Monday, 20 June 2016

Jeff St. John - 1974 - Live FLAC

St. John's Chariot/I Wanna Be A Survivour/Teach Me How To Fly/Levon/Jailhouse Rock/Children Of The Storm

 Jeff St John was named Jeffrey Leo Newton when he was born in 1946, and grew up in Sydney as the only child of his linesman dad Leo and his mum Carmel, a secretary. Jeff was diagnosed at birth with spina bifida, a congenital disability that causes malformation of the spine and resultant posture and walking difficulties. For much of his youth, Jeff walked with a caliper on his right leg, and underwent numerous painful operations. But the kind of tenacity to overcome this affliction that Jeff has maintained throughout his life, first became evident in his formative years. 

Aged just 8, Jeffrey first performed in public in a kids' talent quest on Sydney's radio 2GB. By age 15 he had secured a guest spot on Channel Nine's TV teen talent showcase, Opportunity Knocks, hosted by Desmond Tester, and he appeared regularly on the show between 1961 and 1963.

A couple of years afterwards, by this time almost constantly supported by crutches because of his worsening condition, Jeff joined forces with an established Sydney blues-rock outfit called The Syndicate who he met by chance at the Sydney Musicians Club in early 1965. With members including guitarist Peter Anson (from legendary Sydney garage-R&B monsters The Missing Links) The Syndicate with Jeff on board soon evolved, via The Wild Oats, into The Id (named after the popular Johnny Hart cartoon strip The Wizard of Id), with Jeff also adopting the stage name he has used ever since.

This powerhouse band quickly became a leading attraction in Sydney with a long-term residency at the Here Disco in North Sydney, and also made inroads in the Melbourne scene, playing at the famous Thumpin' Tum in the inner city) with its powerful, brass-augmented repertoire and Jeff's rich and soulful vocals. Jeff St John & the Id's reputation as one of the country's top R&B bands also earned them a well-received support gig on the 1967 Yardbirds, Roy Orbison and Walker Brothers package tour of Australia.

On record, Jeff and The Id are probably best remembered for their scorching, brass-laden smash single, "Big Time Operator", which featured Aussie sax legend Bob Birtles heading the horn section. The single reached #7 in Sydney and a respectable #12 in Melbourne in January 1967, and the recording sessions at Festival in Sydney were even photographed for a special feature in Go-Set. But this was the culmination of a series of accomplished 45s which, established Jeff & the band's credentials.

Their debut 1965 single "Lindy Lou" / "Somebody To Love", was a pleasant R&B number which gave only a sight hint of the vocal prowess that Jeff would unleash on later releases. It came out on the Spin label and was followed in early '66 by "The Jerk" / "Take This Hurt Off Me". Further Spin Singles during the year mined the soul-blues vein the band had forged, such as the Leadbelly chestnut "Black Girl".

Then came their hugely successful cover of the Hayes-Porter-Jones number "Big Time Operator", and all seemed set for a successful future for The Id. They recorded a fine album in March 1967, called Big Time Operators, (together with an extremely rare EP of the same title, culled from the LP), and in April issued a final single called "You Got Me Hummin'" b/w "Watch Out". The album was a good representation of the Id's Stax/Atlantic styled stage repertoire, but was not the strong seller that was the hit single suggested it might become.
 Then, suddenly and inexplicably, Jeff parted ways with The Id. They continued without Jeff, playing regularly at underground dances and events, including many 'happenings' organised by the lightshow/ underground film collective Ubu. They also gained notoriety as the first Australian pop group to be busted for possession of cannabis, and Ubu organised a benefit gig for them in 1968.

Jeff meanwhile put together an entirely new band, Yama (a Hindi word meaning 'mere mortals'). The lineup was again drawn from other successful groups of the time -- bassist Virgil East from from Python Lee Jackson, drummer Peter Figures from Throb, along with Ross East on guitar, who would continue to work with Jeff for some time thereafter. Yama folded prematurely around May 1968 after issuing just one single for the Spin label, "Nothing Comes Easy", an elaborately-produced, up-beat , progressively styled, yet surprisingly commercial tune written by St John and Figures,

Soon afterwards, St John underwent a series of complicated, make-or-break operations that unfortunately did not achieve the desired outcome, leaving him wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life. Undeterred, Jeff returned to live performance after a lengthy recuperation, and actually transformed his liability into his own trademark, executing 'wheelies' and pirouettes across the stage as he sang! 

St John unveiled his new band, Copperwine (aka Jeff St John's Copperwine), in early 1969 with low-key dates in Perth, before returning to Sydney. Copperwine soon commanded a rabid following in that city's fast-developing 'head' scene. Around the time of the new band's formation, guitarist Ross East was also invited to join the revised Masters Apprentices line-up by Jim Keays, but he turned it down, opting to stay with Jeff. 

Aided by East and Peter Figures, plus Alan Ingram on bass and keyboardist Barry Kelly (from Marty Rhone's Soul Agents), St John wowed punters at the Ourimbah "Pilgrimage For Pop", Australia's first major outdoor rock festival, hedl at Ourimbah, NSW at the end of January 1970. The band's dynamic repertoire mixed quality prog-flavoured group originals with powerful renditions of Sly & the Family Stone's funk classic "Sing A Simple Song" (a stage fave for many Australian acts of the time including Southern Comfort and The Affair), a storming version of The Temptations' psych-soul masterpiece "Cloud Nine" and Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home."

This body of songs was captured by producer Pat Aulton in superb that remains one of the most accomplished and musically adventurous long players of the time. The punningly-titled Joint Effort won considerable critical acclaim, but failed to generate significant sales. A similar fate befell the great single lifted from the album, "Cloud Nine" / "Days To Come" (Feb. 1970). An EP, Sing A Simple Song, which featured four selections from its parent album, came out in May 1970.

In reptrospect, Joint Effort reveals at least three truths -- the album was one of Festival Record's most consistent sellers for many years, it's a fine artefact of what was musically going on with OzRock in this heady and fertile time, and it documents what a fine band Copperwine was and provided conclusive proof that Jeff is one of the best rock vocalists this country has ever produced.

The musicianship of the band, particularly that of East and Kelly illustrated the embarrassment of riches scattered among Australian groups at this time. Original band-composed collaborations on the LP include the reflective "Fanciful Flights" (compiled on Raven's 2-CD compilation Golden Miles: Australian Progressive Rock, 1969-1974), the jazz-tinged instrumental "Any Orange Night" and the ensemble piece "You Don't Have To Listen". The towering opening track, a surging, organ-driven cover of The Temptation's "Cloud Nine", showed off Jeff's commanding soul stylings, superbly backed by a power-drive performance from Copperwine that, frankly, puts the original in the shade.

                                                        Jeff onstage with Bo Didderly

Another single, issued on Spin in November 1970, fared extremely well. The smoothly confident, organ-led cover of Rotary Connection's "Teach Me How To Fly" (featuring a berserk guitar solo from East, and some very tasty bass-drums interplay) propelled the band to #12 in Melbourne and a very encouraging #3 Sydney chart placement. St John's dazzling vocal performance on this record is probably the main reason why.

An 'insane” (as Jeff puts it) schedule of touring, concentrated in the eastern states, sustained Copperwine throughout 1970-71. Noted soul-blues singer Wendy Saddington (formerly of James Taylor Move and Chain) joined as co-lead vocalist in May 1970 and made her recording debut with the band (without St John though) on the intriguingly laid-back, bluesy album Wendy Saddington and Copperwine Live, recorded at the Wallacia Rock Festival in January 1971. By this time, too, former Amazons and  Dave Miller Set  member Harry Brus had replaced Alan Ingram on bass. The Copperwine/Saddington live album was scheduled for re-release on CD as part of Festival's reissue program, but the entire reissue project was scrapped after the acquistion of Mushroom Records. Festival's rapid financial decline after 2002 led to its closure in late 2005, and the entire Festival-Mushroom archive was sold to the American-owned Warner Music group soon after.
Although Saddington had departed Copperwine by February 1971, the group continued to tour relentlessly, with Jeff at the helm. Another major event for the band in 1971 was its participation in the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds. The group, with St John in ultimate form, put on a commanding show, performing a stunning version of the Leon Russell-penned "Hummingbird", but they finished third behind Fraternity and Sherbet),

Hummingbird" (backed by Derek & The Dominos' Keep On Growing) became the next Copperwine single, which was released in August on Festival's new progressive subsidiary, Infinity and it was a moderate chart success. Early in the year they recruited Glyn Mason (ex-Chain, Larry's Rebels) and this lineup performed at the Mulwala Festival near Albury in NSW in April 1972. Soon after, Jeff split from Copperwine, but the band continued on for some time, with Mason taking over as lead vocalist.

Seeking what he saw as a more sympathetic vehicle for his singing and songwriting, Jeff formed a touring outfit, The Jeff St John Band, featuring favoured sticksman Peter Figures, and the keyboard talents of the late, great Tony Ansell who, sadly, died in November 2000. Tony was a renowned composer, teacher and session player with many well-known TV themes to his credit, and he was also a member of the all-star studio session band that played on Peter Dawkin's concept LP Star Suite in 1974, and on Richard Clapton's breakthrough single Girls On the Avenue in 1975.

In October 1972, Jeff issued his first solo single, "Yesterday's Music". Jeff and band toured extensively during '72, supporting acts as diverse as Gary Glitter, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Capping an extraordinary year, which also saw the release of a Spin compilation album, The Best Of Jeff St John, Jeff was awarded the accolade of 'Most Outstanding Vocalist of the Year'.

By mid-1973, beset by personal upheavals, disillusionment and continuing health problems, Jeff decided to throw in the towel and head off to the UK. His farewell concert was a gala event staged at the Sydney Opera House, with the St John Band augmented by friends including Vince Melouney, John A. Bird and Ace Follington. In May 1974, Infinity issued an album of the concert, Jeff St John Live, while Jeff was playing a handful of low-key gigs in London. He returned to Australia in August that year, to plan his next move.

On his return, Jeff formed a new backing band, Red Cloud, and his new single "Mr Jones" / "Acapulco Lady" was released in May 1975. Produced by Martin Erdman and arranged by ex-Blackfeatherguitar-wiz John Robinson, the single was a minor sales success. It was followed up in October by another 45, utilising the same production/arranging team, "Blood Brother" (b/w "Reach Out And Touch Me"). Jeff and Red Cloud maintained a heavy touring schedule during 1975-76, and the singer continued as a popular live draw.

Jeff was the first Oz artist to sign with US imprint Asylum (whose roster included The Eagles, Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt) and he released a clutch of impressive singles for the label, capped by his welcome return to the national Top 10 during early 1977 with his scorching version of the Frankie Miller-Andy Fraser track "Fool In Love", a recording which must surely rate as one of the greatest soul records made anywhere, anytime, and must surely rank as one of Jeff's very finest vocal performances. A fresh (and typically thorough) Glenn A. Baker retrospective compilation, Survivor 1965-1975 was released in late 1977.

Jeff continued to record and perform live through the late 70s and into the early 80s, producing some quality rock performances, but in 1983, at the age of 37, he announced his retirement. He made a memorable farewell appearance on Donnie Sutherland's late night chat show, After Dark, which made it clear that he was having problems at the time. Following this, Jeff stepped away from the limelight for many years as he struggled to overcome his personal demons. Having survived the ups and downs of an illustrious but often tempestuous career, Jeff was philosophical when in 2000 he told Who Weekly:

 "The madness, the speed at which we lived ... it's amazing any of us survived. All I can put my survival down to is God had reasons for me to hang around. Drug dependency -- it was an accepted part of what we did -- isn't a place I'd suggest anyone go to. I lost a bunch of friends because they got it wrong."

In the late 1990s Jeff relocated to Perth and in 1999 an old friend, drummer Ace Follington coaxed Jeff up onstage at Clancy's Fish Pub, Fremantle. The singer relished the chance to wield a mic again:

"I'd been divorced from singing for so long, I'd lost sight of the fun involved."

That one-off performance led to a regular solo spot at Clancy's, the creation of an all-star backing group, Jeffrey St John & The Embers, and a brand new, album, self-deprecatingly titled Will The Real Jeff St John Please Stand Up?. Released in 2001. It is not a re-hash of Jeff's old style ('I'd feel was a parody of myself'); instead, Jeff has delved into the music of the '30s and '40s, performing swing standards with a rock treatment:

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Lee Conway - 1971 - Applewood Memories

People/City Boy Country Born/Mothers And Sons/The Morning After Josie Said Goodbye/ Why Did It Have To Be Me/Georgetown/Robertsville/The House That Love Built/Lucas Marsh/The Other Man/That's As Close As I Can Get To Loving You/Love And Little Joe/ Something New/People

Born March 10th 1944 in war-torn Poland, Lee’s family emigrated to Australia when he was three. They settled in Fitzroy, one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs, as part of a large post-war influx of european migrants that displaced the area’s traditional working-class inhabitants. Early 1950s Fitzroy was a rough place, regarded at the time as a slum, the state government cleared large tracts of housing to erect pristine and soulless towering commission apartment blocks. The young Lee had fallen in with a disreputable crowd, and his fearful parents decided to move south of the Yarra river (far enough away that Lee couldn’t ride his bike back to Fitzroy).

Now resident in Aspendale, Lee had his first real exposure to music, milling around the local milk-bar on Sunday afternoons and breathing in Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. Soon Conway discovered the Mordialloc Life Saving Club, a wildly popular local dance venue and home to rockers Bobby Cookson And The Premiers. Accordionist Stan Azzopardi taught Lee the tub bass and he joined the group for a brief time. It was also then that Lee first heard Johnny Cash, an elemental simplicity and sound that struck Conway deeply.

 As one of The Premiers, Lee played to thousands of delirious kids at the Malvern and Springvale Town Hall gigs. Conway soon left the band though, and by 1967 was managing The Laurie Allen Revue, with a busy concert, television and recording schedule. But he tired of the showbiz grind, and decided to get into…the trucking business.

Lee bought a truck and started to ship freight, on long-hauls and overnighters, on dusty desert highways and parched interstate blacktop. Burning asphalt in his rig, Lee heard a striking new voice over the radio – Lee Hazlewood. The moustachioed maverick’s duets with Nancy Sinatra (‘Sand’ and ‘Jackson’) entranced Conway’s ear, and on a layover in Adelaide Conway eagerly snapped up a cassette tape of the pair.

Lee soon found himself spending more time in Adelaide and sharing a house with Colleen Hewitt and Doug Ashdown. The house was next door to Gamba Studios, established by Le Mans racing driver and Penfold’s Wine heir Derek Jolly. Jolly was a progressive, colourful character and had an open door policy, inviting musicians to experiment in his state-of-the-art studio. He also invested in a Futuro House, installed the first Moog Synthesiser Mark III outside of the U.S.A. and collaborated with Dutch ‘musique-concrete’ maestro Henk Badings.

 It was in this studio that Conway cut his first demos (one of them – John D. Loudermilk’s ‘Half Breed’ – is released on Lee Conway: I Just Didn’t Hear (The Early Roads 1969-1973) for the very first time) and then progressed to record his first 45 (produced by Jimmy Stewart), the May 1969 issued ‘Fine White Stallion/Forty Coats’. The gentle folksy jazz of ‘Fine White Stallion’ implores the listener to depart on a whimsical and etheric escapade, while ‘Forty Coats’ charmingly describes an eccentric naturist and drifter who left society behind when his beloved left him heartbroken. A few months later Lee cut his next single, the rugged and romantic roaming testosterone fantasy ‘Wanted Man’ and it was issued in early 1970. Conway had copped the song from Bob Dylan (via Johnny Cash’s ‘At San Quentin’ LP). Poet, recording artist and future ‘shock-jock’ John Laws featured Lee’s 45 on heavy daytime rotation and it became a chart hit. Lee Conway was on his way.

A flurry of activity followed – 1970 saw two more 45s released (in May and December respectively): ‘Jody And The Kid/The Other Man’ and ‘Something New/Love And Little Joe’, all on the Adelaide based Sweet Peach label. Conway made numerous live and television appearances to promote the releases – performing in Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, Townsville, Hobart and other centres (and on the small screen amid appropriately atmospheric sets on ‘Hit Scene’ and ‘Happening ’71’).

Lee’s first LP also hit the shelves around this time – ‘Adultery’ – a combination of duets (with Ann Irwin), originals and judicious covers. ‘You’d Better Sit Down Kids’ was a reflective and mournful divorce lament, while ‘Lovers Such as I’ came across as a mildly trippy outtake from a Dean Martin/Lee Hazlewood love child.

By now the schedule had become relentless and 1971 saw the release of the titular 45 ‘I Just Didn’t Hear’, a masterpiece of masculine introspection and self-examination. Along with studio musicians Doug Ashdown, Kevin Johnson (and producer Jimmy Stewart), Conway crafted the perfect distillation of mood, pedal steel riffage and anthemic embittered regret. Conway’s television performance of ‘I Just Didn’t Hear’ on ‘Happening ’71’ reached the very heights of roughhewn Antipodean Gothic Noir.

 Soon after, the ambitious quasi-conceptual country LP ‘Applewood Memoirs’ was released (on Sweet Peach domestically and Ember in the U.K). Home to grand swamp narratives like ‘Love And Little Joe’, windswept epics of failed urban affluence such as ‘Mothers And Sons’ and the barren ejected material aspirants of ‘The House That Love Built’, the album was a triumph of poetry, performance and keen-eyed arrangement. Lee as a burly outback Bobbie Gentry, painting timeless, intimate arcs and vivid narratives.

Conway toured locally with, and befriended, Jerry Lee Lewis (who later took Lee on a house visit to Elvis) and did an extensive set of dates in the U.K. with Slim Whitman in October 1971 (where he was billed as ‘Australia’s Number One Country Singer!’), playing headline shows at Wembley and the London Palladium.

On an extended stint in the U.S. (drumming up interest and T.V. appearances) Lee wrote the bulk of his next album, ‘The Stories We Could Tell’. Another epic song-cycle of melancholic, finessed arrangements, alienated wanderers and hard-scrabble unfortunates – the LP was recorded at A.T.A. Studios in Sydney and produced by Denis Whitburn. It was recognised by the Australian Federation of Broadcasters as album of the year. Opening track ‘Coalmine’ bounces from stringed jig to coal-dusty lament, as the smooth gloom of ‘Lonely Life To Live’ and the cavernous ‘While The City Sleeps’ are radiant highlights.

As the 1970s blossomed, every door opened for Lee, his singles charted in the U.S, he performed for the Queen and landed his own prime-time T.V. show at home nationally on Channel 9 (‘Conway Country’) that ran for years. The former real-life trucker, cut trucker albums and country-pop crossover hits. On Lee Conway: I Just Didn’t Hear (The Early Roads 1969-1973) you get to hear those affecting early sides – perhaps eclipsed in the popular consciousness by later years of glitter and glitz – yet vital, disarmingly assured and singularly poetic.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Frieze - 1971 - Feelings

Feelings/Young Man's Lament

Frieze was a curious sidetrack in the continuing careers of Beeb Birtles and Daryl Cotton, who came to fame in the late Sixties as members of Zoot. After Zoot split in 1971 lead guitarist Rick Springfield launched his solo career and headed off the United States, where he eventually settled permanently. Cotton and Birtles were approached through their management by a Melbourne advertising agency. One of the agency's national accounts was the clothing company, Frieze Brothers' Suits, who wanted to employ a pop group to help promote their products. On his website, Beeb recalled the fateful meeting at the offices of the Australian Management and Booking Organisation (AMBO), where the agency execs pitched the idea to them:

"They wanted Darryl and me to form another group which they wanted to call Deep Frieze. The gimmick was that they wanted every guy in the band to be named after a type of material, meaning cloth material. So obviously Darryl Cotton was fine but they wanted me to call me Terry Lean and I was to have a brother called "Crimp" (as in terylene and crimplene)."

 So we're sitting there thinking, hang on, we've already been through "Think Pink - Think ZOOT" and these guys are wanting us to do a similar, if not worse, thing. We promptly told them that to pursue this kind of idea, they would get laughed out of the country. Instead we talked them into doing a duo using just Darryl and myself and calling ourselves Frieze."

 With financial backing from Frieze, they bought a station wagon, a sound system and a tape recorder, which they used to provide pre-recorded backing for their shows and, of course, they were kitted out with a wardrobe of Frieze suits. They performed mostly in shopping malls, performing songs while male models showed off the latest Frieze suits. They played popular hits of the day including songs by Crosby, Stills & Nash and Neil Young and they also did an Everly Brothers medley. During the latter stages of the group, they drafted in ex Brisbane 4-piece Burke & Wills as their backing group.

Frieze lasted almost exactly one year, from June 1971 to June 1972. Their first single, a cover of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's "Feelings" (Sep. 1971), came out on on Robie Porter's Sparmac label and managed to scrape into the lower reaches of the Melbourne chart. They were then signed up by the newly established Australian division of Warner Brothers Records.

Frieze recorded two singles for Warner which were released during 1972, but neither appears to haev made any impression on the charts. Frieze's first single for Warner had Daryl's "Try Yourself" on the A-side, backed by one of Beeb's first recordings as a songwriter, "You and I". The third and last Frieze single featued two siongs by Daryl -- the mawkishly-titled "Why Do Little Kids Have To Die", backed by "Jimmie and Jessie". 

 The duo also recorded a full album, titled 1972 B.C. It was produced by Brian Cadd; contrary to the information in Ian McFarlane's Encyclopedia, the LP did not feature Burke & Wills; the album lineup included several of the same musicians who had recently worked with Cadd on Russell Morris' acclaimed Bloodstone LP -- Cadd on keyboards, with guitarist Phil Manning (Chain) and bassist Barry "Big Goose" Sullivan (Chain), drummer Ray Arnott (Spectrum, Mighty Kong), session guitarist Charlie Gould and renowned jazz and session flautist/saxophonist Graham Lyell.

By mid-1972 Birtles had grown tired of the gimmicky act and he told Cotton and manager Jeff Joseph that he was quitting, so the duo split; in July Cotton left for the USA, where he spent several years, becoming part of the co-called "Gum Leaf Mafia". Meanwhile, Jean Gair offered Birtles a job answering phones at the AMBO office for $50 a week. It was there that he took the call that changed his life -- he answered the phone one day and a voice said, "Yes, I was wondering if you could help me, I'm trying to get in touch with Beeb Birtles?"

The voice belonged to musician Graeham Goble, formerly of Adelaide folk-rock group Allison Gros, who wanted Beeb to join his new band Mississippi. Beeb accepted, although Goble wanted him to play guitar rather than bass. The other members of Mississippi reportedly opposed this at first but Goble threatened that he would quit if Birtles wasn't hired. The rest is history -- Birtles and Goble formed a successful musical partnership that endured through Mississippi and eventually led to worldwide success with Little River Band.

Daryl Cotton returned to Australia in the late 1970s and moved into TV, becoming a popular children's show host. He later returned to music and over the decade he has been part of a trio with his old mate Russell Morris. The original third member was Ronnie Burns, but after Ronnie retired from performing he was replaced by former Masters Apprentices lead singer Jim Keays. Cotton, Keays & Morris played together regularly until Jim was sidelined by ill-health.

Terry Walker With The Hi Five - Long Time Gone

Terry Walker With The Hi Five - Long Time Gone/Glen Ingram & And The Hive Five - Skye Boat Song

Long Time Gone The Hi-Fives'  with lead vocalist, Terry Walker who wrote the song, heard on the A -side, would later turn up as vocalist on Pastoral Symphony's Love Machine and The Strangers' Happy Without You.

Skye Boat Song an upbeat r&b arrangement of the old music teachers' favourite, somewhat reminiscent of the Tom Jones version. Single on Perth, Western Australia, label Clarion, by Perth band High Fives Vocals by Glen Ingram. Double-sided hit in Perth. Co-charted in Sydney with version by New Zealand band Peter Nelson & the Castaways.

Released in Australia in 1966 Charted #6 Sydney #9 Melbourne #9 Brisbane #3 Adelaide

Uncanny X - Men - 1985 - Cos Life Hurts

Still Waiting/Work/Boy (she said)/Yoko/My girl/You said that/Used to know/Party/50 Years/Best looking guy

Uncanny X-Men are a pop/rock band which formed in Melbourne in 1981, and temporarily disbanded in 1987. They are fronted by lead singer Brian Mannix and originally included Chuck Hargreaves on guitar, Steve Harrison on bass guitar, Nick Matandos on drums and Ron Thiessen on guitar. John Kirk replaced Harrison and Craig Waugh replaced Matandos by 1984.

The band's debut album, 'Cos Life Hurts, peaked at No. 2 on the Australian Kent Music Report in 1985, and included their highest charting single "50 Years" which reached No. 6 on the singles chart.
Thiessen left to be replaced temporarily by Joey Amenta on guitar and more permanently by Brett Kingman. Their second album, What You Give is What You Get!, was released in 1986 and peaked at No. 11, it included the Top 20 hit single "I Am". After disbanding in 1987 there was a brief reunion during 1998. In March 2011, the band played three gigs with Tim Rosewarne (guest keyboards); The Chelsea Heights Hotel (17 March 2011), Trak Live Lounge Bar, Toorak Melbourne (18 March 2011) and the V8 Supercar Clipsal 500 event in South Australia (19 March 2011). The band played a new original song, 'Take it from Me', for its encore performance at the Chelsea Heights Hotel. In March 2011, the band re-entered the studio to record a number of new original songs.


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Bakery - 1971 - Momento FLAC

Holocaust/Pete For Jennie/Living With A Memory/S.S. Bounce/The Gift/When I'm Feeling/Faith To Sing A Song

Bakery were an Australian progressive, hard rock band formed in 1970 in Perth. The original line-up was Hank Davis on drums (ex-Avengers, a New Zealand band), Mal Logan on keyboards (ex-Rebels), Eddie McDonald on bass guitar (Avengers), Peter Walker on guitar (Jelly Roll Bakers) and John Worrall on vocals and flute. They released two albums on Astor Records, Rock Mass for Love (August 1971) and Momento (August 1972) and had a Perth hit with "No Dying in the Dark". Bakery appeared at the Sunbury Pop Festival in January 1973 and disbanded in early 1975. 

Bakery were a progressive hard rock band formed in early 1970 in Perth by two New Zealand-born musicians, Hank Davis on drums and Eddie McDonald on bass guitar – both were ex-members of Avengers. The line-up was completed by Mal Logan on keyboards (ex-Rebels, a New Zealand band), Peter Walker on guitar (ex-Jelly Roll Bakers) and John Worrall on vocals and flute. Logan soon left and, by October, he was a member of Healing Force and, later, in Chain and Little River Band. By mid-1970, Bakery's Davis, McDonald and Walker were joined by Rex Bullen on keyboards (Bitter Lemons) and Tom Davidson on vocals. Worrall had left for Ssarb and in 1972 was a founding member of Fatty Lumpkin.

Bakery's debut album, Rock Mass for Love, was issued in August 1971 on Astor Records which, according to Australian rock music historian Ian McFarlane, had been recorded live at a Mass "held at St George's Cathedral on 21 March 1971" and was "not indicative of the band's style of progressive hard rock". The group released two singles, "Bloodsucker" (February 1971) and "No Dying in the Dark" (July), before Mark Verschuer (Barrelhouse) replaced Davidson on vocals. "No Dying in the Dark" was a top ten hit on the Perth singles chart. The band's influences were Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
In August 1972 they released their second album, Momento, by which time Steve Hogg had replaced McDonald on bass guitar and also performed vocals (Juke, King Biscuit Company, Nostra Damus) and Peter Ewing replaced Bullen on organ and vocals; when Verschuer left he was not replaced as Davis, Ewing, Hogg and Walker shared lead vocals. McDonald initially joined a new group, McAskill, and by 1975 was a member of the Phil Manning Band. Bullen worked in Jim Keays' Southern Cross and Marc Hunter's backing band before Bullen died in March 1983. In January 1973 Bakery performed at the Sunbury Pop Festival and played the festival and concert circuit along Australia's east coast. In February that year, New Zealand-born Barry Leef joined on lead vocals. In April "Living with a Memory", from their Sunbury performance, appeared on the triple-live album The Great Australian Rock Festival Sunbury 1973 on Mushroom Records. By that time Phil Lawson had replaced Hogg on bass guitar, with Lawson replaced in August by Jackie Orszaczky (Syrius). The group continued to perform without further recording until February 1975.

Monday, 6 June 2016

RAG - 1984 - Rock 'n' Roll

Its A Monkey/Slow Dance/Little Wheel/Flaming Heart/Shake That Thing/Game Of Love/Freight Train/Lonely Night/Girls/Christine

Raymond "Ray" Walter Arnott[1] is an Australian rock drummer, singer-songwriter, he was a member of Spectrum (1970–1973), which had a number one hit with "I'll Be Gone" (recorded before Arnott joined) in January 1971.[2][3][4] He also had short stints with The Dingoes in the 1970s and Cold Chisel in 1980s.

In late 1970 he replaced original drummer Mark Kennedy in the renowned Australian progressive rock group Spectrum and he remained with them until they split in early 1973. He sang backing and lead vocals with the band, as well as drumming, and he contributed several songs to their repertoire.

Arnott left Spectrum to join Mighty Kong, a new band formed by ex-Daddy Cool members Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford, but the new group was very short-lived and broke up soon after recording its only LP in late 1973.Arnott took over the drum stool from the original drummer in two of the most prominent Australian groups of the period, The Dingoes in the late 1970s and Cold Chisel in 1983, but in both cases his tenure was relatively short.

Cold Chisel frontman Jim Barnes took on Arnott for his first two solo releases, the Bodyswerve album in 1984 and For the Working Class Man album in 1985.Arnott now lives and works on the NSW North Coast of Australia as a Teaching Assistant at Lismore Heights Public School and occasional band member.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Little Sammy - 1967 - Rhythm & Crunch

Rhythm & Crunch/When It Comes To The Crunch

The single contains 2 songs that Sammy recorded in 1967 for the Smiths Crisps Company for use in advertising.

For an artist that only ever released a couple of records in Australia, Little Sammy has had an incredible career. He started out performing in the clubs of Kings Cross in the late '50s and went on to sing with respected groups like The In People and The Soul Syndicate in the '60s, before he finally moved to Europe where he enjoyed eight hit singles in the 1970s.

He toured the country with Lee Gordon’s Big Shows, was personal assistant to Keith Richards for two Rolling Stones tours, cut the Aussie Rap long before hip hop was popular and he even has a claim to being one of the first pop acts to play a concert at the Sydney Opera House.
Little Sammy Gaha left Australia towards the end of the '60s because he struggled to find an audience for his soulful sound. He quickly found plenty of appreciative ears overseas and began cutting the first of eight hit records in Europe. He made mind bending rock and roll, fronted jazz big bands and laid down some seriously funky soul music; tracks that are still winning him new fans today.

One of his first big breaks came when he was offered work with Blue Beard, who had already established a reputation in France. Sammy contributed to their sole LP and appeared on single releases like the great Sly Willy. It was while he was with Blue Beard that The Rolling Stones caught them playing at a bar near the villa where they were meant to be recording Exile On Main Street. Mick Jagger liked the group so much he asked them to sing at his wedding.

Not long after, Sammy set out on his own and his first hit was the result. Rock And Roll Is Back Again was recorded with producer and songwriter Jacques Moreli. The two didn’t really get along and Sammy soon sought other collaborators while Moreli went on to enjoy success with the Village People later in the decade. Vangelis and Francis Lai were friends and fans and Sammy cut records with both. He also appeared in films including The Legend Of Frenchie King (1971) alongside Brigitte Bardot and The Rex Gang (1980).

                                The Sammy Gaha Band Sammy second from the right.

Axiom - 1970 - Fools Gold

Arkansas Grass/Baby Bear/Fords Bridge/ Samantha/Take It Or Leave It/Little Ray of Sunshine/Yesterday Today and Tomorrow/ Mansfield Hotel/Cant Let Go This Feeling/ Country Pickin/Once A Month Country Race Day/Fools Gold/Who Am I Gonna See

 Axiom's formation was a by-product of the annual Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds in which the top Australian bands of the day performed in front of judges for the prize of a paid return trip to London. In 1967 The Twilights were the first winners, the next year The Groop. Both found it difficult to settle back to the grind of the Australian pop scene after tasting the London big time. Neither band had made anything but the smallest dent in London (The Twilights being given a song by the Hollies, while The Groop's "When I Was Six Years Old" was recorded by Manfred Mann's Paul Jones), but it was enough to leave the lingering thought amongst band members, "What if..?"

The Groop broke up in late 1969, by which time The Twilights had already split and singer Glenn Shorrock had moved into management. A plan was hatched to form a new group out of the two groups' frontline remnants; there was some controversy surrounding the break-up of The Groop, with Go-Set magazine hinting that Cadd and Mudie had split the band to join Axiom without telling the other members about the new group. Twilights' songwriter and guitarist Terry Britten was supposed to join Shorrock and The Groop's piano player and chief songwriter Brian Cadd in the new band, but when Britten chose to go to England instead, his place was taken by The Groop's Don Mudie, who in the latter stages of The Groop had formed a strong songwriting partnership with Cadd. The group was completed by Cam-Pact guitarist Chris Stockley, and Valentines drummer Doug Lavery. Immediately dubbed a supergroup, the band asked fans to suggest a name and settled on Axiom.

 After signing with EMI's Parlophone label, Axiom buried themselves in the recording studio. In December 1969 the group released their first single, "Arkansas Grass", heavily influenced by The Band's "Music From Big Pink". Though the single's title superficially appealed to international markets, and its Civil War theme reflected Cadd's current obsession with the music of The Band, it was in fact a coded anti-Vietnam war song – and in that respect addressing a very Australian concern, since Australian men were at the time being drafted to fight in that war. "Arkansas Grass" reached No. 7 in December 1969.

Midway through the recording of the LP, which was released under the title Fool's Gold, drummer Don Lebler (The Avengers) replaced Doug Lavery. Axiom left Australia for the UK in April 1970 after signing a publishing deal from Leeds Music, with the local music press reporting that they had received record deal offers from both Apple Records and the Decca label. As a parting gift they left their second single, "A Little Ray of Sunshine", inspired by the birth of the child of a couple that the group knew – not by the birth of Cadd or Mudie's child, as has often been incorrectly reported. The single reached No. 5 in April 1970. "A Little Ray of Sunshine" has become one of the Australian songs most often still played on radio and was even celebrated with its own stamp in Australia Post's 1998 Australian Rock stamp series.

In their absence the band's debut album Fool's Gold was released, one of the first true "albums" in Australian music. Apart from the "Arkansas Grass" single it was also one of the first attempts in Australian pop to write songs about the Australian landscape, and using Australian place names. It is also notable as one of the first Australian albums on a major label to be self-produced by the recording artist/s and also featured one of the first uses of the didgeridoo in Australian popular music. The songs were all of high quality as were the production values. Fool's Gold reached No. 18 in June and still stands as one of the best albums of the period, however it never reached its full commercial potential because Axiom were not around to promote it. A third single failed to chart. In Australia Axiom were signed to Ron Tudor's independent production company. They left Australia with Tudor's approval to try to secure a worldwide recording contract: he would not stand in their way.

Although many of the songs on Fool's Gold featured Australian references, Brian Cadd revealed years later that the track "Ford's Bridge" had a very different origin:
" ... we wrote a song, which must have been all the stuff that I had left in my head from 'Arkansas Grass', which I called 'We Can Reach Georgia by Morning'. We had done some rough mixes and somebody played some of them to Stan Rofe and Rofe got right off his bike about it and said that it was absolutely unconscionable for us to use Georgia and why couldn't we use an Australian name? So I succumbed to the browbeating of everybody, and we found in the atlas a place in Northern Queensland called Fords Bridge, which had the right meter for the words ... I never really got over that. It really hurt me, It annoyed me ... I just got very annoyed with the parochialism. When it reached out and touched me and made me change a word in a song. I hated it."
In England Axiom signed a three-year recording contract with Warners, cemented by a single "My Baby's Gone" produced by Shel Talmy of early Who, Kinks and Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" fame. The band completed a second album, If Only, recorded at the iconic Olympic Studios in London. Although some former members were later critical of what they felt was Talmy's overproduction of the record, in a 2000 interview with Richie Unterberger, Talmy still spoke highly of both group and LP:

 "Warner Brothers hired me to record them. Super-duper band. It was a super album. Two weeks before the album was to be released on Warner, they decided to break up. And they did, and Warners said, "Bye!! If you think we're promoting this album, you're out of your fucking minds!" I was real pleased with that album. It was fun to do, they were talented, the songs were great."
By the time the album was released the band had already broken up and as Talmy indicated, it effectively vanished without trace.

Glenn Shorrock remained in England where he performed as lead vocalist of the extraordinary band Esperanto, eventually returning to Australia in 1974 to join the nascent Little River Band. Brian Cadd returned to Australia and launched a hugely successful solo career. Don Lebler remained in the UK to become a member of The Mixtures. A couple of years later Chris Stockley became part of The Dingoes. In October 2010, Fool's Gold (1970) was listed in the book 100 Best Australian Albums.

Albatross - 1973 - A Breath Of Fresh Air

Full Moon/The Drowning Song/Escher's Door/Drop Me A Line/Bouzouki Boogie/A Breath Of Fresh Air/The Games Cards Play/Nimbin Stopover/Mermaid/A Message To You/Seashell Secrets/Wings Of The Albatross/ The Angel And The Boy

Albatross formed in September 1972, after the split of legendary Sydney band Tamam Shud. The initial lineup was a trio, comprising Bjerre and Baron (both ex-Shud) and drummer Kim Bryant (ex-Country Radio).

While bands like The Aztecs and The La De Das and were mining the rich veins of blues, boogie and heavy rock, Albatross took a different tack, exploring a mellower, acoustically-based style that was a development from the quieter side of Tamam Shud's Shud's progressive/psychedelic sound. Albatross' music incorporated elements of folk and country music, as were a number of other contemporary Australian groups like Country Radio, The Flying Circus and The Dingoes. Lyrically, the band's material continued Bjerre's concerns with sprituality, nature and environmental issues. 

The band's home-base was on Sydney's northern beaches, and during the year of its existence Albatross played regularly at the Memorial Hall in the Sydney beachside suburb of Mona Vale. At New Year 1972-73 Albatross played at the ill-fated Bungool Festival near Windor, NSW, which was poorly attended due conflict with the local council, which led to the
first day of the event being cancelled.

 In early 1973 the band was augmented by Lindsay's wife Simone on vocals and in April they were joined by multi-instrumentalist Richard Lockwood, formerly of Tully, who had also played with the last version of Tamam Shud. This augmented lineup recorded the group's only LP, A Breath Of Fresh Air (Warner Reprise), which also included session contributions from Gary Frederick (slide guitar), Pirana organist Keith Greig and Country Radio's Chris Blanchflower (harmonica). It's a fine album, and long overdue for reissue. Bjerre's unusual voice is perhaps an acquired taste but the album is full of excellent material, beautifully played and very well recorded. The pacy opening track "Full Moon" is a road song that opens with an innovative string arrangement, moving into a heavier style that recall Tamam Shud, and it's decorated with some very tasty "Layla"-style slide guitar from Gary Fredericks. Other highlights include the rollicking "Bouzouki Boogie" and "Nimbin Stopover", a commemmoration in song of the 1973 Aquarius Festival, which features the inimitable harmonica stylings of Blanchflower. 

Another sought-after Warner album from this period, Total Union by Band Of Light, has been recently reissued by Gil Matthews' Aztec Music label, so there is some hope that the Albatross album will eventually be remastered and re-released on CD. Meanwhile, the original LP -- which presumably sold few copies -- has become highly collectible, with copies now changing hands for over $100.

Albatross gained important exposure with a prestigious support spot on Frank Zappa's his first Australian tour in July 1973, but the band did not last out the year, and had already broken up by the time the LP was released in November. 

Lindsay Bjerre spent the next few years pursuing spiritual interests and travelling; he also wrote a (never-performed) rock opera and studied mime in England with theatrical legend Lindsay Kemp. He re-emerged in 1977, with a new performance persona, simply called Bjerre, and with support from Countdown he scored a surprise hit with the single "She Taught Me How To Love Again".

Waves - 1975 - Waves

Clock House Shuffle/Wornout Rocker/Thoughts From Venus/Waterlady Song/Letters/The Dolphin Song/Arrow/Ocean - Neon Song/Elouise/At The Beach/ Waitress/Castle Gates

In the early 1970s Auckland Technical Institute art and design students Graeme Gash and Kevin Wildman formed Rosewood, an acoustic folk-pop trio, with Geoff Chunn, gigging regularly at an Auckand venue and also at the 1973 Ngaruawahia Music Festival. Rosewood disbanded when Chunn left in April 1973 to join Split Enz as drummer.

Gash and Wildman continued to meet to play guitar and work on their vocal harmonies, mixing with other Auckland musicians at the Parnell Rd home of Geoff and Mike Chunn. Gash recalled: "One day David Marshall crashed our jam; we were gobsmacked. He was great. We snapped him up. Michael Matthew was hanging out with a bunch of musos we knew, and we cajoled him into accompanying us on the bashwalk to glory."

Adopting the name Waves, the band—with Gash, Wildman and Marshall on guitar and Matthew on bass—played at folk clubs, cafes and eventually at Auckland Town Hall, His Majesty's Theatre, the Maidment and the Mercury, playing soft rock and singing four-part harmonies. They avoided the pub circuit, as Gash explained: "They wanted something to drink to, not think to. So we needed venues where the intricacies of our music would be heard." The band had three writers, with each member excelling at singing or guitar-playing. Gash said the band felt proud playing original New Zealand songs. "Back then it wasn't particularly popular to front up and play all your own music. People tended to get a little bored with that."

With continued performances, the band sensed a building excitement and air of anticipation. "Split Enz had embedded themselves into the national psyche, or at least the leading edge of it," Gash said. "Hot Licks was championing a lot of local work. Radio stations like Hauraki were into doing their bit for the locals as well. Hauraki were great in those days; they used to do Buck-a-Head concerts. Big venue, one dollar for two bands." 

 In 1975 Roger Jarrett, the editor of local music magazine Hot Licks, introduced the band to Kerry Thomas and Guy Morris, co-owners of the magazine and Direction Records, a retail chain and independent record label. On 7 July 1975 the band began a five-day recording session for their debut album at Stebbing Studios in Jervois Rd, Ponsonby, across the road from the eight-bedroom colonial villa where Waves members lived. Gash recalled: "Before walking through the front door of Stebbings, we’d prepared, done a lot of practice and a lot of live work with the material, so we knew it back to front. Let’s face it, we’d been living across the road getting ourselves ready for this moment for about a year."

Thomas arranged expatriate New Zealand producer Peter Dawkins, then living in Sydney, to return to Auckland to produce the album. Gash said: "Dawkins had five days, and he marshalled us through the procedures in a most efficient fashion. That was his job, and he did it well. He was tough though: one of our friends wasn’t cutting it quickly enough with his solo, and Peter made me go into the studio and fire him on the spot. We freely availed ourselves of notable contributors. Some—Mike Chunn, Mike Caen, Roy Mason—were personal friends; others—Vic Williams, Murray Grindlay, Mike Harvey, Paul Lee—were introduced to us in the studio." He told The New Zealand Herald: "We were in a world we had dreamed of being in. It was a mix of excitement and terror."

At the end of the week, Dawkins flew back to Sydney with the finished tapes to mix them. "No doubt, in his world this was standard procedure," Gash said. "However what it did was disengage us from the process. When the mixes came back to Auckland, we didn’t understand them. They were not the way we heard ourselves. We voiced our desire to remix the album. Almost miraculously, Kerry Thomas agreed, and gained my gratitude forever. We kept Peter’s mixes of "Waterlady Song" and "Arrow"; the rest the band remixed at Stebbing’s with (engineer) Phil Yule, and that is what appeared on the album."

The album was released in October 1975, reached No.7 on the album charts and became one of the best-selling albums by New Zealand artists of the 1970s. Three singles were released—"The Dolphin Song"/"Letters", "Arrow"/Clock House Shuffle" and "At the Beach"/Waitress".

The success of Waves attracted the attention of major record labels and in 1976 the band—now with a drummer, Rex Carter, and new bassist Michael Mason, who replaced Michael Matthew—entered Mandrill Studios in Parnell to record their second album for WEA Records. Some of the songs followed the folk-rock style of the debut album, while on others the band began to explore a new direction with electric guitars.

Gash said: "We were producing it ourselves, and it was all ourselves; unlike the first album, there were no guest performances. The rhythm section was jelling nicely, the songs and the playing seemed a step up and we felt much more relaxed and in control of the process than we had previously. Things were looking pretty good." But with just a few solo overdubs to complete and on the verge of mixing, the band was told that label boss Tim Murdoch didn’t like what they had done and had ordered that the multi-track tapes should be recorded over.

Studio boss Dave Hurley allowed the band to copy a rough mix of the tapes before it was wiped. "That is the only record we have of our endeavours, an entire album’s worth of work," Gash told NZ Musician magazine. "We had worked hard. It deserved better. Maybe we just weren’t tough enough; certainly, after a few good blows to the head you start to wonder what it’s all for. The second album being wiped just prior to the mix broke our hearts."

In July 1977 the band recorded one last song, "Vegas", at Mascot Studios and delivered it to Murdoch. "It was some of our best playing," Gash said. "Almost unbelievably, the plug was once again pulled just prior to mixing."

In 1981 Gash produced a solo album, After the Carnival, while Marshall became a member of Lip Service in 1980 and Martial Law in 1984.