Turn Up Your Television - Aussie Punk On Film

Turn Up Your Television - Aussie Punk On Film

aussie punk radio birdman
Radio Birdman (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The recent appearance on-line of an original film clip for Perth punks The Manikins’ brilliant second single “Premonition” got us thinking about the sad paucity of original footage from the original Aussie punk scene of the 70s, which in turn got us thinking that it could be cool to try to bring it all together. So we had a dig, and this is what we’ve come up with. If we’ve missed anything, please let us know!

The Manikins

The recent find. The Manikins had their beginnings in The Cheap Nasties, who were Perth’s first punk band. As The Manikins, they added a touch of Flamin’ Groovies-esque pop – dig the echoes of “Shake Some Action” in “Premonition” – and released three excellent singles and a live-in-the-studio cassette-only album. 

The Scientists

Also in  Perth’s first punk band The Cheap Nasties was guitarist/singer Kim Salmon, who formed The Scientists when the other guys formed The Manikins. History now has The Scientists as the most influential of all Perth punk bands, although they couldn’t get arrested at home back in the day. They did, however, score a Countdown appearance on their first foray East, and, like the Manikins, they made great pop-punk.

The Saints

The original and arguably the best. There is other footage of the original band shot in the UK, but this the Australian stuff. We’re pretty sure there’s a Countdown appearance of “Erotic Neurotic” from 1977 that hasn’t surfaced, but there’s plenty of amazing stuff here. The Paddington Town Hall stuff is absolutely phenomenal, and the 1977 interview is gold!

(I’m) Stranded (early Brisbane TV)  

(I’m) Stranded   (original film clip) 

Paddington Town Hall 

Interview on ABC-TV program 'Flashez’ 

Orstralia (live on ABC-TV program ‘The Real Thing’) 

The Riptides

Appearing out of Brisbane and obviously inspired by local punk heroes The Saints, The Riptides were initially known as The Numbers, and their classic first single was released under both names. The band soon developed a more pop orientation, and of course frontman Mark Callaghan went on to form GangGAJANG, but “77 Sunset Strip” stands alongside The Saints covers of “Kissin’ Cousins” and “Lipstick On Your Collar” as a prime example of the influence of 60s kitsch on 70s punk. 

Radio Birdman

Even more than The Saints, Radio Birdman rejected the tenants of punk, primarily because they were doing what they did well before punk became a codified thing thanks to the influence of the Sex Pistols and the British press. But they were without doubt punks in their own way and loved the original punks of the ‘60s and early ‘70s like The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and The Stooges, and they reveled in audio violence. Fortunately, Radio Birdman had champions at Double J and the ABC in Sydney, and a fair bit of film footage exists. (That said, an amazing 3-song set filmed in the ABC studios for The Real Thing in 1977 seems to have been removed from YouTube recently.) Of course, for more Birdman visuals, the recent documentary film Descent Into The Maelstrom - The Radio Birdman Story is essential viewing.

New Race 

Live at the Marryatville Hotel 


Steve Lucas & Ian Rilen’s iconoclastic Sydney band had a unique take on punk, and were very focused on visuals as well as sound. Their first film clip was for a song that wasn’t even released at the time – “TV Cabaret Roll” – and they made an eye-catching appearance in the underground Sydney film “Going Down.” The film clip they made for their stunning cover of John Lennon’s “Mother” was the first they made for an actual record, and we’ve also included the fantastic one they made in the mid-‘80s for “Degenerate Boy” because the song itself dates back to their early days and it was of course still punk as f_ _ _.

TV Cabaret Roll 

I Don’t Wanna Go Out 


Degenerate Boy


The Last Words

A lesser-known Sydney punk band who ended up recording for London’s Rough Trade label, The Last Words comprised a couple of young English immigrants, and they made “Animal World” before they’d ever played a gig. It’s a great track – almost the perfect generic punk track, and catchy as hell! 

The Victims

Not a proper film clip, but a nice visual document nonetheless of Dave Faulkner & James Baker’s primal Perth punk outfit. Dave & James would later briefly revive their signature tune in The Hoodoo Gurus – and revive the actual band under the name The Television Addicts in more recent years - and it’s been covered by bands all around the world. 

Boys Next Door

They were no longer really punk by the time they made this – and it would be a couple of years still before Nick Cave & co. found the sound they would be known for - but the Boys Next Door were Melbourne punk originators, and this song, written by the band’s recently-added second guitarist Rowland S Howard for his previous band The Young Charlatans, shows off the band’s truer roots in the likes of Roxy Music. “Shivers” is a timeless Australian classic. 

Teenage Radio Stars

Sean Kelly & James Freud climbed on the punk bandwagon pretty early and, alongside the Boys Next Door and others, signed to Michael Gudinski’s notorious punk cash-in label Suicide Records. “I Wanna Be Your Baby” is a ripper punk-pop number, even if it does sound uncannily like “Baby Baby” by UK band The Vibrators.

Johnny Dole & The Scabs 

Appearing long after Radio Birdman set an American punk tone on the early Sydney scene, the Scabs were primarily Brit-punk influenced but still wore their hair long, like the Birdmen and the Ramones. Loathed by tastemakers of the day, the late Johnny Dole and his mates now have an international core of fans who love their unabashed punk thuggery.

La Femme

Speaking of thuggery… Melbourne’s La Femme, containing at least a couple of former sharpies, hit the Melbourne scene with a somewhat glam-influenced sound in ’78. But guitarist Brett Walker had Steve Jones’ Sex Pistols guitar sound down pat, and Chane Chane was a natural born frontman, and for a while there they looked like destined for bigger things. “Chelsea Kids” is a unique and great late ‘70s punk classic. And they got on Countdown twice!

Chelsea Kids 

I Wanna Be Your Man 

Do Se Do  

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