The Aussie Hard Rock Hall of Fame! What Aussie Hard Rock Hall of Fame you ask? No, it doesn’t exist, so we’ve decided to create our own.
We’ve avoided bands that are primarily known for their work in associated genres like punk, alternative, grunge, blues etc (although seeing as hard rock basically developed out of blues-rock in the late 60s and early 70s, our earlier entrants are pretty bluesy) and gone for artists that are primarily associated with the hard rock genre. Let us know what you reckon, and at the end of the list get stuck into our Glory Days Of Aussie Pub Rock playlists on Spotify, Volume 1 and Volume 2.
In no particular order...
Goes without saying. And what more perfect opener than “Let There Be Rock” to any playlist of this sort of stuff?
2. Cold Chisel
Lyrical, versatile, soulful. Chisel are much more than just a hard rock band, but when they decided to go all out, they are hard to beat. “Goodbye Astrid” is as great as anything by anyone, and they have plenty more where that came from.
3. The Angels
From hippy folk/jugband and blues roots in the early ‘70s, the Angels had a long way to come, but Vanda & Young were there to help out, and it all came together on their second album Face To Face. At which point they far exceeded the popularity of AC/DC, at home anyway.
4. Rose Tattoo
A brilliant culmination of everything hard and fast that came before them, the early Tatts were like a pure distillation of the hard stuff, with not an ounce of pop or prettiness to behold. Certainly nothing pretty here!
Billy Thorpe, a limited guitarist, could not have known the ongoing influence he would have when he was stranded in Melbourne without a guitarist in 1968. By simply plugging in and cranking out riffs at maximum volume to cover up any shortcomings, he changed the course of Oz Rock. If only he’d given Vanda & Young a crack at producing his band, like George Young had offered…
6. Coloured Balls
Lobby Loyde was Australia’s gun blues guitarist in the Purple Hearts and helped great hard psychedelic soul-rock with the Wild Cherries. After working with the Aztecs and obviously helping Thorpie hone that band’s influential sound, he formed the Coloured Balls, a band whose own influence is still being felt internationally.
7. Midnight Oil
They became a different beast later on, but the Oils’ first two albums are ferocious, pared down, amped up and super tight hard rockers. Some folks say the first album is lacking in a bit of power; we say turn the f’ing thing up!
Yes they could be poppy and a bit new wavey, but that was all on the surface. At heart they were an old school hard rock band, and Chrissie was akin to a modern Janis Joplin, forceful and vulnerable at the same time. And “Boys In Town” was a brilliant put down of the hard rock boys club.
Not sure how Chrissie felt about this song…. Skyhooks were many different things, but hard rock was at their core. When former Finch guitarist Bob Spencer replaced Red Symons the hardness came to the fore more often, and “Women In Uniform” was powerful enough for Iron Maiden to cover early on. Bob, of course, went on to the Angels…
10. Baby Animals
Authentic, soulful, gimmick-free hard rock was a rarity in the glammy Gunners-inspired days of the early ‘90s. Then Suze came along with the grace and smoldering fire of a young Paul Rogers, with killer riffs and a tasteful and tough band around her. Their first album produced three all-time classic singles, and of course, they’ve just dropped new music.
11. Radio Birdman
Utilizing a completely different set of influences (all American - Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, Doors) than other hard rockers in the mid-‘70s (who were more or less Brit blues-based – Zeppelin, Free etc), Birdman were outsiders and had an attitude problem. That ultimately put them in line with the punk scene when it happened, but they were a high energy hard rock band first and foremost. Birdman never had a hit but they clearly influenced early Midnight Oil and countless bands in the ‘80s and they have a considerable worldwide cult of followers to this day.
12. Kevin Borich
NZ’s premier R&B outfit the La De Das moved to Australia and became an outstanding hard rock outfit, hitting big with guitarist Borich’s “Gonna See My Baby Tonight”. When they lost outstanding vocalist Phil Key (who formed the great Band Of Light), it very much became Borich’s band. The ferocious Kevin Borich Express came next, securing his reputation. After a stint in the Party Boys, Kevin seemingly went to ground – in reality, he just retreated to the blues circuit. He’s certainly due a revival.
They started off as heavy psych-blues before mining a vein of pure Sabbath metal in their early-to-mid ‘70s prime. With the departure of guitarist John Baxter they became more of a heavy boogie type band, leading the way for bass player Pete Wells to pick up slide guitar and form the Tatts.
14. Masters Apprentices
Existing long enough to run the gamut from R&B to psychedelia to all manner of hard rocking styles in the early ‘70s, the Masters made some incredible records during the hard rock era. But here we’re going to give you their very first single “Undecided”, a bone-hard and riffing R&B rave-up that remains one of the hardest rocking records ever made in this country.
They bridged the gap between the likes of the Angels and the rise of the Baby Animals and the Screaming Jets. Mark Gable is a natural born rocker and “Run To Paradise” sits at the power pop end of the hard rock spectrum and deserved to be an international smash.
Kind of grungey, but not as grungey as Silverchair, Wolfmother loved their Sabbath and found an audience primed for hard rocking by the garage blues of the White Stripes. Wolfmother score bonus points for using Frank Frazetta art on their first album cover.
17. Screaming Jets
Like Baby Animals, these guys helped keep the classic Aussie pub rock tradition alive in the ‘90s and beyond. They were from Newcastle, a city steeped in the tradition. There was a bit of post-grunge American hard rock in their too. Of course singer Dave Gleeson joined the Angels too, so their significance is hard to deny.
Following the lead of New Wave of British Heavy Metal Bands like Judas Priest, Sydney’s Heaven brought classic Deep Purple-inspired metal and hard rock to the Aussie pub scene in the early ‘80s. They had a bigger impact in the US than they did at home and Scottish singer Alan Fryer was heavily touted to replace Bon in AC/DC before Brian Johnston was selected.
They never quite took off here, but this current day outfit kills them dead in Europe. Classic Ausrockers in the AC/DC & Rose Tattoo Tradition, with a bit of Motorhead thrown in, Airbourne might a bit of a throwback but they’re a lot of fun and, if only for helping keep the tradition alive so vibrantly, they deserve a place in our Hall of Fame.
20. The Easybeats
Hard rocking Easy's tracks from “Sorry” to “Good Times” to “Rock’n’Roll Boogie” helped set the template for the later Alberts sound, and obviously Vanda & Young would play a key role with not only AC/DC but the Angels, Rose Tattoo and others. And let’s not forget classic solo Stevie hard rockers like “Guitar Band”, “Hard Road” and “Evie” either.
They started out as a bubblegum band and for a while there and wore all pink, but their version of “Eleanor Rigby” is hard rock nirvana and Rick Springfield was an SG wielding god in their prime!
Too easy-going to really be thought of as ‘hard’, Ted and the boys could nonetheless crank it out with the best of them, and guitarist Les Hall apparently helped Malcolm Young develop his sound. Think of them as AC/DC’s likable older brothers.
Long-standing Melbourne band formed in 1989 by Joel Silbersher, who wrote and sung pre-grunge alternative rock anthem “My Pal” for his teenage band God. Hoss have never troubled the charts and their music is not exactly easy to find, but they’re still playing and have a long list of great songs covering a range of punky hard rock styles and they play great.
- David Laing
If you love these bands above then you'll dig our Glory Days Of Aussie Pub Rock playlists...
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