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Skyhooks : Don’t Believe What You’ve Seen or You’ve Heard

★★★★

Has any Australian band ever captured the zeitgeist as much as Skyhooks? The Melbourne band’s infectious melodies (largely written by bass player Greg Macainsh) blended early-‘70s Australian boogie with a pop sensibility that reflected the unbridled excitement of the Whitlam generation.
 
The band’s ribald and occasionally smutty lyrics rode on the back of Australia’s newfound freedom of expression (see song titles such as Smut, Smartarse Songwriters, You Just Like Me ‘Cause I’m Good in Bed – the latter being the first song played on triple j’s predecessor, 2JJ). The local references in Balwyn Calling and Carlton (Lygon Street Limbo) confronted Australia’s historical cultural cringe, while Macainsh’s cute lyrical style disguised an acute political antenna (on display in Whatever Happened to the Revoution). And when colour television finally arrived in Australia in 1975, there were Skyhooks decked out in garish satin flares to usher in the new era.
 
Don’t Believe What You’ve Seen or You’ve Heard is a three-CD compilation of the band’s first two albums, the definitive Living in the 70s and Ego is Not a Dirty Word, augmented with previously unreleased demos and live tracks from the era.  
 
The classics come thick and fast: Living in the 70s, Mercedes Ladies, Love On the Radio, Toorak Cowboy, Ego Is Not a Dirty Word – just as infectious now as they must’ve been 40 years ago. But to get a sense of just how culturally significant Skyhooks were in the mid ‘70s, it’s best to skip to the live tracks. The opening strains of Horror Movie live at Festival Hall in July 1975 are accompanied by a wave of teenage hysteria; by the end of Love on the Radio it’s verging on madness.
 
For a couple of years, there was nothing bigger in Australia than Skyhooks. To hear this compilation is to realise just why that was.
 
BY PATRICK EMERY