Rock ’n’ Roll City: Adelaide Babylon, featuring a collection of Eric Algra’s gritty gig photographs from the 1970s to the present day, will be launched at the Exeter Hotel on August 3. Some of the iconic local names who appear in the book include The Bodgies, Exploding White Mice, Redgum, Gumbo Ya! Ya!, July 14th, Catherine Lambert, Tubby Justice, No Fixed Address, Double Wammy, Rum Jungle, Seven Stories and Young Modern.
“This book consists of photos of the Adelaide music scene taken by me over a period of 30-plus years,” says the renowned photographer.
“The sheer excitement generated by so many of these bands created mayhem in the crowds which, in true rock ’n’ roll style, fed back to the band and elevated the whole collective experience. It rocked.”
Algra’s raw and candid shots capture a golden era in Adelaide’s live music scene, particularly in the late 1970s and ’80s, when local pubs booked several bands for the one night and venues were heaving with sweaty, music-mad crowds.
“My favourite venue back in the day was the Tivoli Hotel – the ’Tiv’,” Algra says. “It was a classic rock venue complete with sticky carpet, a strong whiff of beer and, way back in time, cigarette (and other) smoke.
“The layout was great. It had a good stage and a balcony with a terrific view of not just the stage but also the crowd which, at times, was a seething mass of punters going nuts.”
Algra says one of his favourite photographs from Rock ’n’ Roll City: Adelaide Babylon is the cover shot featuring Exploding White Mice.
“They were such a great band to photograph,” he says. “Pure rock ’n’ roll. I always loved working with Vitamin Z, too, with Bruno Lucia. They were pretty crazy and the photos we created still make me laugh 40 years later.
“This book is a photographic history of the performers, writers, producers and industry innovators who thrust Adelaide into national prominence during a unique period of creative alchemy.”
Rock ’n’ Roll City: Adelaide Babylon is the second instalment following the release of Rock ’n’ Roll City: The Roadrunner Years in 2022. While the latest book features Adelaide bands, the first book includes images of local, interstate and overseas acts from 1978-83. Algra had an all-access pass to gigs by big names such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Madness, Talking Heads, Stray Cats, Skyhooks, Midnight Oil and The Sports.
Many of the shots from both books were captured when Algra worked for influential music magazine Roadrunner. While the magazine folded in 1983, he has continued to shoot the music scene and still turns up to gigs with his “lovely little Sony RX100”.
“The photographs in the second book were mostly taken for the bands themselves for record or CD covers and publicity purposes,” he says. “Often, though, I photograph gigs just for the fun of it. Back in the day, I used Nikon film cameras and I did all my own darkroom work, which was both a curse and a joy.”
Algra says some of bands that feature in the book from more recent decades include 1990s bands Those Kodiaks, Double Wammy, The Borderers (still active) and The Bedridden, and 2000s bands such as Prawnhead, NFA (still active), and The Hiptones. It also includes photos from recent gigs by the likes of Gumbo Ya! Ya!, The Fat Man of Love (Harry Van Venetie), Catherine Lambert and Thérèse Willis.
Rock ’n’ Roll City: Adelaide Babylon will be launched at the Exeter by Adelaide journalist and music writer David Sly, with live music provided by The Fat Man of Love and Charli Holoubek, who also appear in the book.
“So many people remember the 1970s and ’80s as a significant and formative time, whether you were on stage or in the audience,” Algra says. “What’s great is how that mongrel energy lives on through young Adelaide bands and original performers who continue to push the boundaries.”
Rock ’n’ Roll City: Adelaide Babylon can be purchased online here.
Some of Eric Algra’s photos from Rock ’n’ Roll City: Adelaide Babylon:
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