|I Make Hamburgers||Undeniably The Whitlams|
|Gough||Introducing The Whitlams|
|Buy Now Pay Later||Eternal Nightcap|
|No Aphrodisiac||Eternal Nightcap|
|Blow Up The Pokies||Love This City|
|Thankyou (For Loving Me At My Worst)||Love This City|
|Made Me Hard||Love This City|
|Fall For You||Torch The Moon|
|Beauty In Me||Little Cloud|
The Whitlams 1992-1995 (l to r): Andy Lewis (double bass), Tim Freedman (keyboards, vocals), Stevie Plunder (guitar)
The Whitlams 1996 to now (l to r): Terepai Richmond (drums), Tim Freedman (piano, vocals), Jak Housden (guitar), Warwick Hornby (bass)
Contributor: Richard Warran
Tim Freedman, piano playing lead singer of Australian group The Whitlams, has often been called the Australian Randy Newman and I can kind of see where the comparison comes from. Both play piano and sing satirical pop songs often about the normal things we all experience in life; Freedman often with a bottle of red wine on top of his piano. The Whitlams started life in Sydney, in 1992, playing bars and clubs and were originally a 3-piece consisting of Freedman, Stevie Plunder and Andy Lewis.
They first came to my attention while I was travelling around Australia in the early 90s and listening to the radio station Triple J on long Greyhound bus journeys between cities. As I travelled around the country I picked up on this band’s brand of melodic indie piano based pop. It was a refreshing change from all the Britpop stuff that I was hearing so much of.
It was around the time of the release of Eternal Nightcap, their seminal breakthrough album in 1997, that No Aphrodisiac and Melbourne, two belting songs from this album, were the sound of that Australian summer to me. Eternal Nightcap won them a host of awards after its release, and justifiably so; it’s a timeless classic and was recently voted No.17 in Triple J’s Best Album of All Time chart. If anybody just wants to buy one Whitlams album, then make it this one. It’s really that good.
The band’s first taste of success came with the high charting single I Make Hamburgers, released in 1994, which still to this day is always a crowd favourite. Fame and success for the band came at a price though. Founding band member Stevie Plunder was found dead at Wentworth Waterfalls in the Blue Mountains on Australia Day in 1996. Andy Lewis tragically took his own life in early 2000 due to his gambling addiction; the song, The Curse Stops Here, was written by Freedman about his fellow bandmate and friend. It’s not in my top 10 but it’s still a great song. Tim Freedman also wrote Blow Up The Pokies (which is in my top 10) about his loathing of gaming machines and the addiction that can come with playing them.
The Whitlams lineup changed frequently after Stevie Plunder’s death, until the current line up was recruited by Freedman; Jak Housden on bass, Warwick Hornby on guitar, Terepai Richmond on drums. This combination has remained unchanged for the last four albums.
Tim has played both with the band and solo over the intervening years. He was recently quoted as saying some of his favourite gigs with the band were the ones they played at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London when they came and played in the UK. I can vouch for this as I’ve seen them many times there over the years. Tim also had a Sunday night residency at Ronnie Scott’s in the early 2000s, and even with him just playing a piano, his songs still really sound great.
The Whitlams last studio album, Little Cloud, was influenced by Tim’s time spent living in New York. The last recording I heard from them was a free CD, given away with an Australian Sunday newspaper, of the band playing live with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. I managed to get a copy via a contact in Australia.
Since then it’s been pretty quiet on The Whitlams front; Freedman released a solo album, Australian Idle, in 2011and the band have been gigging recently in Australia. As yet no new material has materialised.
I genuinely think The Whitlams are a truly great band and I urge anyone who hasn’t heard them to give this playlist a listen.
JUST 10 ESSENTIAL WHITLAMS SONGS
Their second single, Gough, also on the debut album, Introducing The Whitlams (1993)
I Make Hamburgers, the first single from the second album, Undeniably The Whitlams (1995).
Three from Eternal Nightcap (1997), Buy Now Pay Later, No Aphrodisiac, Melbourne.
Blow Up The Pokies, Thankyou (For Loving Me At My Worst), Made Me Hard from the fourth studio album, Love This City (1999).
Fall For You on Torch The Moon (2002)
Beauty In Me on Little Cloud (2006).
All of Richard’s ten selections can also be found on Truth, Beauty And A Picture of You: The Best of The Whitlams
The band’s name was chosen out of admiration for former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
Gough Whitlam (1916–2014) was the 21st Prime Minister of Australia, serving from 1972 to 1975.
At the 1998 ARIA (Australian Record Industry Association) Awards, Gough Whitlam presented the award for Best Group to The Whitlams. They also won Song of the Year and Best Independent Release for Eternal Nightcap.
Richard Warran lives in Haywards Heath, famed for being a rather dull but close to Brighton and London commuter town. He has a passion for music and travel sometimes combining the two and can often be found at gigs in the above two cities. Find him on Twitter @rickwarran1.