The pioneering legacy of No Fixed Address

Picture the scene. It’s 1982 and Australia’s future prime minister Bob Hawke – then the shadow minister for industrial relations – has accepted an invitation to launch a mini-album by an emerging Indigenous rock-reggae band called No Fixed Address. Hawke’s daughters are fans, and he recognises the importance of both the release and the symbolic gesture of a white politician endorsing it. There’s just one sticking point: the final song is called Pigs.

They’re always on the move

They call them the boys in blue

They’ll kick you in the head

Until they leave you dead

It is difficult to imagine even the current prime minister – a self-confessed music tragic – launching such a provocative release today. But Hawke goes ahead with it, saying the album is great – “but that’s not to say that every man and woman in blue is a thorough bastard”. The band’s drummer and leader, Bart Willoughby, turns around. “Yeah, there are good police out there – we just haven’t met any yet,” he shoots back.

The story of this radical group is told in a new book of the same name by Donald Robertson; on the back cover, Goanna’s Shane Howard describes No Fixed Address as “the tip of the spear” that plunged into the dead heart of middle Australia.… Read more..

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A conversation with Jack Thompson

Before he became one of Australia’s best-loved actors, Jack Thompson had already been many things. At the age of 15, he became a jackaroo in the Northern Territory, working on the remote cattle station of Elkedra. There, he says, he observed a life that no longer exists. At camp, he was the only white person among the adult Alyawarra men.

It was fine preparation for his cinematic work in the 1970s and early 80s when he became an icon of the Australian New Wave, taking leading and supporting roles in classics including Sunday Too Far Away (1975), The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Breaker Morant (1980) and The Man From Snowy River (1982).

It also made him an obvious choice to record a voiceover for Our Country, a 40-screen, 360-degree celebration of Australia’s natural landscape and wildlife by Australian Geographic, in partnership with Tourism Australia. Curated by Karina Holden, and now open in Brisbane, it collates the work of 25 cinematographers who spent a combined 100,000 hours in the field.

Now 82, Thompson lives in northern New South Wales. He spoke to Guardian Australia in good humour – and with that distinctive voice intact.

Tell us about Our Country.Read more..

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Fred Negro: King of St Kilda

Fred Negro has just knocked off his shift cleaning toilets. One of the best cartoonists in the world – according to some – doesn’t mind his day job. He’s done it for a long time. “It’s just a gig,” he says. “I always wake up early anyway, and I’m finished by 10 or 11.”

Negro, artist and musician, is a Melbourne icon. He is the creator of Pub, the comic strip that ran for decades in street press which chronicled in lurid, scatological and frequently pornographic detail the ratbags and raconteurs of the bayside suburb of St Kilda.

For a long time in the 1990, Negro lived in the suburb’s Esplanade Hotel. “I had the key to the pub. I was like the king of St Kilda! I just had to clean the joint,” he tells me. At the Espy, you could reliably find him drinking and drawing everything going on around him.

The late Rowland S Howard once said you hadn’t made it in Melbourne until you’d appeared in one of Negro’s Pub strips. That was quite something coming from the Birthday Party guitarist, who had his own laneway in St Kilda named after him after his death.… Read more..

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