Our top 10 Hoodoo Gurus songs list presents ten of the best songs released by one of the most enduring Australian rock bands of all time. Formed in 1981, Hoodoo Gurus received critical acclaim thanks to its impressive rockers that interlace diverse music genres. Specifically, the band’s blend of power pop, garage rock, and new wave sounds guided Hoodoo Gurus into becoming an international sensation.
Dave Faulkner remains the strongest pillar towards Hoodoo Gurus’ success, credit to his impactful songwriting skills and his masterclass vocal delivery. Over four decades in, Hoodoo Gurus has barely become a cliché in the rock ‘n’ roll scene thanks to its explosive energy with each of its new releases. Hoodoo Gurus might not have matched feats by Aussie bands such as AC/DC, The Easybeats, Cold Chisel, and The Bee Gees. However, its endured success over the years makes it a timeless act to follow.
Hoodoo Gurus’ Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
At the end of 1980, Faulkner was joined by The Victims’ drummer James Baker, The Scientists’ guitarist Roddy Radalj, and guitarist Kimble Rendall of XL Capris to form a new band. Initially, the foursome went under the moniker Le Hoodoo Gurus. The band went on to release its debut single, “Leilani,” in 1982. “Leilani” barely achieved mainstream success but its catchy tune helped the band gain quite a following.
Soon after the release of “Leilani,” the band adopted its new moniker Hoodoo Gurus. However, lineup changes came up due to creative differences leaving Faulkner and drummer James Baker as the only original Hoodoo Gurus members. The band was then joined by lead guitarist Brad Shepherd and its first-time bassist Clyde Bramley. Hoodoo Gurus went on to issue its debut studio album Stoneage Romeos in March 1984.
Stoneage Romeos was fairly received in the Australian mainstream, peaking at number twenty-nine on the Australian Albums Chart. The album missed featuring on the Billboard 200 by nine spots. Stoneage Romeos guided Hoodoo Gurus to its first commercial successful release after it was Gold-certified in Australia. The band’s debut single, “Leilani,” “Tojo,”’ “My Girl,” and “I Want You Back” are the best Hoodoo Gurus songs from the album.
Other Albums by Hoodoo Gurus
After a fairly successful debut LP, Hoodoo Gurus were ready to return stronger with their sophomore studio album. In March 1985, the band issued its second studio album, Mars Needs Guitars! The album remains Hoodoo Gurus’ best-selling record having been certified Platinum three times in Australia. Mars Needs Guitars! went on to peak at number five on the Australian Albums Chart.
The album also made it to the Billboard 200, rising to number one hundred and forty. “Bittersweet,” “Like Wow – Wipeout,” “Death Defying,” and “Poison Pen” are the top musical gems from this album. Mars Needs Guitars! competed fairly with other albums including Dekadance and Listen Like Thieves by INXS, Fundamental by Mental As Anything, and Red Sails in the Sunset by Midnight Oil.
Blow Your Cool! issued in 1987, marked the band’s third studio album. The album is Hoodoo Gurus’ highest-ranking release on the Australian Albums Chart, peaking at the second spot. This feat would later be matched by the band’s sixth studio album, Crank. Blow Your Cool! was a commercial success earning Platinum certification in Australia. This Gold-certified studio album also made it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and twenty.
Blow Your Cool! is home to some of the best Hoodoo Gurus songs including “Good Times,” “In the Middle of the Land,” and “What’s My Scene?” Outstanding rock albums issued in 1987 that gave Blow Your Cool! a run for its money include Diesel and Dust by Midnight Oil, Howling by The Angels, Man of Colours by Icehouse, and Crowded House’s eponymous debut album.
Hoodoo Gurus returned in 1989 with its fourth studio album, Magnum Cum Louder. The album was a commercial success, earning a Platinum certification in Australia. Magnum Cum Louder reached a peak position of number thirteen on the Australian Albums Chart. The album remains Hoodoo Gurus’ highest-charting LP on the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and one. “Come Anytime,” “Axegrinder,” and “Another World” are the most popular songs by Hoodoo Gurus from the album.
Kinky, issued in 1991, marked the band’s fifth studio album. The album reached number four on the Australian Albums Chart, gracing the Billboard 200 at a peak position of number one hundred and seventy-two. Kinky was a commercial success, earning Platinum certification in Australia. Additionally, this was the band’s last album to be Platinum certified. “Miss Freelove ’69,” “1000 Miles Away,” “A Place in the Sun,” and “Castles in the Air” are the best Hoodoo Gurus songs from Kinky.
Distinguished additional personnel featured on Kinky include Vicki Peterson of the American rock outfit The Bangles and Rob Younger of Radio Birdman, a band cited as an influence on Silverchair and The Hives‘ musical pursuits. Kinky received stiff competition from other Australian rock albums including Chisel by Cold Chisel, The Razors Edge by AC/DC, Woodface by Crowded House, X by INXS, Two Fires by Jimmy Barnes, and Rise by Daryl Braithwaite.
In 1994, Hoodoo Gurus issued their sixth studio album, Crank. The album was produced by Ed Stasium, who’s known for his successful works with Talking Heads, Living Colour, The Ramones, and Motorhead. Crank was a mainstream success, rising to the second spot on the Australian Albums Chart. “You Open My Eyes,” “The Right Time,” “Nobody,” and “Less than a Feeling” are the top songs by Hoodoo Gurus from this album. Crank was a fairly commercially successful release, earning Gold certification in Australia.
Blue Cave, issued in 1996, marked Hoodoo Gurus’ seventh studio album. The album was nominated for the Best Pop Release accolade in the 1996 ARIA Awards ceremony. However, it lost the award to the hit “Where the Wild Roses Grow” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Kylie Minogue. Other releases that had been nominated for the award include the album The Woxo Principle by Swoop, and hits “Come On” by Christine Anu and “Wasn’t It Good” by Tina Arena.
Blue Cave made it to number eighteen on the Australian Albums Chart. The album was Hoodoo Gurus’ last album to earn at least a Gold certification in Australia. “Down on Me,” “Big Deal,” “Waking Up Tired,” and “If Only…” are the best Hoodoo Gurus songs from the album. Since 1996, Hoodoo Gurus has issued three more albums including Mach Schau in 2004, Purity of Essence in 2010, and Chariot of the Gods in 2022.
Hoodoo Gurus’ Legacy
Hoodoo Gurus remains one of the most enduring Australian bands spanning over forty years in the music scene. While Hoodoo Gurus might have ventured into different music genres over the years, the band’s signature sound is a blend of power pop, pop rock, and garage rock sounds. In 2007, Hoodoo Gurus was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Other artists inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame the same day include Frank Ifield, Brian Cadd, Radio Birdman, Marcia Hines, Nick Cave, and Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons. Here we present the ten best Hoodoo Gurus songs of all time.
#10 – The Right Time
Ushering us to the top 10 Hoodoo Gurus songs list is the charming hit “The Right Time.” The song is among the top musical gems by the band featured on the album, Crank. “The Right Time” has Dave Faulkner taking on the lead vocals with guitarist Brad Shepherd singing background vocals.
This song features killer guitar riffs that outline Hoodoo Gurus’ excellence in the power pop genre. “The Right Time” made it to number forty-one on the Australian Singles Chart. Hoodoo Gurus performed this song at the ARIA Awards ceremony in 1994. This song was covered in 2018 by the Australian band The Screaming Jets.
#9 – Death Defying
Mars Needs Guitars! was an impressive release, to say the least! Thanks to songs like “Death Defying” the album was irresistibly amusing. Dave Faulkner cited “Death Defying” to be one of his favorite songs by the band. Faulkner wrote this song as a discourse about the HIV/AIDS calamity which took the lives of some of his friends back in the mid-80s. Dave Faulkner is joined by Clyde Bramley and Brad Shepherd on the vocals in this hit. “Death Defying” rose to position forty-three on the Australian Singles Chart.
#8 – Miss Freelove ‘69
Coming in at number eight on our ten best Hoodoo Gurus songs list is the upbeat hit “Miss Freelove ’69.” The song is among the most revered hits by the band from the album, Kinky. Singer-songwriter Dave Faulkner revealed that he penned this song after a night party at his flat. Apparently, Dave wishes to spend more affectionate time with a lady he just met at this party.
The song’s title and theme allude to the Free Love social movement of the ‘60s whose main aim was to set free sex and romance matters from state policies. This is also captured in this song’s lyrics where someone called the cops on Dave and his friends during this amorous party. However, the cops checked their badges at the door joining in the action. “Miss Freelove ‘69” made it to the Australian Singles Chart, peaking at number nineteen.
#7 – Like Wow – Wipeout
“Like Wow – Wipeout” is the second single off Hoodoo Gurus’ sophomore studio album, Mars Needs Guitars! Initially, the song was only recorded as a B-side as revealed by lead vocalist Dave. However, producer Charles Fisher fell in love with this hit and suggested that it be included in the album.
His idea paid off with “Like Wow – Wipeout” becoming a mainstream success. The song peaked at number fifteen on the Australian Singles Chart, making it the highest-charting hit by Hoodoo Gurus at that time. “Like Wow – Wipeout” was covered by the outfits Manual Scan and The Clarks.
#6 – My Girl
Number six on our top 10 Hoodoo Gurus songs list is the romantic hit “My Girl.” The song is among the top musical gems from the band’s debut studio album, Stoneage Romeos. This jangle pop hit was penned by the band’s lead vocalist Dave Faulkner and produced by Alan Thorne. “My Girl” is a love ode to all boy-girl love ballads from the ‘60s.
Faulkner revealed that the song was initially penned to be featured in a movie that was eventually never made. “My Girl” made it to the Australian Singles Chart, peaking at number thirty-five. The song also made it to number thirty-eight on the UK Indie Chart. The song was covered by the Australian alternative rock band Spiderbait.
#5 – Come Anytime
Magnum Cum Louder, the band’s fourth studio album, is home to the fifth pick of our ten best Hoodoo Gurus songs, “Come Anytime.” The song was penned by Dave Faulkner who cited it to be a romantic ballad alluding to an unromantic subject. Dave takes on the lead vocals as usual with backing vocals provided by guitarist Brad Shepherd and bassist Richard Grossman. “Come Anytime” was a mainstream success in Australia where it peaked at number twenty-seven on the Australian Singles Chart. The song also topped the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart. This ballad was adopted as the theme song for the TV comedy program, Thank God You’re Here.
#4 – Bittersweet
“Bittersweet” is one of the best Hoodoo Gurus songs from the band’s album Mars Needs Guitars! This song is the quintessential representation of the band’s excellence and musicianship in its sophomore album. “Bittersweet” finds lead vocalist Dave Faulkner giving us a taste of his sentiment-influenced lyrical content.
Thanks to songs like “Bittersweet” the band didn’t undergo a sophomore slump. The song rose to number sixteen on the Australian Singles Chart. “Bittersweet” was covered by the American alternative rock band Hole. Hoodoo Gurus’ guitarist Brad Shepherd played the guitars while singing backing vocals on Hole’s performance in 1999 Big Day Out.
#3 – I Want You Back
The third pick on our top ten Hoodoo Gurus songs list is the hypnotic hit “I Want You Back.” “I Want You Back” was the final single to be released for the band’s debut album, Stoneage Romeos. This ballad is among the best Hoodoo Gurus songs that balance pop rock and power pop sound influences.
Lead vocalist Dave Faulkner revealed that he penned the song in reference to the departure of Roddy Radalj, the band’s original guitarist. “I Want You Back” peaked at number sixty-eight on the Australian Singles Chart, rising to the eleventh spot on the UK Indie Chart. “I Want You Back” was covered by the pop-punk girl band The Spazzys.
#2 – 1000 Miles Away
“1000 Miles Away” is a fan-favorite track from the band’s fifth studio album, Kinky. The song was penned by Hoodoo Gurus’ lead vocalist Dave Faulkner who cited it to be an ode about emotional distance. “1000 Miles Away” went on to peak at number thirty-seven on the Australian Singles Chart. The song was adopted as the anthem by the squad of the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Canberra.
#1 – What’s My Scene?
Number one on our top 10 Hoodoo Gurus songs list is the alluring hit “What’s My Scene?” The song is the best track off the band’s third studio album, Blow Your Cool! “What’s My Scene?” is a power-pop ballad whose lyrics allude to a man in search of love. The man described in the song wishes to know a place he can fit in life and the person he can settle down with.
Singer Dave Faulkner mentioned in an interview that “What’s My Scene?” is his best Hoodoo Gurus song. His reason for selecting this track was its ability to capture the best of his songwriting attributes. “What’s My Scene?” is the band’s highest-charting song on the Australian Singles Chart, peaking at number three.
Feature Photo: Bratwurstdimsum, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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