Sunday, May 15, 2016

Easybeats - Steady On (1995) Bootleg

(Australian 1964–1969, 1986)
Although the Easybeats did not set out to seek trouble, it always seemed to find them. They were snappy dressers with long hair, and the girls went berserk at the sight of them. Harry told the Verbatim radio program:

We were never the sort of guys to throw TVs out of hotel windows. But with all the hysteria, it was always pandemonium. So you didn't have to do much. You could be nice and polite and still get into a lot of trouble because of all the pandemonium surrounding us. Then there was the women, which didn't go down well with the guys. It was a really weird ride.

Long hair was at the root of the problem. It seems a trivial matter today, but in those days, anything longer than 'short back and sides' was a symbol of a particular youth sub-culture. If you were a male follower of the British explosion, you threw away your Californian Poppy hair oil and let your hair grow over your ears and collar. Parents didn't like it so it became a symbol of rebellion. Unfortunately, other Australian male sub-cultures equated long hair with being effeminate, triggering a violent homophobia. Bobby and Laurie reputedly had the longest hair in Australia, but Stevie Wright was not far behind: 'My father was a sergeant in the army and you know what sergeants think about long hair.' While on their second visit to Melbourne, Mike Vaughan employed his favourite trick of inviting local DJs to a free function. The venue for this one was at the very plush Windsor Hotel opposite Parliament House. The boys dressed up and were on their best behaviour. On this occasion, a bunch of labourers happened to be drinking at the public bar. George describes what happened next:

They started laughing at us, calling us poofs and abusing the shit out of us. Eventually one of them called us 'Pommie Bastards' or something. So fuck it, we tore into these guys and started beating the shit out of them - disc jockey, politician, we didn't give a shit. Of course we got a hiding in the end, but it was worth it - you can only take so much.

The boys were totally outnumbered and outsized by the hefty labourers. George, Stevie and Snowy were all 5 feet 6 inches (168 cm) or less and Dick not much more! After the fight broke up, they returned inside, battered, bloodied and dishevelled, fearing that they had blown their chance to make a good impression in Melbourne. Fortunately, the DJs thought it was great and acclaimed this as the most enjoyable launch they had ever attended. The reports that appeared the next day trumpeted: 'Sydney group the Easybeats proved that long hair was no indication of sissyness!' But more importantly, they started playing the record.

George's brother-in-law, Sam Horsburgh, usually accompanied the band as road manager and protector. During a trip to Goulburn which Sam was unable to take, they were confronted by some local louts at a roadhouse. A fight broke out and the Easybeats sought refuge inside. Realising that they had to get moving, but suspecting that the three men would be waiting for them somewhere along the highway, they loaded up their station wagon with bottles, bricks and a big cast iron gas cylinder. Soon enough, the three did appear but received a pelting with bottles and bricks. The final act of aggressive self-defence was to open up the tailgate of the station wagon and push out the cylinder which then crashed into the louts' car, sending it careering off the road.

The Easybeats did a tour of northern Queensland with the bluesy R8B outfit Purple Hearts. While guitar legend Lobby Loyde was waiting for a hamburger in a country town, an old local redneck objected to the length of his hair and put a knife to Lobby's throat. George Young and Harry Vanda were close at hand and leapt to action. Lobby described what happened: 'George head-butted the prick. He's about two foot tall but, mate, don't get in his road, he's a killer. He just went boof! Then big Harry leaned over him and said, "Don't get up", which he didn't do. Harry could throw a good blow too, I might tell you.'
[Extract from Vanda & Young: Inside Australia's Hit Factory, by John Tait, New South Books 2010. p28-30]

The Steady On Story
In the history of 20th century popular culture, there was little to rival the global phenomenon of Beatlemania.  Even behind the Iron Curtin of the U.S.S.R, the British Invasion had crept through, via the underground bootlegs of tapes and records printed on X-rays (known as “Records On Bones”). In Siberia, a young man named George Crotty was one of the many Soviet teenagers taken by the pop group.  At aged 19, his love for beat music was such that he was already fronting his own beat band called The Q. To his friends, he was given the nickname Nesa Bitls (pronounced Nesher Beatles).

In the late 1960’s, Crotty immigrated to Sydney, Australia.  Because of his easy going nature and exuberant personality, he found it easy to make friends.  His passion for the rock music of the 1960’s continued as he began to collect the rock groups of his newly adopted country.  One Australian group in particular was The Easybeats.  The high regard in which Crotty held the band was well known through-out the collector’s circuit.  And being based in Sydney, the spiritual home of the group and their label Albert Productions, it was inevitable.

In the mid 1970’s, he summoned the courage to visit the label.  With the goal of meeting his idols Harry Vanda and George Young, he was successful beyond his wildest dreams.  His open personality and unabashed enthusiasm for the duo’s music made him a friend to everyone at Alberts – including Harry and George.  If that wasn't enough, after sometime, George Young gave Crotty access to the recordings the group had accumulated in the Albert Studio Vaults.  With his domestic grade tape recorder, Crotty began to make copies of the band’s acetates, demo reels and studio outtakes for his own private collection.  Although the quality of Crotty’s tape recorder wasn't “professional”, it was still an honour to have recordings these unreleased treasures.

By 1978, he had collected quite a substantial amount of music. Crotty decided to compile the songs recorded from the early period of The Easybeats’ career and have them privately pressed to vinyl.  At a very small run (said to be “around twenty”), he had no intention of selling the album commercially, they were simply intended as presents to friends and the people at Alberts as a “thank you” for their kindness. He referred to it as his “tribute album.” In keeping with the compilation’s period, he designed a cover and wrote liner notes in the style of a pop album from the early/mid 60’s.  The liner notes express his love for the band – “The Easybeats are my favourite group and all their songs are music to my ears.  The time is now and 1965 will be remembered as the days of that E.A.S.Y. beat”.  The album was called “Steady On”, after one of the demo recordings found LP.

After completion, he mailed copies of the record to his record trading friends across the world.  Next was to present the LP to his friends at Albert Productions.  But it was to his dismay to learn that his project had not gone over as well as he had hoped.  Although Crotty’s intentions were good (if naïve), Albert Productions were understandably shocked at the thought of these recordings being leaked to the public (and more importantly – bootleggers). It was probably made worse by Crotty crediting the LP to Albert Productions, especially with the poor quality of the album’s audio.  When word of this got back to Crotty, he air-mailed his collector friends, begging them not to sell their copies or reveal they owned a copy.

In 1979 – Raven Records would secure the licence to officially release some of the songs on an E.P. titled 'Mean Old Lovin’.  This would include 4 of the songs from Crotty’s disc.  But to date – no other songs featured on the original L.P. have been officially released by Albert Productions or any other label with an approved  licence to the material.

The album became something of an enigma to Easybeats fans.  It was even described and pictured in an issue of Record Collector magazine.  Eventually, 12 years after it was pressed, seven of the tracks surfaced on a bootleg CD bearing the “Steady On” name [Tendolar TDR-061] along with other Vanda & Young related rarities.  Some of the songs from the original LP were retitled.

Crotty reputation as one of Australia most renowned collectors of Garage Rock, Psychedelic and Australian artists from the 1960’s continued to grow throughout the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s.  He would go on to organize two fondly remembered “60’s Reunion Parties” early in the new millennium. These reunited many fans and artists from the past, but he had to retire from this as his health began to fail. Sadly, in 2010 Crotty passed away from a fatal heart attack.  Since Crotty’s passing, the LP has appeared in various online auctions sites.  Demanding prices into the thousands, it has often being mistaken as an “official” lost album or a test pressing.  [extract from]

Album Review
Twenty-nine-track, single-CD compilation of rarities from a group that one would not expect to be targeted by bootleggers. Much previously unreleased material has already surfaced on a variety of legitimate Easybeats reissues, and you'd think it would be quite a challenge to dig up some more. But the compilers of this package have managed, the most notable find by far being seven previously unreleased studio tracks from 1965 and 1966. These are very straightforward original British Invasion-influenced rockers, very much of a piece with what you'll hear on the group's first two official Australian albums; there aren't any standouts, but on the other hand it's certainly up to the level of what ended up on those LPs. 

Of particular interest is "The Bells," from their very first demo session, which has a slightly more retro feel than even their earliest singles, with its 1963 rockaballad feel. The program continues with some Vanda-Young productions issued under the names of Haffy's Whiskey Sour, Marcus Hook Roll Band, and Paintbox. No dates or info are given for these with the CD, but they sound like early-1970s pop-hard-rock productions, acceptable but not remarkable. Then there are eight fuzzy-fidelity live 1966 performances from the Bill Hendersons TV program "Bandstand", some of which sound like they might be lip-synched with crowd noise (and the song titled "Unknown" on the sleeve is in reality "Wedding Ring," their second big Australian hit). The disc is padded out with eight "true stereo versions" of songs from their first three Australian LPs, ending with the "Vanda-Young & JP Young" song "Yesterday's Hero," which has a mid-1970s feel and was covered by the Bay City Rollers. It seems to fade out prematurely, but no matter: the song isn't that good anyway. [Review by Richie Unterberger at AllMusic]

I'm posting this album in response to a request I received recently from a blog follower. The post consists of MP3's (320kps) ripped from CD and comes bundled with artwork for both LP and CD releases (Note that the track listing on the CD is far more extensive than the vinyl).  
The source of this rip is unknown as I found it on the internet many years ago and no details of the uploader were recorded. The two grey scale photos above were sourced from John Tait's book with thanks.
If you enjoyed reading the introductory story about the Easybeats or would love to read more (in particular Vanda & Young), I highly recommend you get hold of John Tait's book 'Vanda & Young: Inside Australia's Hit Factory' which is available through his website.  See right.
01 - Steady On
02 - I Believe In You
03 - Mama
04 - I Need Your Lovin'
05 - The Bells
06 - Nothin Happens
07 - I Can Still See The Sun
08 - Shot In The Head
09 - Bye, Bye Blackbird
10 - Natural Man
11 - Come On Round
12 - Take It From Me
13 - Easy As Can Be (live)
14 - Unknown (live)
15 - Women (live)
16 - In My Book (live)
17 - I'll Make You Happy (live)
18 - Come And See Her (live)
19 - She's So Fine (live)
20 - I'll Make You Happy (live)
21 - I'm Gonna Tell Everybody
22 - Girl On My Mind
23 - It's So Easy
24 - You Are The Light
25 - Someday, Someway
26 - What About Our Love
27 - Say You Want Me
28 - My, My, My
29 - Yesterday's Hero (with JPY)

The Easybeats:
Stevie Wright - Vocals
Snowy Fleet - Drums
Dick Diamonde - Bass
Harry Vanda - Guitar, Backing vocals
George Young - Guitar, Backing Vocals

1 comment: