- Mar 26 2021The legendary record company exec wasn’t just good at rock.
Michael Gudinski’s Pop Legacy
Michael Gudinski’s Pop Legacy
The recent passing of Mushroom Records founder Michael Gudinski highlighted once again just how influential and ground-breaking the music man was in shaping Australian rock. But Gudinski didn’t just lead the way in that arena, with a string of hugely successful pop acts signed to Mushroom (and associated labels) in the '80s and '90s.
Biggest hit: “No Say In It” (number 14)
Signed to Mushroom offshoot White Label Records, Machinations were at the forefront of Australia’s burgeoning synthpop scene. When the genre started to explode locally in the mid-'80s, the band fronted by energetic singer Fred Lonergan enjoyed three top 30 hits with “Pressure Sway” (1983), “No Say In It” (1984) and “My Heart’s On Fire” (1985). In 1987, they returned to the top 20 with “Do To You”, the lead single from third album Uptown.
Kids In The Kitchen
Biggest hit: “Change In Mood” (number 10)
Snapped up by White Label as bands like Real Life and Pseudo Echo began to gain traction, Kids In The Kitchen quickly became one of the most popular acts in the country, landing an instant top 10 single with “Change In Mood” in 1983. Multiple hits were lifted from debut album Shine, including “Bitter Desire” (1984) and “Current Stand” (1985), with the band’s sound taking in new wave, synthpop and funk influences.
Biggest hit: “Witch Queen” (number 4)
The eight-piece party band were making a name for themselves on the live circuit in Melbourne when they became Mushroom’s answer to Bananarama, with 1987's “Witch Queen” modelled on the girl group’s cover of “Venus”. The following year, the pop group moved on to original songs and returned to the top 10 with “Wanna Be Up”, written by band members Eve von Bibra and Brett Goldsmith.
Biggest hit: “Locomotion” (number 1)
Mushroom took a punt on the then-soap star and her rendition of the Little Eva classic, which had already visited the chart in three different versions. In 1987, Kylie’s “Locomotion” became not only the most successful remake of them all but one of the biggest releases of the ’80s. Although she went on to sign to overseas labels PWL, Deconstruction, and Parlophone, her music continued to be distributed by Mushroom in Australia.
Biggest hit: “Say Goodbye” (number 6)
Signed to Melodian Records – the label Gudinski formed with Molly Meldrum and A&R manager Amanda Pelman in 1988 – four-piece pop band Indecent Obsession had the right combination of killer hooks and good looks to become Smash Hits stars and chart regulars, starting with 1989's "Say Goodbye" and "Tell Me Something". The launch act for the new label also took off overseas, with US and South African success.
Biggest hit: “Love And Kisses” (number 4)
Taking a different musical route to her sister, the former Young Talent Time star debuted in 1990 with an R&B-influenced sound at a time when that genre was not in favour in Australia. Although she only ever managed that one top 10 hit locally – coming close a number of times in the years since – Dannii’s music career in the 1990s and early 2000s (after she’d parted ways with Mushroom) was defined by a number of bold artistic choices, like her embrace of electronic music before it too was the done thing.
Biggest hit: “That Word (L.O.V.E.)” (number 4)
Moving to Mushroom after success with their debut album, Tales Of The City, the funk/pop band Rockmelons, who had formed by throwing warehouse parties in Sydney, enjoyed the peak of their success with 1992's Form 1 Planet album and its associated singles. Dabbling in R&B, reggae, soul and dance, the band were early adopters of styles that didn’t receive mainstream attention in Australia at that point.
Biggest hit: “In Your Room” (number 10)
Although her period of music success was short-lived, all-round entertainer Toni Pearen moved from E Street to the ARIA top 10 with her first two singles, “In Your Room” (1992) and “I Want You” (1993) – part of a trend that started with Kylie Minogue and continued long into the 2000s. Just out of her teens at the time, Toni was an old-fashioned all-rounder, who effortlessly shifted from acting to singing to TV presenting before taking a lengthy break from the spotlight.
Biggest hit: “Gimme Little Sign” (number 3)
Another Melodian singing, Peter Andre got his break after appearing on the talent show New Faces and became the Australian poster boy for R&B and new jack swing with hits like “Gimme Little Sign” (1992), “Funky Junky” (1993), “Mysterious Girl” (1995) and his 1996 remake of “Get Down On It”. Peter also proved he had what it took to become a major star overseas, with his UK success – three chart-topping singles – eclipsing what he had achieved locally.
Biggest hit: “It’s Alright” (number 4)
Given she was the daughter of Australian music royalty and had featured on three consecutive Rockmelons hits, it was almost inevitable that Deni Hines would have success in her own right. She delivered with her 1995 debut single, a sophisticated slice of world-class R&B that kicked off a string of just as polished follow-ups.
Listen to Deni Hines on Spotify:
Listen to Deni Hines on Apple Music:
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