‘Launching Place’ was the name of a song that the band Spectrum recorded at one of its first sessions for EMI in 1970; the same session that produced, as an afterthought, “I’ll Be Gone,” one of the totemic Australian songs of the early 1970s. “I’ll Be Gone” of course gets major coverage in Suburban Songbook, but “Launching Place,” whose “Part Two” section was in fact the B-Side of “I’ll Be Gone,” has tended to be forgotten,
just as has the rock festival it was designed to promote, at a little town just outside Melbourne called, of all things, Launching Place. Held in December 1970, the Launching Place festival (Australia’s second-only rock festival, following Ourimbah’s Pilgrimage for Pop earlier in 1970) starred Spectrum themselves plus Jeff Crozier, Healing Force, King Harvest, Wendy Saddington and Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, but with rain pouring down all weekend it was not a great success. So maybe it’s only appropriate that “Launching Place” the song was not great success either. I mention all this by way of tortuously introducing this report on Suburban Songbook’s own launching place – the Stockade Brew Bar in Marrickville, where last week the book was launched with a stellar event that featured some special performances of some special songs plus just a lot of general good vibes among a crowd that was delighted to enjoy the opportunity to enjoy some collective good vibes with the lifting of 2021’s long long lockdown. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank again all the usual suspects, Nick Shimmin, Murray Bennett and Carl Breitkreuz (the core team that produced the book), plus my family, plus all the people who signed on as subscribers to pre-order the book (making it all possible in the first place) and all the people who’ve subsequently bought copies. I’d also like to thank Jay Katz for MCing the event in his usual inimitable fashion, Rich Kuipers for conducting the Q&A and going easy on me, and the musicians: John Encarnacao, who did a version of Hans Polulson’s “Stick of Incense;” Greg Appel for doing a version of the ‘Aunty Jack version' of “I’ve Been Everywhere;” Toby Martin for his version of “No Night Out in the Gaol,” Mic Conway for exhuming “Wangaratta Wahine” and Janie Conway for the doing the same with her song “Life Goes On.” Thanks too to Tim Kevin and Glenn Thompson for their help with the backline. And perhaps the less said about my own performance of “Stompin’ at Maroubra” the better, suffice it to say my accompanist Peter Doyle should be blamed in no way whatsoever – it was all my fault!