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.
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