So your Oz Rock loving significant other has those Pub Rock compilations already, and your local CD outlet, if you have one, is looking a bit bereft of new goodies. Streaming’s cool, but they’re already signed up. What the hell are you gonna get them for Xmas?! ILYOS comes to the rescue with some Oz Rock books that’ll fill that stocking nicely and provide some great summer reading.
AC/DC 1973-1980: The Bon Scott Years by Jeff Apter
Brand new, and unless we’re blind, released with little fanfare so far, this wannabe coffee-table tome (can a paperback still be a coffee table book?) is the real deal for fans of early AC/DC. Heavily illustrated with rare early photos, posters, etc, it traces the years when AC/DC really were an Australian band. It provides a nice companion piece to the same author’s Angus book (released late 2017, and sadly overshadowed by Malcolm’s passing), and the ones he previously ghost wrote with AC/DC bass player Mark Evans (Dirty Deeds) and early manager Michael Browning (Dog Eat Dog).
AC/DC: Maximum Rock N Roll (Revised Edition) by Arnaud Durieux & Murray Engleheart
Revised and updated edition (from August 2017), of the classic weighty tome which was originally published in 2006. Sydney’s Engleheart lives and breathes this stuff (his classic Blood Sweat and Beers, which covers AC/DC’s antecedents like Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs and the Coloured Balls and contemporaries like Rose Tattoo and the Angels is also essential, and his passion shines through.
Bon: The Last Highway (Updated Edition) by Jesse Fink
Jesse Fink was the fourth Australian author to start banging his head against the protective shield that surrounds the Young Brothers; he did so with a fascinating 2013 book simply titled The Youngs, and he followed that up late last year with a Bon bio. Containing new revelations about Bon’s death – and his involvement in the songs that would feature on Back In Black after his death - the book’s release was somewhat overshadowed by Malcolm’s passing, but it’s a gripping read. The just-published new edition contains further revelations.
Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock’n’Roll by Stuart Coupe
Certainly one of the most talked about Australian music books of the year, Roadies digs deep into the stories of the men and women who keep the show on the road, and who often wear the physical and psychological scars of the lifestyle. It truly is “the secret history” of our live music scene. Author Coupe has previously written about industry machinations in The Promoters and Gudinski, and is currently writing the definitive Paul Kelly biography.
Michael, My Brother, Lost Boy of INXS by Tina Hutchence & Jen Jewel Brown
Co-written by Michael Hutchence’s sister and veteran music writer, occasional songwriter and industry insider who was instrumental in securing INXS their first international publishing deal, Jenny Brown, Michael tells the story from the inside and from a deeply personal perspective, getting to the heart of the man rather than repeating the myths.
Man Out of Time by Broderick Smith
As previously discussed here, Broderick Smith’s new autobiography provides a fascinating insight into the hugely influential Dingoes as well as Brod’s other bands including Carson, all through the eyes of one of Australian music’s pithiest and most contrary protagonists. Lavishly illustrated and beautifully designed, and an essential purchase for anyone interest in the birth and development of the Australian blues and roots scene and pub rock.
Daddy Who? By Craig Horne
Another one we’ve recently covered – look here – the story of the great DC has long deserved a good telling, and that’s what it gets from longtime fan and friend of the band Craig Horne. Daddy Cool were responsible for a lot more great music than for a lot more than just “Eagle Rock” – great though that is – and following the passing of guitarist Ross Hannaford and bass player Wayne Duncan in 2016, it really is time their true greatness and significance was acknowledged. This book helps explains why.
Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes
A massive bestseller and follow up to Working Class Boy – the book that resulted in the much-loved documentary and shed new light on its author. Barnsey’s books have been pretty ubiquitous, but they reveal his integrity and soul, and this is one that covers the music. It’s gratifying to Jimmy becoming recognised as something more than just a bogan hero of late; perhaps the true quality of his work with Cold Chisel is only now starting to be understood by many.
These Are The Days: Stories & Songs by Mick Thomas
We missed this one when it came out a couple of years ago on Melbourne books, but it’s an essential read for fans of the Weddings Partings Anything main man and genial road warrior and publican Mick Thomas, and of Australian singer/songwriters in general. Mick has lived a richer and more music-filled life than chart statistics and radio airplay would suggest, and by focussing on his songs and the people in his musical life, Mick gives us insight into what it takes to live such a life.
The Jeff St John Story: The Inside Outsider by Jeff St John
One of Australia’s most soulful voices ever was silenced in March of this year. Published some 18 months or so before his sad passing, Jeff’s autobiography tells the story of a man who had to overcome more than most and is a precious remembrance of Oz rock’s halcyon days in the 60s and 70s.
Sunbury, Australia’s Greatest Rock Festival by Peter Evans
A genuine coffee table book dedicated to the legendary music festival that ran from 1972 to 1975, and which the likes of Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, Lobby Loyde & the Coloured Balls, Madder Lake, Carson, a young Skyhooks and even tourists Deep Purple and Queen will forever be associated with. Sunbury helped define Oz Rock and author and photographer Evans was there – he was lighting director at three of the festivals – and gives you an insider’s view with this weighty and lavishly illustrated tome.
The Best Years Of Our Lives by Richard Clapton
A few years old now but with Richard more active on the live front than he has been for years it’s still timely, and it’s a rollicking read if you haven’t picked it up yet. Especially fascinating for this reader was Richard’s coverage of his early wild years in the 70s when Ralph’s life and art became forever entwined.