‘All the big names are here: Skyhooks, Madder Lake, The Dingoes, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, The Angels, Models, Hunters & Collectors….’
Review by Ian McFarlane
VARIOUS ARTISTS – Mushroom 40 Rock (Mushroom/Warner Music)
Was it really 15 years ago (1998) that Mushroom Records celebrated 25 years with a major reissues campaign and a massive all-day, multi-artist concert at the MCG? I do remember there was a huge PR push to help the celebrations along but that was only part of the process; at the end of the day it was all about the music. Now it’s time to celebrate 40 years and it’s the music that still matters.
A single or album issued on the Mushroom label was a sure fire way of getting a quality release. Some of the first Aussie records I bought as a music-besotted teenager in the mid-70s were on the iconic “Black” Mushroom label (Skyhooks, Split Enz, Sid Rumpo, Madder Lake, The Dingoes etc). Since then a lot of dross has been foisted upon the listening public in the name of commercial success but the highs have always been spectacular.
Certainly Michael Gudinski – the über-lord of the Mushroom empire – should be rightly proud of his achievements. In addition there are his various partners, the musicians and all those involved in the evolution of one of Australia’s most important record labels who should be acknowledged in the process. We salute you! Now Warner Music – controllers of the Mushroom catalogue – has started the 40th anniversary celebrations with the first round of CD reissues.
The Various Artists Mushroom 40 Rock double CD compilation is an obvious way to take a snapshot of some of the major artists on the label. Mushroom 25 (1998) saw a similar series of double CDs in the form of The Mushroom Story – The Hits of the Seventies, The Mushroom Story – The Hits of the Eighties etc. Mushroom 40 Rock compiler Jeff Jenkins had a daunting task in front of him and he’s done an admirable job, considering that he only had 40 tracks within which to encapsulate close to 40 years of hits.
One of the first things I did say to myself when I looked at the track listing was “hang on a minute, what about this song or that song”, and then almost immediately I countered myself with “hang on a minute, this is called Mushroom 40 Rock right, there’s gotta be a Mushroom 40 Pop in the pipeline!”
All the big names are here: Skyhooks, Madder Lake, The Dingoes, Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, The Angels, Models, Hunters & Collectors, Machine Gun Fellatio, Eskimo Joe etc. And there aren’t always the obvious mega-hits: ‘Living in the 70s’ instead of ‘Horror Movie’; ‘I See Red’ instead of ‘I Got You’ etc. There are a few welcome obscurities too: Friends’ version of Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’; the Sports’ original single version of ‘Who Listens to the Radio’ etc.
So, by and large this compilation rocks; check out Russell Morris and the Rubes’ ‘Hush’, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs’ ‘New Orleans’, Sunnyboys’ ‘Happy Man’, The Johnnys’ ‘Injun Joe’, The Angels’ ‘Dogs are Talking’, Kings of the Sun’s ‘Serpentine’ and Horsehead’s ‘Liar’. The good thing is that they can all trigger personal memories. And speaking of memories, who can forget Angry Anderson and his performance of ‘Bound for Glory’ in a Batmobile at the 1990 AFL Grand Final!
So, finally, on a personal note I’ll select a few of my favourites: Madder Lake’s ‘12lb Toothbrush’ and Skyhooks’ ‘Living in the 70’s’ simply because they were among the earliest Mushroom songs I can recall hearing on Melbourne radio 3XY; and Sunnyboys’ ‘Happy Man’, The Stems’ ‘At First Sight’, Kings of the Sun’s ‘Serpentine’ and The Triffids’ timeless ‘Wide Open Road’ simply because a good song is a good song in any era.
Mushroom 40 Rock (Mushroom/Warner Music)
1. Skyhooks – LIVING IN THE 70’S
2. Matt Taylor – I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS YOUNG
3. The Dingoes – WAY OUT WEST
4. Madder Lake – 12LB TOOTHBRUSH
5. Friends – LUCILLE
6. Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs – NEW ORLEANS
7. Ol’55 – ON THE PROWL
8. Stars – MIGHTY ROCK
9. Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons – SHAPE I’M IN
10. The Sports – WHO LISTENS TO THE RADIO (Original single version)
11. Split Enz – I SEE RED
12. The Ferrets – JANIE MAY
13. Dave Warner’s from the Suburbs – SUBURBAN BOY
14. Paul Kelly – LEAPS AND BOUNDS
15. The Swingers – COUNTING THE BEAT
16. Russell Morris & the Rubes – HUSH
17. Sunnyboys – HAPPY MAN
18. Painters & Dockers – NUDE SCHOOL
19. The Johnnys – INJUN JOE
20. The Triffids – WIDE OPEN ROAD
1. Jimmy Barnes – NO SECOND PRIZE
2. Ian Moss – TELEPHONE BOOTH
3. The Saints – JUST LIKE FIRE WOULD
4. Choirboys – RUN TO PARADISE
5. Angry Anderson – BOUND FOR GLORY
6. The Angels – DOGS ARE TALKING
7. Uncanny X-Men – EVERYBODY WANTS TO WORK
8. Models – OUT OF MIND OUT OF SIGHT
9. Hunters & Collectors – WHEN THE RIVER RUNS DRY
10. The Stems – AT FIRST SIGHT
11. Wedding Parties Anything – LUCKIEST MAN
12. The Badloves – GREEN LIMOUSINE
13. Nick Barker – TIME BOMB
14. Kings of the Sun – SERPENTINE
15. Horsehead – LIAR
16. Suze DeMarchi – SATELLITE
17. Cold Chisel – YAKUZA GIRLS
18. 28 Days – GOODBYE
19. Machine Gun Fellatio – THE GIRL OF MY DREAMS (Is Giving Me Nightmares)
20. Eskimo Joe – BLACK FINGERNAILS RED WINE