SILVER ROADS (2013)
Silver Roads is a 2 CD anthology of Australian country-rock and singer-songwriters from the 1970s, co-produced by myself and Dave Laing and released by Warners in 2013. In a way, it began for me in the frustrations and failures of the ABC-TV series Love is in the Air. Specially assigned to handle the episode about songwriting, I knew there was a lot of shortfall to pick up from Long Way to the Top, because where its story of Australian rock was very much the story of a sound, Australian songwriting developed in a different way, in the way it came of age especially in the hands of folk-country-rock/singer-songwriters in the early 70s. But the ABC brains-trust, in its infinite wisdom, took me off that episode and in the end it turned out to be a pretty shallow parade of self-contained (podcastable) little segments on some of Australia’s supposed greatest hits, or 'national anthems', with no through-narrative whatsoever and certainly no resolution. And so I harbored a hankering to try and tell this story - and when Warners took over Festival-Mushroom and my old friend Dave Laing joined the new conglomerate with a ‘special projects’ brief in the A&R department, Silver Roads started to look possible… I just kept saying to Dave, I’m just privileged to have anything to do with an album with cover art by the great Ian McAusland! The sad note struck through the course of the album’s production was the death of not only Greg Quill but also Peter Lillie, and so Silver Roads was dedicated to them.
You can read some press on the album here, here, and here. Watch some videos of songs from the album towards the bottom of the page....
DISC ONE. Country Radio – Gypsy Queen/ Axiom – Arkansas Grass/ Russell Morris – Lay In The Graveyard /Brian Cadd & Don Mudie – Show Me The Way/ The Dingoes – Starting Today /Flying Circus – The Longest Day /Anne Kirkpatrick – Feel A Whole Lot Better /Third Union Band – Hyway Ryder/ Richard Clapton – Down The Road/ Home – Forget Me Not/ John J Francis – Play Mumma, Sing Me A Song /Carrl & Janie Myriad – Back In The Wildwoods Again /Fotheringay (feat. Trevor Lucas) – The Ballad Of Ned Kelly/ Quinn – The Mighty Quinn/ Bluestone – Wind And Rain /Sundown – Outback Dan/ Saltbush – Brown Bottle Blues /Uncle Bob’s Band – Mr Domestic/ Digby Richards – People Call Me Country Lee Conway – I Just Didn’t Hear /Johnny Chester – Midnight Bus /Daddy Cool – Just As Long As We’re Together /Gary Young’s Hot Dog – Rock-a-Billy Beatin’ Boogie Band /Autodrifters – The Birth of The Ute
DISC TWO. Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs – Cigarettes & Whiskey /The Dingoes – Boy On The Run /Cold Chisel – Khe Sanh/ Stars – Land Of Fortune /Fraternity (feat. Bon Scott) – Summerville /Chain – Show Me Home/ Axiom – Ford’s Bridge/ Broderick Smith – She’s Gone /Johnny Chester – Glory Glory (I’ll Be Back To See The Storey Bridge)/ Laurie Allen Revue – Not Born To Follow /Gary Shearston – Faded Streets, Windy Weather /Margret RoadKnight – Girls In Our Town /Doug Ashdown – Winter In America/ Ross Ryan – I Don’t Want To Know About It/ Russell Morris – Alcohol Farm /Ray Brown/Moonstone – Call Me A Drifter/ Flying Circus – Silvertown Girl /Tymepiece – Sweet Release /Autumn – Falling /Max Merritt & the Meteors – Slippin’ Away /Little River Band – It’s a Long Way There /Hot Knives (feat. Greg Quill) – Wintersong
LINER NOTES SAMPLE:
Two gigs I saw in the mid-70s that shaped my musical path: Country Radio in Brisbane around 1973, and the Dingoes in Melbourne in 1975. I can date the Dingoes’ show precisely because I’d hitchhiked down to Melbourne from Brisbane, and on that same trip I also went to Festival Hall to see Lou Reed on his second Australian tour, and I know that was on 29 July, 1975 because the internet tells me so. I was just a gormless teenager who knew nothing about anything. I went along to the Reefer Cabaret or one of those hippie joints to see the Dingoes because I’d loved their chart hit of the year before, ‘Way Out West’, and mostly what I remember was being blown away by the mere fact that a gig like that even existed.
It couldn’t have happened in Brisbane. Australia was enjoying a cultural renaissance in the early 70s – the late 60s we didn’t get, as the orthodox history has it – but in Brisbane, hillbilly dictator Joh Bjelke-Peterson had virtually ensured young people had little else to do but mount illegal street marches by driving live music out of town. You could go and see the big international acts, from Zappa to Zeppelin, within the controllable confines of Festival Hall, but you had to scrabble around to see local bands. I remember seeing Johnny O’Keefe and Blackfeather at a weird little rock festival at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and seeing Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and the Coloured Balls, plus the Sunbury movie, at the very proper SGIO Theatre.
And I will never forget seeing Greg Quill and Country Radio on the open-air stage in Brisbane Botanical Gardens one Friday afternoon during my last years of high school. It must have been a 4IP promotion of something like that. Or was it? Sometimes I’ve wondered if I’ve made this memory up, just wished it were true, as you do, like dreaming it. Because all I can categorically remember is wagging school to go. That’s how desperate I was to see any live music, and specifically, how much I loved ‘Gypsy Queen’.
But even if I can’t remember details from Country Radio’s performance that day, just as don’t remember a lot from that pretty stoned night in Melbourne a little later, the point is I went out and bought both Country Radio Live (1972) and the Dingoes’ self-titled first album (1974), and l loved them – and I still have both those records and I still play them and I still love them. I rate them as two of the great Australian albums.
I didn’t know then that this was country-rock. Country music to me was something impossibly hokey that I just tried to avoid on Sunday afternoon TV. But of course I know now that that was part of the project all along: to bring a new, hip form of country to kids stranded in the suburbs like me.
The orthodox history says that in the early 70s, Australian music came of age when it moved into pubs and onto albums. As was made plain by this album’s predecessor, Boogie: Australian Blues, R&B and Heavy Rock from the 70s, it was these blues’n’boogie roots that laid the foundations for classic pub rock to follow.
But if this orthodox history is the history of a Sound, the album you’re now holding in your hands, the necessary companion piece to Boogie, is more a story of Songs and Songwriting: Which tended, in a word, to be country-rock, with a dash or even a lot of folk thrown in. It was certainly more acoustic: The singer-songwriter thing. Which in the wake of Dylan and 60s’ folk-rock generally, and with the virtual invention of cosmic Americana by the Band, CSN&Y and Gram Parsons, was rising up in late-60s Australia as all round the world.
In fact, in Australia, with our wide-open spaces, big sky and long heritage in hillbilly music, this movement made much more sense than it did, say, in the UK, where the singer-songwriter archetype tended to folk (whether Cat Stevens or Fairport Convention). In Australia, the bucolic was so much closer to home. It was an appealing flight, in common again with the US, from the turmoil of the Vietnam war on one hand, and on the other, from the brick-veneer vacuum of suburbia.
All the more pertinently now that a whole new young generation of bearded boys with banjos is rediscovering the timeless joys of acoustic pickin’ and poetic songsmithery, this double-CD set collects more than 40 classic tracks that are among the quiet achievers of Australian music.
“Rising moon and silver road behind me,” Greg Quill sings to open Track One, Disc One, 1972’s ‘Gypsy Queen’, “And I do believe my time’s about to come…” Quill, who alongside Brian Cadd was one the godfathers of Australian country-rock, sadly died during the pre-production of this album – if not before it had already cribbed its title from him – and so Silver Roads can’t help but be dedicated to his memory and his legacy. His songs....