Aussie Rock of The 60's, 70’s and 80’s
Rock On Aussies!
This page is dedicated to all the music that I grew up listening to as a child of the 70's and 80's in Australia. These songs and the musicians behind them defined my childhood and live strong in the memories of many people around my age today.
They are arguably as popular today as they were back then and have withstood the test of time well.
Some of them you will definitely know, no matter where you come from in the world, others you may be discovering for the first time, but they are all Aussie radio station favourites and have been for many years.
I hope that you now enjoy these songs as much as I have over the years.
Khe Sahn by Cold Chisel
This is probably the most iconic Aussie song there is and has been voted as the number one song of all time of numerous occasions by Australian radio listeners. It is the song that drunken Aussie travellers always sing whenever they find themselves together in far off lands. It is somewhat of a protest song revolving around a returned serviceman struggling to deal with normal life back home after returning from the Vietnam War.
Power And The Passion by Midnight Oil
Midnight Oil were my favourite band for a long time as a young teenager and they were the first band that I saw in concert as a 14 year old. I saw them again later in their career too when they went back to their roots and did a tour of pubs. Their songs were highly political, protest songs mostly. I prefer their early musical style which was rawer with a hard rock or punk edge to it than their more polished and commercially successful later material. Lead singer Peter Garret is now a major politician with the Australian Labor Party.
Am I Ever Going To see Your Face Again by The Angels
One of the most famous crowd interaction songs in Australian live music history, this song always gets the crowd replying to the line “Am I ever going to see your face again” with “No way get #$%*ed, #$%* off!” The Angels are one of Australia’s most loved hard rock bands and were known in the USA as “Angel City.” I have seen The Angels twice over the years, both times in the 90’s and both times incredible!
Long Way To The Top by AC/DC
As one of the most successful rock bands that the world has ever seen, AC/DC are by far the greatest band ever to come out of Australia. Although they have not based themselves in Australia for over 30 years, they still consider themselves to be an Aussie band. This song is one of their best and the video a classic.
I love the looks of the people along Melbourne’s Swanston street as AC/DC pass them by. And Bon Scott on the bagpipes is brilliant! I have seen AC/DC play live twice, both times in the 90’s with Brian Johnson. I would have loved to have seen them play in the Bon Scott era.
Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool
One of the earlier Australian classic rock tunes to make it into this list, Eagle Rock is always a crowd pleaser. Daddy Cool lead singer Ross Wilson has been one of the great mainstays of the Aussie music scene for many years, having success again a decade after this song fronting Mondo Rock and then later again as a solo artist. I have seen him a couple of times play live in recent years.
Horror Movie by Skyhooks
Skyhooks were a favourite of mine as a child. Mostly due to the fact that the lead singer Graham “Shirley” Strachan was also the host of the children's TV show “Shirl’s Neighbourhood.” My mum also had one of their records which I used to like playing. Sadly Shirley Strachan passed away in a helicopter crash in 2001.
Classic Rock Or Modern Rock
Which era is your favourite for rock music?
Shape Im In by Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons
Joe Camilerri is one of those musicians who just loves what he does. He has had several different band names during his 45 years plus in the Australian music industry and is still regularly touring these days. I recently saw him perform with his most successful band The Black Sorrows at the Caloundra Music Festival.
Errol by Australian Crawl
Australian Crawl were huge in the early 80’s when I was growing up and then their lead singer James Reyne also had great solo success later in the decade. The band hailed from the same area that I grew up in south of Melbourne, but ironically this video was filmed in the same city that I now live in. It was filmed on the Gold Coast, which is 1800 kilometres to the north.
Down Under by Men At Work
This is probably the most overrated and overplayed Australian song of all time. It’s Australiana theme does work well to promote the country though and has earned it’s place amongst Australia’s most favourite songs due to that. The catchy tune of the song though caught en At Work in a lengthy court battle recently though after it was alleged that the the songwriters had stolen the famous flute tune from well known children's song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree". Men At Work were eventually ordered to pay 5% of past royalties dating back to 2002 and all future royalties to the company which own the children's song.
I was Only 19 by Redgum
Redgum were an Australian folk band that sung mostly protest songs about issues that they felt strongly about. This song was a Vietnam War protest song and their most famous and successful and reminds me of my childhood whenever I hear it. It was also covered in 2005 by Aussie Hip Hop act The Herd.
Solid Rock by Goanna
This is another iconic Aussie protest song that has heavy Aboriginal themes running through it. It is basically a song about the taking of Australia from the native aboriginal people. It admits that we white folk came from somewhere else and in doing so, disempowered a whole race of people when we arrived. There is lots of white guilt in this one.
We Can't Be Beaten by Rose Tattoo
Ah yes. The good old Tatts! Angry Anderson and the boys certainly knew how to pump out a thumping rock n roll song. With some great blues riffs and awesome slide guitar, they created a sound that influenced many bands right throughout the world in the late 70's and early 80's.
Friday On My Mind by The Easybeats
The Easybeats were Australia’s first really big successful band and were often referred to as “Australia’s Beatles”. The band had many hits during the sixties but this song is their most well known and has been used in advertising many times over the years. Harry Vanda and George Young (older brother on Malcolm and Angus Young from AC/DC) were the song writing talent behind their hits along with singer Stevie Wright. Harry and George were also very skilled in the studio as producers and they later produced the first six AC/DC albums among many others that were hits.
Original Sin by INXS
It was a very sad moment for Australian music when Michael Hutchence passed away. The new INXS these days with J.D Fortune at the helm does not have anywhere near the appeal that they did in their early days. I was a big fan of INXS in the early 80’s around the time that this song was released, but I lost interest in them as the decade went on and was no longer a fan by the time that their biggest album Kick came out.
Great Southern Land by Icehouse
This is one of the most iconic Australian songs of all time. Starting out life as "Flowers" the band had to change their name after four years due to legal reasons when they signed to an overseas label. So they chose the title of their hit album "Icehouse!"
If You Leave Me Can I come Too by Mental As Anything
Mental as Anything started out as a bit of fun for a few art students but took off big time for them. They are still going 30 years and 13 albums later and are still renowned for their fun style of songs. As they were artists, they designed most of their album covers themselves. One member Reg Mombassa, also contributed artwork to the hugely successful Mambo surfwear clothing company. I saw the band play live in the 90’s in Sydney. I ended up on stage somehow, but did not last long before I was kicked off!
To Her Door by Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly is a living legend of the Australian music scene and is highly regarded by many musicians from many different music genres for his songwriting abilities. This song tells a great emotional story of a man returning to his family.
Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes
Jimmy Barnes (AKA Barnesey) has already been featured here on this page as lead singer of Cold Chisel but he also had huge success with his solo career, particularly with this song. This video I have never seen before as it is the American film clip for the song. I saw Jimmy Barnes play in 2010 at the Caloundra Music Festival.