Aussie pub rock legends Boom Crash Opera have never stopped touring and with their inclusion on Good Things Festival this year are hitting a whole new audience.
Fronted by the enigmatic Dale Ryder, Boom Crash Opera crashed (see what we did there) onto the Australian pub scene in 1984. The songwriting partnership of Richard Pleasance and Peter Farnan was the engine room of the group, emerging from the ashes of new wave band Serious Young Insects (which featured Ryder and Farnan) with Pleasance joining to form the new act.
The band were a powerhouse, experimenting with different sounds but continually impacting the charts with impressive pop rock tunes. So you’ve heard of Boom Crash Opera but not sure what the songs are? Here’s your ten-track guide through the history of one of the great Australian bands.
A good start for Boom Crash Opera, Great Wall was their debut and highest charting single, hitting #5 in the charts and becoming their only top 10 ARIA hit. Are we the only ones that think they were listening to a bit of Midnight Oil around this time?
How do you follow up a top ten debut? With this banger, Hands Up In The Air. This great track hit #14 in the charts. It helped push the band’s self-titled debut album to gold status here in Australia and was the second of five singles that saw the band touring the record into 1988.
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One of the most iconic Aussie intros of the 80s, Onion Skin as the band shouts “Keep it in
Cut it out, kick it out”. We’d hate to pick a favourite, but this track is an undeniable banger that gave the band US success, reaching #8 on the US modern rock charts. For their second album the Midnight Oil influences gave way to a more Inxs sound and it did the business for the band.
The second single peeled from the (then forthcoming) album These Here Are Crazy Times was Get Out Of The House, another Boom Crash Opera classic. This one hit #24 in the ARIA Charts and set the scene for the release of the album that was to become the biggest of the band’s career and wedge itself into Australian classic albums lists forever, eventually hitting double platinum status.
The Best Thing was the third single from the record and missed the ARIA top 50. Over time though, it has become one of the band’s signature tunes, used for sporting matches and other public events. It’s still one of their most enduring radio songs.
It’s not often that a fourth single from an album impacts as hard as this, especially after so many album sales, but that’s exactly what happened with Dancing in the Storm. Easily the band’s most streamed song and most played on radio, this continued a dream run of hits for the band. The song was used in the 2002 Victorian election campaign for opposition leader Robert Doyle, giving it an unconventional sync that gave the song another push to the public and introduced the band to a new audience.
Founder and songwriter Richard Pleasance departed the band during the recording of the band’s third album Fabulous Beast. The first single from the album Bettadaze failed to make the ARIA top 40, but this followup In The Morning managed to sneak in at #36. The album didn’t hit the heights of its predecessor, but did manage an ARIA top 20 peak.
With Fabulous Beast disappointing commercially, the band took an unexpected and delightful turn, embracing electronic music on the lead single from their next album Gimme. The album was called Born and came in an ambitious double CD case with an empty slot for what was going to be their followup Born Again. Sadly, the album didn’t meet sales expectations and plans for Born Again were scrapped. The album is looked on fondly by fans however as Gimme and it’s successor Tongue Tied got great radio support and hold up well to this day. Perhaps Born was ahead of its time...
By this stage, Boom Crash Opera were on a commercial wane, despite continuing to release some great material. Pulling back from the electronic direction of Born, the band released one more studio album Gizmo Mantra, with Pleasance reuniting for songwriting with Farnan. Unfortunately none of the singles, nor the album charted, but were worth additions to the Boom Crash Opera canon.
The band have continued to tour and are renowned as one of Australia’s best live acts to this day.