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Mondo Rock are an Australian rock band, most prominent in the early 1980s. The band was formed in late 1976 by singer-songwriter-guitarist Ross Wilson.

Wilson had been a prominent figure on the Melbourne music scene since he was a teenager in the mid-1960s and he had enjoyed great success nationally (and some success in America) in the early 1970s as the lead singer and principal writer of the hugely popular Daddy Cool. Following the first breakup of Daddy Cool in 1973, Wilson and long-time collaborator Ross Hannaford formed the shortlived Mighty Kong, which recorded one LP before splitting. This was followed by a reunion of Daddy Cool in 1974, but the group split for good at the end of 1975. Wilson's career was temporarily stalled by a dispute with his former label, Wizard Records, which prevented him from recording for several months. He returned to the music scene in late 1976 with the soundtrack to Chris Löfven's cult road movie Oz, which included Wilson's debut solo single "Livin' In The Land Of Oz".

Mondo Rock went through numerous line-up changes and it has reformed from time to time (including in April 2007). The original incarnation formed in late 1976 with Wilson on lead vocals, Peter Laffy on guitar, Greg Cook on keyboards, Mike Clark (bass) and Bob Bickerton (drums) but by early 1977 the lineup consisted of Wilson, Laffy, Ian "Willie" Winter (guitar, ex Carson, Daddy Cool), Barry Harvey (bass, ex Chain) and Trevor Courtney (drums, ex Cam-Pact), but Wilson disbanded this lineup in mid-1977.

The next version of Mondo Rock formed in Nov. 1977 with Wilson, Gunther Gorman (guitar), Tony Slavich (keyboards), Simon Gyllies (bass) and Iain McLennan (drums, ex Ariel), but Gorman left before the group started performing again and was replaced by jazz guitarist Chris Jones. Several other members came and went over the next year—Peter Laffy returned, guitarist Randy Bulpin was added. Slavich left (and was not replaced) shortly before Mondo Rock released its debut single "The Fugitive Kind" / "The Breaking Point" on Wilson's Oz label in August 1978 and it reached #26 on the national singles chart. Their debut LP Primal Park came out in late 1979 and yielded the singles "Love Shock", "Searching For My Baby" and "Primal Park", but McLennan contracted hepatitis just as the band was about to embark on a tour to promote the album, so he was temporarily replaced, first by Eddie Van Roosendael and then by veteran drummer and producer Gil Matthews (ex Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs) for the tour. Wilson again disbanded the group at the end of 1978.

In February 1980 Wilson launched a new version of the band (which also went through several lineup changes) and this proved to be its most successful incarnation. Mondo Rock rapidly became one of the top touring bands in the country and one of the most successful Australian chart acts of the period, scoring four consecutive Top 5 albums and a string of Top 40 singles—including three Top 10 hits—between 1980 and 1985.

The first version of the "new" Mondo Rock consisted of Wilson, Gil Matthews, guitarist Eric McCusker (ex Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band), bassist Paul Christie (ex-Kevin Borich Express) and James Black (now leading the house band on the popular Australian TV quiz show RocKwiz on SBS) on keyboards and guitar. This lineup recorded Mondo Rock's first major hit, "State of the Heart" (Oct. 1980), which peaked at #6 on the national chart. The A-side was written by McCusker, who contributed many songs to the band's repertoire, thereby taking some of the pressure off Wilson, who was at that time experiencing a bout of writer's block. Matthews left after the single came out and he was replaced first by Andy Buchanan and then by John James "J. J." Hackett, ex-Stars. Mondo Rock's next single "Cool World" (April 1981) was similarly successful, reaching #8.

This line-up recorded Mondo Rock's second LP Chemistry (July 1981), which reached #2 on the album chart the following month. The title track, released as the next single, reached #20 and it was followed by "Summer of '81", which got to #31. "State of the Heart" was also released in the USA although their American label Atlanticmarker felt that it was too long for radio and edited it for release there, much to the band's chagrin. Ironically, the song was a US Top 40 hit for Rick Springfield five years later, in a version that was almost identical to Mondo Rock's original recording.

Further success followed in 1982 with the release of their third LP Nuovo Mondo, which also reached #2, and yielded two more Top 40 hits -- "No Time" (#11) and "The Queen and Me" (#40). The next single, the haunting "In Another Love" (Feb. 1983) failed to chart but John Farnham subsequently recorded a version of the Ross Wilson-Gulliver Smith album track "A Touch Of Paradise" and it became an Australian Top 20 single when it was lifted from his hugely successful 1986 'comeback' album Whispering Jack.

Paul Christie left the group in Sept. 1982 and subsequently formed the all-star band The Party Boys; he was replaced by James Gillard. Concurrent with Mondo Rock's success, Ross Wilson scored another surprise hit during 1983 with the novelty song "Bop Girl", written for his then-wife Pat, and backed by Wilson and his former Daddy Cool bandmate Ross Hannaford. The song was a major hit in Australia, reaching the Top 5, and the music video for the song is notable for the presence of the young Nicole Kidman as an extra.

The new Mondo Rock lineup recorded their next album The Modern Bop in late 1983 and scored its biggest Australian hit in March 1984 with McCusker's "Come Said the Boy", a provocative tale about the loss of virginity, which was banned by many radio stations including Sydney's then top-rated 2SM. Despite this, it went on to become their most successful single, peaking at #2. The album featured two more hits, "Baby Wants To Rock" (#18) and the title track "The Modern Bop", which charted in some states but just missed out on making the national Top 40.

In 1985 Mondo Rock performed four songs for the Oz for Africa concert (part of the global Live Aid program) - "Cool World", "The Moment", "Modern Bop", "Come Said the Boy". It was broadcast in Australia (on both Seven Network and Nine Network) and on MTV in the US.. After signing to the Polydor label they released the compilation album Up To The Moment, which included two new singles; these did not make the Top 40 but the album was very successful, reaching #5 nationally in mid-1985.

By the time Mondo Rock released Boom Baby Boom in Sept. 1986 the lineup had changed again, now consisting of Wilson, Hackett, McCusker, Gillard, Andrew Ross (sax) and Duncan Veall (keyboards). Their popularity was by now beginning to wane, but they still scored a further two hit singles, "Rule Of Three's" and "Primitive Love Rites", the latter becoming a minor hit in some regions of the U.S.A. They made one further recording, the Aliens EP, in late 1987, but Wilson disbanded the group in early 1988 and recorded a solo album, The Dark Side of the Man, which produced the Top 40 single "Bed Of Nails".

1990 saw their last recording of new material as Mondo Rock, with the album Why Fight It, featuring Wilson and McCusker with a studio 'supergroup' that included former Beach Boys drummer Ricky Fataar and renowned American guitarist Waddy Wachtel. Three CD singles were released -- "Things Are Hotting Up", "I Had You In Mind" and "Soul Reason", but these did not chart and Wilson dissolved the group during 1991.

Mondo Rock has occasionally reformed, and they starred in the 2006 "Countdown Spectacular" concerts, which were seen by more than 100,000 people throughout Australia, performing a medley of "Cool World" and "Summer Of '81", and a full version of "Come Said The Boy".

Paul Christie is now the founding partner of Almost Famous [305002], a corporate teambuilding and events company.



Primal Park(1979)'01. "Question Time"02. "Down To Earth"03. "Primal Park"04. "Searching For My Baby"05. "Tell Me"06. "Toughen Up"07. "Down Down Down Down"08. "The Rebel"09. "Live Wire/The Mondo Shakedown"

Chemistry(1981)'01. Chemistry02. Trash03. Popular View04. State Of The Heart05. Moves06. Step Up Step Out07. Summer of 8108. Cool World09. Mondo Sexo10. We're No Angels11. War CryNuovo Mondo(1982)'01. No Time02. Up And Down03. The Queen And Me04. Mondomania05. A Touch Of Paradise06. Out The Window07. In Another Love08. Domination09. When Men And Women Come Out To Play10. Is It Any Wonder?11. Il Mondo Cafe*
  • Not included on LP

The Modern Bop(1984)'01. Lovers Of The World02. Come Said The Boy03. Happy Families04. The Modern Bop05. Take Me Away06. Baby Wants To Rock07. Flight 2808. Marina09. Cost Of Living10. In My House

Boom Baby Boom(1986)'01. Primitive Love Rites02. Boom Baby Boom03. Rule Of Threes04. Get To You05. Our Time06. Rise And Fall07. Do It Yourself08. Roman Holiday09. Let It Rain10. Under Lights

Aliens EP(1987)'01. A Woman Like You02. Aliens Walk Among Us03. I'm Free04. Primitive Love Rites (L.A Rhythm Mix)05. Working My Way Back

Why Fight It?(1990)'01. I Had You In Mind02. Why Fight It03. Keep The Motor Running04. Soul Reason05. There Will Be Some Changes06. Once You Get Me Started07. Love Sucks You In08. Winter Sky09. You Got It Coming10. Things Are Hotting Up


  • Chemistry, Chemistry 1981
  • State Of The Heart, Chemistry 1981
  • Summer Of 81, Chemistry 1981
  • Cool World, Chemistry 1981
  • No Time, Nuovo Mondo 1982
  • The Queen And Me, Nuovo Mondo 1982
  • A Touch Of Paradise, Nuovo Mondo 1982
  • In Another Love, Nuovo Mondo 1982
  • Come Said The Boy, The Modern Bop 1984
  • The Modern Bop, The Modern Bop 1984
  • Baby Wants To Rock, The Modern Bop 1984
  • Boom Baby Boom, Boom Baby Boom 1986
  • Rule Of Threes, Boom Baby Boom 1986
  • Primitive Love Rites, Boom Baby Boom 1986
  • Aliens Walk Among Us, Aliens EP 1989
  • I Had You In Mind, Why Fight It? 1990
  • Things Are Hotting Up, Why Fight It? 1990


External links

Mondo Rock official website

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