Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mike McClellan - Laughing In The Dark (1980)

(Australian 1966 - Current)
Mike McClellan has long been regarded as one of the finest singer, songwriter, guitarists Australia has ever produced.  He's had three top 5 singles, recorded ten albums, of which two went gold, many songs covered internationally, hosted his own TV series on the ABC (Australia's national broadcaster) for four years and sold out concerts across Australia.  He's universally known as The Song and Danceman after the title of his biggest hit which was voted song of the year by the Australian Music industry in 1974.  It's an iconic song in his native Australia and has been covered many times around the world. The following a brief chronological biography of his musical career todate.

1945 – Born on August 24th in Melbourne. He began performing in the mid 1960’s as a singer-guitarist at the “Troubadour” (Sydney’s folk music headquarters). As neither a folk singer or a traditionalist he took to blues and country and developed his own guitar style.

1969 – Joined the “Clair Pool” singers on Barry Crocker’s weekly “Sound of Music” show and stayed until the end of 1970.

1972 - Released his first album, titled simply "Mike McClellan". He toured extensively for the next 2 years playing the songs from that first album and previewing the material that would make up his breakthrough record.

1974 – Release of  "Song and Danceman". Mike McClellan was already an established performer on the acoustic music scene. That song was to bring him national recognition and a following that has remained loyal to his highly personal brand of music for over 25 years.

His second album. "Ask Any Dancer" went Gold and "Song and Danceman" was voted Song of the Year at the Annual Music Industry Awards in February 1975.

Tours with such performers as Roger Miller, Melanie, Dr. Hook, The Hollies and Leo Kottke expanded his audience even further and he earned rave reviews for his capacity to hold his own in the company of such internationally recognised stars.

That recognition took a giant leap forward when Rick Nelson recorded one of his most acclaimed songs, "Rock’n Roll Lady", in 1975 and John Farnham covered "Saturday Dance".

1976  - The release of what many regard as his finest album of the 70’s - "Until the Song is Done". "The Gamble" shot to the top of the country charts and "Lovers Never Wind up Friends" and "Midnight Flight" were covered overseas.

1978  - "An Evening With Mike McClellan" was released and included some of his most requested concert tunes, among them several brilliant demonstrations of his unique guitar playing.

1979 - Mike compered his first television series "National Star Quest" which lead to his being asked to take over the highly successful ABC program "Country Road". Within a year it became "Mike McClellan’s Country Music" and he continued to present the show for a further 3 years.

1980 - Marked a change in direction. He parted company with EMI and, working with Harry Vanda and George Young of the Easybeats, released "Laughing in the Dark" on the Albert’s label. It became his second gold album on the strength of the single "The One I Love".

1982 - Took him overseas to the UK and America. He was away for 12 months, gathering enthusiastic reviews wherever he played and establishing valuable contact with international publishers.

1983 - His return to Australia was to become a watershed. Weary of the constant travelling he committed himself to building a reputation in the advertising industry for which he had occasionally been writing as a freelancer. Success came quickly. Firstly with Mojo, then an agency in partnership with others and finally his own company, Hooks, Lines and Thinkers.

1984 – Inducted into the Hands of Fame.

He released an album of new songs in 1990. "The Heartland"

1998 was another auspicious year in his long career for it marked the release of his first single for Warner Music. But the three songs it contained were a little different to past McClellan discs. They were tributes to three great Australian sportsmen, Mark Taylor, the then recently retired Aussie cricket captain, Sir Donald Bradman, and David Campese, often called "the Bradman of Rugby."

2001 sees the release of a comprehensive retrospective of his recording career. Personally chosen and carefully remastered from the original tapes "Time. And Time Again." is a double CD containing more than 30 of his best songs. Among them he has re-recorded two from his very first album. A third track, "New York City Blues", is a never before released gem that was recorded during the sessions for "The Heartland" CD.

Today, McClellan is a senior tutor at the CMAA Country Music Academy in Tamworth, Australia, and is still performing extensively [extract from Country Music Hall Of Fame Website]
Mike's Guitar (Interview)
 Like Dylan, McClellan’s acoustic guitar has become a part of his life’s story:

"It was 1965, a friend of  mine was short on cash, and he wanted to return to Adelaide. Would you be interested in buying the guitar he asked?. It was a red Gibson Hummingbird. We agreed on a price, and I took it home with me. I have had it ever since.

It’s the guitar on which I wrote almost all of the best songs from the early years of my career, and I still have a quite magical relationship with it. It’s not loud, but sings beautifully either finger picked or strummed, and remains among the finest examples of its type.

The saddle was replaced with a fixed one some years ago, which stabilized the tuning. The neck and fret board have had some work done on them over the years, and the original tuning heads were replaced back in the late eighties. So it’s not in original condition. It now has an L.R. Baggs Anthem pickup in it, but I rarely, if ever, perform without a high-quality microphone in front of it. I have yet to find a pickup that can convey all the subtleties I hear coming from the sound hole.

It’s been a working musician’s instrument, and since resuming my performing career in recent years, continues to remind me of why I fell in love with it so long ago.
[ extract from]
This post consists of FLACs and MP3's (320kps) ripped from my vinyl (another mint 2nd hand record store find) and the usual album artwork with label scans. The usual mix of folky / country tracks with some more racey, uptempo tracks with full orchestral backing like the title track and "Hold Tight". Mike's backing band reads like a who's who of Aussie rock legends - Tommy Emanuel, Kirk L'Orange, Warren Morgan and Tony Ansell to name but a few.
Kirk L'Orange's slide guitar work on "Good Companions" adds a new dimension to the music and at times sounds like Jackson Browne's 'Running on Empty', while Tommy's guitar pickin' skills gives "Sad Songs" the Bluegrass injection that Mike was looking for when he wrote the song. The standout track for me, however, is his catchy hit single "The One I Love" which showcases Mike's songwriting skills and mastery of the acoustic guitar. This is probably one of Mike's best albums.
Track Listing
01 - Good Companions
02 - Rock 'N' Roll Man
03 - Lovers And Strangers
04 - Laughing In The Dark
05 - The One I Love
06 - Burnin' Your Bridges
07 - Hold Tight
08 - I Got Over You (A Long Long Time Ago) *
09 - Sad Songs
10 - All I've Got Is Love

Mike cClellan (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar)
Doug Gallacher (Drums, Percussion)
Clive Harrison (Bass)

Wayne Findlay (Piano)
Warren Morgan (PIano)
Tony Ansell (Organ, Synthesizer, String Arrangements)
Tommy Emmanuel (Electric / Acoustic Guitars)
Kirk L'Orange (Slide Guitar)
Phil Lawson (Bass) *
Doug Bligh (Drums) *

Laughing In The Dark FLACs (240Mb)
Laughing In The Dark MP3's (105Mb)


  1. Thanks AussieRock this is one of my favs of Mike's and you saved me ripping mine :)

  2. Hi AussieRock, thanks for this one, love your blog which is a really source of information for the music coming from down there! It's a starting point for digging. Take care and enjoy.