There was something of a fuss kicked up earlier this week when it was revealed an iPod of iconic Australian music given to US president Barack Obama by PM Julia Gillard contained no tracks by Cold Chisel or AC/DC. The explanation is simple — neither act makes its material available on iTunes, and they're far from the only Aussie icons missing. Here's a list of 10 classic Australian albums that really should be on the local iTunes store but aren't.
For Australia Day earlier this year, I took an exhaustive look at what percentage of Australia's biggest hit singles and albums since 1970 are available on iTunes. While that first analysis concentrated on the overall number of tracks and albums available on iTunes (both overall and for local acts), here I've picked out ten of the most obvious album omissions from Australian performers.
As that earlier article noted, there are a bunch of reasons why this material isn't online. Some acts won't sell through iTunes as they don't want albums cherry-picked for individual tracks; some rights are caught up in legal battles; sometimes most (but not all) the album is on an anthology or greatest hits compilation; sometimes the labels just haven't realised what's sitting on their shelves.
Whatever the reason, it is consumers (and our sense of history, and also the US president) that come out as the biggest losers. Remember, we're not talking obscurities here; these were big-selling albums, some of them less than five years ago. (For each album, we've listed the ranking in the end-of-year list of best-selling albums.)
10. Damien Leith: The Winner's Journey (#5, 2006)
OK, it's an Australian Idol winner's album, rushed out in a hurry and which Leith himself apparently never saw a cent from. But how can an record that outsold all but four other releases just five years ago already be missing from the virtual shelves? No #winning here.
9. Margaret Urlich: Safety In Numbers (#13, 1990)
Yes, technically Urlich is a Kiwi, but it wasn't until she got to Australia that her career truly took off. Her much less successful 1995 album The Deepest Blue is the only material of hers on iTunes, meaning signature tunes such as "Escaping" and "Number One" have escaped entirely.
8. Mondo Rock: Chemistry (#24, 1981)
Ross Wilson has been a staple of the local music scene for four decades, but the biggest album from one of his two key acts, Mondo Rock, is absent without leave on iTunes. Come to that, so is everything else the band ever recorded — the odd live track is all you'll find. No "Chemistry", no "Come Said The Boy". No way!
7. Diesel: Hepfidelity (#4, 1992)
6. Daddy Cool: Daddy Who? Daddy Cool (#7, 1971)
Or how Ross Wilson missed out twice in one list. This was the first Australian album to sell 100,000 copies (presumably all on vinyl); you wouldn't need a high percentage of purchasers wanting to upgrade them to make a digital release worthwhile.
5. Cold Chisel: East (#4, 1980)
Cold Chisel's entire catalogue isn't on iTunes, a decision made by the band itself, which is in the relatively luxurious position of controlling its own back catalogue. That gives it control over its destiny, a destiny where making its music available in a popular legal format apparently isn't a priority. What's the point of iTunes if you can't use it to grab the original version of "Cheap Wine" when you need it?
4. Icehouse: Man Of Colours (#6, 1988)
The Chisel story also applies to Icehouse: founder Iva Davies owns the rights and there's been no deal to make any Icehouse tracks digitally available. Quite possibly he doesn't need the money. But why should the only way you can acquire tunes from one of Australia's biggest bands of the 1980s be via eBay? Crazy.
3. Daryl Braithwaite: Rise (#1, 1991)
Braithwaite's career stretches back to his 1970s pop idol days with Sherbet, but it was his 1990 album Rise that represented a commercial peak. This was the biggest-selling album of 1991, but 20 years later only a handful of tracks from it can be found on iTunes. Clearly, somebody is horsing around at Sony.
2. AC/DC: Back In Black (#14, 1980, #3, 1981)
The entire AC/DC catalogue is missing from iTunes — along with the Eagles and Def Leppard, they're the most prominent digital standouts from a global perspective. As such, any of their albums could make this list, but as the record that proved they didn't need Bon Scott to rock on and shake all night long, Back In Black seems the obvious choice.
1. INXS: Kick (#1, 1988)
It's slightly shocking to realise that INXS vocalist Michael Hutchence has been dead for 13 years. Sadly, there's no digital immmortality for him, as none of INXS' Hutchence-era releases — of which Kick was by some distance the most successful — have made it onto iTunes. For such an era-defining group, that's a real pity.
What other Aussie classics are missing from iTunes and in need of a prompt digital release? Tell us your wishlist in the comments.
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