20 Great Australian Debut Albums – The '60 & ‘70S!

20 Great Australian Debut Albums – The '60 & ‘70S!

aus album covers
Australian debut album covers of the 60s & 70s. 

Last Month Double J published their list of The 50 Best Australian Debut Albums, which of course created a bit of controversy. Their list was heavily weighted to recent decades, so we responded with our own 20 Great Australian Debut Albums – The '80s!

Now we go back even further, to the '60s and '70s, the era in which Australian rock, as we know it was, was really born. As per last time, it is worth pointing out that this was sadly a very male-dominated era. We hope you enjoy the list nonetheless and would love to hear what else you think we should've included!

1. Normie Rowe | It Ain't Necessarily So, But It Is... (1965)

Normie remains underrated as a vocalist – he's one of our greatest ever – and with the Playboys he made consistently great recordings. The fact that he lent his considerable interpretive skills to primarily well-chosen covers meant the material was all good too, so unlike debuts of other big names of the day – most notably the Easybeats – here even the filler is killer! 

2. The Missing Links | s/t (1965)

Sydney's Missing Links were underground before there was an underground in rock, and were wilder than wild. And they were influential too: The Master's Apprentices ended up drafting in their guitarist Doug Ford, The Saints covered their "Wild About You" (which features one of the great, knowingly dumb punk lines ever "You look so good that I could eat ya / But I wouldn't kiss a steak, so I won't eat you") around the same time that Ross Wilson included a cover of "You're Drivin' Me Insane" on the soundtrack to Chris Lofven's film Oz. (Wilson and Keith Glass also named their new record label Missing Link Records around this time – the label and the store which Glass ran, became Melbourne institutions). Now internationally revered, the album was one of the few Australian albums of the era recorded primarily as a cohesive whole. 

3. The Master's Apprentices The Master's Apprentices (1967)

A patchwork album, as so many of the era were, this includes classic single sides – "Undecided", "Buried & Dead", "War or Hands of Time" – and a few other choice bits – "Hot Gully Wind" in particular - making it a cohesive whole and a great statement from the hardest rocking Aus band of the era.

4. The Loved Ones Magic Box (1967)

Another patchwork including three of the greatest and most innovative singles of the era - "The Loved One", "Ever Lovin' Man" and "Sad Dark Eyes" – and enough other decent tracks to get it over the line. The sole album from the dynamic Melbourne band whose jazzy, distinctive and visionary style of rocking Rhythm & Blues would have made them international sensations had they come out of the UK, Magic Box, unlike any other local album of the era, remained in print for decades. 

5. Tamam Shud Evolution (1968)

A Sydney "progressive" rock band, Tamam Shud made fluid, pounding rock that tapped into both the fledgling underground and the increasingly left-field surf culture. Supposedly recorded in an hour after the band had finished recording soundtrack material for the Paul Witzig surf film of the same name, Evolution was an instant classic and has remained much loved. 

6. Axiom Fool's Gold (1970)

Beautifully realised pop with American rootsy touches borrowed from the band. A supergroup of sorts drawing members of The Twilights, The Group and The Cam-pact, Axiom would set the stage for Brian Cadd's subsequent solo success and Glenn Shorrock's unprecedented US success with LRB. 

7. Wendy Saddington & The Copperwine | Live (1971)

A live album, from back in the day when live debut albums were reasonably common, especially if you were signed to Festival!! (Chain and Country Radio's debuts were also recorded live). Saddington possessed a singular voice and was one of our greatest real blues exponents; indeed, she original helped form - and named - Aussie blues icons Chain.   

8. Daddy Cool Daddy Who? (1971)

Joyous, rich and perfectly executed, Daddy Cool were so much more than they seemed on the surface. One of the great rock'n'roll bands, they should've been Australia's Rolling Stones.

9. Aztecs Live (1971)

Completely different than the earlier Sydney line-ups of Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, and the beginning of Australia's love affair with bluesy and earth-shakingly LOUD heavy rock. Worth it for "Momma."

10. Coloured Balls | Ball Power (1973)

Sort of their debut album, sort of not; their first attempt was rejected by the record company and later released as The First Supper LastBall Power is the classic though, a fearless charge through progressive heaviness and proto-punk aggression that finds Lobby Loyde taking the innovations of Thorpie into new directions. 

11. Ariel A Strange Fantastic Dream (1973)

A wonderful culmination of what Mike Rudd first started when he played alongside Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford in The Party Machine and the Sons of the Vegetal Mother, and where Spectrum had headed. Absurdist, transgressive and its own self-contained music world 

12. The Dingoes The Dingoes (1974)

An all-star line-up with backgrounds in boogie (Carson) and country-rock (Country Radio, Axiom), The Dingoes trimmed the fat and created a dynamic sound that defined mid-'70s pub rock, showing the way for AC/DC, Cold Chisel and many others. 

13. Skyhooks | Living In The '70s (1974)

A game-changer. An odd mix of prog rock, art rock and glam rock, with weirdly fussy little guitar licks that interlock to create the bigger picture and lyrics that look local and nearly every track sounding like a potential single. 

14. Split Enz | Mental Notes (1975)

Playful, woozy, arty, absurd, accomplished and unprecedented, highlighted by Tim Finn's remarkable singing, and Phil Judd's gorgeous" Time For A Change". 

15. The Saints | (I'm) Stranded  (1977)

Another game-changer and one of the great punk rock albums. Full of great tracks; indeed the brilliant title track – the song that turned heads around the world when the band self-released it as a single - is perhaps one of the lesser ones. Considered something of a joke by the music establishment of the day, The Saints' international influence is as significant and as pervasive as any other Australian band. 

16. Radio Birdman Radios Appear (1977)

American-style high energy rock that coincided with punk but had more to do with the likes of The Stooges, Alice Cooper, Doors and Blue Oyster Cult. That said, they drew a singular and highly influential sound and style of their own from those influences, and the songs were great. 

17. Cold Chisel Cold Chisel (1978)

Under-appreciated at the time because it apparently failed to capture their live energy; it sounds fine now and serves the songs and their lyricism well. And what songs!  

18. The Sports Reckless (1978)

Also under-appreciated at the time because it supposedly didn't capture their live energy, Reckless is in fact beautifully performed and recorded and the songs are top-notch. The definitive statement of Melbourne's inner-city pub sound and an artful sense of kitsch Australian and American roots that was shared by Sydney's Mental As Anything

19. Dave Warner From The Suburbs Mug's Game (1978)

A genuinely iconoclastic combination – or clash – of American punk roots – the Velvet Underground, the Modern Lovers and the Fugs – and a suburban (West) Australian consciousness. Once heard, never forgotten. And often NSFW! 

20. Rose Tattoo | Rose Tattoo (1978)

It took AC/DC and the Angels both one album to get their shit together, but the Tatts seemingly came to Alberts and Vanda & Young better prepared. The band's definitive statement, the album's global impact on hard rock and punk should not be underestimated. (NB: We've included the debut by X – the band that Ian Rilen formed after leaving Rose Tattoo – in our '80s list as it was released in early 1980, despite being recorded in 1979.) 

For more Oz Rock classics, check out our Glory Days of Aussie Pub Rock playlist on Spotify:

Listen to the Glory Days of Aussie Pub Rock on Apple Music:

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