Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published February 2nd 2021
Great Australian music by other great artists
In my recent column on the best Australian songs of the 1960s, I mentioned that one of the Easybeats songs I put in that list had been covered a few times. One of my regular readers asked if I would consider doing a column on cover versions of that song.
I thought about it, and decided no. The reason? Too many of the versions sound the same. I mean, really almost identical. That's not exactly riveting listening.
However, what I did decide to do was look at cover versions of a number of Easybeats songs!
This is THE Easybeats greatest hits album you need.
Now, before I hit the list, I should point out that there was a really good album released called Easy Fever (2008) in which a heap of contemporary Australian artists covered classic Easybeats and Stevie Wright tracks. It is a great album, and well worth your time. However, for this list, I decided to limit myself to a maximum of three songs from that album because I wanted a wider variety. In the end, I got away with using only two.
Now, the rules. I opted to have no more than 2 cover versions of any single song, and no cover artist was to appear more than once. In the end, this meant that I am looking at eight different tracks and, including the Easybeats' original versions, that also means there are twenty songs in this list. And the songs were all written by members of The Easybeats.
Ready for a fun walk through some great covers? Let's go!
'Friday On My Mind' Let's start with the song that kicked this off, the one that inspired the original Twitter comment that got me going down this rabbit hole. In nearly every list of greatest Australian songs of all time, this one will feature in the top 10, if not the top 5. A song about simply looking forward to the weekend, its message is timeless and universal and it is delivered so magnificently. Easybeats (1966)
David Bowie (1973) Bowie recorded his version for his Pin Ups album and Harry Vanda, one of the song-writers, called it his favourite cover version. Even doing some-one else's songs, Bowie was a master
Gary Moore (1987) Moore went for a more rocked up version for his Wild Frontier album, my personal favourite of his albums. I even have this track on 45.
(I can also recommend the live Springsteen version, the solo version by Stevie Wright from 1988 and the version by Me First And The Gimme Gimmes if you want to get more of this fine tune…)
'The Music Goes Round My Head' This is my favourite Easybeats song (the fast version) and even though it did not do well in the charts, for me it just resonates so well. I think it's because I relate to it on some level.
The Saints (1988)
I heard this on the Young Einstein soundtrack initially, and I just liked it. Mind you, The Saints were always a really good band anyway.
This became something of a party anthem in Australia for much of the second half the twentieth century, though it seems to have died off in recent years. Which is a shame because this is exactly the sort of sing-along song you need to get a party rocking.
INXS & Jimmy Barnes (1987)
INXS invited Jimmy Barnes along to knock this track up to eleven and then dominate Australia with it for the next few years. This was the theme song for the Australian Made festival tour and it was inescapable and we did not care. (I was going to throw in some snide comment about back then people recording duets being in the same studio and bouncing off one another, but I won't.)
Joe Elliott's Down 'N' Outz (2010)
I keep coming back to this band by the Def Leppard singer – they released some great cover versions on My ReGeneration and this is another one of them. Love the drumming that drives this version along.
Another Easybeats song that has become a part of the Australian culture. That guitar sound is just wonderful, since copied numerous times.
The first of the Easy Fever tracks, this is one of my favourites from that album. It is a pretty straight-forward cover, but it rocks along and I love it.
'She's So Fine'
This was the Easybeats' first top ten single in Australia and, like so many others on this list, is a part of the Australian musical cultural landscape.
John Farnham (1996)
This is a little known cover version. It was a song on the Jack Of Hearts tour bonus CD (yes, I own it!), however, the only versions online I could find were live ones coupled with the song 'Sorry', so I guess for the video you get 2 for 1, but his original recording is a great version.
This is one of the few of these songs where I heard a cover version first, the Sports version, on a vinyl album that I bought for a completely different song. But this song is still another great one from the Easybeats.
The Sports (1979)
So, this is the first version I heard from an album I have called, simply, The Sports.
The Screaming Jets (2018)
And just to show that the influence of The Easybeats has not faded, a recent cover by Australian rock stalwarts The Screaming Jets, who take it in a harder direction and deliver a fine version.
'I'll Make You Happy'
This was one of the first Easybeats songs I heard because my father liked this one. The Easybeats to me always seemed to represent a faster side of 60s rock and that was probably why I gravitated towards them, and this song demonstrates that.
Chrissie Amphlett manages to take this song and make it feel almost dirty. She was such a great performer. I saw Divinyls live just the once, and it was a truly memorable show.
One of the band's lesser-known songs, this is the other song on this list I heard a cover version first, by JPY. From the tail end of The Easybeats' career, before Vanda and Young became the greatest music producers in pub rock history, this is a fine song to finish this list with.
John Paul Young (1975)
Yes, the version I first heard. I didn't actually hear it until about 1979 when the older brother of a friend played it on his stereo for us. The brass is removed and replaced with more of a standard rock sound. Produced by the song's writers (and Easybeats constant members) Vanda and Young, for what it's worth.
And the second song from Easy Fever, this takes the JPY rock version and amps it up yet again. Love this version, another of my favourites from the album.
There you are, the band that started Australia's rise in the world of rock, conquering the UK and USA, paving the way for AC/DC and the rest that followed. Others came before (Johnny O'Keefe, Col Joye, et al.) but none made the impact of these guys, an impact that continues to this day.
Hope you enjoyed this!
Fotograaf Onbekend / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons