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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Mixtures - 1996 - The Pushbike Song


The Pushbike Song/Call Me Do/Travelling Song/ I Wanna Go Home/Love Is Life/Oh Mr Jones/In The Summertime/Never Be Untrue/This Songs For You/Hobo's Hideaway/Daddy Brings Home The Bacon/Here Comes Love Again/Henry Ford/Hit Me On The Head/Fancy Meeting You Here/It Ain't Easy/Where Are You/Gotta Be A Free Man/Home Away From Home/Captain Zero


 The Mixtures were aptly named. Their decade-long career included some very notable successes, including major Australian and international hits, but the group really never developed a consistent musical style or image and, like so many of their contemporaries, the group was subject to repeated line-up changes in its later years.

Beginning as one of scores of 'beat' acts slogging it out on the Melbourne scene in the mid-60s, they gradually gained national prominence over the next few years. In 1970, now with a completely different line-up, The Mixtures scored two successive #1 Australian singlessingles, one of which also reached #2 in the UK, giving them the unique distinction of being the first Australian group to score an international hit with a song entirely written, recorded and produced in Australia.

By the time they split in 1976 The Mixtures' personnel list had changed several more times -- as had their musical style -- and their short-lived fame had passed. In the process, however, several very prominent performers passed through the ranks, drawn from acts as disparate as Cam-Pact, Axiom and Max Merritt & The Meteors, thus providing another interesting example of the intricate "family tree" connections between so many Australasian groups of this era. 

 According to historian Noel McGrath, the band had its origins in a chance meeting between Melbourne vocalist Terry Dean and Tasmanian-born bassist Rod De Clerk, who met while Terry was holidaying in Tasmania in 1965. Rod sought Terry out when he visited Melbourne a short time later and Terry took him to a dance where he was performing. It was here that Rod was introduced to guitarist Laurie Arthur, who had been a founder member of leading Melbourne band The Strangers. At the time, Laurie was 'subbing' in a group that included John Creech on drums and as the three chatted between sets they soon discovered that they shared similar tastes in music. They jammed together after the show and decided on the spot to form a group.

Rod moved to the mainland and after just one week's practice they decided to go full-time. The trio built up a solid following on the booming Melbourne dance circuit and became one of the fixtures of the scene there during in that transitional period. They quickly snagged a contract with EMI, for whom they recorded their first three singles. Their first, "Koko Joe" / "I've Been Wrong" (Sep. 1965) was another piece of good fortune -- the group was in the studio recording backing tracks (possibly for another artist -- Laurie Arthur was a seasoned session player) and in the downtime they cut two tracks of their own. EMI's executives heard them and were sufficiently impressed with the results to approve their release as the band's debut single on the HMV imprint. It sold well in Melbourne, but it made little impression elsewhere. It should be noted that commercial radio stations in Australia's capital cities each had their own charts at that time, the local scenes were quite insular, and it was comparatively rare for Sydney-based acts to chart in Melbourne, and vice-versa. 



The Mixtures' third HMV single "Music Music Music" / "Maria" was released in March 1967, at which point the group expanded to a five-piece with the addition of Dennis Garcia (organ) and Fred Weiland (guitar, also ex-Strangers). Soon after, it reverted to a four-piece -- which about the only thing that remained consistent for the rest of the band's career -- when Laurie Arthur quit performing to take over managing the group. In late 1967 Mick Flinn (ex Wild Colonials) replaced Rod De Clerk on bass. Dennis Garcia left at the end of the year, moving on to Andy James Asylum, and he was replaced by Idris Jones, who became the lead singer.

 The band worked consistently through 1968, becoming very popular on the Melbourne scene, but they released only one recordings during this period, a cover of The Four Tops' "Same Old Song" / "Never Trust In Tomorrow" on EMI's  Parlophone label.

Idris Jones was forced to leave the group because of illness in June 1969 and he was replaced for about nine months by noted singer-songwriter-guitarist Buddy England, a well-known Melbourne solo performer, a founding member of the permanent cast of Channel 0's famous '60s pop TV series The Go!! Show, and a latter-day member of The Seekers. 

 After signing to the CBS label, The Mixtures released two more singles, "Here Comes Love Again" / "Fancy Meeting You Here" (Oct. 1969), which charted in Melbourne, and "Ten Thousand Children" / "Call Me Do" (Mar. 1970). By the time the latter single appeared, Buddy England had left and Idris Jones had rejoined, along with Gary (Dick) Howard (ex-MPD Ltd) who replaced John Creech, the last original member.

In mid-1970 The Mixtures signed to a new Melbourne-based Fable imprint. Its owner, industry veteran Ron Tudor, had made his name as a producer and A&R manager for the W&G and  Astor labels, and had discovered both Diana Trask and The Seekers and signed them to their first record contracts with W&G in the early Sixties.

The Mixtures joined the Fable roster at a significant time. A few months before their first Fable single came out, the infamous 1970 Radio Ban came into force. The Ban had come about because the Australian commercial radio peak body, the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters (FACB), was locked in a rancorous "pay for play" dispute with major record companies. The FACB had balked at the labels' demand that commercial radio should pay a new 1 percent broadcast fee for their records, and when negotiations broke down the labels imposed a boycott which blocked commercial radio stations from playing any major Australian or British recordings. The ban lasted exactly six months, from 16 May to 16 October 1970. In retaliation for the Ban, radio stations refused to compile the all-important Top 40 charts.

Fable was one of several smaller local labels that had refused to participate in the boycott (a decision which would cost Ron Tudor dearly) but for a brief interval these small labels were given the rare opportunity to gain commercial airplay for their artists,free from competition by overseas acts, as radio stations scrambled for alternative programming to fill the yawning gap created by the Ban.

The Mixtures were one of several Australian bands who successfully exploited this window of opportunity. Several acts including The Mixtures cut their own versions of proven British hits that were not being played in Australia because of the Radio Ban. Sydney band Autumn was another, scoring a major Sydney hit with their version of Christie's "Yellow River". 

 During this time, Ron Tudor was being sent regular packages of new UK releases from London by his friend, former EMI house producer David McKay, and he optioned songs he thought would be suitable for his Fable acts. He had already scored a huge hit with the Liv Maessen version of Mary Hopkin's "Knock, Knock, Whos's There?", and when he offered The Mixtures "In The Summertime", a song that had recently been a UK hit for Mungo Jerry. the band jumped at the chance to record it -- although Idris Jones declined to sing on it, feeling it was too 'poppy', so bassist Mick Flinn performed the lead vocal.

Unhindered by any competition from the original, The Mixtures' version (backed by (b/w "Where You Are") shot to #1 in August that year, at the height of the Radio Ban, and it stayed in the charts for 23 weeks. Happily they were able to capitalise on this good fortune with the follow-up, a similarly breezy, honky-tonk-style original, "The Pushbike Song", co-written by Idris Jones and his brother Evan. It was an even bigger success, providing them with back-to-back #1 singles, and charting for an impressive 25 weeks. Significantly, Fable was also able to arrange a distribution deal with Polydor in the UK, where "The Pushbike Song" leaped into the UK Top 5, making it the first record entirely written, performed and produced in Australia to become an international hit. "The Pushbike Song" reached #2 in England the start of 1971 and stayed in the UK Top 50 for 21 weeks. It was also released by Sire Records in the USA, where it reached a creditable #44 on the Billboard Top 100. 

 Buoyed by the success of the singles, The Mixtures made the inevitable trip to England in January 1971. During this period they cut the tracks for their debut LP In The Summertime, which was begun at Armstrong's Studios in Melbourne and finished at Morgan Studios in London. By the time they arrived in the UK there had been more line-up changes -- Idris Jones left again, replaced by Greg Cook (ex Cam-Pact), and Mick Holden briefly replaced departing drummer Gary Howard.

 The Mixtures received good media exposure in the UK, including a cover story in New Musical Express, but the personnel changes continued. Cook and Holden both quit in March or April 1971, wanting to return home. The erstwhile Idris Jones, who happened to be in the UK at the time plugging his songs, was drafted back in to replace Cook, and Holden was replaced by noted drummer Don Lebler from the recently defunct 'supergroup' Axiom, who had split only weeks before the release of their second LP, which had been recorded with renowned American producer Shel Talmy.

 The Mixtures' next single "Henry Ford" / "Home Away From Home" (Jul. 1971) was only moderately successful in Australia (#29) and soon after its release Idris Jones left for good. His replacement was renowned singer-guitarist Peter Williams, who had been a key member of the legendary Max Merritt & The Meteors in the early Sixties and who had enjoyed even bigger Aussie success fronting chart-topping pop-soul group The Groove in the late Sixties. 


 This "new" Mixtures, now far removed from its beat-group origins, returned to Australia at the end of the year. They released two new singles, "Never Be Untrue" / "She's Gone Away" (Oct. 1971) and the cult favourite "Captain Zero" / "I Wanna Go Home" (Nov. 1971). "Captain Zero", co-written by Williams and Flinn, furnished the Mixtures with their third and last big Australian hit, reaching #5 in December and charting for 19 weeks. They headed home for a concert tour in November 1971, returning to the UK at the start of 1972, and although they made no further impression on the British charts, they reportedly made a good living on the club circuit there. During 1972, Fable issued an EP, The Mixtures and a compilation LP The Best Of The Mixtures (May). 


In May 1972 Chris Spooner replaced Mick Flinn, who eventually settled permanently in the UK. The Mixtures meanwhile signed a deal with the United Artists label, releasing two singles "I Dazzle Diane Easily" / "Found Out Where It's At" (Nov. 1973) and "Slow Train" / "My Home On The Murrumbidgee" (May 1974). The group, now comprising Williams, Weiland, Lebler and Spooner, subsequently returned to Australia and cut a new self-titled LP on the Harlequin label (distributed by Festival Records) and a new single, "Down Under Girls" / "My Neck Of The Woods" (Oct. 1974). Their next single, released in April 1975, was "Skateboard Jive" / "Come Together For The Games", but it was to be their last and the group folded sometime in 1976.
 Their second single was "Come On Out" / "Lose Your Money" (Dec. 1965). Late in 1966 Rod De Clerk left the group briefly, replaced by Alan "Edgell" James, but he rejoined in January 1967, just in time for their first national tour in early 1967. They gained valuable interstate exposure when they supported The Yardbirds, Roy Orbison and The Walker Brothers on the Kenn Brodziak-promoted "Big Show" tour, although Go-Set reported that there was a mishap after one the Melbourne shows when several guitars were stolen, including Laurie Arthur's Fender and a custom-made Gibson Les Paul that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones had loaned to Yardbirds guitarist Jimmy Page for the tour. Page had recently given up his lucrative career as one of England's top session guitarists to join The Yardbirds as their bassist, but was unexpectedly promoted to lead guitar in late 1966 after his predecessor Jeff Beck abruptly quit during a tour of the USA.

2 comments:

  1. Спасибо За Все Загрузки !Супер !!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Рад, что вы наслаждаетесь их

    ReplyDelete