RocKwiz was – is – so much more than just a great music quiz show. The abundance of live performances that the show has featured includes some phenomenal music that could not, and simply would not, exist if it wasn't for the vision of the show's producers. And let's not forget the outstanding RocKwiz Orchestra, who have garnered praise from pretty much every artist with whom they've worked.
The musical highlight of any given show is more often than not the duet between the guests. There's been well over 150 of them since the show started in 2006. In part two of a two-part feature, we pay tribute to RocKwiz with more of our favourite duets.
"Black Hole Sun" by Glenn Shorrock & Katie Noonan
Part of the fun of a show like Rockwiz is often in the unexpected and having the guy from Little River Band covering a Soundgarden tune is very unexpected. But, with help from the fabulous Katie Noonan, it works. We expect it was Katie's choice, not Glenn's. A good song is a good song.
"Can't Get You Outta My Head" by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
What did we say about unexpected? Australia's roots-country queen Kasey Chambers and (her now-ex) Shane Nicholson covering Kylie? Why not? Country music is about simplicity, as is, in a different way, the style of dance music that Kylie was channelling with her original version. And it's a catchy as hell!
"Islands In The Stream "by Troy Cassar-Daly & Ella Hooper
Sticking with Australian country music royalty for a moment; Troy Cassar-Daley has bridged the mainstream country world and the roots-country world since he first appeared on the scene as a teenager in the mid-'80s. Here he does a bit of Kenny & Dolly with another singer who was regularly working in her teens. Ella Hooper was just 14 when Killing Heidi formed, and like Troy, she grew up in the country.
"The Last Time" by Jim Keays & Bertie Blackman
The late Jim Keays was one of the greats of Australian rock – the voice and constant vision behind the Masters Apprentices in the '60s and '70s, and someone who could cut it right to the end, as his too late-career albums recorded with Davey Lane from You Am I, attest. Here he rips out a song by a band who obviously helped shape his musical vision back ni the '60s – the Rolling Stones – with the help of ARIA-winning Sydney-based singer and songwriter, Bertie Blackman. No vision for this one but you can still have a listen. And we'll give you Jim's ripping Rockwiz version of the first Masters' single "Undecided" to boot!
"Messin' With The Kid" Gareth Liddiard & Adalita
Perhaps this writer's favourite Rockwiz duet. The song is an under-recognized classic from The Saints 1977 debut album (I'm) Stranded, which is a tremendously raw rock ballad. Gareth from The Drones and Adalita from Magic Dirt really crank it up to wring the emotion out of it – love that guitar sound!
"Rain" by Sharon O'Neill & Dan Hume
New Zealand's Shazza is not mentioned much these days, but she had a good handful of hits in the '80s and was a Countdown regular. Here she pays tribute to her fellow countrymen Dragon, with the help of another New Zealander Dan Hume, of the band Evermore, who were nominated for five ARIAS's in 2005, including Best Album, Single and Group.
"Oooh Las Vegas" by Chris Wilson & Sarah Lee Guthrie
Australia lost a treasure when Chris Wilson passed in January. A great and distinctive singer/songwriter/harmonica player, Wilson was a fixture on the blues and roots scene in Melbourne and nationally. He was often seen playing his harp with Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls in the '80s and partnered up with Johnny Diesel for the successful Wilson Diesel project in 1996. Here he is with Sarah Lee Guthrie, daughter of Arlo, granddaughter of Woodie and herself a fine singer-songwriter, on a classic Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris duet from the early '70s. That's Sarah's husband and usual recording partner Johnny Irion helping out.
"Heroes" by Adrian Belew & Martha Wainwright
From one famous family – the Guthrie's – to another. Martha Wainwright's musical lineage is well-known, but she made a massive impression of her own with her debut single "Bloody Mother F***ing Asshole" and self-titled album in 2005. Australia took to her, and the love affair continues, and this fabulous cover of "Heroes" with former Bowie and King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, is a RocKwiz fave. While Belew didn't play on Bowie's original studio version of the song; that was his latter-day King Crimson bandmate, Robert Fripp. He did join Bowie's band not long after though, and the sound on the record is very much in keeping with his distinctive style.
"Stumblin' In" by Suzi Quatro & Chris Cheney
We had Chris from The Living End with Chrissie Amphlett last time, rocking up a dark storm on the Stones' "Stray Cat Blues". Here is with another iconic woman of rock, standing in for another Chris; Chris Norman of Smokie. We certainly would have preferred to hear Chris ripping out something like "Rock Hard" or one of Suzi's early classics, but this obviously works well as a duet.
"Hold Back The Night" by Dan Sultan & Ella Hooper
We'll finish off Part Two with a second track from a young Ms Hooper. Here she joins the gutsy and inspired soul-inspired singer-songwriter, Dan Sultan, on a wonderful tune, originally recorded in the late '70s by an earlier soul-inspired singer-songwriter, Graham Parker and his band the Rumour. The song was actually a hit in the early '70s for early disco outfit The Trammps, but Parker really pumped a whole lot of passion into it, and Dan, Ella and the RockWiz Orchestra guys do exactly the same here.