The Greatest Australian Singles of the 60s: book and CD set

It’s been said that if you can remember the sixties, then you weren’t really there, but David Pepperell and Colin Talbot reckon that’s nonsense. They’ve published a book which explores the 100 greatest Australian singles of the ‘60s and Pepperell spoke to Samantha Morris about the just-released publication.

The sixties was a time of rapid social change and Pepperell and Talbot say it was the greatest pop music decade in history. Rock and roll exploded around the world and so the world was never the same again.

“The music of the sixties was very positive and also very communal. It spoke of things like love and improving yourself and really making a better world,” Pepperell said. “So many songs were really ‘we can do better than this, we can make a more wonderful world’.”

“At the end of the decade I was 25,” David said. “I lived through the whole of it. I was very interested in rock and roll from the start.”

“I loved pop music. My parents gave me a radio when I was four in 1949 – I think that was to get me away from their radio – they wanted to listen to Caltex Theatre and I wanted to listen to pop shows,” David said.

Pepperell was fourteen at the turn of the decade – a telling time for any young man right in the middle of adolescence and finding his feet through music. He laughs when we talk about the format of the book – it’s the size of a 7” single and features a full page image and full page description for each track included.

“For the demographic who’s going to read it – my age group – the size is good,” he laughs. “It’s big print.”

“Colin used to be the pop music columnist for the Australian during the 70s and I wrote for every pop paper,” David said.

“Initially we thought we’d do the best Australian singles ever. Then we thought we’d do 1955 – 1980 then that became impossible. So we thought the major decade for music in Australia was the 60s – if you look at any chart in the 60s in Australia, 50-60% of the songs would be Australian acts.”

There were exclusions, there were arguments, many discussions, weeks when one or the other stormed off following a heated debate. But the result is a compact and great-looking coffee table book.

“I had 200 (songs) and Colin had 150 and 50 of those were double-ups so we got down to 300 and we worked on it for about six months. First we thought we’d restrict every act to four singles – but we didn’t stick to that because the Easy Beats got five.”

“It’s highly subjective I guess, but rock and roll has been in our lives – we’ve written about it, we’ve listened to it. So we thought we really knew what we were doing.”

To accompany the book’s release, a four CD set is also available through Warner Music. The CD set contains all one hundred songs profiled in Pepperell and Talbot’s book.

“It makes those records available again,” David said. “A lot of those records have been lost – they’re just not around. It’s not even that radio stations won’t play them, they just don’t have them.



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