street pop music has this album as a killer. Great harmonies from girls that couldn’ really sing and a sense of the moment that may not carry 30 years into the future, but I’m listening to this album as I type with an idiot grin from immense aural satisfaction. I’m sure it is still a killer!