The Real Eighties: Going Down To Alice Springs

I did say this week in “The Real Eighties” was about Britain.  I oversimplified:  it’s about the Commonwealth.  Most of the really good music of the decade – yep, as I define it – came from the parts of Britain that weren’t  England; from Ireland, Scotland, Wales…

…and Australian and New Zealand.

Split Enz kicked off the decade


And of course, Midnight Oil.

For all of you who thought U2 was too modest and unambitious, or that The Alarm were too subtle, or Big Country were too musically baroque, the Australian band – led by six-foot-seven-inch-tall socialist activist Peter Garrett – fit the bill.

Relentlessly preachy, as earnest as a fourteen year old animal rights activist….

….but musically, both maddeningly baroque and classically ambitious. I mean, if you’re a campfire guitar player, just try to follow the changes in Kosciosko…:

…to say nothing of the interplay between the vocals. This is not “Louie Louie”.

Or “Safety Dance” for that matter.

In  fact, the dancing was very unsafe:

Preachy enough to make an “Occupy Minnesota” glitter-flinging fop blanche in embarassment?  Absolutely!

But the point of this series isn’t “was it cool and detached enough for hipsters today”.

It’s “there’s a lot of stuff to remember that wasn’t focused on hair”.  Peter Garret’s ‘do should be proof…

Better hair – and less preachy – was the band I always wanted to actually have, back in the eighties; INXS, which brought an R’nB-ish danceability and hooks you could hang sides of beef from throughout the decade.

3 thoughts on “The Real Eighties: Going Down To Alice Springs

  1. What the HELL is your problem with Men Without Hats? North Dakotans don’t need to sneer at Canucks.

  2. The Oils were full of crap, but they never forgot to be entertaining. As for INXS, they’ve really aged well — their music still sounds fresh. One of the premier singles bands of the 80s, I think.

  3. Other than U2, my favorite 1980’s import from Ireland was Dave King, Fastway lead singer. ( ‘Fast Eddie Clark’, formerly of Motorhead, was lead guitarist).

    In one of the most interesting transformations in music history, Dave King later became the voice of Celtic rockers Flogging Molly.

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