Thursday, May 30, 2013

W.O.C.K On Vinyl - Redgum: Roll It On Robbie (1987)

Before things get too serious here at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song / album at the end of each month, that could be categorized as being either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.
Formed in Adelaide, Australia in 1975, the success of Redgum’s brand of folk/rock political satire has since been regarded as an anomaly, albeit thoroughly deserved. The core members comprised university students John Schumann (vocals/guitar), Verity Truman (vocals/tin whistle/saxophone), Michael Atkinson (vocals/guitar/mandolin), and have in the past included 15 other musicians.
After going professional the band built up their support base by constant touring featuring an excellent live show, with stage wit provided by Schumann, whose droll voice was the antithesis of the traditional rock hero. Their debut album provides some of their best material, comprising typically astute observations on the rich, the hypocritical, politicians and the plight of the under privileged, but it was only originally available on a small independent label. National mainstream success was not achieved until the release of ‘I Was Only 19’, in 1983, a song written about a survivor of the Vietnam war, which compares favourably with three other poignant anti-war songs by fellow Australians - ‘Jungle Green’ by Broderick Smith, ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ by Eric Bogle and ‘Khe Sahn’ by Cold Chisel. A second hit single, the reggae-flavoured ‘I’ve Been To Bali Too’ (1984) hit home with many Australian tourists. As the band lost more original members, they began to lack their characteristic bite even though their albums became better produced.
This, their third Australian chart single from 1987, ‘Roll It On Robbie’, caused outrage amongst the conservative elements of the country because it encouraged the use of condoms to promote safe-sex. A non-LP single, it was intended as a humorous promotion for the use of condoms and the fight against the spread od AIDS.  It was Redgum's final single release and it entered the Top 40 Charts, but the now-rare single was regarded more as a novelty song than a serious piece of social advice. Composer John Schuman now reportedly considers the song "an embarrassment" which is a shame, as the intentions behind this single were quite honourable in my opinion.[extract from
John Schumanns's Website]
Below is an article from Juke 1987 regarding this single, which refers to Ansell's intention to provide one free condom with each single sold. It would seem however, that Redgum's record company CBS were not comfortable with this proposal as the company feared it might be liable for any malfunction in the condom provided.
So, whether this month's entry into the 'WOCK on Vinyl' Hall of Fame is the O for Obscure (there's one copy selling on eBay at the moment for $50) or simply the C in Condom, I reckon  "Roll It On Robbie" deserves another 'stretch' in the limelight.
Track Listing

01 - Roll It On Robbie
02 - Empty Page
Redgum Were:
Hugh McDonald - lead vocals, guitar
Verity Truman -vocals
Michael Spicer - keyboard, vocals
Darren Deland - bass, vocals
Malcolm Wakeford - drums, vocals


Redgum Link (20Mb)

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