Sunday, July 29, 2007

Skyhooks - Guilty Until Proven Insane (1978)

Australia's legendary weirdos, Skyhooks, came together in Melbourne in early 1973 and quickly created a buzz while doing the rounds in the club circuit. After a disastrous performance at the Sunbury Festival in 1974, vocalist Steve Hill was sacked and replaced by flamboyant showman, Graham "Shirley" Strachan. Thus was the beginning of the notorious lineup that would rule Aussie radio/tv in subsequent years. Signed to fledgling indie label, Mushroom Records, the band issued their debut in 1974. "Living in the 70's" quickly went on to become one of the country's all-time biggest selling albums. Thrust into the spotlight, Skyhooks became the darlings of Australia's most popular music television program, "Countdown". This attention only served to bring more accolades to the band, despite their clearly acerbic lyrical standpoint and controversial subject matter. The band were fortunate enough to overcome being banned by nearly every radio station in their homeland, simply on the strength of word of mouth and television promotion.

Fueled by this exposure, the band issued their 2nd album, "Ego Is Not a Dirty Word", the following year and once again the band saw massive success with numerous singles and successful tours in the region. The hype caught the attention of American critics and by 1976, the band were ensconsed in a tour of the states. With a riotous and theatric stage show in full effect, the band were quickly dismissed by American audiences as mere Kiss clones. This experience sent the band packing back to their homeland, prompting them to issue album number three, "Straight in a Gay Gay World", the same year.

Their fourth effort, "Guilty Until Proven Insane" from 1978, is featured here. The album saw Skyhooks sporting a heavier sound and more thinly veiled biting social commentary than ever before. It also spawned the band's monster hit, "Women in Uniform". I consider this the band's finest hour and despite a few mediocre tracks, the album is absolutely fantastic. With a sound comparable to City Boy, the band charge through nine tracks with precision and aggression.

The album marked the departure of founding guitarist, Red Symons, who was replaced by future Angels axeslinger Bob Spencer. When their subsequent tour reached its end, Shirley also departed, leaving the band in creative limbo. The band sensing there was still unfinished business to tend to, drafted Tony Williams to take over vocals, resulting in a total overhaul in the band's signature sound. The subsequent release, "Hot For the Orient" in 1980, failed to match the band's previous success and audiences were quick to reject the band's attempt to continue on. By the end of the year, Skyhooks were history.

Over the next two decades the band would reform sporadically for one off shows and abbreviated promotional tours, all with great success in their homeland. In 2001, Shirley was killed in an aircrash, prompting a memorial concert the following month that would set a precedent for Skyhooks. Various members past and present participated in the event marking the first and last time an expanded Skyhooks lineup would be featured on the same stage. Another performance took place in 2004 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the band's debut album, also prompting high profile media coverage. The band's most recent activity took place in 2005 to benefit Greg Hill (guitar), who was battling cancer. All future activity is still open for discussion and surely the world has not seen the last of Skyhooks.

Check out this smoking effort from one of Australia's most beloved and controversial acts. You can't help but admire the band's creative talents and the powerful vocal delivery of Strachan.


Anonymous said...

Man i must say i love your blogg, a great mix of 70's-80's stuff to explore and enjoy.

Actually haven't got any comments on this set with Skyhooks more then i love it and loved it for decades, got it on vinyl back in the days and got it on Cd today.

No i was just wondering if you're still after Locust - Playgue ??

Let me know and i can hook up up with a pretty decent copy of it.

Keep up your good work on this blogg as i think it's one of the better there is.

Ronnie (aka J) said...

Thx for the kind words & YES I'm still looking for a decent rip of the Locust LP. Please share if you've got it uploaded somewhere & thx again for coming by :)

Anonymous said...

Ok, it will be upped in an hour or so from now, and as a bonus i will throw in Rockicks - Inside, a great "biker-band" from 77. Check out the tunes Consideration and Highway Gypsy, awesome stuff imho. Both albums will be in 1 rarfile and both will come with full scans.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for this site - what a find!!! And now I get hold of Playgue (another much-sought after disc). You guys rule!!!!

Anonymous said...

great blog.. im looking for shakin street vampire rock,any chance you puttin that up? take care keep rockin..

Anonymous said...

Not sure if "Women in Uniform" is a Skyhooks original song?. I've heard Iron Maiden's stripped down hard rock version on a single back in the 80's. I like this one.
This album is interesting. It's difficult to describe their style. I like the progressive parts they add in the songs. A bit theatrical rock here and there.
Thanks !

skids said...

Women in Uniform" is a Skyhooks original song

Anonymous said...

Thanks skids.

Anonymous said...

You´re incredible. Again three LPs from wish list I found here:

Mayday, Baby and Skyhooks.


Anonymous said...

I bought this album at the time and remember thinking it was pretty good, and a successful departure from what the Skyhooks had been doing before.

However, even if you know nothing about the Skyhooks whatsoever, the album is still well worth downloading for "Women in Uniform," which is an absolute classic, up with the ten best rock tracks ever made in Australia.

Patrick said...

I was looking for this one, thanks!!!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for putting up this site, posting this album and the link to the download.

I haven't heard this gem since the death of the turntable, w-a-a-a-y back when.

You are a bona-fide LEGEND!

an Australian 'dinosaur'

Anonymous said...

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Sorry for offtopic

Australis said...

Thanks for putting this up. Had the original at the time (yep, I'm that old!), decided to find it again.

Cool cool cool.