There is no way you could have lived in the land of Oz and not known Australian Crawl. They had their own unique merge of Aussie pub rock, The Police, The Eagles, Reggae and Pop. Add to the mix, musicians who could really play their instruments, a guitarist who didn’t mind shredding pentatonic lines and a vocalist who had a unique singing style which at times you couldn’t make out what he was saying, which made it even more fun.
I didn’t get these albums until the 90’s because I didn’t feel the need to own any Australian Crawl in the 80’s because every radio station played em, every music video TV show played em and when they split up in 1987 and singer James Reyne went solo, the same thing happened with his solo career as his solo songs were everywhere along with his Australian Crawl songs.
And my favourite song is “Reckless” and I don’t even own it. Also, the first ever song I wrote was called “The Final Wave” taken from the title of their last album, which I saw was out via a commercial on TV, but I didn’t buy it. At the time, the album was competing with a lot of big releases from the U.S for my hard earned dollars. But their most famous song, is “Boys Light Up” because everyone associated it with weed smoking. And it is a song you don’t need to own, because it’s still played on radio to this day, plus I used to cover the song in various 90’s cover bands I was in.
“Sirocco” is the first album I dropped the needle on. It came out in 1981 and it got its title from a boat which Error Flynn used to own. If you don’t know who Errol is, then read on below.
“Things Don’t Seem” kicks the album off, dealing with a relationship where the girl’s mother has a bird’s nest hairdo, her brother gets plenty of action and her father thinks he’s a weirdo and all he wants to do is just get some action with the girl.
“Unpublished Critics” is the song that everyone in Australia reckons Axl Rose and Slash ripped off for “Sweet Child O’Mine”. And Axl Rose did have a like for Aussie music, covering songs from Rose Tattoo in Guns’N’Roses club days. Lyrically, I always thought it dealt with their critics, with the lyrics;
The singer in the band, he sweat on a pose
And he’s really such a jerk
Thinks he can call me stupid
Because he gets a lot of work
“Oh No Not You Again” is probably the best Eagles song not written by “The Eagles”. It’s got that “Take It Easy” feel. Actually “Take It Easy” was written by Jackson Browne, so… And if you think, Tommy and Gina had it hard in “Livin On A Prayer”, these two lovers in this song had it even harder or he had it hard for someone else.
Don’t own no swimming pool, not even a colour TV
He work awful hard some days and she lets him be
Things ain’t looking good for them, no love no more
Some friends are comin’ round tonight
He’s out on the town, knockin’ on the wrong door
“Lakeside” was also all over the radio. The sound and feel of the song puts you at the lakeside and the lyrics sum up the suburbia, with the lyrics;
I got a terrific Torana
A green hand going to wave bye-bye
I got a C.B. shuffle and a dashboard muffle
Pilot’s twitch my eye
My older brothers mates had yellow and black Torana’s, while my brother had a Holden V8 Calais, all done up. The cars looked super cool and they always had pretty woman in the passenger seat.
“Trusting You” is one of their best constructed songs, with so many different stylings when it comes to playing the guitar; like guitar leads, arpeggios, power chords, off beat reggae upstrokes, natural harmonics and some whammy bar action. And the verse riff is similar to “Rockin In A Free World”, albeit in a different key. Which song came first?
Your time will come and go
For a while you’ll have control
Take your pound of flesh
Feed your greed and leave guiltless
Is it about a relationship, a bad business partnership or the record label bosses? In any two way relationship, regardless if its peer, business or romantic, there will be someone making more decisions than the other party.
“Errol” is about a good ol’ Aussie womaniser called Errol Flynn, an actor who took Hollywood by storm with his legendary 12 inches. Musically, this one reminds of “The Police”.
It just don’t rate
He want to get higher
The inbred smile
Errol didn’t want to stay in Australia, he had bigger dreams and the U.S was the place for him.
He want to pounce
Like an animal
To girls he just can’t say no
He had them all
Screamin’ for more
He play the wild scene
Errol, the boy from down under is showing Hollywood how it should be done.
They build him up
They took it all
And then they
Just cut him down
And like all entertainment careers, the movie studios who made him, took it all away, because they held the power and I think at that time, they would sign actors to long term contracts and then they wouldn’t give them any movies to do, and they wouldn’t release them either to go work for another studio. These kind of contracts got abolished when they were challenged in court by an actress, who was also in a similar predicament.
“Easy On Your Own” builds on their acoustic Eagles vibe. This one brings back memories of “Sweet Home Alabama” and because of their diversity to cover different styles, it is a big reason why Australian Crawl became so popular. Like for example, the guitar solo is a slide guitar solo. In other songs, it’s a rock solo, a reggae solo, a country solo, a blues solo and so forth.
Shirt tails flapping in the wind
Waiting for my train to come in
Ticket reads like a faithful friend
Run the gamut back again
Rounds completed there’s no more crowds
Towel around my neck-it’s finished now
Stumbles blindly to the door
Impending Monday morn
The end of a weekend, the end of a night, catching the train home as not a lot of people had cars. These days, people still catch the train but with fear. It wasn’t like that once upon a time.
“Love Boys” has this verse riff, which is a lot like “Long Way To The Top”, played in a clean tone with a chorus effect and it sounds heavy.
Kings Cross cruiser
Late night bruiser
The tattooed love boys
The tattooed losers
She’s ready for him
She’s pretty pretty
He’s pretty bent and
He’s bashed her silly
Those big bikie bouncers at Kings Cross in Sydney, always up to no good and in and out of jail. If you’ve ever been to the Cross, you will know what I mean.
“Resort Girls” kicks off with a lead break which sounds very familiar but I can’t put my finger on it. And that’s why I love music, taking your influences and making them your own.
Holiday resorts are really quite amusin
If ya don’t watch out you can really take a bruisin
Lots of pretty girls in very scant bikinis
With rum, boyfriends too busy with their surf skis
“Sons Of Beaches” is up next, released in 1982 and does anyone remember that Jersey kid called Jon Bon Jovi, wanting to call the follow up album to “Slippery When Wet” exactly the same. That son of a ….
Anyway, for us Australians, which is a land surrounded by water and sand, the title is perfect.
“Runaway Girls” starts the album off and it is another fast paced rocker, in the same vein as “Things Don’t Seem” from the previous album and it deals with a girl headed for big bright lights, use on the way but that’s alright, seems like there’s some things you got to sacrifice to get where you want to go.
“Daughters Of The Northern Coast” has a riff which again sounds familiar to something I already know, but I can’t put my finger on it.
Daughters of the northern coast
Sons of beaches, don’t deliver the post
“Shut Down” is my second favourite and we used to cover it in various bands I was in. That lead break that kicks the song off and repeats in the Chorus, is simple, yet so emotive. And the lead break in the middle, hooks me in only to end when I think it’s going to go for a bit longer. The beauty of music, make a statement and leave the listener wanting more.
The outro section, we would play games as to what was sung. I always thought that “Alimony” was always repeated and after a few beers, my listening apparently got better and it sounded like “out of money” and then it morphed to “hey there honey”.
Lyrically, it deals about a girl with a slim waist, who is addicted to the swing jet set lifestyle and likes to go slow and pick up the pace. And then she moves on to another, hence the reason why the outro vocals are singing alimony.
“Downhearted” appeared on the first album, but it got a second wind on radio and appeared on the third album as well. Along with “Shut Down”, this song got played relentlessly on radio. Huge songs, that appealed to both rock heads and pop fans. Lyrically it deals with a relationship left behind in Bali, and the empty feeling upon the return home to Australia.