Young Modern Celebrates 40 Years At The Flying Saucer Club
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Young Modern Celebrates 40 Years At The Flying Saucer Club




I remember when I was a long haired spotty pimple faced little tyke in the 70's and I was fascinated with the mysterious world of music. I didn't care about footy or cricket like the other kids. I would religiously tune into Casey Kasem's American Top 40 syndicated radio show on 3KZ over the weekend and write down this week's list of charts hits from the other side of the planet. I would meticulously list in my yellow exercise book: the chart position, the artist plus song title and if that song was going up or down the Top 40 charts. My favourite television shows was watching the fun antics of the prefab four, The Monkees and there was the groundbreaking Countdown on the ABC, featuring local artists.

Young Modern Celebrates 40 Years At The Flying Saucer Club
Photo credit: Chris Keating

When ROCKtober was still a thing, 3XY ruled the airwaves in those pre-FM radio days and this Amco V Knee flared jeans, platform shoe wearing little git would pop down to his local record store in High St, Thornbury and pick up his weekly MORE MUSIC 3XY TOP 40 SURVEY. I would collect and carefully study these flimsy coloured sheets of paper with intent. Which seven inch vinyl single would I purchase next, with my hard earned pocket money? Back then in my idyllic youth I truly thought, all you had to do was write a catchy hit song and the world would be your oyster.

HOW WRONG COULD I BE?

The music industry is littered with hundreds of thousands of bands that recorded brilliant songs but unless you are a music nerd like myself, you would have never have heard of these artists. Young Modern is one of these bands. When in the past I have I have asked my friends if they have heard of "Young Modern", the instant reply is how grouse that silverchair album is? "URRGGGHHH!", would be my exacerbated reply. Young Modern band doesn't even have a WIKI page devoted to it. How obscure is this band? Why does nobody acknowledge their greatness?

So who are Young Modern?

Hailing from Adelaide and fronted by an Irish expatriate John Dowler, they were formed in 1977. They certainly looked the part with their skinny tie, beaming smile look that predated The Knack's look and style. They would be massive two years later. Young Modern comprised of John Dowler on vocals, Andrew Richards on bass, Mark Kohler on drums and Michael Jones and Vic Yates (today going under the name of Wilson Rodgers) on guitar. Although Vic doesn't play with the band these days. They have been called Australia's first power pop band. They moved to Melbourne, recorded a single and then relocated to Sydney because their management company, Dirty Pool was based there. Was the Sydney move a mistake? The band had a very short lived history, as they broke up in June of 1979. Dowler's previous band Spare Change broke up in 1976 but they did posthumously release their album 'Lonely Suits' in 1979. Interestingly the first song on that Spare Change album was a song called "The Big Beat", which would become one of Young Modern's standout songs from their only album.


Interestingly, "The Big Beat" would resurface a third time on vinyl many years later 1981 when Missing Link Records would release an obscure compilation of unsigned Carlton band recordings titled 'Round And Round The Melbourne Club'. That little known album would also feature Paul Kelly's early band with Martin Armiger of Sports fame, The High Rise Bombers. This third recording of "The Big Beat" was by a band called Parachute and that were made of members of Spare Change with Rick Grossman. Rick is today well known as the paisley shirt wearing bass player for the Hoodoo Gurus but he is also known for his five year stint with Divinyls. As well as being in Matt Finish, The Bleeding Hearts, Eric Gradman's Man and Machine, Ron Peno's early punk band The Hellcats and many more but I do digress.

As I got older, I stopped going to my local record shop, as the import records shops in the city became my only interest. I saw Keith Glass and David Pepperell's Archie 'n' Jugheads Import Record Store on Collins Street become Dr Peppers and later on Missing Link Records in Flinders Lane. 3RMT-FM (later to become 3RRR-FM) was the only radio station I listened to and the new DIY punk scene meant that local bands could independently release singles. These songs would get some airplay on some of my favourite radio shows on 3RMT-FM, that I would record on cassette. It was an exciting times of new music to be discovered in this pre-internet age. These independent songs would never get any commercial radio airplay and it was very rare that these indie bands would get featured on Countdown. One of the band that came booming over the FM airwaves was the Young Modern single on Top Gear records, "She's Got The Money"/'Automatic". The Sports singer Stephen Cummings produced that double A-Side single. With it's hook laden catchy pop songs, it was definitely not punk rock but it was one of the bands that got me into power pop back in the day. I would seek out import recordings of jingle-jangle sounds by The dB's, The Raspberries, Big Star, The Records, The Shoes, Flamin' Groovies and more. It was certainly interesting times, where I was listening to everything from punk, dub, new wave, synth pop, krautrock, ockerbilly and more.

Young Modern - She's Got The Money - I Want To Be Your Birdman @ The Flying Saucer Club, Elternwick (9th Dec 2017) from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.

NB: Captured on an iPhone

Young Modern - Automatic @ The Flying Saucer Club, Elternwick (9th Dec 2017) from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.


A couple of years later after purchasing that double A-side single from Missing Link Records, the band was no more but their 'Play Faster' album would finally come out. Don't expect to pick one up at Brashs, as only a handful of imported stores would stock it. I never saw the band play live but this album was a ripper. Insert that boring cliche here: All killers, no fillers! Standout songs were the melodic "Red Dress On", "Sportsgirls" and the prophetic "Countdown" with it's "crushes my heart" lyric, as it was the hit making TV show that the band would never appear on, as they didn't exist anymore. “Play Faster” would be reissued in 2005 by Aztec Music with some extra live cuts. On the strength of that renewed interest, the band would reform in 2007 and release another album called "How Insensitive", tour a little bit and release a live album titled "Live At The Grace Emily 22.12.2010".

Young Modern - Red Dress On @ The Flying Saucer Club, Elternwick (9th Dec 2017) from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.


Young Modern - Sportsgirls @ The Flying Saucer Club, Elternwick (9th Dec 2017) from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.


Young Modern - Countdown @ The Flying Saucer Club, Elternwick (9th Dec 2017) from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.


John Dowler had some success with his more country sounding band, The Zimmermen in the late 80's. Young Modern would perform their signature indie hit single "Don't Go To Sydney" tonight at The Flying Saucer Club, with Michael Barclay assisting on back up vocals, while shaking a tambourine, Davy Jones style. It was an unexpected but thrilling moment for this little music nerd.

Young Modern - Don't Go To Sydney (Zimmermen) @ The Flying Saucer Club, Elternwick (9th Dec 2017) from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.


I do not know why Young Modern are not revered these days. Maybe it was bad timing by releasing their recordings, during the volatile time when punk rock music was the only music getting all of the media attention? Maybe an appearance on Countdown singing "Countdown" could have made them crossover into the big time. Maybe it is because they are no longer "young" or "modern". They will never get a mention on Triple M and I have never seen "Play Faster" listed on any Top 100 Aussie Album lists. It is such a shame because in my heart, they are truly one of the great innovative Australian bands of that era.

Celebrating their 40th Anniversary at The Flying Saucer Club in Elsternwick was a joy to experience, on a weekend when half of Melbourne were at Meredith. Young Modern have regrouped and re-energised these classic power pop songs for a group of real Australian music lovers in the know. Thank you Young Modern and please play faster and more often.

Young Modern - On Top Of The World @ The Flying Saucer Club, Elternwick (9th Dec 2017) from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.


Young Modern - Baby You Lied @ The Flying Saucer Club, Elternwick (9th Dec 2017) from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.


Young Modern Celebrates 40 Years At The Flying Saucer Club

Our complete photo gallery featuring Young Modern and Ash Naylor & The Triads, is being hosted on our sister music website, GigBill:

Young Modern Celebrates 40 Years At The Flying Saucer Club
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