Sunday, June 16, 2013

Various Artists - A Hair Of The Dog (1974)

(Various Australian Artists)
A 12 track sampler from EMI's top Australian pop albums, this is a very rare Australian Various Artists compilation album. Some of the artists featured on this album went onto bigger and better things (eg. Johnny Farnham, Ariel and Ross Ryan) while others simply disappeared off the grid (eg. Pirana, The Ormsby Brothers).  The following are brief bio's on the featured group, while the back cover of the album provides details about the albums from which these tracks were lifted.
The tracks themselves are not the singles that were officially released from the albums, which makes this sampler even more desirable from a collectors point of view.
Overall, there is a wide range of musical styles represented on this sampler, from cabaret, to popular to progressive rock. Not the greatest album cover which probably didn't help EMI in their venture to promote the artists showcased, but the title is quite cliche' and clever (hopefully when you hear one track from the album, you'll want more and consequently buy the LP)

(Both "Worm Turning Blues" and "And If It Wasn't For You" taken from LP 'A Strange Fantastic Dream)
Ariel formed in mid-1973, after the breakup of Spectrum. When Spectrum drummer Ray Arnott announced he was leaving to join Ross Wilson's new band Mighty Kong, Putt and Rudd decided to end the band rather than try to recruit a new member, feeling that it wouldn't be possible to recreate the special spirit of the group. Within a few months of Spectrums's farewell performance a new band (its name taken from the character in Shakespeare's "The Tempest") was up and running. Ironically, the two new members, Tim and Nigel, had originally come to Melbourne to work with Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford on their new project (which became Mighty Kong) and it was after they departed that Ray Arnott was invited to join, thus precipitating the split of Spectrum!
Strong record company interest in Ariel quickly led to a contract with EMI's progressive Harvest imprint. Their superb debut single Jamaican Farewell looked set to repeat the early success of Spectrum but it managed to reach only No.34, its success hampered by lack of airplay, especially in Sydney. They toured as support to Gary Glitter November 1973 and released their excellent first LP 'Strange Fantastic Dream' in December, with writing credits split fairly evenly between Gaze and Rudd. According to Noel McGrath, the album was also the first use of Moog synthesizer on an Australian rock record. It fared very well commercially and critically, reaching No 12 in the LP charts in February 1974.
Ross Ryan
("Goodbye Mitchy" was taken from LP 'A Poem You Can Keep', "There Is No Pain" was taken from LP 'My Name Means Horse')
Ross Ryan is one of Australia's most respected and successful singer-songwriters. Like his contemporaries Greg Quill and Mike McClellan, he emerged from the folk scene, and enjoyed brief chart prominence in the mid-70's with his 1974 hit single "I Am Pegasus", for which he is probably best remembered these days.
In March, 1973 he released his second album, 'A Poem You Can Keep', which got his career off to a flying start. Produced by Dawkins, engineered by former Abbey Rd chief Martin Benge, and arranged by Peter Martin, it spawned a hit single "I Don’t Want To Know About It", won 'Record Of The Year' at the Australian Record Federation Awards for 1973 and earned Ross a second gong as 'Best New Talent'.
In November '73, Ross supported Helen Reddy on her national tour, coinciding with the release of his new single, "I Am Pegasus" (b/w "Country Christine Waltz"). It was a runaway success, becoming one of the most successful Australian singles of the year, and the biggest hit of Ross's career, earning him the first of four first gold records. It went to #1 in Sydney, reached #9 nationally, and stayed on the top forty for an extraordinary twenty-three weeks. 
Ross made a memorable appearance at the 1974 Sunbury Festival in January, followed up by the release of his third album in January 1974 and the subsequent release of the single "Orchestra Ladies". Propelled by the huge success of the "Horse" single, the Horse LP was also a major hit -- it sold 15,000 copies within two weeks, in March it was declared "gold", and it peaked at #3 nationally in April 1974. It eventually earned Ross three gold record awards and stayed in the charts for 17 weeks. In March Ross made another short US trip, performing concert and clubs dates, after which he briefly returned home, when Prime Minister Gough Whitlam presented him with gold record awards for both the album My Name Means Horse and "I am Pegasus" [extract from Milesago]
("Then Came The Light" taken from LP Pirana II)
For anyone who is hopelessly hooked on progressive and classic rock of the 70s, Pirana is simply a must. "Pirana" was a short-lived act from the 70s, which was one of the major driving forces and attractions in Australian music scene in these years.
Pirana was formed in 1970 by Stan White (keyboards), Jim Duke-Yonge (drums), Tony Hamilton (vocals, guitar) and Graeme Thompson (bass) as a new musical venture for the latter three following their tenure in pop band Gus & The Nomads. Their first recording were as a backing band for a solo album by Greg Quill, but in 1971 they were signed by legendary record label Harvest and soon got busy making their debut album.
Pirana I hit the shops in 1971, and while their debut album didn't exactly set the world on fire the band quickly established themselves as a popular live act. For anyone who is hopelessly hooked on progressive and classic rock of the 70s, it's simply a must. Too often the description of their music is concentrated on the influence of Santana - yes, that's difficult to deny, but "Pirana" performed their own unique version of quite heavy prog rock balancing on the verge of acid/hard, not unlike their British peers, with powerful drumming, roaring guitars and lengthy Hammond solos. In my humble opinion the influence of Santana is grossly exaggerated. "Stand Back" from the first album is a true masterpiece featuring exceptional drumming solos, while the opening track from the second album - "Pirana" - is mesmerizing tune inspired by Maurice Ravel's "Bolero".
Stan White left the band shortly after the release of their first album and was replaced by Keith Greig. And with White out of the band guitarist Hamilton had a more prominent place as a songwriter for Pirana's second effort Pirana II, issued late in 1972. A direct result of that was that the band started moving slightly away from their Latin-inspired sound. They never managed to hit the big time with their second LP unfortunately, not even a superb performance at 1972's Sunbury festival gave the band the true commercial breakthrough they required. Indeed, the latter actually cemented their reputation as a Santana-influenced act, and while their credibility as a live unit soared their merits, their studio efforts remained unrecognised.
Grieg left the band in 1972, and a flurry of line-up changes followed for the next couple of years, until Pirana fizzled out to disbandment in late 1974.
The Ormsby Brothers
(Both "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" taken from their Selftitled LP)
The Ormsby Brothers were: Neville Ormsby, Michael Ormsby and Adrian Ormsby. Their sound was almost like the USA Osmond Brothers who were enjoying world-wide success at the time, and I'm sure these two groups have been confused at some stage by the unwarey.
The boys were born in New Zealand and began vocalising together as a group in 1967. In September, 1971 they moved to Australia. Their first single was 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' which was released just prior to Christmas, 1972. The following year they recorded Lesley Gore's 'You Don't Own Me' which became their first and only hit, making the top ten in all states. It reached #2 and stayed in the charts for 20 weeks. Music producer Peter Dawkins said he looked back on that single, engineered by former Beatles studio assistant and later Sherbet producer Richard Lush, as the best of his early Australian productions.
Following on from the single's success they released an album entitled The Ormsby Brothers which won for them the 1973 Easy Listening Vocal Award presented by the Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasters.
The latter part of the year was crammed with television and live appearances all over Australia with the highlight being part of the first concert presented at the Sydney Opera House.
In December they released their next single, 'Sweet Virginia' which sold only moderately and since 1975 they've been singing in the Sydney club circuit. Although they were not contracted to a record company at the end of 1977, they had plans of putting together an album in the near future.
Strangely enough, Chris Spencer's Who's Who Of Australian rock makes no refernce to this group.
Johnny Farnham
("My Love" from the LP 'Johnny Farnham sings the big hits of '73 Live' and "Don't You Know It's Magic" from the LP "Hits Magic & Rock 'N' Roll")
John Farnham, aka Farnsy, Johnny, Whispering Jack and The Voice is an iconic Australian entertainer whose career has spanned over four decades.
Farnham was born on the 1st July 1949 in England and moved to Melbourne at the age of 10 and has lived here ever since. This wannabe plumber took a break from his apprenticeship in order to pursue a music career which has seen him become one of Australia's best-loved performers with a career spanning over 40 years.
In 1967, Sadie (The Cleaning Lady) was his first hit which topped the Australian charts for six-weeks running.  Selling 180,000 copies in Australia, "Sadie" was the highest selling single by an Australian artist of the decade. Farnham's debut studio album, Sadie was issued in April 1968.
He later released a cover of BJ Thomas's "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" in 1969, which also reached the #1 position on the Australian charts.
Most of his early 70's material could be classified as being both Pop and Cabaret music, but he soon reinvented himself in the early 80's with the help of Glenn Wheatley to be labelled as one of the best voices in Australian rock.
The Coloured Balls
("Whole Lotta Shakin" taken from the LP 'Ball Power')
Original line-up: Mick Hadley (vocals); Robbie Van Delft (lead guitar); Rob Dames (bass guitar); Peter Miles (drums); Sam Shannon (vocals).
The band was formed in Brisbane following the breakup of the Purple Hearts. Mick and Rob were from the Hearts; Robbie was from the Bowery Boys; and Peter and Sam had had a variety of experience.
In 1971, Lobby Lloyd took over on guitar and the group, all sporting 'skinhead' hair styles, gained a reputation as a loud band after the style of the Aztecs.
By August 1972, the line-up had changed totally and included Trevor Young (drums); Lobby Lloyd (guitar); John Miglands (bass guitar); and Bobsie Millar (guitar). The band's first notable single was "Liberate Rock", which was written by Lobby. Most of the backing was provided by the Aztecs prior to the hew Coloured Balls being formed. Although it didn't quite make the charts, the single did make history being the first in Australia to be advertised on radio.
The Coloured Balls

The follow-up was "Mr. Mean Mouth"/"Love Me Girl" in May '73. Then in September they enjoyed their first chart success with a revival of Elvis Presley's "Mess Of Blues". Later, in November, came a single called "Flash", and in December they released their best selling 'Ball Power' album.
Another single by the boys, "Love You Babe", charted midway through 1974, but unfortunately the group disbanded not long after. However, in May 1976, an album entitled The First Supper Last, which was recorded in 1972 with the line-up at that stage, was released on the Rainbird label.
Lobby initially went solo, recording for Bootleg Records. In 1976 he released an LP with the Southern Electric Band called Obsecration which was also on the Rainbird label. Then, in 1977 he left for England. Trevor Young turned up in popular band, Fingerprint, in 1977.
Jeannie Lewis
("Fasten Your Wings With Love" taken from the LP 'Free Fall Through Featrherless Flight')
Jeannie Lewis is widely acknowedged as one of Australia's most accomplished, versatile and passionate vocal artists, and a performer whose work crosses many musical boundaries. Jeannie started her singing career on the Sydney folk and jazz circuit in the mid-1960's then moved into the rock scene in the early 70s, establishing a strong reputation through her dynamic performances and powerful interpretations of songs both on stage and on the outstanding recordings she made in those years. During the 80's and 90's she continued to develop and broaden her career, with roles in musical theatre and the unique one-woman cabaret shows that reflected her growing love of Latin music, and her commitment to the often-underrated role of women's voices in music. Jeannie can adapt her voice to a large and eclectic range of material -- folk, rock, blues, opera, torch songs, Broadway tunes, tango and jazz -- and she is recognised both here and overseas as a peerless interpreter, with a rare ability to make almost any material her own.
Jeannie Lewis

In 1973 EMI issued Jeannie's classic debut album, Free Fall Through Featherless Flight, arranged and directed by Carlos. Its cover was designed by renowned Australian artist Martin Sharp whose first record designs were the classic psychedelic covers for Cream's Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire LP's
Backing Jeannie on the album was an all-star lineup including Michael Carlos on Moog, organ and harpsichord, Mike Wade and Mike Reid (guitars), Ken Firth (bass; ex-Tully), Jamie McKinley (ex-Cool Bananas, piano), Greg Henson (drums), Alan Lee (percussion), Marcia Hines (backing vocals), Shayna Stewart (backing vocals, ex-Extradition, Tully), The Fidelio String Quartet and a wind section. The album won the Australian Radio Record Award for the Best Australian LP of 1974, despite receiving virtually no radio support whatsoever outside the ABC, although it was featured on Chris Winter's pioneering show Room To Move, and gained further airplay in the early days of radio station 2JJ (Double Jay) in Sydney.
The La De Das
("The Place" taken from the LP 'Rock and Roll Sandwich')
Original line-up: Bryan Harris (drums); Trevor Wilson (bass); Bruce Howard (organ/sax); Phillip Key (lead vocals); Kevin Borich (lead guitar).
The band formed in New Zealand in 1965 and after reaching the top there (with their single, "Hey Baby" which made number one), they left for Sydney two years later.
On their arrival in Australia they received little attention from their recording company who at first refused to let them record. As a result they fell into a rut working steadily, but uneventfully, in Melbourne and Sydney. Then early in 1968 they decided to buy new instruments and develop a new act. The change brought with it a renewed interest in the band and in March, 1969 they released their highly acclaimed 'Happy Prince' album. Two months later they left Australia to try their luck in England. Other, more renowned groups, had tried before them without success and the La De Das found the going just as tough. They returned in April, 1970 minus Trevor and his place was taken by Reno Tehei (ex-Genesis and Compulsion). In the meantime their album had sold steadily during their absence, and later in the year Bryan left and he was replaced by Keith Barber.
More line-up changes occurred in January, 1971 when Bruce left to form a duo with Trevor, and Reno also moved out. The band added Peter Roberts and reformed as follows: Phil Keys (vocals and guitar); Peter Roberts (bass); Keith barber (drums); and Kevin Borich (vocals and guitar).
They consolidated with the new format and released a new single, "Sweet Girl"/"I Can't Find A Reason". Then in November, '71 came the breakthrough they had been waiting for when they made the charts with one of their biggest hits "Gonna See My Baby Tonight". Another hit was achieved six months later with "Morning Good Morning". But, just as they seemed destined to become the superstars they had tried so long to be, the band experienced another setback. In September, '72 Peter and Phil left to form the Band of Light. But not to be discouraged, the band took on Ronnie Peel (ex-One Ton Gypsy and Thunderclap Norman) to play bass and worked as a trio.
The new three piece format created a new vigour, with Kevin having to work harder on guitar, and in November, 72 they released an exciting single called "I'll Never Stop Loving You". From there they settled into a hectic pattern of work and in July, 1973 they issued their notorious Rock'n'Roll Sandwich album.
The following year was their last together, but included a single, "The Place" (May, 74), a tour with Gary Glitter (July, 74) and also a re-entry into the charts with Chuck Berry's old rocker "Too Pooped to Pop".
Kevin went on to form Kevin Borich Express while Ronnie recorded under the alias of Rockwell T. James as well as playing with John Paul Young's All Stars.
This post consists of an MP3 rip (320kps) taken from my vinyl copy of the EMI sampler, which I recently found at a flee market for the pricely sum of $2. Also included is full album artwork and label scans, plus all photos featured here. Please note that a majority of the band bio's were sourced from: Australian Encyclopedia of Rock (Noel McGrath, 1978. Outback Press) and the Milesago Website.
Track Listing
01 - Worm Turning Blues (Ariel)
02 - Goodbye Mitchy (Ross Ryan)
03 - Then Came The Light (Pirana)
04 - My Love (Johnny Farnham)

05 - Da Doo Ron Ron (The Ormsby Brothers)
06 - Whole Lotta Shakin' (Coloured Balls)
07 - Don't You Know It's Magic (Johnny Farnham)
08 - The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore (The Ormsby Brothers)
09 - Fasten Your Wings With Love (Jeannie Lewis)
10 - The Place (The La De Da's)
11 - There Is No Pain (Ross Ryan)
12 - And If It Wasn't For You (Ariel)

EMI Sampler Link (101Mb)


  1. Enjoyed the Pirana review - an album I've never encountered despite a long-term relationship with things progressive.

  2. Thanks for dropping bye Vinyl Connection - nice alias by the way ! Hope you enjoy your stay
    Pirana were a brilliant and very talented Aussie band. Anyone who can produce a sound close to the infamous Santana must be talented, in my books.
    Pity they didn't last more than two albums though.
    I plan to post Pirana I & II very soon by the way - so stay tuned.

  3. Hi Guy thanks for this one love these early Aussie various artist comps nothing new on here for me I just like to have it with the artwork.

  4. I'm a listener from the State looking for a good introduction to Aussie rock. As you may imagine, most of this stuff is just completely unavailable over here. Any recommendations?

  5. Hi cs1969ny
    My Aussie favourites with a selection of style would have to be Bakery (progressive rock), Carson (blues and boogie), Ayers Rock or Pirana (jazz rock), Kevin Borich (hard rock) and Sherbet (popular). So this would be a good start - sure you won't be disappointed.

  6. Why is Rock n Roll Sandwich "notorious" ??

    1. Generally, this album is well known and talked about in most Aussie circles, so I guess this is what I was trying to express.
      One of my favourite La De Das LP's by the way