(New Zealand 1965-75)
Kevin Borich is one of Australia’s leading guitar virtuoso. He arrived with the La De Das from New Zealand and they proved themselves to be one of the tightest hardworking rock & roll bands in the world. They took the Australian charts by storm with tracks like Borich's “Gonna See My Baby Tonight” and Chuck Berry's " Too Pooped To Pop" which had the smarts of great pop records underpinned by a crack band. [quote by Glenn A. Baker]
Borich recalls their early days on his website:
Trevor Wilson (bass), Brett Neilsen (drums) and yours truly were "The Mergers" jammin at Rutherford High School. Phil Key joins, Trev's mum calls us the La De Da's, we hate the poofy name but go with it cause it's weird enough. We play around Auckland and Bruce Howard (keyboards) joins, we have hit singles and hit albums and loving fans. After coming to OZ the band was akin to the 10 Little Indians (I ended up the last Indian).
Roll Call - Bryan Harris (drums), Keith Barber (drums) - stuck with me up to "Rock n Roll Sandwich", Reno Tehei (guitar), Ronnie "Rockwell" Peel (bass), Peter Hardinge (aka Roberts) (bass). All helped forge my musical style especially Bruce, Keith and Reno. Great guys, Great times, we were so hip (well we thought so).
"Gonna See My Baby Tonight" was written coming back from touring Queensland in Swampy's famous dual wheeled, aeroplane seated, Ford Transit van. I heard it on the radio going to a show, great feeling (that kid feeling). Still get it.
Alongside the likes of The Pleazers, Chants R&B, The Avengers, The Gremlins, The Underdogs, Larry's Rebels and Human Instinct, La De Das were at the forefront of a vibrant New Zealand pop scene. La De Das' debut single, "Little Girl"/"Ever Since that Night" (June 1965), was a
low-key slice of Rolling Stones-derived R&B Boogie issued on the local Talent City label. Bruce Howard (organ, vocals) joined La De Das in 1965 and the band turned professional. La De Das signed to Philips and issued the classic single, The Blues Magoos' "How is the Air Up There?" / "The Pied Piper", which reached #4 on the New Zealand charts in May 1966. The single also topped the Sydney charts.
The La De Das' release ‘The Happy Prince’ was Australia’s first concept album. With new drummer Keith Barber (ex-Wild Cherries) on board, the band set about recording its ambitious concept album The Happy Prince (based on the Oscar Wilde fairytale).
1969 was the year of the rock opera (The Pretty Things' S.F. Sorrow, The Who's Tommy, The Kinks' Arthur) and, upon its release in April, The Happy Prince was praised for its quality musicianship and production values. Despite the fine playing, it was an overly serious and flawed album, and duly sank without a trace. "Come and Fly with Me" / "Swallow Little Swallow" was lifted as a single in May.
La De Das flew to the UK in April 1969. By that stage, psychedelia had been replaced by Led Zeppelin-style heavy blues, and La De Das' brand of soft psychedelic pop was outdated. La De Das did record a version of The Beatles' "Come Together"/"Here is Love" as a single (September 1969), but the disastrous nine-month UK sojourn did little for the band's confidence.
Back in Australia, La De Das changed direction again, and were eventually hailed as one of the funkiest, hard- -driving rock outfits in Australia. By 1972 it was this concept of straightforward, gutsy rock'n'roll which resulted in the La De Das, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and Daddy Cool becoming the country's three top groups.
1970 had been a transitional year for the band, and by the end of it Howard had left to join Levi Smith's Clefs (and later Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs), Wilson had also departed (later to join Home) and Tehei had been deported back to New Zealand. With the addition of Peter Roberts on bass (ex-Freshwater), La De Das spent 1971 consolidating their position as one of the hardest working bands on the scene.
The funky, infectious singles "Gonna See My Baby Tonight"/"Fare Thee Well" (September 1971) which brought them a Top Ten hit, spending twenty-eight weeks in all in the charts, and "Morning Good Morning"/"You and Me" (March 1972) featured Phil Key on vocals. Key and Roberts left in October 1972 to form Band of Light, and as a three-piece (with new bass player Ronnie Peel; ex-Missing Links, Pleazers, Rockwell T. James and the Rhythm Aces, Browns, One Ton Gypsy), the La De Das pulled out all stops.
The La De Das featured prominently at the inaugural Sunbury Pop Festival which also featured Billy Thorpe, Max Merritt, Spectrum, and Chain in January 1972, and alongside The Aztecs and Friends managed to attract one of the largest crowds ever assembled in Australia at a concert at Melbourne's Myer Music Bowl (estimated at over 200,000 people).
Borich was now firmly entrenched as Australia's guitar hero supremo; his superb rendition of Jimi Hendrix's workout on Dylan's `All Along the Watchtower' became a signature, and the band was never allowed to finish a gig until delivering it. The fiery LP 'Rock and Roll Sandwich' (the band's first album in five years, issued November 1973 and probably the first Kevin Borich album) considered their best album and came nearest to capturing their admired live energy on vinyl. Kevin Borich wrote (or co-wrote) all the material, sang every song and backed them superbly with electric and/or acoustic guitars and piano. It remains a classic boogie rock album. The singles "I'll Never Stop Loving You"/ "It's the Beginning" (December 1972) and "The Place" / "No Law Against Having Fun" (March 1974) maintained the pace but were not chart hits.
The band's final singles, punchy, commercial covers of Chuck Berry's "Too Pooped to Pop"/ "She Tell Me What to Do" (#26 in July 1974) and Hank Williams' "Honky Tonkin''/ "Temple Shuffle" (August 1974), were minor national hits. "Too Pooped to Pop" also peaked at #13 in Melbourne. La De Das supported UK glam-rocker Gary Glitter on his July 1974 Australian tour.
In March 1975, EMI gathered up the band's recent singles and four unissued tracks for the compilation album 'Legend', in a superb gatefold sleeve with an intricate leather work pattern, as something of a contractual obligation (tracks were recorded from 1971-1974).
As 1975 progressed, the problems were growing. Radio was ignoring them, the touring was taking its toll, Keith Barber was becoming increasingly erratic and difficult. After ten hard years, Kevin realised that nothing tangible had really been achieved and the only thing laying ahead was more of the same. In May 1975, Kevin officially announced that the La De Das would disband. After the demise of the La De Das, Kevin formed the Kevin Borich Express. Phil Key died of a heart attack in 1984. Trevor Wilson still plays in Australia.
Bruce Howard relocated to London, where he still works as a songwriter. Brett Neilson lives in Auckland where he is still active on the pub circuit [extract from Borich's website]
For a more extensive biography of the La De Das, see the Midoztouch website. Note the alternative 'Legend' front cover displayed below.
This post consists of a rip taken from my 'prized' vinyl copy (320kps) which is in immaculate condition I might add! Artwork is provided for both LP and CD releases, along with bonus live tracks taken from the Sunbury 1972 concert and a 1971 performance on the ABC TV show, GTK
This compilation covers my favourite La De Das era, however an earlier discography (1966-67) can now be obtained on CD from Ascension Records called 'The La De Das ~ How Is The Air Up There? 1966-1967'.
01 - Gonna See My Baby Tonight *
02 - Morning Good Morning *
03 - I Guess I'll Never Stop Loving You
04 - It's The Beginning
05 - Honky Tonkin'
06 - Too Pooped To Pop
07 - Feel Like A Dog
08 - Sentimental Rose
09 - I'm In Love Again #
10 - All Along The Watchtower +
11 - Morning Good Morning (Live at Sunbury 1972)
12 - Roundabout (Live at Sunbury 1972)
13 - Gonna See My Baby Tonight (Live at Sunbury 1972)
14 - All Along The Watchtower (GTK 1971)
Kevin Borich (Lead guitar and vocals)
Phil Key (Rhythm guitar and vocals) *
Peter Roberts (Bass) *
Ron Peel (Bass and vocals)
Keith Barber (Drums)
Jimmy Taylor (Piano) #
Tom Sparkes (Saxophone) #
Bruno Lawrence +
La De Das Link (134Mb) New Link 20/10/2015