The Sharp

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The Sharp
OriginMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
GenresRock, pop, rockabilly
Years active1991 (1991)–1995 (1995), 2000, 2010
LabelsEast West/Warner
Past members
  • Allan Catlin
  • Piet Collins
  • Charlie Rooke
  • Adam May

The Sharp were a three-piece pop, rockabilly band which formed in 1991 with Allan Catlin on double bass and lead vocals, Piet Collins on drums and Charlie Rooke on guitar and lead vocals. They issued three albums, This Is the Sharp (September 1993), Sonic Tripod (October 1994) and Single File (compilation, September 1995). Their highest charting single, "Alone Like Me" (1994), reached the ARIA Singles Chart top 20. They disbanded in October 1995.


In 1991 the Sharp were formed as a three-piece rockabilly, pop group in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood by Allan Catlin on double bass and lead vocals, Piet Collins on drums and Charlie Rooke on guitar and lead vocals.[1][2] Rooke had formed 59 Sharp, a "good-time bar-band",[1] in 1988; he was later joined by Catlin, and alternating drummers Danny Simcic (also a member of Real Life, a new wave-synth pop band) and Tony Day (Broderick Smith Band).[3] They "played 1950s rock'n'roll and rockabilly covers to a hardcore Melbourne following."[1]

Piet Collins, who was writing Neighbours episodes at the time,[4] joined on drums in 1991 due to other commitments for both Day and Simcic.[3] The group were renamed as the Sharp, which according to Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane "Boasting double bass, stand-up drums, rockabilly-tinged guitar licks and musicians dressed in all black... [they] presented a united front and an interesting twist on 1990s pop... [their] aesthetic push incorporated frisky pop melodies, tight arrangements, strong harmonies and grungy guitar riffs."[1] For the Sharp Catlin and Rooke wrote original tracks, both individually and jointly. The group acknowledged the influence of the Kinks, the Beatles and the Easybeats.[1]

In June 1992 they issued their debut CD three-track extended play, Love Your Head, on Mushroom Distribution Services.[1] It was produced by Nick Mainsbridge (The Triffids, Tall Tales and True, Ratcat).[5] They were signed to East West Music/Warner Music Australasia later that year. Their first hit single, "Talking Sly" (from the Spinosity EP), was written and sung jointly by Rooke and Catlin, which "received plenty of radio support and high critical acclaim."[6] It reached the ARIA Singles Chart top 30.[7] Their third EP, Train of Thought, which appeared in May that year, was co-produced by Mainsbridge with Peter Farnan (of Boom Crash Opera).[1][8]

The Sharp released their debut album, This Is the Sharp, in September 1993, which was co-produced by Farnan, Mainsbridge and the group.[1][5] It peaked at No. 13 on the ARIA Albums Chart.[7] They promoted the album with an Australian tour as a support act for United States group, Spin Doctors.[1] At the ARIA Awards of 1993 the Sharp received two nominations for "Talking Sly", Breakthrough Artist – Single and Best Video (directed by Chris Langman).[6][9]

The Sharp singles/EPs which appeared in the top 50 of the ARIA Singles Chart include Train of Thought (May 1993), "Scratch My Back" (October), and Yeah I Want You (November).[7] The latter EP had five tracks with an original, "Yeah I Want You", followed by four cover version of work by The Cure ("The Love Cats"), Blondie ("Hangin' on the Telephone"), Lou Reed ("Vicious") and The Violent Femmes ("Add It Up").[2] Collins explained "We've been playing these songs in our live set on and off for the past two years and we've created our own versions of them."[2]

A world tour followed in 1994 across the US, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany. This Is the Sharp was released in 14 international territories, and their live shows received favourable reviews.[citation needed] At the 1994 ARIA Awards they received two further nominations, Breakthrough Artist – Album for This Is the Sharp and Engineer of the Year for its tracks, "Scratch My Back", "Yeah I Want You" and "Train of Thought" by Mainsbridge and Kalju Tonuma.[9]

Sonic Tripod, the band's second album, was released in August 1994, which also reached No. 13 and was co-produced by Farnan, Mainsbridge and the group.[1][5][7] Jacqueline Fuller of The Canberra Times felt it was "a foray into the new lyrical themes of social comment and psychological turmoil rather than The Sharp's typical love and party songs."[10] It provided their highest charting single "Alone Like Me", which peaked at No. 20.[7] The group were known for their image of black high neck skivvies,[6] and energetic live shows,[3] including Catlin balancing on his double bass while playing, and Rooke leaping off the drum kit mid-guitar solo.[citation needed]

Early in 1995 Adam May replaced Collins on drums, however in August the group announced their proposed disbandment due to burn out.[1][3] Rooke explained to Liz Armitage of The Canberra Times in that month how the Sharp had decided to break up: "It was a round-table discussion. A lot of people like to think there was (a conflict) but there wasn't, otherwise we wouldn't be doing a tour."[11] Rooke reflected on their legacy "I think people will remember us for being a bit different... I'm sticking with the simplicity... I seemed to go for that vibe in the first, and I've always believed in it. I think you can do so much with that approach, but most groups these days are into bigger production."[11] According to Armitage "Both Catlin and Rooke are expected to release something (separately) at the start of next year."[11]

A compilation album, Single File (The Best of the Sharp), was released in September.[1] They performed their last gig on 22 October 1995 at the Hallam Hotel.[12] The label issued a posthumous collection, Skeletons in the Closet, of previously unreleased studio tracks, in 1996.[3] Caitlin formed a group, the Rush Effect and wrote music for ads; Collins took up a career in journalism and writing; Rooke formed a group, Earlobe.[3] Rooke was later a studio session guitarist for Cezary Skubiszewski.[13] In 2000 the Sharp performed a sole reunion gig in Melbourne,[3] and in July 2010 they reunited for a series of shows playing in Melbourne and Adelaide.



  • This Is the Sharp (East West Records, 6 September 1993) (450993510-2) AUS: No. 13[7]
  • Sonic Tripod (East West, 22 August 1994) (450997336-2) AUS No. 13[7]
  • Single File (The Best of the Sharp) (compilation, September 1995)
  • Skeletons in the Closet (East West, 1996) (SHARP0001)

Extended plays[edit]

  • Love Your Head (June 1992) (MDS WOW1)
  • Spinosity (featuring "Talking Sly") (East West, December 1992) (450990501-2) AUS: No. 28[7]
  • Train of Thought (May 1993) AUS: No. 32[7]
  • Yeah I Want You (East West, November 1993) (450994121-2) AUS: No. 44[7]
  • Release the Rats (1994), Note: Release the Rats was a five-track split promo EP to support a tour with Francis Dunnery.


  • "Scratch My Back" (October 1993) AUS: No. 40[7]
  • "Alone Like Me" (1994) AUS: No. 20[7]
  • "Honest and Sober" (1994) AUS: No. 99[14]
  • "Spider" (1994)
  • "Thank You Good Night" (1995)

Video albums[edit]

  • This Is the Sharp (1993)

Music videos[edit]

  • "Talking Sly"
  • "Scratch My Back"
  • "Yeah I Want You"
  • "Train of Thought"
  • "Where Am I Now?"
  • "Alone Like Me"
  • "Honest and Sober"
  • "Spider"


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'The Sharp'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 30 September 2004. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Leedham, Nicole (4 November 1993). "Good Times: Sharp's meteroic rise". The Canberra Times. 68 (21, 387). p. 3. Retrieved 11 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Macgregor, Jody. "The Sharp | Biography & History". AllMusic. All Media Guide. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  4. ^ Donovan, Patrick (6 August 2003). "There goes the neighbourhood". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Australian Rock Database entries:
    • The Sharp: Holmgren, Magnus. "The Sharp". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 5 August 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
    • Nick Mainsbridge: Holmgren, Magnus. "Nick Mainsbridge". Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 5 August 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "Entertainment: Sharp by Nature". Times. 88 (4, 128). Victor Harbor, SA. 14 May 1993. p. 8. Retrieved 10 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hung, Steffen. "Discography The Sharp". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Sharp sound on the airwaves". Times. 88 (4, 132). Victor Harbor, SA. 28 May 1993. p. 8. Retrieved 10 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ a b ARIA Music Awards for the Sharp:
  10. ^ Fuller, Jacqueline (21 July 1994). "Backstage: The Sharp's test tube baby". The Canberra Times. 69 (21, 645). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. p. 30. Retrieved 11 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ a b c Armitage, Liz (31 August 1995). "Backstage: Revenge sung sweetly". The Canberra Times. 70 (22, 050). p. 34. Retrieved 12 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  12. ^ "The Sharp: 'Alone Like Us'". The Sharp Official Website. Archived from the original on 7 August 2003. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  13. ^ Skubiszewski, Cezary; McKenzie, Daryl; Victorian Philharmonic Orchestra (2002), Black and white: original motion picture soundtrack, ABC Classics. Universal Classics & Jazz [distributor], retrieved 12 April 2016
  14. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 02 October 1994". ARIA. Retrieved 2016-02-29.

External links[edit]