Australia is well known for its rich gambling history, and there have been some classic songs composed and sung by some of the most popular Australian bands and singers, which reference the gambling culture in Australia. We’ve compiled a list of the best Australian gambling hits and have included a clip of each of the songs. Take a trip down memory lane and bask in some of the greatest Aussie songs of the previous decades.
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The Jack, by AC/DC
A bit of AcaDaca to get things rolling. AC/DC, one of Australia’s most iconic and most successful hard rock bands, was formed by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. Their hit song, The Jack, tells the story of a woman who wrote a letter to Malcolm, suggesting he had given her a venereal disease (Gonorrhoea, also known as ‘the clap’).
Bon Scott, one of AC/DC’s lead singers, wrote the original and very explicit lyrics which were later toned down to metaphorical gambling lyrics when released on the TNT album. Check out the original and album releases below:
Playing To Win, by Little River Band
John Farnham wrote this hit when he was the lead singer of Little River Band, and it remains one of the most iconic sporting, gambling and women-wooing songs in Australian music history. It reached number 59 on the Australian Singles Chart, number 15 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart and number 60 on the Billboard Hot 100. Channel Seven featured the song as the anthem for the 1985 VFL season. Classic Farnham.
Blow Up The Pokies, by The Whitlams
A heartfelt and emotional song about the dangers of gambling, Tim Freedman (lead singer of The Whitlams) wrote the lyrics to this piano rock single with Greta Gertler after seeing the destruction that gambling had on The Whitlams base player, Andy Lewis. Lewis committed suicide in 2000 while The Whitlams were on tour in Canada. Blow Up The Pokies is the second song on the Love This City album which was released in 1999, and the single peaked at number 21 on the ARIA charts.
Life’s A Gamble, by The Radiators
An Aussie pub rock band formed in 1978, The Radiators were, and are still known for their “hard-hitting metal-pop anthems backed by a playful sense of humour” (according to Rock music historian, Ian McFarlane). Life’s A Gamble was an album the band released in 1984 which peaked at number 47 on the ARIA charts, and featured a catchy and subdued single also titled Life’s A Gamble. The band’s most popular songs were Coming Home, No Tragedy and Gimme Head, while Life’s A Gamble was a single which strayed from their typical style of music. The title says it all.
I Dream Alone, by Little River Band
Another Little River Band great, this song was released on the 1990 Get Lucky album, during the period when Glen Shorrock and Derek Pellicci made their returns to the band (after John Farnham departed). The song, regarded as adult contemporary and soft rock, reflects on childhood memories and rustic life. The chorus lyrics are as follows:
“I share my life with the immigrants and the ramblers,
I drink my wine with the middlemen and the gamblers,
I spend my time with schemers on the phone,
But when I dream, I dream alone”.
(I Dream Alone, by Glen Shorrock and Derek Pellicci)
Little River Band has enjoyed sustained success for decades, not just within the Australian music industry, but in the U.S. industry as well.
Notable mention: Working Class Man, by Jimmy Barnes
While there is no actual reference to gambling in the lyrics of the song, in the official music video which featured on Jimmy Barnes DVD titled “Hits”, there are a couple of clips of a man enjoying a game of poker with a group of mates. Barnes said the song was written about his audience – “staunch, honest people, who work and who care.” The song was the first single on the 1985 album For The Working Class Man, spent 14 weeks in the Australian charts and peaked at number five.
Did we miss any classic Aussie gambling hits? Let us know what you think of the list in the comments section below, and enjoy some of our best rock music from times gone by.
- Music we associate with gambling and betting
- Strangest gambling superstitions
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