It’s perhaps easy to forget just how big Mondo Rock were. Fun fact: They had more hit singles in the ’80s than Cold Chisel, Australian Crawl and Men At Work.
Mondo Rock were leading players in the glory days of Australian pub rock, but they always did things their own way. Writing about the band’s fourth long player, 1984’s The Modern Bop, Rolling Stone stated: “The album achieves the Mondo’s oft-quoted aim: ‘adult’ music that isn’t soft or easy-listening.”
“That was my original intention, I think,” Ross Wilson said. “That Mondo Rock should be a band to play music for big kids.”
Mondo Rock were a wonderful mass of contradictions. At the height of pub rock, their first Top 10 hit was a ballad – the timeless “State Of The Heart” (which recently turned up in the Oscar-nominated film Lion). Eric McCusker, the son of a nuclear physicist, wrote a song called “Chemistry”. And the band’s biggest hit, “Come Said The Boy” (“a pop classic”, according to legendary American record executive Clive Davis), was banned by Sydney’s then biggest pop station 2SM.
The Mondo Rock story started in 1976. Ross Wilson’s initial idea was to have temporary line-ups, and, indeed, many great musicians have been Mondo Rock members – more than 30 in all – including the classic line-up and current touring band, featuring Ross Wilson, Eric McCusker, James Black (a star of the RocKwiz Orkestra) and Paul Christie (who also had hits with The Party Boys).