Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Mott The Hoople - Greatest Hits (1976) + Bonus Tracks

(U.K 1969 - 1980)
One of the major injustices in the past ten years of rock history is that Mott the Hoople never attained stardom. God knows they deserved it, and they certainly tried hard for it. Formed in the mid-sixties by Alien and Ralphs, the original Hoople crew consisted of Alien, Ralphs, Griffen, Watts, and vocalist Stan Tip-pens, who would shortly become their road manager before progressing to manager. Stan's on-again off-again vocal condition led the Hoople to audition new lead singers. At this point, long-time folkie lan Hunter showed up, a Dylanesque composer-guitarist who could honestly be described as a "croaker" as opposed to a singer. Hunter's raspy ramblings, however, struck a responsive chord within the group. He joined in '69, signalling the beginning of one of the most turbulent band careers in rock.

Producer Guy Stevens ushered the band into the studio and cut a series of quickly recorded, though classic, albums. MOTT THE HOOPLE, MAD SHADOWS, WILDLIFE, and BRAIN CA PERS quickly established the band as a schizoid, critically acclaimed troupe. However, on the sales level, Mott was the pits. This lack of sales, plus the constant vying between styles (Hunter's writing was a good 180 degrees away from Ralph's style) within the band, led to problems. In 1972, the group fragmented, but was brought back together by David Bowie, who produced the classic ALL THE YOUNG DUDES LP. The boys now had a new producer and a new label (Columbia replacing Atlantic).

A new Mott was sculpted from the glitter and glam prevailing in the early seventies. Hunter became the leader. Verden Alien left shortly thereafter. Bowie departed as a producer and Ralphs left the fold to form Bad Company in the middle of recording MOTT. Although Mott was certainly proving more successful on Columbia than they were in the old days, they were anything but superstars. Single after single stiffed in the States and Mott was growing frustrated.

Ian Hunter Centre
Despite their rather tentative position in the rock pop polls, the band planned a coast-to-coast blowout of a tour for '73. Enlisting the aid of former Spooky Tooth guitarist Luthor Grosvenor (who, dressed in his Dale Arden stage costumes, called himself Ariel Bender), Mott the Hoople (regular blokes who liked a good drink every now and then) donned their best glitter costumes and, armed with oversized puppets, robots, flash powder, and dancing dolls, embarked on a killer tour. Although augmented by the excellent keyboard work of Morgan Fisher, the Mott the Hoople killer tour found Mott portraying the killee.

The outrageous stage antics detracted from the musical clout somewhat and negated any possible monetary profit. Several of the band members were clearly uncomfortable in their platform heels and Ariel Bender just didn't fit in on guitar. Soon Ariel was in the void and Mick Ronson was indoctrinated into the Mott realm of lunacy. The arrival of another dominant personality was too much for the group to bear. Although the band consistently performed exceedingly well on record during this somewhat erratic period, their personal lives were in turmoil.

Hunter left the band, entering a hospital after a stateside bout with total exhaustion. Ronson departed for an ill-fated solo career, and the remaining members of the band regrouped with newcomers Majors and Benjamin as simply Mott. The group got off to a shaky start but quickly picked up steam with albums SHOUTING AND POINTING and DRIVE ON. Hunter embarked on a critically acclaimed but commercially disastrous solo career. He was dropped by his label in 1977, as was Mott, who also severed ties with lead singer Benjamin. [extract from Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia, Angus and Robertson, 1978. p359-360]
Mott the Hoople/Greatest Hits suffers a bit because this band, whose "Tales of the Near Great" stories made them sentimental favorites, produced only two albums of real worth after they moved from Atlantic to Columbia. One sees the breakdown of the group following the departure of guitarist Mick Ralphs in the terribly ill-fitting and annoying lead guitar work of Ariel Bender. Still, such gems as "All the Way from Memphis," along with a different take of "Roll Away the Stone" and two previously unheard cuts, "Foxy Foxy" and "Saturday Gigs," give this absorbing group a belated last testament.
- Billy Altman, Rolling Stone, 1-13-77.

Now reorganized with new key personnel, Mott recalls its most successful period with writer/singer Ian Hunter on this collection. With David Bowie's song and production on "All The Young Dudes," the group came to stand for glitter rock. But its sound only took on glitter after mastering the elements of basic rock excitement. Best cuts: "All The Young Dudes," "All The Way From Memphis," "Roll Away The Stone."  - Billboard, 1976.

Hits my ass. Never heard "Foxy Foxy" on the radio, and never want to. But the other new one, "Saturday Gigs," recapitulates quite movingly a banal theme this collection fleshes out with real wallop: a band and its fans. Four songs is too much overlap with 1973's Mott, but this is the essence of Mott the Hoople as a group, which always needed Ian Hunter and always did more than back him up.   - Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Mott is a bit of an anomaly. They began their existence as a hard rock band, but with the addition of Ian Hunter as lead singer and principal writer, they took on a Dylanesque coloration. However, it was their affiliation with David Bowie during his early-Seventies glitter period that provided them with "All the Young Dudes," a song that catapulted them to brief fame. Consummate borrowers from their better- and lesser-known rock brethren, Mott melded disparate elements into a dynamic, often humorous, sound that combined the bombast of early heavy metal with Seventies glitter, and just about everything else you or they could think of. In retrospect, Mott was a more potent band than originally perceived. Greatest Hits is a reasonable sampler, but is inferior to both All the Young Dudes and Mott. As an overview, thirty-eight minutes isn't long enough; too much quality material is omitted, such as "Ready For Love," "Sea Diver," and "Sweet Jane."  - Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock, 1991.
 This post consists of FLACs and MP3's (320kps) ripped from my English vinyl pressing, and also comes with full album artwork and label scans.  Although the collection covers 6 years of the Hoople's recording career, there are a few essential tracks missing, namely "Sweet Jane", "One Of The Boys" and "Sucker", and so I have included these tracks as Bonus Tracks.
Track Listing

01 - All The Way From Memphis 3:24
02 - Honaloochie Boogie 2:42
03 - Hymn For The Dudes 5:20
04 - Born Late '58 3:58
05 - All The Young Dudes 3:32
06 - Roll Away The Stone 3:11
07 - Ballad Of Mott (March 26, 1972, Zurich) 5:22
08 - The Golden Age Of Rock 'N' Roll 3:25
09 - Foxy Foxy 3:30
10 - Saturday Gigs 4:17
11 - Sucker (Bonus Track)
12 - One Of The Boys (Bonus Track)
13 - Sweet Jane (Bonus Track)

lan Hunter (guitar, vocals), 
Pete Watts (bass), 
Dale "Buffin" Griffen (drums, vocals), 
Morgan Fisher (keyboards), 
Nigel Benjamin (vocals), 
Ray Major (guitar), 
Verden Alien (keyboards), 
Mick Ralphs (guitar); 
Ariel Bender (guitar)
Mott The Hoople FLAC link (361Mb)
Mott The Hoople MP3 Link (148Mb)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

John Farnham - The Best Of John Farnham (1980)

(Australian 1967 - Present)
We Australians are notoriously harsh in our treatment of local heroes. Sometimes it seems that the only reason we elevate performers, sportsmen or politicians to the heights of stardom is so we can topple them with malicious glee. Few antipodean celebrities seem to escape the 'lift 'em up and rip 'em down' process, and so retreat to a safer 'behind the scenes' position — if indeed they choose to persevere with the fickle world of entertainment at all. To remain under the critical glare of public scrutiny for more than a dozen years — without being cast on the has-been's scrapheap — is the only true testament to pure talent.
John Farnham is a rare and exceptional artist; a full-time 'star' who has earned and retained the respect and admiration of his peers and public — without the inevitable resort to scandal or eccentricity.

Born July 1, 1949 in Dagenham, England, John became involved in amateur charity performances from the age of 6 and, having moved to Melbourne at 10, continued his interest through the avenue of school functions. By 16 he had joined the workforce as an apprentice plumber; singing at local dances with The Mavericks by night. His pleasant and generally tuneful voice came to the attention of the moderately prominent Strings Unlimited early in 1965, culminating in him assuming lead vocalist responsibilities with the outfit for two years. During an Adelaide jaunt early in 1967, Bev Harrel's boyfriend — accountant Darryl Sambell — became enamoured by the young singer and, despite a drastic dearth of experience in things showbiz, proposed management. John initially became a regular on the pop-mime daily TV series 'Kommotion'; which brought him to the attention of EMI house producer David McKay, who eventually made use of his voice on TAA's 'Susan Jones' advertising campaign. From there it was a mere formality for John to be signed to EMI as a recording artist — facilitated by a private performance before McKay, backed by an accommodating Zoot.

From the outset, McKay was keen for Farnham to record a novelty non-hit from England called "Sadie, The Cleaning Lady".  John recalls: "I thought it was really dumb. I admit I didn't know much then and neither did Darryl but we knew one thing — we didn't like that song". The discontented singer conceded that McKay knew best and dutifully laid it down in October 1967. Released in the first week of September, it made national number one within a month, and stayed atop for 6 weeks — remaining on the charts for some 23 weeks. Apart from being the first Australian recorded number one for more than a year, it became the biggest selling Aussie single of all time with sales in excess of 180,000 — a record which stood until 'Up There Cazally' shifted a quarter million in 1979.

Overnight, the young, effervescent John Farnham became the proverbial household name — a teenage star wholly acceptable to parents. And whereas such a crossover combination traditionally spelt doom, Farnham swept up both camps in his wake — alienating neither with his honest, sincere approach. To the media he was a Godsend — a means whereby younger viewers/listeners/readers could be catered, at no risk to the mainstream. Commercials, fan rags, Tonight Shows, newspapers and local dances all vied for his services; and in the making was a unique celebrity who would never have to rely upon a steady stream of hits to maintain a prominent career.

The inevitably difficult follow-up came in March 1968, in the form of a two-way bet — another novelty "Underneath The Arches", backed with a superb classy pop song — Greenwhich & Barry's "Friday Kind Of Monday". The record performed well in the top ten, paving the way for two more respectful hits from the pen of Australian Hans Poulsen — "Jamie" and "Rose Coloured Glasses".

During 1968 John won the first of 5 consecutive Logie Awards for Best Teenage Personality; while a year later he landed the first of 5 consecutive 'King of Pop' crowns. There simply wasn't another male pop personality in the land to compete or compare with the positive and professional Mr Farnham.

Christmas '68 saw the first chart miss with the seasonal "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause"; a disappointment well compensated in August 1969, with the number one placing of Harry Nilsson's "One", an American hit for Three Dog Night.

Four months later John beat B.J. Thomas to the punch with an ultra-commercial rendition of the theme from 'Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid' — "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head". Another number one, remaining on the charts for 18 weeks. John Farnham never descended into the parochial cliques nor engaged in the publicised bickering which so obsessed many of his contemporaries. Somehow he remained aloof, taking his career very seriously in spite of those few who ridiculed his wide-eyed innocent approach to a rather dirty game.

"Comic Conversations" brought him back to the top ten late in 1970 and in 1971, after recording a duet album with Queen of Pop 'Allison Durbin', he journeyed to London to begin preparations for his stage debut in the Australian production of Charlie Girl, alongside Derek Nimmo and Dame Anna Neagle.

Before the year was out he had landed his second Go Set Pop Poll victory, and hits 8, 9, 10 with "Acapulco Sun", "Baby Without You" (with Allison) and "Walking The Floor On My Hands".  1972 was another corker year. March saw John crowned King Of Moomba in Melbourne and, by the end of the year, he had picked up the Most Outstanding Performance of a Composition award (with Brian Cadd's "Don't You Know It's Magic") at  the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo. Once the number 4 hit of "Rock Me Baby" (which trounced well the David Cassidy version) was off the charts, the Tokyo winner was rush released to become hit 11.

In April 1973, John hit top ten with "Everything's Out Of Season" and instigated wild street chaos when he wedded Jillian Billman in the Melbourne suburb of Glenroy. Five months later he was back at number 12 with "I Can't Dance To Your Music".  One final hit in January 1974 — "Shake A Hand" — marked the end of John's pop chart career — although another equally successful one was lurking around the corner (aka Whispering Jack)

Early in 1974 impressario Kenn Brodziak placed him in the lead role in the Pippin stage production and within a year John had re-orientated his image and direction toward a more mature market — though not necessarily the indiscriminate suburbians that his critics were suggesting. Two Vanda/Young songs recorded under Peter Dawkins in 1975 — "Things To Do" and "One Minute Every Hour" — showcased Farnham in stunning voice, with the former remaining one of the truly great  vocal performances captured in this country. The 1975 album 'J.P Farnham Sings' was a brave and critically acclaimed work comprised entirely of Australian-composed songs. Though it yielded no hits, the album stood as a Powerful, mature tribute to the come-of-age Australian creative community.

Without an overdose of TV quiz shows and clubland performances, John Farnham continues untouched a premier Australian personality. The diversity he has exhibited via such television outings as Bobby and Survival maintained his subtle prominence and ensured his continued popularity. Given another decade, J.P Farnham will still commands respect and admiration from most Australians. (Liner notes by Glenn A. Baker, Australian Editor, Billboard, January 1980).
This post consists of FLACs ripped from my AXIS CD release and includes full album artwork. I have not been able to source the artwork for the LP release and would hope that someone out there who owns this album might scan and share theirs with us.  One thing that bugs me about this release is the fact that the album (and liner notes) refer to Johnny as John, when in fact all of the songs featured on this album where released under the name of "Johnny Farnham". It wasn't until late 1979 when Johnny finally dropped the boyish reference and started to call himself John, around the time when he joined Little River Band.
And the photo used on the CD release is taken from his later years with LRB, while the photo on the LP is more true to what John looked like during the 70's.
Track Listing:
01  Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head (2:29)
02  Comic Conversation  (3:19)
03  Rock Me Baby (3:21)
04  Don't You Know It's Magic  (4:00)
05  Everything Is Out of Season  (3:12)
06  I Can't Dance to Your Music  (3:00)
07  I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus  (1:42)
08  Things to Do  (3:20)
09  One  (2:50)
10  Jamie  (2:29)
11  Rose Coloured Glasses  (2:50)
12  Sadie, the Cleaning Lady (3:18)
13  Underneath the Arches  (2:01)
14  Friday Kind of Monday  (2:45)
15  Walking the Floor on My Hands  (2:30)
16  Acapulco Sun  (2:38)
17  One Minute Every Hour  (3:03)
Best Of Johnny Farnham Link (348)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: Sally Field - The Flying Nun (1969) EP

Before things get too serious at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song at the end of each month, that could be considered to be either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.....
We all remember Sally Field for her exuberant Oscar acceptance speech in the 80’s: “I haven't had an orthodox career, and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it—and I can't deny the fact that you like me... right now... you LIKE me!" That infamous quote would go on to be one of the most parodied and recited lines in history (but misquoted as “you like me – you REALLY like me!”).

Born Sally Margaret Field on November 6, 1946, her career in Hollywood has spanned more than five decades; she has won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, among numerous other accolades. She directed as well as acted.

Field began her career in television, starring on the sitcoms Gidget from 1965 to 1966 and The Flying Nun from 1967 to 1970. Although she thoroughly enjoyed working on Gidget, she hated The Flying Nun because she was not treated with respect by the show's directors. Field was then typecast, finding respectable roles difficult to come by.

After numerous other television roles, Field ventured into film, starring in Norma Rae (1979), for which she received universal acclaim, receiving the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. She later received Golden Globe Award nominations for her performances in Absence of Malice (1981) and Kiss Me Goodbye (1982), before receiving her second Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Places in the Heart (1984). She also received further nominations for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for Murphy's Romance (1985) and Steel Magnolias (1989).

In the late 1970’s, Field was romantically linked with Burt Reynolds for many years, during which time they co-starred in several films, including Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), The End and Hooper (both 1978).

Burt Reynolds & Sally Fields
But enough movie talk... now let’s take a trip back to ‘67 and talk about what songs she recorded for The Flying Nun. Her debut single that August, "Felicidad / Find Yourself A Rainbow" stalled at #94 on the U.S. Billboard chart. Both songs are featured on this Australian-made EP from 1969 (RCA 20503), sourced from Guitarzan's blog (thanks Tim).

In December, she completed her debut album: Star Of The Flying Nun (Colgems COS-106). Another song from the album, “The Louder I Sing (The Braver I Get)” including a non-album song from January 1968, “Golden Days”, are the last 2 tracks here on the EP.

So, on a final note, I’m sure everyone will join in showing Sally their respect and agree that we like her – we REALLY like her.

And so, this month's W.O.C.K on Vinyl offering is a little Weird (whoever dreamed up the idea of creating a sitcom about a Flying Nun must have been taking some of those infamous hallucinogenic drugs from the 60's) but most certainly Obscure - good luck trying to find this E.P elsewhere.

Ripped from vinyl to MP3 (320kps) with full EP artwork and label scans included.

So don't delay.....download this gem quickly, before it flies out of this blog window - LOL.

Track Listing
01 - Felicidad
02 - Find Yourself A Rainbow
03 - The Louder I Sing (The Braver I Get)
04 - Golden Days

Flying Nun Link (22Mb)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Stone The Crows - Ontinuous Performances (1972) + Bonus Tracks

(U.K 1970 - 1973)
Stone The Crows were:
Maggie Bell - vocals
Leslie Harvey - guitar
James Dewar - bass
John McGinnis - keyboards
Collin Alien - drums

Stone The Crows began out of Glasgow, Scotland, when a young Maggie Bell got up on stage to sing with Alex Harvey (Sensational Alex Harvey Band) and got £2 for her cheek. Harvey introduced her to his younger brother Leslie, then leading Kinning Park Ramblers.

Maggie later joined Les Harvey in band called Power which toured clubs and U.S. bases in Germany and was discovered and renamed Stone The Crows (line-up as above) by Peter Grant (Led Zeppelin).
Their first two albums, both released in 1970, were notable for tight, soul-based sound, Harvey's superb guitar work and Maggie's gut-bucket singing. However, public acclaim wasn't arriving as fast as was hoped, and McGinnis and Dewar quit in February 1971 to join Robin Trower's new band. The group were near to breaking up when Ronnie Leahy (keyboards) and Steve Thompson (bass) came in as replacements. Teenage Licks (1971) produced strong upsurge in group's fortunes, Maggie Bell winning first of many  awards as Britain's Top Girl Singer in 1972.

But, in same year, came tragic death of Les Harvey, killed on stage by a "live" microphone during gig at Swansea University. They attempted to carry on with Jimmy McCulloch (from Thunderclap Newman) as new guitarist-but the writing was on the wall. 'Ontinuous Performance', already half-completed, was finished by the new line-up and released to critical acclaim. But still there was no commercial success to sustain them, and in June 1973 the band broke up.

After Stone The Crows split up, Maggie established herself as a successful solo artist and recorded two stunning albums “Queen Of The Night” and “Suicide Sal” with a host of star studded supporting musicians including Jimmy Page, Phil May and Geoff Whitehorn.; while McCulloch joined Wings and Long-­serving drummer Colin Allen went on to play with Focus and John Mayall.
[extract from The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock, by Nick Logan & Bob Woffinden, 1977. p225-226]
Album Review 
(by P.F. O'Dea. Victoria University of Wellington Library)
The first indication that Stone the Crows could be set apart from average purveyors of heavy rock came with the release of their first album. The first side was a collection of competently-performed white blues, good but not exceptional. "I saw America", which occupied the entire other side with its impressionistic collage of an outsiders view of American Society, served notice that here was a group capable of bigger and better things.

The promise displayed on that first album was not, unfortunately, extended to its successor "Ode to John Law", and by any standards, the third album, "Teenage Licks", was a retrogression. Still the three albums contained just enough ideas to tantalise, and this together with the reputation the group enjoys as one of the most potent and memorable live acts on the English circuit, nurtured the hope that one of these days Stone The Crows would produce a real shit kicker. "Continuous Performance" isn't quite it, but it's two steps on the way. It has to be seen as a transitional album, following the death of their lead guitarist, Les Harvey, who electrocuted himself at a college gig, and to whom "Continuous Performance" is dedicated.

Leslie Harvey (Middle-Front)
Harvey plays on five of the tracks, but his former overpowering approach has been mellowed by the bringing forward of pianist Ronnie Leahy, resulting in more balance over which Bell's voice even out-Joplins Janis. The opener, "On the Highway", highlights the group's tendency towards the excessive, and should have been compressed.

Maggie Bell
"Penicillin Blues", a not-so-sublime sexual metaphor written by bluesmen Sonny Terry and Brownie Magee, has Harvey sympathetically counterpointing Bell's amazing gymnastics : "I promise not to scream or wriggle / I want it to last all night long", becomes more obvious and orgasmic as the lyric progresses.

Harvey's replacement Jimmy McCulloch, turns in creditable performances on two numbers, "Sunset Cowboy" and "Good Time Girl". During the latter his runs blend well with the pulsing undercurrents laid down by Colin Allen and Sieve Thompson, and the punchy brass work. McCul-lock should eventually fill the gap left by Harvey's demise, and lighten the group's approach.
Maggie Bell's finest moments to date are "Niagra", a ditty about selling one's soul to the devil and throwing rocks at policemen, and "Sunset Cowboy", an emotion charged, gospel-tinged tribute to Harvey.

One minor niggle : In their usual ham-fisted manner, Phonogram Records have mutilated what was originally a fold-out cover, removing the capital "C" from the title, so look for "Ontinuous Performance", The mistake is repeated on the label, but rectified in the small print on the spine. It's really nice to see a company take such an obvious pride in presenting its product to the public (NOT)
Leslie Harvey
Harvey's Death and it's Impact on the Band
The band were dealt a massive blow on May 3, 1972. Les Harvey was electrocuted onstage at the Swansea Top Rank and died. "You can imagine what it did to us to see Leslie die." recalls Bell, still shaken by the memory. We were all there when it happened". The band elected to try and carry on. ("I don't remember any vibe about splitting up after that happened,' remarks Allen.. ''I believe we all thought that Leslie would have wanted us to continue"). And the man who seemed lined up to step in for Harvey was none other Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green.

'We were rehearsing at Ronnie Leahy's house, in the basement," explains Bell. "Peter had agreed to join us for a festival appearance (Friar Festival) we were committed to doing. I recall going to pick him up. and he'd cut all his hair off and had a sleeping bag and haversack slung over his shoulder. He was almost unrecognisable from the person we all knew. But we spent three weeks rehearsing with him for the festival slot. Then on the day before the gig, he called us up and said he couldn't do it. There was no explanation, he just pulled out."

I suppose in reality - Peter was light years away from joining us,' alleges Allen. "He was such a space cadet in those days. We were very excited by the possibility of him joining - he was playing really well, but I think he came along to rehearse just for something to do"
Faced with this crisis, the band turned to an old friend to help them out.
"We gotten to know Yes when we did out debut album at Advision Studios; says Bell. ' They were in the studio at the same time. So, we called up Steve Howe and asked it he could help us out. And he was amazing. Steve stayed up all night, learning the songs, did the gig and was superb. He really came thought for us that day,and I can't thank him enough for helping us out of the hole".
Obviously, though Howe wasn't about to turn in his position with Yes to join Stone The Crows. So, the band had to start their search all over again for a new guitarist. But this was where the band found allies coming to their rescue.

"Everyone used to hang out in London at the Speakeasy Club. We all knew each other, and we'd all help one another out. It was the way things were back then. We all wanted to see other bands do well. And someone suggested we should check out a guy called Jimmy McCulloch. He had just left Thunderclap Newman's band, and like Leslie was Scottish."
So, McCulloch duly joined the band in time to finish off the recording demands for new album 'Ontinuous Performance'.

Les had already done most of the guitar parts for the album." reveals Bell. So, Jimmy just came in and played on a couple of tracks." McCulloch is featured on the songs 'Good Time Girl' and 'Sunset Cowboy'. Harvey played the guitar parts on the other songs.
"I wrote the lyrics for 'Sunset Cowboy' in memory of Leslie," says Allen. "It's safe to say that we were all pretty shell shocked for a while (after the accident), but you just get on with things - not much else you can do."

Live at Friars Festival, 1972
The album title reflected the band's situation, as Allen explains.
"I think we were implying that, even though Leslie was gone, we were carrying on. The missing letter 'C' in the album title might have been a symbolic thing, relating to the fact that Leslie was also missing.
"I seem to remember Mark London sometimes called him Ches Chesney, or something like that. I was Collie Colsner, Maggie was Mags Magsler; it was a Mark thing. You'd have to have known him in those days to understand. He was Canadian and had done, among other things, stand-up comedy in the Jewish Alps - the Catskill Mountain resort."
Released later in 72, 'Ontinuous Performance'; actually charted at number 33 in the UK. But for Bell it sounded the death knell for the band.

"The fire had gone out of us. There was no energy anymore. When Les died we lost something, and the band couldn't ever be the same again. Jimmy wasn't a writer, so we were have faced a problem in the future anyway. To be honest, we were all shattered by the loss of Les and I felt I couldn't carry on with this band."

In 1973, Stone The Crows split up. "It was about two days after our last gig in Montreux - it was a management decision", reveals Allen The band  have left a legacy of four albums, all of which have their own character. And the ensuing decades have only added to the richness of their legacy and reputation. "We should have been bigger and more successful than we were", insists Bell, with good reason. Allen, though, is a little more philosophical.
"It was what it was - basically a good live band with a lot of fans. To raise yourselves above that you need a hit album or a single that got a lot of airplay. We had neither.'
However what Stone The Crows have left behind musically has ensured they've been lionised by many younger bands through the years. The gift of their values and creativity continues to inspire those who aspire.  [by Malcolm Dome, London, 2015]
This post consists of MP3 (320kps) and FLACs ripped from my crispy clean vinyl along with full album artwork for both vinyl and CD media.
I heard this album for the first time back in 1977 while I was living on campus in Glenn College at La Trobe University, Melbourne.
At the time, the college had a modest collection of records available for loan for it's student residents and this Stone The Crow's LP was the first one I borrowed.  It was in rough condition but still playable enough to fully appreciate the music that it offered. More than 40 years later, I have located my own 'near mint' copy. Needless to say, my first words when I saw it again after so many years was 'Stone The Crows' !'
As a bonus, I am also including two live tracks taken from the CD re-issue of the album - 'Penicillin Blues' and 'Good Time Girl'.
Track Listing
1) On the Highway
2) One More Chance
3) Penicillin Blues
4) King Tut
5) Good Time Girl *
6) Niagara
7) Sunset Cowboy *
8) Good Time Girl (Live)
9) Penicillin Blues (Live)

Stone The Crows:
Maggie Bell - vocals
Steve Thompson - bass
John McGinnis - keyboards
Collin Allen - drums
Leslie Harvey - guitar
Jimmy McCulloch - guitar *
Stone The Crows MP3 Link (140Mb)

Stone The Crows FLAC Link (282)

Friday, November 22, 2019

Ray Burgess Band - Final Mix (1978) + Bonus Tracks

(Australian 1970 - Present)
Ray Burgess was born on October 26, 1952 and grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton. Whilst in his third year at Clayton Technical School, hre formed his own band and played at parties, local dances and school functions. After leaving school, Ray worked briefly as a bank teller before joining Melbourne band, Redtime. Initially the band's main claim to fame was the fact that they toured Australia as Johnny Farnham's backing group. However, in 1972, Redtime moved to Perth where they became resident band at one of the city's top night clubs. The group also became regulars on Perth television and achieved a high degree of popularity in the west before they returned to Melbourne in 1973.
Back in Victoria, the band experienced no shortage of work in clubs and hotels. However, early in 1974, Ray decided it was time to pursue a solo career.

Within a short period he had scored himself an energetic manager in Neville Kent. A host of bookings followed. Then came television appearances, and, by January 1975, his mammoth hit, 'Touch Me' had entered the charts. Ray's punchy rock style was particularly popular amongst teenagers. He became a regular on pop shows Countdown and Bandstand. His next single was 'Love Fever', which surfaced in July and enjoyed the same success as his first release.

Although Ray was absent from the charts over the next two years, his career was certainly not inactive. He became compere of the TV series Rock'n'Roll Circus, and in July 1976, he moved to Sydney to take over hosting the five day a week national show, Flashez. The show, which was screened via the ABC network, featured a pop news coverage as well as performances from a variety of rock artists. He was eventually nominated for a Logie in 1977 for hosting the show.

Meanwhile, another single, 'Little Boy Sad' (the old Johnny Burnette standard) came to light in May '76. It was followed with Ray's first album, Not So Pretty. The album was produced by Ross Wilson and was aimed at giving him a heavier image. One of the stronger tracks on the LP, 'Sad Rock'n'Roll' (a ballad written by Greg Macainsh), was lifted from it as a single. This was followed by a further single, 'Rock'n'Roll Lightning' in November 1976. Unfortunately, neither record made the charts.

Ray rounded off 1976 by touring as a compere with Status Quo. He then took a vacation-cum-look-around trip to England and the US. With no sign of his popularity waning, Ray moved into 1977, and in May came up with his third national hit single. The song was a remarkably close revival of the 1965 smash hit for Van Morrison's group, Them, entitled 'Gloria'. In the meantime, Flashez' popularity had reached a peak with over 1,000 fan letters being received each week.
As a supplement to the series, a Flashez' Roadshow was introduced to tour near country areas in the vicinity of Melbourne and Sydney. However, the show's frequency restricted Ray's personal appearances.

In July, another Burgess talent came to light with the release of a book of thirty poems by Ray called Love, Peace and Happiness. Another single, 'Midnight Cowboy', came in September. But, perhaps because it didn't follow his punchy rock style success formula, it failed to take off.
Finally, in November 1977, the Flashez series came to an end. Ray moved to Channel 0 in Melbourne where he did the beach shows over the '77/78 summer. [extract from Noel McGrath's Australian Encyclopedia of Rock 1978-79 Yearbook p48-50]

Ray’s natural talent as a performer landed him many guest appearances in 1978. He appeared in Australia’s most respected live television shows including Graham Kennedy’s In Melbourne Tonight, Brian Henderson’s Bandstand, Midday with Mike Walsh, and The Don Lane Show. Furthermore, Ray has worked with other A-list celebrity hosts  with include Paul Hogan and Bert Newton, and he was a regular on game shows Blankety Blanks and Celebrity Squares. In addition to that, Ray hosted Young Talent Time on number of occasions, filling in for regular host, Johnny Young.

Johnny Farnham and Ray
During 1989-1990, Ray hosted the Sky network program After Dark. For more than 17 years now, Ray has been a regular guest celebrity on Perth’s TVW7 Telethon (the biggest fund raiser in the world!). On this platform, he has performed alongside international stars including Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Vic Damone, and Gene Pitney. In June 2008, Ray made a guest appearance on ABC television’s hilarious and well-rated, Spicks & Specks.
Singer, musician, television presenter, host, MC and compĂ©re, Ray has undoubtedly left his mark in Australia’s entertainment industry. After 40 years in the industry, Ray Burgess has a lot to offer; he’s talented, funny, charismatic and, above all, versatile.

Ray Burgess 2012
In 2008, Ray’s daughter, singer Casey Burgess, was hand-picked from to replace Charli Delaney in the hugely popular group kid’s group, Hi-5. During Casey’s short time with Hi-5, she toured, recorder three series, and was featured in the Live H-5 DVD. In like manner, she is now pursuing a solo career. Ray and Casey continue to perform together whenever possible.

In  2013, Ray returned to the charts with a new rock anthem “Legends of the Southern Land”. He is joined by friends and fellow stars John St Peeters, John “Swanee” Swan, Marty Rhone and Tommy Emmanual sharing their love and pride for all Australians.

Interview with Ray (Extracts)
(by Sharyn Hamey / Rock Club 40 / April 12, 2012) 
Ray’s musical career began when he was one of the runners up on New Faces. “1969, I think it was. I got a job with a professional band and toured extensively. We worked as John Farnham’s backing band for probably eighteen months or two years.” Eventually, Ray was invited to venture out into a solo career. “I had a hit record within twelve months, which was more of a shock to me than anybody else,” he recalls.  “At that stage, we were working through the AMBO agency in Melbourne, which was the house of Kevin Lewis and Johnny Young and Young Talent Time. We didn’t have a recording contract. John and Kevin heard the single and they had a contract with Festival and they said ‘We’ll release it.’  And Boom! Boom! It was on the first colour Countdown and away it went!”  The song, of course, was "Touch Me" and, as Ray recalls, he was a bit of a regular on Countdown back then. Unfortunately, many of those episodes from the first two years of Countdown are now lost to us. “I think they reused the tapes and none of it ever got kept,” he explained. “I was lucky when I did "Touch Me" on that colour Countdown because that’s the reason they kept it. It was the first one.”

Then Ray decided to audition for another television show. That show was Flashez and, for the next 18 months or so, he was beamed into lounge rooms all around the country via the ABC. “It was extraordinary stuff.  I guess the television coverage was probably to the detriment of the recording because radio stations were loath to play your music if you were on TV every day.  That message came through quite clearly. From then on, there was a lot of television. There were all those Don Lane Shows. I was a regular on Kennedy’s Blankety Blanks. I just did a lot of TV and continued to work in different genres. I did kids’ shows and I toured and just kept working all over the shop, until about ten or so years ago.  I was working at a club in Sydney, doing a ballad or something,” he recalls “and the poker machines were roaring on the right hand side, people sitting with their backs to you and the band was sort of staring off into space as they were playing and I thought ‘This is not what I did it for.’  If people don’t want to listen, there’s no value in doing it.” And that was when he began to rethink what he was doing and which path he wanted to take.  “I started thinking  ‘what else in life is there to do?’

When Ray stopped performing in a full time capacity, he started working with long term unemployed people, doing community work. “I guess, as an artist, I’ve always been involved in community work, in a way, which led me to work at the community centre, Pole Depot, where I work now.”  About eighteen months ago, Ray was asked by Brian Cadd to become involved in Support Act which is a musician’s benevolent fund in Australia. “He was going overseas and I’d been involved in some fundraising activities and he asked if I’d fill his position on the board, which I was very surprised and honoured with. And when I asked him ‘Why me?’ he said because I’d been involved with community work and at that level in management and board level already. Brian’s overseas again at the moment so I’m again involved in the board.”

He is also involved in community radio. “I’d never done radio before. Radio was always the bane of recording artists,” he laughs, “because you were constantly begging them to play your stuff. There’s one major community radio station here: 90.1 on your dial. I think they cover about 23 to 24% of the Sydney market. And we specialise in 60s and 70s music which is right up my alley. I do play more modern music occasionally. It’s great and it gives me a platform to talk about the programs that Pole Depot run which are very important and relevant as well. And, in the wider music community, it also gives me a chance to talk to people who were my peers, my mates. I recently had a discussion with Darryl Cotton. He was here with Russell Morris and Jim Keays and I said ‘Guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to us on air.’ and Darryl said ‘No, thank you! There’s so few that want to know anymore and we’ve got to use all the resources we can to let the people know we’re still alive, still working and still around.’ ”

“There are other industry things I get involved with too. I sing occasionally. I did a gig recently with Marty Rhone, Dinah Lee and John Paul Young which was a couple of hours of hits which was mighty.” he smiles. “It’s great to be treading the boards again.”

Thinking back over his long and varied career, Ray considers what the highlights were for him. “I suppose,” he ponders, “a major highlight was when I first heard ‘Touch Me’ played on radio. It was released on 16th December 1974 and traditionally in the lead up week, playlists get locked in over the Christmas period and they don’t change until about the second week of February and I thought ’Well, if it doesn’t get picked up this week, it’s history. But who cares? Let’s do it anyway. If I’ve got a little piece of vinyl, then that’s great. It’s better than some have got!’  It got picked up by 3XY in Melbourne on Christmas Eve and I heard it when I was driving home on the South-Eastern Freeway that afternoon and it was such a buzz.”

He pauses for a moment. “But, really, it’s the people you met on the journey and the mates you make along the way.”  He relates a story to show me exactly what he is referring to. “You know, there’s a lady who comes to our shows here in Sydney who suffers from cerebral palsy. She’s about fifty and she gets herself in a wheelchair and gets a cab by herself and if you ask ‘Do you want us to help you?’ she says ‘No. I’m fine.’  She just lives and loves music and she can get out there to some of the shows… while we sometimes think ‘Oh should I do it?’ and you’ve got someone like that with such a restriction on what they can do, what an amazing person! People think it’s about the things they can’t do but people with a disability say ‘No, it’s about the things I can do!’

Ray is clearly very content with his life at the moment, and finds his work extremely rewarding. “The gamut of experiences is fantastic and it gives you a really good broad spectrum of life. It helps you appreciate what it is and what it should be. Life can be wonderful one minute and turn on its head the next. That’s what makes it interesting,” he smiles. “My life is never the same, two weeks in a row.”

For the full interview, see rockclub40.com

Ray's Countdown Years
Ray Burgess, another member of Countdown's melancholy chorus, also conveyed mixed messages to teenage girls. Half wanting to put his picture on their bedroom walls, they found that alongside the sexpots in Skyhooks and Sherbet, Ray offered less justification to burden the Blu-Tack.
Burgess, a former bankteller from the outer Melbourne suburb of Clayton, hosted the ABC pop show Flashez for the two years of its life. With his dimples and immovable hair. Burgess had a suburban charisma, the local boy made good. But his sexuality, like decaffeinated coffee and phone sex, just wasn't the real thing. His tight satin pants housed treasures that the Countdown generation wanted to excavate for a brief period only. It was certainly the first time in the short history of Countdown that teenage girls understood the word restraint. Ray was just too much of an all-round nice guy and not enough of a pop star. It was like trying to find a TV host sexy. But it must be said that his rendition of "Touch Me" (taken from his 'Not So Pretty' album) did cause several girls to reach Rayward.

Couldn 't get to sleep in my room last night 
Something wasn't quite the same
Just as I was reaching for the nearest light 
I heard someboy calling my name 
[Chorus] Touch me, Ooh, I get the feeling 
Huh, it feels good.'

Burgess now gives himself the benefit of the doubt. "I was a bit of a sex symbol, wasn't I? The wife didn't like it very much. But I was one of the good boys. The wife was either in the studio or on the road with me."
Hosting Flashez killed Burgess's pop career, just as Countdown, the steamroller, killed Flashez because it represented competition that was not appreciated. ABC management did not see the need for both shows. With the demise of his pop and TV career Burgess hit the Leagues Club circuit, doing Beatles and Billy Joel songs. He worked the casinos all around the country, including special nights among the high-rollers in Darwin.
[Extract from 'Glad All Over: The Countdown Years 1974-1987, Peter Wilmoth' p97-98]
This post consists of FLACs ripped from my recently acquired vinyl, sourced from another good day at the local flee market, and in mint, mint condition.  When I spotted the album, something rang in my ears....  'TOUCH ME, Ooh, I get the feeling, Huh, it feels good.', so I picked it up.
Full album artwork and label scans are also included.  To sweeten the deal, I've added as a bonus Ray's 1981 promotional single "The Golden City" (which pays homage to Bendigo's gold rush days) along with it's B-Side "Rachel's Song".   I really enjoy Ray's cover of Them's "Gloria" and Judas Priest's "The Ripper", although I don't think this album is as strong as his debut LP "Not So Pretty" which I might consider posting at a later date if there is enough interest.  That's a hint people -  so don't forget to comment.
Track listing: 
01 - I Want You I Need You (Vanda-Young)
02 - Love Stealer (Wainman-Myhill)
03 - The Ripper (Tipton)
04 - Deeper and Deeper (Van Wormer)
05 - Stay Awhile Stay (Peter Jennings)
06 - Black Is Black (Wadley-Jones-Grainger)
07 - When You Lose Someone You Love (Burgess)
08 - Love Rustler (Linds-Cain)
09 - GLORIA (Morrison)
10 - Drift Away (Burgess) 
11 - The Golden City (Don Mudie)
12 - Rachel's Song (Ray Burgess)

The Album "Final Mix" was produced by Ross Burton 
The engineers were Ian McKenzie and Ross Cockle and the studio was Armstrongs in Melbourne

Guitars: Tony Naylor
Bass: Graham Thompson
Keyboards: Peter Sullivan
Drums: Barry Cram
Sax: Bill Harrower
Backing Vocals: Chrissie and Lindsay Hammond (Cheetah)/Ross Burton/Adrian Campbell/Tony Naylor/Barry Cram