15 seminal live performances from ABC’s Recovery

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15 seminal live performances from ABC’s Recovery

abc recovery music
Words by Mixdown Staff

Featuring TISM, Public Enemy, You Am I + more

For Aussie music lovers, nothing got much better than waking up (or kicking on) to watch Recovery on a Saturday morning.

Starting immediately after Rage wrapped things up around 9am, hosts Dylan Lewis and Jane Gazzo treated Australians to a smorgasbord of content that featured artist interviews, comedy sketches and of course, live music, winning over the hearts of an entire generation of young Australians with their onscreen antics and unique laissez faire approach to hosting the program.

This article was originally published July 10, 2020.

Read up on all the latest features and columns here.

Today, we’re digging even deeper into our ’90s nostalgia, getting stuck into a YouTube abyss to rediscover some of the best performances to ever air live on Recovery

The Avalanches – ‘Run DNA’

Before they revealed their seminal plunderphonics release Since I Left You and became one of the most fabled acts in all of electronic history, The Avalanches were considered by many to be just another Beastie Boys knock-off.

The Melbourne outfit’s appearance on Recovery in 1998 definitely supports the latter view, with the band’s vinyl-flinging antics, rapped verses, and tracksuit attire proving to be a hilarious far-cry from what their debut would bring to the table.

The Superjesus – ‘Down Again’

Only weeks after returning from the overseas recording sessions that birthed their monster debut album Sumo, The Superjesus took to the Recovery stage to perform their breakthrough tune ‘Down Again’.

This live performance proved to be a massive driver for The Superjesus in the early stages of their recording career, helping ‘Down Again’ reach a pretty solid #23 on the ARIA Charts and signalling the dawn of a new era for Australian alternative rock.

Voiteck vs. Honeysmack

Armed with a huge desk full of mixers, drum machines, synths and samplers, this clip sees Melbourne club stalwarts Voiteck and Honeysmack facing off against one another in an impromptu techno jam that probably rattled the speakers of many a television across the nation.

There’s no way this kind of shit would fly on Aussie TV these days – but it’s so, so sick.

311 – ‘Down’

Sure, 311’s blend of funk, alternative metal, rock and ska might be incredibly laughable by today’s standards, but this is the ‘90s we’re talking about.

This clip sees the Nebraska band donning their signature three-quarter shorts and slinging their guitars extra low for a remarkably fun rendition of their hit single ‘Down’ – if you look closely, you can even see acclaimed session drummer John Freese holding down the groove in the background.

TISM – ‘Whatareya?’

What the hell is going on here? ‘Whatareya?’ is a pretty stock standard TISM cut that sees the Melbourne electro-rockers dishing out expletives at every possible instance, but this Recovery performance takes their antics to a whole new level.

On top of dragging out a significant portion of the audience to get involved, TISM also enlisted the services of a live aerobics class to perform with, and there’s even a kid that gets thrown in the mix at one point. Total madness.

Jebediah – ‘Harpoon’

‘Harpoon’ still holds up today as one of Jebediah’s best tracks, and encapsulates everything that was great about Australia’s alt-rock boom of the late ‘90s.

This live performance from 1998 sees the baby-faced Western Australian group deliver an airtight version of the track to the ABC studios, with Kevin Mitchel’s soaring vocals making for one of the most memorable performances in Recovery history.

You Am I – ‘Heavy Heart’

“I’ve been watching so much TV/ I’m thinner than I should be / I’m like a waterlogged ball / That no one wants to kick around anymore.”

Armed with just an acoustic guitar and all of the conviction in the world, Tim Rogers brought a sombre mood to Saturday morning TV with his performance of ‘Heavy Heart’, hitting audiences right in the feelings with a tearjerking recount of post-breakup depression as they chowed down on their Weet-Bix.

Blink 182 – ‘Dammit’

A year before the release of the world-conquering pop-punk classic Enema Of The State, Blink 182 made a wildly popular appearance on Recovery, playing their two biggest singles from 1997’s Dude Ranch: ‘Josie’ and ‘Dammit’.

The energy of Hoppus, Barker and DeLonge in this clip might hint at the stars they were destined to become in the years to follow, but at the time, they really were just three young dudes having fun.

Green Day – ‘The Grouch’

It takes a lot for someone to out-troll Dylan Lewis, but if anyone proved to be capable of the job, it was Billie Joe Armstrong.

In this clip, the Green Day frontman interrupts the Recovery host mid-question and summons his bandmates to rush another band’s spot on the podium and perform a rowdy rendition of Nimrod cut ‘The Grouch’. The best part about this is seeing the other band involved in the clip looking so confused – no one in this video knows what’s happening at all, and it’s amazing.

Sonic Youth – ‘Wildflower Soul’

After wrapping up a run of shows down under in support of A Thousand Leaves, Sonic Youth made a visit to the Recovery studios to play the innocuous album cut ‘Wildflower Soul’.

This performance sees Thurston Moore assume lead vocal duties, with Kim Gordon joining him and Lee Ronaldo on guitar for a feedback drenched,  triple guitar face-melter. No bass? No problems.

The ABC blocked the video on copyright grounds, so anyway, here’s ‘Wonderwall’.

The Dandy Warhols – ‘Boys Better’

A year after the release of their mighty sophomore effort, The Dandy Warhols Come Down, Portland’s beloved indie rock outfit took to the ABC’s Ripponlea studios to deliver a red hot version of their single ‘Boys Better.’

Featuring a roaring flanger and some nifty synth bass work courtesy of Zia McCabe, this performance is considered by many Dandy fans as the definitive live version of ‘Boys Better’, and we’re inclined to agree with them here.

Silverchair – ‘No Association’

Around the release of Freak Show in 1997, Silverchair treated the Recovery audience to a ridiculously good performance of ‘No Association’ and proved once again what all the hype was about.

Despite performing to a relatively subdued band of onlookers, Daniel Johns absolutely thrashes his way through this tune, with his head-banging and vocal theatrics making for one of the best Recovery performances of all time.

Metallica – ‘Fuel’

Metallica, performing live on the ABC on a Saturday morning? Insane.

Reload might have been one of the band’s least remarkable albums in retrospect, but you can’t deny ‘Fuel’ is one of the better tracks to come out of this era, and Hammett’s guitar work in this version is off the chain.

Public Enemy – ‘Shake Your Booty / He Got Game’

There’s a lot of questions about this performance that still need answering.

Between the technical difficulties that botch ‘Shake Your Booty’, the hilariously weird interactions between Flavor Flav and Dylan Lewis, The Bomb Squad hulking around the studio wearing what looks to be replica costumes from Batman Forever and Chuck D just being cool as a cucumber and soaking it all up, Public Enemy’s appearance on Recovery might be the weirdest that the show ever got, and we love it.

Regurgitator ‘!* (The Song Formerly Known As)’

No ‘90s Australian list would be complete without making mention of Regurgitator.

Here, we get to see Quan and the boys dominate the ABC studios with a version of their signature Prince-lampooning track ‘!* (The Song Formerly Known As)’, featuring a keytar and one of the coolest live drum sounds I’ve ever heard on morning television.

While you’re here – catch up on Recovery on ABC’s website.