Anyway, so I managed to cull my Australian list down to 20 songs. It was not easy, because there were some great albums with some great tracks. As it was, I decided to put some artists here twice (or three times) because I couldn't decide. Australian music had been great since the 50s, but the 90s saw the music really hit with an absolute bang. Even in country music 1991 was the year Keith Urban released his solo album (I was not a huge fan, not until his self-titled 1999 album). The 80s were great; the 90s were stunning.
Let's start this with five cover versions. Two come from the same album; all of them are stunning covers.
'Fever' by Grace Knight
Why not start with a jazz standard sung by the magnificent Grace Knight, former lead singer of the Eurogliders (Absolutely is one amazing album)? This is such a cool version of this track; Knight's voice is perfect for this.
'I Gotcha' by Jimmy Barnes
From the Soul Deep covers album, this version of the Joe Tex song matches the original. I bought the 12" extended vinyl version because I just love that version. Barnes' voice suits it so well; the whole album is worth tracking down.
'Once Bitten, Twice Shy' by The Angels
It felt like every second rock band in the 80s and 90s covered this Ian Hunter track. The Great White version got a lot of radio play, but I much preferred this one by Adelaide's own Angels. The whole album (Red Back Fever) was a solid outing from the band, and this is one of the stand-out tracks.
'When Something Is Wrong With My Baby' by Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham
Sam & Dave had nothing on Barnesy & Farnesy. This duo of Australian rock royalty released this song as a single, also featuring on the Soul Deep album. I prefer it to the original, but I might be biased because I consider both of these guys to be amongst my favourite singers. This song was everywhere in Australia at the time, and none of us cared.
'Who'll Stop The Rain' by Girl Overboard
The old Creedence Clearwater Revival song is given a wonderful make-over by this Australian group. It's slowed down, made more depressing, and is just so good. Girl Overboard were a band I never saw live and have only heard a few of their songs, but they seem to be quite a good outfit. Lead singer Lisa Schouw passed away in October, 2020, after battling cancer. Her voice is so magnificent.
Now we have 15 songs by Australian artists. Australian music was so good at this time! Look at this list and tell me I'm wrong.
'Better' by The Screaming Jets
Australian pub rock was not dead in the 90s, it was still kicking around and creating songs like this rocker from Screaming Jets. Great guitar work, wonderful vocals, and a song that is so good to sing live. Screaming Jets were a great live band. Saw them twice.
'Don't Go Now' by Ratcat
All guitar and drums, this track was a great pop-rock tune that was so good to sing along to. I never caught Ratcat live, but this song did make an appearance at the nightclubs I frequented in my early 20s. Between this and 'That Ain't Bad', Ratcat were everywhere in 1991 in Australia.
'Early Warning' by Baby Animals
Baby Animals hit the ground running with this, their debut single. Rock and roll played the way it seems only Australians can play it that pub rock gene that exists in Australian music from the time of Johnny O'Keefe, and cultivated through the 1970s production and song-writing of Vanda & Young of The Easybeats, and Baby Animals were a continuation of a proud tradition.
'Fall At Your Feet' by Crowded House
First of our Crowded House songs from Woodface, my favourite Crowded House album, and the first to feature Tim Finn as well as Neil Finn. Apparently, the album was originally going to be a Finn Brothers album, but circumstances led to this. I don't care because the album is great, and the songs are glorious. Like this one.
'Hold Me In Your Arms' by Southern Sons
And let's slow things right down with a rock ballad, one that I heard at two weddings in 1992. Yes, this became an Australian wedding song very quickly. I haven't been to too many weddings since, so I'm not sure if that still holds true. But this is a beautiful song, and one that has become a classic of Australian music.
'Hot Chilli Woman' by Noiseworks
One of my favourite Australian songs ever, and one of my very favourite songs of 1991. From the opening harmonica blast to the "Wooow!" and then the drums and guitar, this is Australian pub rock at its finest. I never got a chance to see Noiseworks live, which is a shame because I reckon this song would have been awesome singing along with a few thousand others.
'It's Only Natural' by Crowded House
Number two from Crowded House. When I heard Tim Finn was joining, I was worried we were going to get a rehash of Split Enz. I mean, that's not a bad thing I love Split Enz but it was not what Crowded House were. Tracks like this show I need not have worried. Still Crowded House, with added vocal harmonies. And this is my favourite track off Woodface.
'It's Only the Beginning' by Deborah Conway
After leaving the band Do-Re-Mi, Conway went solo and tracks like this showcased her singing more than I thought had happened when she was with the band. This is a decent pop-rock song, a song of hope in love, and Conway's singing is beautiful.
'Miss Freelove '69' by Hoodoo Gurus
Australian rock stalwarts Hoodoo Gurus released this song in 1991 and it showed they had not lost a single step. I saw them live in 1988/89 and they were great; this song with its 1960s allusions would have gone down well with that crowd. And they are still performing. I hope to get to one of their shows once touring starts again.
'On My Own' by Craig McLachlan
This atmospheric track is so unlike the Craig McLachlan who fronted Check-1-2 that it is difficult to reconcile. But I really like the mood, the synth use and McLachlan's voice. Another cassingle I wore out, I know not many people agreed with me about the merits of this song, but I don't care this is a great track.
'Some Of That Love' by The Angels
Our second Angels track, this rocking track from the Red Back Fever album was released as a single and, if memory serves, it did okay in the charts, showing they still had it more than a decade into their existence. Doc Neeson was a great front-man.
'Someone's Singing New York, New York' by Ghostwriters
Ghostwriters was a sort of supergroup featuring Rob Hirst, drummer from Midnight Oil, and Richard Grossman, the bass-player from Hoodoo Gurus. This track was another cassingle I bought. It's a depressing song about the urban sprawl killing communities, but the guitar playing is great and the singing are wonderful.
'Treaty' by Yothu Yindi
The first Indigenous Australian band to have a number one song, and the first charting song spoken in an Indigenous language, 'Treaty' was everywhere, especially the filthy lucre remix version. Other Indigenous artists had made inroads; Yothu Yindi reminded us all that the music of the Indigenous artists was as good as anything else.
'Weather With You' by Crowded House
The final Crowded House song and one of the tracks that has become a real staple of their live shows. The vocal harmonies are right on with this track, and it is one of the definite highlights of Woodface.
'Where Are You Now?' by Roxus
I did not realise Roxus were Australian until years after this song was released. I just assumed they were another American band, until one of their die-hard fans told me about them. Well, they hit it out of the park with this power ballad. It is a great song, and a great way to finish my 1991 look-back.
And there we are. After three columns, we have looked at 1991 in music. I know I will have forgotten songs that others think should have been here, or in the other columns, so feel free to add them to the appropriate comment box. This is just one person's opinion, after all.
And I hope you have enjoyed the final of these!