Street Machine - - Rocktober Story -

LET’S cruise the back roads of Aus­tralian rock ’n’ roll mu­sic, way out into car coun­try, with this playlist of from the past 50-odd years. Some may be fa­mil­iar to you, some may not, which is nei­ther here nor there be­cause chances are you’ve long for­got­ten them any­way. Un­til now!


THE I’ve Been Ev­ery­where, Man man Lucky Starr teams up with the same guy who’d gifted him the lyrics to (the Aus­tralian ver­sion of) that tune, Ge­off ‘Tan­gle Tongue’ Mack, for this song that no car afi­cionado could re­sist. Just to get you a lit­tle revved, here’s the open­ing stanza: “I bought a ’34 Ford and I painted it red / I ripped off the muf­fler and I shaved off the head / Added dual car­bu­ret­tors, went for a ride / That rod was so hot, I bloomin’ near fried.” Boom! Such a fun lit­tle song; right up un­til the point where he crashes and burns and dies.

LIT­TLE PAT­TIE Drag Race Johnny

BE­FORE she was Bert New­ton’s mis­sus and reg­u­lar New Idea cover girl, Lit­tle Pat­tie Thomp­son was a mid-60s teen rocker who scored the big hit He’s My Blonde-headed Stom­pie Wom­pie Real Gone Surfer Boy (1964), writ­ten by rocker Jay Justin and pro­ducer Joe Hal­ford. Back in those days it was a pretty short jump from surf mu­sic to hot rod mu­sic, with The Beach Boys do­ing Lit­tle Deuce Coupe (1963) and what­not, so Justin and Hal­ford penned Drag Race Johnny for Lit­tle Pat­tie’s fol­low-up sin­gle. She’s in love with a drag racer called Johnny (she sang about Johnny in a lot of her songs) who’s loved her and left her, no doubt for drag strips fur­ther afield.

LIONEL LONG A Repco Brab­ham Car

HUNTER Val­ley na­tive Lionel Long started out as a coun­try/bush/folk singer in the late 50s and re­leased many records through­out the 60s when his ca­reer speared side­ways into act­ing in tele­vi­sion dra­mas like Homi­cide and Di­vi­sion 4. His 1967 LP, To­day, in­cluded A Repco Brab­ham Car, a cute, in­of­fen­sive ditty about his de­sire to be driv­ing a Repco Brab­ham car. In one verse, he even quotes Ned Kelly as say­ing he’d like to be driv­ing one too!

THE COLOURS Plenty Of Room Up Top

THIS is sim­i­lar to (though ad­mit­tedly not nearly as good as) Ner­vous Norvus’s un­beat­able nov­elty hit/road-safety warn­ing Trans­fu­sion (1956). Mel­bourne troubadours The Colours sing a cau­tion­ary tale of a young hod rod­der flat­tened and killed by a bus at 150mph. His death draws no sym­pa­thy from the com­mu­nity, who would pre­fer to cal­lously point out that there’s plenty of room in heaven for those with lead feet and no brains. Sweet tune; harsh sen­ti­ment.


THERE’S a rea­son you’ve prob­a­bly never heard Henry Ford by The Mix­tures – it’s go­daw­ful! This pack of Mel­bur­nian cheese­balls made ma­jor bank with The Push­bike Song, which went world­wide in 1970. The fol­low­ing year they at­tempted to jump from bikes to cars and failed mis­er­ably with this bub­blegum coun­try stinker about old Henry and his Model A. Seek out the ap­pro­pri­ately cheese-laden video of the band play­ing this on Top Of The Pops on Youtube. Go, now!


IF YOU want fur­ther proof that things were bet­ter in the 70s, take this ex­am­ple. Teen girls’ mag­a­zine Dolly gave away a pro­mo­tional flexi-disc sin­gle for an AMOCO petrol ad jin­gle with ev­ery copy of the mag­a­zine sold – get me to the Delorean, stat! The tune – ti­tled Where The Mind Can Breathe – turned out to be in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar (prob­a­bly the most pop­u­lar song on this list!). The lead vo­cals are shared by Amer­i­can singer Sharon Redd and lo­cal crooner Wayne Richard, aka Groove My­ers, who went on to make an­other jin­gle that turned into a sin­gle, for Ken­tucky Fried Chicken in 1973. It’s called Hugo (And Holly), and it’s as hor­ren­dous as you could ever imag­ine.


DADDY Cool were su­per-cool in the 70s, and some of their mem­bers formed other rockin’ projects. The band’s drum­mer Gary Young was a New Yorker, so don’t get to think­ing that Yank twang is al­to­gether false in Cadil­lacin’, the B-side of his first solo sin­gle, Rock N Roll Lady. It’s a 50s rock ’n’ roll throw­back with hand­claps that only barely swish away the 70s dope haze, with lyrics about rid­ing in old cars, back­ward parental at­ti­tudes and juke joints. Don’t for­get the juke joints. Wait, what’s a juke joint again?

BRIAN CADD White On White El Do­rado

BRIAN Cadd was hav­ing a crack at the Amer­i­can mar­ket when he gave the world the thor­oughly pimpin’ White On White El Do­rado. Hav­ing made his name here with The Groop, Ax­iom and solo, Brian headed State­side, and, while that move only proved mod­er­ately suc­cess­ful, he still man­aged to get his licks in here and there. Like in the promo video for White On White El Do­rado, where he’s trav­el­ling in a con­vert­ible draped in fe­males, laugh­ing his balls off.

VIN­NIE & THE V8S Out­side Coles

HO­BART ra­dio pre­sen­ters Bob Cook and Richard Moore re­leased this nov­elty record star­ring a cou­ple of char­ac­ters they’d de­vel­oped on air called Vin­nie and Barry. Yes, it’s as hokey as Her­bie The Love Bug, and it’s only mildly funny at best, but who can’t re­late to lyrics about do­ing the block on a Satur­day night and then park­ing out­side Coles? Bor­ing peo­ple, that’s who!

SKY­HOOKS Hot Rod James

THIS sprawl­ing kooky glam ca­lypso hoedown from Sky­hooks was on the B-side to Party To End All Par­ties. It’s about a guy who loved his car a lit­tle too much. These lyrics, so poignant: “Life is just a V8 with ex­trac­tors plated in chrome / It helps you get there faster, but it’s no help if you’re alone / Life is like a hot rod with a cus­tom-built front end / But you’ll spin out on the cor­ners if you don’t have a friend.” Also a lit­tle bit clever: “Life is like a camshaft, it has its ups and downs…”

THE CRUIS­ERS Mo­tor­way

THE flip­side to The Cruis­ers’ sel­f­re­leased sin­gle You Don’t Know Me, Mo­tor­way is a honkin’ lit­tle num­ber about a young man with a panel van play­ing in a Mel­bourne rock band. Recorded at Rich­mond Recorders with en­gi­neer­ing as­sis­tance from re­cently de­ceased leg­end pro­ducer Tony Co­hen, Mo­tor­way proved strong enough to land The Cruis­ers a spot on Hey, Hey, It’s Satur­day (check that per­for­mance out on Youtube). Af­ter that it seems they sim­ply drove off into the sun­set.


MUS­CLE car rock doesn’t get bet­ter than this. Gui­tarist Deniz Tek had been raised in Michi­gan and brought a lot of Mo­tor City at­ti­tude with him when he came to Syd­ney in the mid-70s and formed cult rock band Ra­dio Birdman. The group’s tunes were lit­tered with ref­er­ences to rid­ing the high­ways and “cruis­ing down Wood­ward” (Av­enue, Detroit), but 455 SD just went straight to the heart of ev­ery revhead with lyrics like: “I got a dream ma­chine from the promised land / Got a ’71 Trans Am / Got a Hurst T-stick in my hand / Borg­warner four-speed says I can.” The band is fir­ing on all cylin­ders, which is strange ’cos they split up right af­ter they did this.

THE MON­ARCHS ’69 Monaro

FOR A few years in the early 2000s, Hoodoo Gu­rus’ lead gui­tarist Brad Shep­herd spent a lot of his spare time fronting high­en­ergy rock four-piece The Mon­archs. They smashed out some rol­lick­ing good songs dur­ing their brief ex­is­tence, none bet­ter than ’69 Monaro from their 2001 al­bum Make Yer Own Fun. Brad sings about hav­ing all sorts of fun in a GTS; he even laughs off its ap­palling fuel econ­omy.


TAKEN from their thor­oughly ob­scure Great Aussie Demo CD, old Syd­ney punks Fes­ter Fa­nat­ics nailed this thump­ing 90s fuz­zrock song about a clas­sic humpy. The car is the ap­ple of singer Aldo Ru­bernik’s eye, and he even takes a swipe at the Ja­panese for their lack of un­der­stand­ing when it comes to creat­ing an ideal driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence! Even if you do drive a Toy­ota or worse, once this song grabs hold you’ll soon be scream­ing: “There’s a T-bar in my FJ!”


THIS song, from Cold Chisel’s 2012 come­back al­bum No Plans, could’ve al­most been a metaphor for where the band was at – old Aussie clas­sic given a new in­jec­tion of life, still run­ning with power and style. Writ­ten with the help of coun­try singer Troy Cas­sarda­ley, the song is clas­sic Chisel, and the Chev-pow­ered Mon­roe Bar­nesy is war­bling about, well, you just wanna own it. “It’s got fu­elie heads, a tun­nel ram, roller rock­ers, lumpy cam, a seated set of new L34s / Got a new 400 Hy­dra shift, Sim­mons wheels, nine-inch diff, Bridge­stone Eagers, 12-inch, just be­cause.”

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