When Rolling Stone Australia announced our list of the 200 Greatest Australian Albums of All Time in early December, it stirred great debate about the records that made their way into the list. Countless questions about whether one album deserved to be placed above another ensured, while just as many questions were matched with memories of hearing these records for the first time.
Of course, there are plenty of great local records out there, and everyone has their own personal favourite. But have you ever considered just what the music-makers themselves consider to be the greatest local release of all time? What if Angus Young was a big fan of Hiatus Kaiyote? Who’s to say Nick Cave isn’t a big fan of Flume?
The only way to find out for sure is to go directly to the source, which is exactly what we did. As part of our special edition of Rolling Stone Australia, we spoke to the likes of Tash Sultana, Tina Arena, Garrett Kato, and Gretta Ray to find out which local records they spin when they’re in need of a pick-me-up.
Find these artists’ top picks below, and if you’re keen to see the full list of albums that made the final list, or the equally-large list of honourable mentions, you can do so by clicking their respective links.
My Number One: Tash Sultana
Tame Impala – Currents
The very first time I was introduced to the record Currents was through an eight-minute long single called “Let It Happen”. It’s not very often in modern day music that anyone releases a song that gets any radio attention beyond three minutes and 30 seconds; this just goes to show the entity that is Tame Impala.
I was introduced to this single when I was riding around Berlin on a bicycle having the best time as a 20-year-old back in 2015. It ignited the belief that you do not need to chase radio play or conform to the 3:30 radio structure to be an artist in this modern day.
There is much more to be told through music than in the confines of a couple of minutes.
My Top 10: Tina Arena
1. INXS – Kick
2. Olivia Newton John – The Definitive Collection
3. Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust
4. John Farnham – Whispering Jack
5. Divinyls – Divinyls
6. AC/DC – Back in Black
7. Baby Animals – Shaved and Dangerous
8. Skyhooks – Living in The 70’s
9. Crowded House – Crowded House
10. Eurogliders – This Island
My Number One: Garrett Kato
Middle Kids – Lost Friends
This album is definitely one of the few albums that make you want to park your car at your house and just listen to it knowing that you can’t get out until it’s finished.
The fact that Hannah Joy and Tim Fitz co-wrote a lot of it together means you can almost hear the male-female perspectives shift within the songs. That chemistry should be celebrated.
When I first heard “Edge of Town” it knocked me off my feet. The lyrics are weird and unconventional to normal songwriting methods. This song grabs you in such a different way that I thought it might be an anomaly on the record. Then I listened to the next song, and the next and the next… I haven’t felt that from an artist in a while.
To me, Lost Friends is real songwriter-rock. Tom Petty could do those songs, but they’re dressed in this other clothing that makes them seem less guitar-driven. I also like how all the tones are related, like a family of songs that capture a time and place for them.
Middle Kids are a very special band that we shouldn’t take for granted, there’s a magic to what they do.
My Number One: Gretta Ray
Missy Higgins – On a Clear Night
If there was one Australian album that I could single out and say “That’s it. That’s the record that made me a songwriter,” it would be Missy Higgins’ sophomore record On a Clear Night.
This album lit a fire in my belly. It opened my eyes to the possibility that one day, I could dare to follow in Missy’s footsteps and make my own albums. There is such variety to this record. From the sassy nature of songs like “100 Round the Bends and Secret”, the comfort of “Sugarcane and Warm Whispers”, to the expansiveness of “Steer” and “Going North”, and yet sonically, each song feels like it belongs perfectly.
The self-assuredness that spills out of this record is something I feel I am beginning to emulate in the music I’m releasing today.
Missy was 23 when this album came out, and I’m 23 now. On a Clear Night fuelled my passion—and now, I have the amazing privilege of walking on the path Missy created ahead of me.
If you’re eager to get your hands on the latest issue of Rolling Stone Australia to see the full 200 list, then now is the time to sign up for a subscription. Serving as a must-have addition to any self-respecting music fan’s collection, a cherished gift, or even some timely self-isolation reading, folks can subscribe to the quarterly magazine now.
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