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THE AUSTRALIA DAY weekend will open festivities to mark the 10th year of operation of Australia's independent
record label, Mushroom.
This label has introduced us to artists such as Skyhooks, Split Enz, Sports, Jo Jo Zep And The Falcons, Renee Geyer, Models, The Ferrets, Stars, Dave Warner, Christie Allen, Sunnyboys, Paul Kelly And The Dots, and The Swingers.
Many of these acts will appear at a free concert called the Mushroom Evol- ution at the Myer Music Bowl in Mel- bourne on the Sunday and Monday of the holiday weekend, and organizers have been busy rounding up Mushroom's '70s sensations - such as Madder Lake, Ol '55, Chain and Ayers Rock - in their original line-ups for the occasion.
Nearly a quarter of a million rock fans are expected to attend the concert, which may be recorded for a live album and filmed possibly for a future TV special.
Over the coming year, there'll be all kinds of goodies to mark Mushroom's decade of innovation - such as special record packages and best-of albums.
Michael Gudinski set up Mushroom in 1972 with Ray Evans. The decision arose mainly out of frustration with the local recording scene.
"At that time, everything was in a primitive state," said Michael, the mana- ging director. "The things we take for granted these days were non-existent.
"It was very hard for artists to have any creativity. Bands were told where to record, who was to produce them, even what to sing and the way to sing it in many cases. The album cover would usually be done without any consulta- tion, either."
Michael was, at that time, managing Chain, Healing Force and Ayers Rock. Local bands found it hard to get their big
"Healing Force had only one "hit" - Golden Mile - but heaps of material," said Michael. "When that band and Chain broke up within two weeks of each other, it was a real shock. It really hard- ened me, because I had been a real fan of
"I saw there was a need to service our artists better. If all areas such as record- ing and business and creativity could contribute together, you'd get the result
"Mushroom was a pretty idealistic venture and we were luckv we had what
RIGHT: Skyhooks in 75 - the band that put rock
back in the news. BELOW: Michael Gudinski,
seemed like initial success. However, financially, what we were doing in the early stages wasn't very feasible."
The big breakthrough came with that madcap band Skyhooks. They came out of nowhere and put rock and roll back on the front pages of the newspapers, made perfect use of the new colour TV and pro- vided fodder for fledgling rock maga- zines. Their rousing success opened eyes to the potential of local support.
Said Michael Gudinski: "If it hadn't been for Skyhooks, Mushroom wouldn't be where it is today. It was a freak suc- cess that enabled us to catch up any lost ground. That two-year period ('74-'75) was just phenomenal. When Living In The '70s was released it started selling and just didn't stop. As a debut album it hasn't been passed in sales, and has sold around a quarter of a million copies."
Skyhooks explored new avenues - they instigated door deals (where the band gets a percentage of the takings at the door rather than a set fee), they weren't scared to fight for their rights, there was no compromise, and they make good use of the video concept.
Even more gratifying to Gudinski has been the success of Split Enz.
"Theirs has been a long-term situa- tion," he said. "Many record companies would have eriven UD on them after three
years. But we kept going, and they were the first band to give us a hit in m countries, with I Got You from the Tnt Colours album.
"The same with Renee Geyer. She started young and has so much left ir her. It has been rewarding to make bei talent viable. With Say I Love You she really proved herself."
Gudinski also plans to set up a ne»
record label this year called White Label ' records, which he envisages will help little-known bands to get a leg up into the big-time.
Michael Gudinski had his first tasted rock and roll at school when he started
promoting dances. If he hadn't bea - hooked then, he said, he would probably 5 have been "a typical Melbourne Higt
boy, gone to university and become a la* ¡ yer." But, at 29, he sees his future re maining in music.
He learnt very quickly that the bus ness side of music had to be as effi*! as the music itself. "We saw that wei have to set up Mushroom along Amen can lines. Until then we really werent making our records for world markets
Between 1975 and 1979 he made t trips overseas working to promote b'! Australian bands, and negotiating record deals that would take our music to tte world and lining up respected producers to come to Australia with their expert*
Mushroom has since been heavi. j
involved with marketing firsts such *M n coloured vinyl discs, simulcasts, Io-
dises and mini LPs. Gudinski's and WM Evans' band agency eventually evoiv
into Premier Artists which encourais pub rock to become the norm. . .,
While Mushroom has made sig^
cant inroads into the world market' ' |
company is still awaiting the "l0
buster." -, 0l,: i
"We're waiting for our AC/v ,.-¡
Little River Band," said MiJ
Gudinski. Of course, he's quite conn ^ .
there'll be one. .«t ¡
_ .v jr.* *