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COUNTDOWN – The Wonder Years 1974-87
By Shane Pinnegar
This book works very well as a nostalgic trip back to the time when COUNTDOWN – Australia’s ‘Top Of The Pops’ – was a 6pm Sunday night ritual of religious proportions. Countless kids like me tuned in without fail every week, no matter where we were, to catch our fix of the week’s pop chart botherers and as our largest televised pop/rock influence, it was incredibly influential.
I recall noticing the Rolling Stones for the first time on Countdown. The show was integral in promoting glam rock bands such as Skyhooks, Hush, TMG and many others. ABBA and KISS were huge in this country largely due to the publicity Countdown gave them.
To this day I know all the words to many seventies and eighties hits that I wouldn’t give the time of day to today, because Countdown drilled them into me in my formative teen years. By 1987 the magic had all but gone, of course, other shows showed video clips more cheaply yet when Countdown left our screens it left a gaping hole that has never been filled.
Dave Warner is a cult hero through his late seventies/early eighties band DAVE WARNER’s FROM THE SUBURBS, himself influential in championing the cause of celebrating and broadcasting your Australian suburban roots rather than trying to sound musically like an import.
He has since gone on to write screenplays and theatre, soap operas and novels, and this book is a worthy tribute to the show that he freely admits in his introduction to be anti what he stood for as a muso back in the day.
The book however fails dismally in it’s text – whether it was hastily written, edited by a short sighted horse, or typeset by a pre-teen in a stupor, grammatical and factual errors abound. Here’s a sample – the very first line of chapter one: “Ken Watts who had been responsible for some very innovative programming at the ABC.” – and that is the complete sentence. Misspelt and erroneous band names, albums and songs are rife throughout, and it’s obvious fact checking and proof reading tasks were ignored or skimped on.
A fun but ultimately unsubstantial nostalgic scrapbook ride, but perhaps the book will inspire some kids to seek out some of the bands featured who exist only in our memories and the dustier parts of our record collection nowadays.