The Hottest Australian Albums of All Time
Does it come as a surprise to anyone that Powderfinger reached the top spot in Triple J’s Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time? While I may often feel tempted to call them “boring”, I never really mean it. You can’t help but sing along to Powderfinger. Although they’re nothing groundbreaking, there’s a consistency and reliability about them that keeps everyone satisfied; from the
wannabe youngsters at Triple J to the, uh, football-loving listeners of Triple M. But this isn’t an article about Powderfinger. Today, I thought I’d share with you the albums I chose to vote for in the countdown. So, in alphabetical order, there goes:
The Cat Empire – The Cat Empire
#28 in the official countdown
I don’t remember buying this album, but I remember listening to it. I had a big art assignment due, and this album was playing on repeat as I frantically sketched and coloured as many portraits as I could on a Sunday afternoon. Once, I took a bewildered French girl to see them play an underage gig at the Price of Wales. She was more a fan of emo music, and stood there confused at all the trumpets. A young boy next to her kept screaming that he wanted Ollie’s babies. This album contains all of these memories, as well as some damn catchy music. From “Hello” and “Days Like These” to “The Crowd” and “The Wine Song”, The Cat Empire is a brilliant piece of work, and it helped me open my ears to some different styles of music that I wouldn’t have previously bothered with.
Crowded House – Woodface
Not in the official countdown, but Crowded House was #13
It’s not easy to choose just one Crowded House album, as they all have their merits, but Woodface is the one that, for me, wins out in the end. [Obviously, as seen by the countdown, the rest of Australia disagrees]. Sure, it’s missing my favourite Crowdies song [“Mean to Me”], but as an album it just all fits together so perfectly. “Weather With You”, “Chocolate Cake”, “It’s Only Natural” – they’re all on Woodface. This was the album that had Tim join the band, allowing for all of those gorgeous vocal harmonies. Some may argue that it breaks away slightly from the original Crowded House sound, but when that allows for songs such as “Whispers and Moans”, you need to ask yourself if that’s really such a bad thing…
Eskimo Joe – A Song is a City
#87 in the official countdown
I’ve written before about my love/hate relationship with Eskimo Joe, so I’ll try not to get into that again here. Instead, let me tell you what this album means to me. Memories of my French exchange – listening to this album on planes and on the metro; “From the Sea” was one of the songs that my wonderful correspondante Alex heard so many times on the radio in Melbourne that she’d practically memorised it. Teaching myself the piano part to “A Song is a City” by playing along with it over and over again. It’s not a difficult piece, but it was one of the first ones that I ever taught myself to play by ear. I was pretty proud of that. And let’s not forget the frustration of being an underage music fan when your favourite bands never play all-ages gigs. Eskimo Joe’s first all-ages show in Melbourne was three months after my eighteenth birthday. Imagine the frustration.
Icehouse – Man of Colours
Not in the official countdown
This is one of those albums of my mother’s that I distinctly remember listening to as a kid. I’m not sure why, really, but I have clear memories of sitting in front of the stereo, drawing pictures, and listening to this CD. I used to try and recreate things that I’d seen on Art Attack, and this album provided a very good soundtrack to my attempted creativity.
Jet – Get Born
#25 in the official countdown
I like Jet because they sound a little bit like Oasis. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because I really like Oasis. I know their musical similarities to the Gallaghers caused many people to be negative towards the Cester brothers, but there’s really no need for such negativity. Besides, there are many Jet songs that don’t sound like Oasis, and they’re pretty good too. “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” was fun and danceable, and “Cold Hard Bitch” was just a brilliant song. Yes, “Look What You’ve Done” can be compared to “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, but why does that have to be a bad thing? Don’t hate on Jet just because people liked them. People liked them because they were good.
Kylie Minogue – Impossible Princess
Not in the official countdown
Here’s something that you may not know about me: once upon a time, I was a massive Kylie fan. In fact, the first album I ever owned was a copy of her greatest hits [the 1993 version]. This album was the epitome of Kylie’s indie phase, as depicted in the clip for “Did it Again”. It also coincided with her Intimate and Live tour, which I never had the opportunity to see in person, but did tape off the television and watch many times. Impossible Princess is great because it contains all of those Kylie songs that don’t really sound like Kylie songs. There’s nothing bubblegum pop-like about “Breathe”, and “Some Kind of Bliss” [which features Dexter Fletcher in the video clip!] was written by the Manic Street Preachers. Even if you can’t stand any of Kylie’s more well-known releases, I’d recommend to anyone to give this album a listen. It really is brilliant.
The Living End – The Living End
#4 in the official countdown
Out of all the albums that I chose to vote for, this reached the highest position with the Australian public. I don’t know if they too remember listening to it on Easter camping trips [I somehow doubt it], but there must be something about The Living End that resonated with the masses. Obviously “Prisoner of Society” was an excellent single [who can’t love a song with the line “I’m a brat, and I know everything and I talk back, because I’m not listening to anything you say” – it was certainly something that I could relate to], but it takes more than just one single to make a great album. And The Living End is a great album. It’s full of rockabilly energy coupled with rebellious spirit. Also, The Living End were the first band that I ever moshed to, at an underage show at the long-gone Palace in St Kilda. We lined up, and there was free lemonade, and I almost pushed my way right to the front [but then I felt dizzy, and went to the side where people weren’t so rough].
Sarah Blasko – The Overture and the Underscore
#74 in the official countdown
It’s strange that I’d choose an album that reminds me of how much I disliked my year 12 French teacher, but I guess it says something about Sarah Blasko’s music that I’m able to look past that and still enjoy the album for the masterpiece that it is. I was first introduced to Sarah’s music when somebody shared “Don’t U Eva” in a LiveJournal community, and I was immediately hooked. At that point, I wasn’t listening to too many female singer-songwriters, but I found Sarah’s melodies refreshing [and not too girly – something that I was rather opposed to at the time]. Then she went on RocKwiz, and I liked her even more.
Skyhooks – Living in the 70s
#75 in the official countdown
This one is all thanks to my mother’s influence on my taste in music. Skyhooks were her absolute favourite band of all time, and therefore I couldn’t avoid listening to them a lot while growing up. Part of me wishes I’d been able to experience Skyhooks as a band, instead of always seeing them as Shirl from Our House singing with the angry one from the Red Faces segment on Hey Hey It’s Saturday. I’m really grateful that I did grow up with their music, however, and Living in the 70s is such a classic album. Who doesn’t love “Horror Movie” or “You Just Like Me ‘Cos I’m Good In Bed”? Not to mention “Balwyn Calling” – as Skyhooks were a Melbourne band, and Living in the 70s is an album that is all about Melbourne.
You Am I – Hi Fi Way
#35 in the official countdown
You Am I were a band that I overlooked for a long time. I knew who they were, and I knew [and liked] some of their music, but I was completely unaware of their significance. Then, one day, I bought this album. One of my friends was a You Am I fan, and he seemed to think that they were incredibly important. So, after hearing him mention them again and again, I bought this album, and I listened to it. Then I understood. Not long after, I saw Tim Rogers live, and then I really got it. It’s hard to explain You Am I to a non-You Am I fan, but there is just something about them. There is a reason why they are cited as one of the most influential Australian bands of all time, and yet I know so many music-loving people who just don’t know who they are. It’s bizarre, and I’m just glad that I get it.
So, those were my picks for the Hottest Australian Albums of All Time. What were yours? And how did they compare to the votes of the masses?