Long Way to the Top

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Long Way to the Top
Longwaytop.jpg
Genre Rock 'n' roll documentary
Created by Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Written by
  • Clinton Walker
  • Tony Barrell
  • Sandy Webster
  • James Cockington
  • Laurie Zion
Narrated by Chris Winter
No. of episodes 6
Production
Executive producer(s) Paul Clarke
Producer(s) Greg Appel, Bruce Kane
Editor(s) Andrew Glover
Production company(s) Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Release
Original network ABC Television
Original release 8 August (2001-08-08) – 12 September 2001 (2001-09-12)

Long Way to the Top was a six-part weekly Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) documentary film series on the history of Australian rock and roll, from 1956 to the modern era, it was initially broadcast from 8 August to 12 September 2001.[1] One of its writers, James Cockington, provided a book tie-in, Long Way to the Top: Stories of Australian Rock & Roll (2001). Another series writer, and interviewer, Clinton Walker, compiled a 2× CD soundtrack album, Long Way to the Top: Original Soundtrack from the ABC-TV Series (13 August 2001), by Various Artists, which featured in the show. It peaked at No. 9 on the ARIA Albums Chart. A year later a related national concert tour followed.

History[edit]

Long Way to the Top took its name from the AC/DC song, "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)" (December 1975). The six-part series was produced by Paul Clarke (Recovery), directed by Greg Appel and edited by Andrew Glover. It was narrated by the former radio presenter, Chris Winter (one of the original members of the on-air team at the ABC's 24-hour rock radio station, Double Jay).

It featured interviews with Australasian singers and instrumentalists. Most of the nearly 200 interviews were conducted by music critic, Clinton Walker, who also co-wrote the series, and compiled a 2× CD soundtrack album, Long Way to the Top: Original Soundtrack from the ABC-TV Series (13 August 2001), by Various Artists featured in the show.[2][3] It peaked at No. 9 on the ARIA Albums Chart.[3] The other writers for the were Tony Barrell, Sandy Webster, James Cockington and Laurie Zion. Cockington wrote a book tie-in, Long Way to the Top: Stories of Australian Rock & Roll (2001).[4]

The original series was well received for the ABC when shown in 2001:[1] a national concert tour in 2002 followed.[1]

Episode list[edit]

# Title Writer Original airdate
1 "Bed of a Thousand Struggles 1956–1964" Clinton Walker, Tony Barrell, Sandy Webster, James Cockington, Laurie Zion 8 August 2001 (2001-08-08)[5]

It's the early 1950s and Australia is enjoying a period of post-war calm. On the wireless, amongst the radio-plays, variety shows and deep-voiced announcers are the sounds of Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman or perhaps Tex Morton... lurking beneath this idyllic newsreel exterior was something far more rebellious... the cult of the 'teenager', looking for something to hang their angst upon. The hook was rock and roll! The years were 1956 -1964. From rock and roll films to the race to be first, from the recording studio to the crazes that swept the nation. One craze that stayed was Surf Culture. These were wild times indeed.[5]

Artists: Johnny O'Keefe, Bee Gees, the Atlantics, Slim Dusty, Judy Stone, Col Joye, the Thunderbirds, Johnny Devlin, the Delltones, the Dee Jays, Carolyn Young, Betty McQuade and Patricia "Little Pattie" Amphlett.[5]
2 "Ten Pound Rocker 1963–1968" Walker, Barrell, Webster, Cockington, Zion 15 August 2001 (2001-08-15)[6]

In the early sixties a new wave of rhythm and blues arrived in Australia with a Liverpool accent, imported in the cardboard suitcases of young British migrants. These pale, skinny kids in tight suits performed strange tribal dances to a sound born in the Mississippi delta.[6]

Artists: The Easybeats, the Seekers, the Twilights, the Masters Apprentices, Daddy Cool, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Col Joye, the Mixtures, Johnny Young, Purple Hearts, Normie Rowe, the Loved Ones, Dinah Lee, and In Focus.[6]
3 "Billy Killed the Fish 1968–1973" Walker, Barrell, Webster, Cockington, Zion 22 August 2001 (2001-08-22)[7]

Australia took some strange turns in the late 1960s. Something happened for which our convict past had not prepared us: the hippy movement landed and took root. Music was the chosen vehicle for an alternative lifestyle which landed like an extra terrestrial invasion. Suddenly everything was 'out there'. Even 1960s pop bands like the Masters embraced the new voice: 'Do what you want to do, be what you want to be, yeah!'[7]

Artists: Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, the Masters Apprentices, Russell Morris, Ross Wilson, Johnny Young, John Farnham, the Mixtures, Wendy Saddington and Chain.[7]
4 "Berserk Warriors 1973–1981" Walker, Barrell, Webster, Cockington, Zion 29 August 2001 (2001-08-29)[8]

Australia in the 1970s took the larrikin image to new extremes, including our own native youth – the sharpies. This was the sort of crowd musicians of the time might have to entertain. Some tried explosives, some tried school uniforms, some tried makeup, whatever it took as bands did battle in every pub and living room across the nation. The new wave of Australian hard rock started deep behind the walls of an unassuming concrete bunker in the Sydney suburb of Burwood. Holed up inside were three Scottish brothers.[8]

Artists: AC/DC, Cold Chisel, Skyhooks, The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Hush, Stevie Wright, John Paul Young, Sherbet and Ted Mulry.[8]
5 "INXS to Exile 1976–1988" Walker, Barrell, Webster, Cockington, Zion 5 September 2001 (2001-09-05)[9]

In 1983, Comedian Austen Tayshus made the country's biggest selling single ever "Australiana". Everything in the 1980s in Australia had to be big. For the followers of a small new movement called Punk the challenge was to be heard at all, over the din of excessive self-promotion. This generation of musicians would ask themselves the question: excess or exile? This was the decade when Australians realised they had something of which to be proud. Just like the tourist commission, the local music industry was proud of Australia and ready for the biggest challenge of all: selling Australia's bands to the Americans. It was a group of survivors from the sixties who devised the initial marketing strategy: give the Americans something they could relate to – more American music. Little River Band's world was mellow. A southern comfort zone stuck somewhere in the recent past. But not everyone was into it.[9]

Artists: INXS, John Farnham, Men at Work, Split Enz, Mental as Anything, the Saints, Little River Band, Nick Cave, Models, Jimmy Barnes, Divinyls, Hunters & Collectors, the Go-Betweens, Uncanny X-Men and the Triffids.[9]
6 "Gathering of the Tribes 1984–2000" Walker, Barrell, Webster, Cockington, Zion 12 September 2001 (2001-09-12)[10]

The history of Australian rock has one recurring theme – it's the story of music described as 'alternative' becoming the 'mainstream'. As the century ended, new technology allowed more people than ever before to make their own music and to get it heard. Suddenly, there were many forms of popular music and the notion of a music mainstream began to disappear. For rock and roll artists, the biggest challenge was to breathe life into an old dog – before they were swamped by an enormous tide of beats – dance music. When three brothers strutted down a Miami street in 1977 they started the whole world dancing – and most of Australia with it.[10]

Artists: Midnight Oil, Kylie Minogue, Silverchair, Ratcat, Spiderbait, Regurgitator, Savage Garden, Hard-Ons, Paul Kelly, Beasts of Bourbon, the Cruel Sea, the Scientists, Itch-E and Scratch-E, Yothu Yindi, Dave Graney, Custard, TISM and Christine Anu.[10]

Concert tour[edit]

In 2002, the promoters Michael Chugg and Kevin Jacobsen decided to build on the popularity of the show, by sending a package tour of artists featured in the program on a national concert tour of Australia. Jacobsen's brother, Col Joye, was on the Long Way To The Top tour, as well as Lucky Starr, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Little Pattie, The Masters Apprentices, Stevie Wright, Daddy Cool, Normie Rowe, The Atlantics, John Paul Young, Dinah Lee and Marcia Hines. The tour proved to be successful, taking receipts of $10 million with a budget of $4.5 million.[11] The ABC broadcast,[12] highlights of the tour and subsequent CD and DVD packages[13] went on sale.

The concert tour was a unique event, in that the line-up had not toured together before, and would not do so again. Ross Wilson said: "It was personally a buzz for me, meeting up with some of those '50s guys like Col Joye. Backstage everyone knew they were part of something momentous, because that entire lineup would never come together again. I think the audience got that vibe, too.".[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c unstated (2002-11-22). "ABC Online - Long Way To The Top". Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  2. ^ Various Artists (2001), Long Way to the Top: Original Soundtrack from the ABC-TV Series, ABC Music, retrieved 19 February 2017 
  3. ^ a b "Week Commencing ~ 22nd October 2001 ~ Issue #608" (PDF). The ARIA Report. Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) (608): 6. 22 October 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 February 2002. Retrieved 19 February 2017. 
  4. ^ Cockington, James; Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2001), Long Way to the Top: Stories of Australian Rock & Roll, ABC Books for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ISBN 978-0-7333-0750-8 
  5. ^ a b c "Episode 1: Bed of a Thousand Struggles 1956–1964". Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Archived from the original on 26 October 2002. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c "Episode 2: Ten Pound Rocker 1963–1968". Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Archived from the original on 15 October 2002. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c "Episode 3: Billy Killed the Fish 1968–1973". Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Archived from the original on 15 October 2002. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c "Episode 4: Berserk Warriors 1973–1981". Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Archived from the original on 15 October 2002. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c "Episode 5: INXS to Exile 1976–1988". Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Archived from the original on 15 October 2002. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c "Episode 6: Gathering of the Tribes 1984–2000". Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Archived from the original on 27 October 2002. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Billboard 10 May 2002, Vol. 114 Issue 40, p20
  12. ^ unstated (n.d.). "ABC TV – Long Way To The Top". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  13. ^ unstated (n.d.). "ABC Shop – Long Way". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 

External links[edit]