Just four classic Australian albums? What a tough call! Let us just preface this piece by saying there are so many albums that could have made the Top4 best Australian albums list. This Top4was compiled through much soul-searching, debating, polls with various musical friends and pondering the history, evolution and current landscape of Australian music.
AC/DC “Highway to Hell” (1979)
I believe I would be doing Australia a disservice if I didn’t let Acca Dacca into the list. This slab of pure Oz testosterone is the last album to feature original vocalist Bon Scott (R.I.P.) and boy, did he go out on a high! This was the album that propelled AC/DC to worldwide fame, reaching #17 on the US charts. It may sound like simple music, but there’s an incredible amount of intelligence in the push-pull and suspense they are able to create with a three-chord riff.
The bangin’ title track will get any self-respecting person tapping their toes at the very least, but every track on this album is of equal quality. “Touch Too Much”, “Shot Down in Flames” – it’s all gold! This is definitely the perfect BBQ album.
The Triffids “Born Sandy Devotional” (1986)
Sprawling, harsh and packed with dry lyrical genius, this classic 80s masterpiece embodies Australia. Somehow managing to capture the essence of the Australian landscape and repackage it in audio form, The Triffids are unlike anything else to have emerged from Australia. Their influence is heard in much of Australia’s current musical output, Melbourne’s critically acclaimed Twerps being a prime example.
“Born Sandy Devotional” is saturated with reverb, passionate vocals, pummeling drums and is evocative of desert sand. Listen to the timeless single “Wide Open Road” and that description will make more sense. There’s nothing like putting this on halfway through an eight-hour road trip, just as you’re hitting Nowheresville. The perfect Aussie road trip soundtrack.
John Farnham “Whispering Jack” (1986)
Yes, it’s possible that two of our greatest ever albums were both released in 1986! This man is an Australian icon and this album was the soundtrack to multiple generations of Australians, making it part of our national fabric. An Australian hears “You’re the Voice” and immediately feels a oneness with those around him as they all immediately sing in unison.
I don’t believe one has truly experienced Australia until they have experienced the wonder that is 24-times platinum “Whispering Jack”.
I will warn you – it sounds like the 80s. But the songs are classic hits and the man can really sing. Farnsy is as Australian as a trip to the beach. He needs a spot on your CD shelf.
You Am I “Hourly, Daily” (1996)
Debuting at #1 on the Aussie charts when it was released, this 90s gem greatly influenced (and continues to influence) much of Australia’s independent musician population. Painting a portrait of Australian suburban life, singer Tim Rogers managed to distil all the good and bad of being a young misfit and spit it back out in a rockin’ life-affirming pop nugget.
Songs include “Hourly, Daily”, “Good Mornin’”, “If We Can’t Get It Together” but it really is an album of pure melodic magic from start to finish, sprinkled with geographical references only a seasoned local would know. The man is an Australian rock treasure. Go – buy this! Feel good!