Wind the clock back to the 1980s, and Australian Rock music was a big thing. There were some interesting and varied bands, such as AC/DC, INXS and Midnight Oil. The Hoodoo Gurus were another one of these successful bands of the time who made original tunes and popularised Australian culture, just as the country was beginning to lose its traditional Anglo-Saxon bush culture vibe. This is seen as the Hoodoo Gurus best album and was released in the middle of the 1980s. Let’s take a listen to this historical album release, and hopefully, it will be a good listening experience.
Bittersweet is the first song, beginning with a keyboard intro and some strummed clean guitar riffs. It quickly launches into a melancholy tune about heartbreak. It follows into a really cool listening experience and is a gorgeous and awesome Pop/Rock tune that has an immediate impact on the listener. Catchy, memorable and excellent, this is no doubt a great Pop piece, and one of the best songs that the Hoodoo Gurus ever did. The clean guitars and catchy Pop melodies are great, even if other aspects of this song haven’t aged that well. An awesome and excellent listen, although this song begins sounding bitter, it has a sweet ending. A great musical idea, worth your ears if you want to hear such a tune. “Don’t cry”, indeed. Love will always find a way. It fades out with some neat guitar playing and organs.
Poison Pen begins with some deep bass guitar riffing, and some interesting guitar chords and launches into a piece that sounds rather nasty, and is about the messy nature of divorce and getting lawyers involved. There is an awesome harmonica solo here as well, and it does sound musically varied and different. The harmonica is very delightful throughout, although these replace some of the guitar solos here. The breakdown in the middle is fantastic sounding, and some intricate drumming is present as well. A great tune. A great and catchy Pop/Rock piece that sounds really cool, and this is a decent listen, despite it being lyrically dark. It ends with some nasal Fender Telecaster playing and some other crashing sounds to fade. Brilliant, the harmonica is excellent in this song.
In The Wild begins with some Punk like riffing and a Rockabilly feel to the song, launching into a great Pop/Rock piece about exploring the outback in a car. An interesting and old-school Rock tune that sounds very good, although it hasn’t aged extraordinarily well. There are some awesome Fender Telecaster and Gretsch guitar solos in the middle of the song, which sounds really cool. This is very different to most music out there today and is a good listening experience. “It’s so dry, it’s so dry!” is repeated at the end here, referring to the outback itself. Nice tune.
Death Defying is a lush-sounding Pop/Rock piece that sounds romantic and passionate. This is Classic Aussie Rock, and everything on this is slow, smooth and very much mainstream for the 1980s. This is fairly basic music, so don’t expect anything like Eddie Van Halen shredding style solos. Still, it is a wonderful and sweet sounding tune with some fairly decent singing here as well. Nonetheless, this is a great and reflective piece of music on love and life that sounds fresh to this day. Catchy Pop music with guitars, simple and enjoyable. Worth hearing.
Like Wow – Wipeout! has an extremely memorable drum part to begin with, which has been banged away by audiences at sporting venues for decades. With that in mind, this is a catchy, simple and cool tune that sounds really cool. A really enjoyable and listenable piece of music, this tune is about being knocked for 10 by a lady who one likes with romance and lust. There are some strange whammy guitar sounds here, which sound really ghostly before a key change enters for extra emphasis on the music here, which to be honest, doesn’t sound good. There is a great drumming and guitar mash-up in the second half which is very interesting to listen to, and this tune gradually ends on a high note. Well done.
Hayride To Hell sounds really weird at the start, before quickly launching into a Fender Telecaster based romp that is a good Rockabilly/Country sounding tune. It’s a traditional Australian tale that sounds wacky and far out. This is a weird sounding piece on this album, and although it is okay musically, it is a bit of a disappointment compared to the songs before it. Mind you, the Hoodoo Gurus aren’t the most consistent musicians in the history of music. The guitar soloing is okay, but overall, this is a strange and unusual song that really shouldn’t be on here. Fortunately, it is only a few minutes long. Good, but not at all great.
Show Some Emotion begins with a drumroll, some clean guitars and sounds a lot like Joy Division here. By this point of the album, some of the consistency of the music is wearing off, and one can clearly hear how disappointing this music is becoming. It’s okay but does not really have the magic factor that music should do. About relationship issues, this song is a good listen, but definitely not great or life inspiring. Also, the lyrics indicate that the Hoodoo Gurus do not really understand the true meaning of love, at all. Not worth it, skip this one if you wish. It fades out at the end.
The Other Side Of Paradise begins with some clean and pristine guitars, launching straight into another piece of music about relationship distress. The music here, again, is fairly lacklustre. It’s not outright bad, just lacks passion and fury. AC/DC in their early days was quite a lot better than this, and this is the Hoodoo Gurus best album? Weird. There is a nasal Fender Telecaster solo here, and this song does have some good playing on it. Still, it is fairly disappointing to listen to, and is also a little whiny and depressing, too. Again, you may want to skip this one, there is nothing too special about this song. Very dull sounding.
Mars Needs Guitars! begins with some very ordinary 1980s production which is added to a very dull and dry sounding 1980s tune. It is supposed to be a parody of science fiction movies, but instead, comes across as stupid and lame. This is beyond awful, and you can definitely hit the stop button and go and do something else for a change at this point. Ordinary music, this is enough to make one shake their head. The guitars sound very awful here, especially the reversed guitars and the pretentious growled vocals really sounding awful. This is the worst side of the 1980s, which is just appalling. Avoid this like the plague, absolute junk.
She begins with some open guitar chords, pounding drums and a much better song than the previous one. Unfortunately, this album’s appeal has worn thin by this point. This is not a classic album at all and is very dated and overrated. The melodies here are an improvement on what has been on the previous few tracks, but aside from that, this song is very forgettable. Music to put one to sleep, there is nothing wonderful or special about this tune. Other bands have done far better than this, and the music present is not really a great place to be inspired or to enjoy it here. There is some really great drumming at the end of this, which is overlooked. It ends with the band stopping playing, followed by a few guitar chords. It’s okay.
To be fair, this is not the greatest album ever, and it doesn’t strive to be. This is its main flaw, it’s really rather ordinary music that was already aged by the 1990s. Which says a lot about it all. The Hoodoo Gurus only made a few good songs during their lengthy career, and most of them come from this album. Should you listen to this? Probably not, unless you want to be transported back to a musical era where mullets were somehow cool. So it’s not the best idea to hear this one. It’s great, to begin with, but after the hit singles are done, you’ll probably hate the rest of the album. Sadly, this does drag it down, quite a lot. Check out AC/DC instead if you want a real Aussie Rock band.
Ordinary and boring Australian music.
As someone who wasn’t alive during the 1980s, it’s fascinating to learn about the impact that Australian Rock music had on the country and its culture. The Hoodoo Gurus’ album sounds like it was a significant contribution to this movement, and I can only imagine how it must have felt to experience the release of such an iconic album at the time. It’s interesting to think about how music can shape and reflect a culture, and I wonder if there are any current bands or artists in Australia who are doing the same thing today. Are there any modern musicians who are incorporating contemporary Australian culture into their music, or is the focus more on international trends and influences? It would be great to hear from someone who is more familiar with the current music scene in Australia and how it compares to the 1980s.
Hi Sarah, thanks for the comment!
It is a bit mixed up at the moment in terms of Australian music and local/international influences. As an Australian myself, I haven’t really seen many artists become famous or popular for their music as of late. Australian Idol generated many local superstars in decades before today such as Guy Sebastian and Shannon Noll, but aside from that, I have only noticed people from overseas like Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles or Adele becoming noticed publicly as musicians and artists. Just from what I have experienced. The 1980s was a big era for Aussie music all the same, and that is what I think about that, although I could be wrong. It has settled down a bit since the 1980s.
Cheers, Chris Airey.