Friday, December 7, 2018

Various Artists - Rock Explosion (1973) MAJESTIC

(Various Artists - 1973)
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It all began with 25 Great American Country & Folk Artists Singing their Original Hits. Or did it…

To quote Majestic/K-tel founder Philip Kives – who died 27 April 2016: 'Never has an album offered so much for so little. Here, on one record is a veritable treasure of “25” Country and Folk Hits representing a stellar group of artists ranging from the traditional era to modern times.'

Festival and W & G were offering compilations as early as the late 1950's. However, it was probably Philip Kives under the Majestic brand that began the As Advertised on TV phenomenon. By the late 1970's there was much competition for K-tel, and by the late 1980's the majors had more or less taken control of the Original Hits / Original Stars market. The companies that tried to 'pass off' their albums of 'sound a likes' by anonymous session artist felt the full force of the majors and were soon shut down.
While K-tel still offers a huge range of music, it is mostly re-recordings and covers.

I think the Majestic record label only used to put out one LP per year until about 1969, then we started seeing two or three in the same year. Super Bad, Rock Explosion and one other during 1973.

You'd think that by cutting back from 24 to 20 tracks, there'd be plenty of room for FULL versions of songs, but K-Tel and Majestic still edited many of the songs they included on their releases, and this volume is no different. One massacred recording on this MAJESTIC release is Madder Lake's 12 lb Toothbrush. Every time I hear the raw version on this Rock Explosion release, I cringe and squirm. It's just not on. So I've decided to include the full single version of this classic track, so you have the option of substituting it when listening to this great compilation.

Sherbet
Sherbet (Cassandra)
Sherbet was formed in Sydney in April 1969 by Dennis Laughlin on vocals, Doug Rea on bass guitar, Sammy See on organ, guitar and vocals, Clive Shakespeare on lead guitar and vocals and Danny Taylor on drums. Initially they were a soul band playing Motown covers and rock-based material. Alan Sandow replaced Taylor on drums by July. Sherbet signed to the Infinity Records label – a subsidiary of Festival Records. 
By March 1970, Daryl Braithwaite had joined, initially sharing lead vocals with Laughlin who left the band a few months later. Braithwaite's former band mate Bruce Worrall took over from Rea on bass guitar.


Sherbet's first chart hits on the Go-Set National Top 40 were covers of Blue Mink's "Can You Feel It Baby?" (September 1971), Delaney and Bonnie's "Free the People" (February 1972) and Ted Mulry's "You're All Woman" (September 1972).
In November of 1973 they released their second album 'On With The Show', which featured the track "Cassandra" and was issued as a single in in September. Also in 1973, they were dubbed Best Australian Group at the TV Week King Of Pop Awards, an honour which was bestowed on them each year thereafter during the 70's.
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Albert Hammond (Free Electric Band)
Albert Hammond is a Gibraltarian singer, songwriter, and record producer. A prolific songwriter, he collaborated most notably with the songwriters Mike Hazlewood, The Hollies, Leo Sayer and Carole Bayer Sager.
He was also a solo singer in his own right. His biggest (and only Top 20) Billboard hit was "It Never Rains in Southern California", #5 US 1972. Other songs of his include "Down by the River", "The Free Electric Band", "I'm a Train", "When I'm Gone" and others. 
"The Free Electric Band" was written by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood and performed by Hammond as a solo venture. The song reached #19 on the UK Singles Chart and #48 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.

Timmy Thomas (Why Can't We Live Together)
"Why Can't We Live Together" is a song by Timmy Thomas from the album Why Can't We Live Together. The song is notable for being recorded in mono; its sparse, stripped-down production, feature a Lowrey organ, bossa nova-style percussion from an early rhythm machine, and Thomas's passionate, soulful vocal.
Released as a single in late 1972, the song became a major hit in the U.S. during the early part of 1973, reaching the number one spot on the R&B chart, number three on the Billboard Pop Singles and eventually selling over two million copies. The song became his only hit single. It was also a hit in the UK as well, peaking at #12
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Maureen McGovern (The Morning After)
"The Morning After" (also known as "The Song from The Poseidon Adventure") is a song written by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn for the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure. It won the 1972 Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 45th Academy Awards in March 1973. After the film's release, it was recorded by Maureen McGovern and became a hit single for her following its release in May 1973. It was a number-one hit in the US for two weeks during August 1973, and became a Gold record.  The song is performed in the film by the character of Nonnie, played by Carol Lynley, but is actually sung by a vocal double, Renee Armand. The lyrics relate to the themes of the film, as a band of passengers survive the capsizing of the ship SS Poseidon and have to escape the sinking wreck.
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Elton John (Rocket Man)
A true super-showman, Elton John has been called "the Liberace of Rock and Roll." Known almost as much for his outrageous stage costumes and sets as he is for his bluesy style on the piano, Elton John was the king of pop music in the mid-1970s, with such Number 1 hits as Philadelphia Freedom, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, and Don't Go Breaking My Heart. His stage performances remain hugely entertaining, and his talent as a pianist and his gift for melody have ensured him a place in the hearts of fans who enjoy his unique sound.

In 1969, Elton released his first hit single, Lady Samantha, from his debut album Empty Sky (he had started writing songs with lyricist Bernie Taupin at this time).

A truly impressive string of hit singles followed for several years, including Rocket Man, Honky Cat, Crocodile Rock, Daniel, Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Bennie and the Jets, Candle in the Wind, and, surprisingly, Lennon and McCartney's Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. 

'Rocket Man' captured the public imagination in rather the same way that Bowie's 'Space Oddity' had done, and eclipsed 'Your Song' as Elton's most successful British single. It soared to No. 2 (as did the album from which it came 'Honky Chateau'), only T Rex's 'Metal Guru' keeping it from the top spot. Surprisingly, it only reached No. 6 in America; perhaps the novelty of space flight was not quite as captivating there.


Mississippi
Mississippi (Early Morning)
Mississippi was an Australian band (1972-1975), which featured some big names in Australian rock music, Graeham Goble, Beeb Birtles and Kerryn Tolhurst. The band started as Alison Gros in Adelaide, South Australia in 1970 and moved to Melbourne in 1971 where they recorded as Allison Gros, Drummond. In 1972, they became Mississippi; eventually evolving into Little River Band (LRB) by 1975.
One of the group's important early appearances was their set at the 1973 Sunbury Rock Festival in January, where they were backed by a full orchestra. Their non-album single, "Early Morning" / "Sweet World" was released in July '73, and was co-written by Russ, Graham and Beeb. In October of the same year, they supported The Jackson Five on their Australian tour.


Charlie Rich (Behind Closed Doors)
"Behind Closed Doors" is a country song written by Kenny O'Dell. It was first recorded by Charlie Rich for his 1973 album Behind Closed Doors. The single was Rich's first number-one hit on the country charts, spent 20 weeks on this chart, and was also a crossover hit on the pop charts.
Released in 1973, country love songs didn't get much more suggestive than Charlie Rich's hit "Behind Closed Doors." But you'd never guess what first inspired Kenny O'Dell to write the song — it was infact the Watergate scandal.
“Behind Closed Doors” and “Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” also on the album, continued to be signature songs for Rich whenever he performed, until he passed away in 1995.

Barry Crocker (Suzie Darlin')
In the 70's Crocker (a lanky singer, actor and variety entertainer from Geelong in Victoria) famously appeared as Barry McKenzie, the gormless Aussie youth abroad, in two films based on the Private Eye comic strip written by Barry Humphreys. He is well rekowned for singing the original recording of the theme song for the "Aussie" soap opera 'Neighbours'.
In May 1973, he released the album "Music Makes My Day", featuring an updated version of American Rockabilly singer Robin Luke's "Susie Darlin'" on the Festival Records label. The recording featured Olivia Newton-John and Pat Carroll on backup vocals and enjoyed chart success, reaching Number 25 in Sydney, Number 7 in Melbourne, Number 3 in Brisbane and Adelaide.
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Jim Stafford (Swamp Witch)
Best known for his humorous country novelty songs of the mid-'70s, multi-instrumentalist Jim Stafford also enjoyed a lengthy career as a television personality and live entertainer. He started playing in local bands as a teenager, including one, the Legends, that included future country-rock legend Gram Parsons, as well as Kent LaVoie, who would later become singer/songwriter Lobo. 

Some years later, Stafford was performing in Clearwater, Florida, when he ran into Lobo and asked if he would consider recording his original "The Swamp Witch." Lobo suggested that Stafford record it himself, and helped him land a contract with MGM; he would later produce many of Stafford's singles as well. 
Stafford's first chart hit was "Swamp Witch" (produced by Lobo), which cracked the U.S. Top 40 in July 1973. "Swamp Witch" was a mythological tale of the uneasy relationship between a town and its local witch. 
His sense of humor was also showcased on the follow-up hit "My Girl Bill" which was released in 1975.
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Johnny Chester (The World's Greatest Mum)
"Johnny" Chester is an Australian singer-songwriter, who started his career in 1959 at the age of seventeen when he began running a dance in the St Cecilia's Church Hall in Melbourne's suburban West Preston and singing rock'n'roll. In 1969, he changed to country music. He has toured nationally with The Beatles, Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette and Charley Pride. During his career he has led various groups including Johnny Chester and The Chessmen, Johnny Chester and Jigsaw, Johnny Chester and Hotspur. With Jigsaw he had five top 30 hit singles, "Gwen (Congratulations)" (1971), "Shame and Scandal", "Midnight Bus" (both 1972), "World's Greatest Mum" (Reaching No. 9 on the Australian Charts, 1973) and "She's My Kind of Woman" (1974).


Madder Lake (12lb Toothbrush)
The Melbourne band Madder Lake feratured Mick Fettes on vocals, Jack Kreemers on drums, Brendan Mason on guitar, Kerry McKenna on bass and John McKinnon on keyboards. With Melbourne based Michael Gudinski looking out for new acts to present to the public in this developing music genre, and Madder Lake looking to establish themselves wider than pubs, the match was made and by 1973 following them being they were the opening act at the inaugural 1972 Sunbury Pop Festival, they became the headline act!

In February of that year they released their first single with the unlikely title of Goodbye Lollypop, which struck a chord in the groups growing band of followers and it went to number 15 in Melbourne and cracked the top 40 Australian singles chart. 

In April '73 Mushroom released their classic debut album, Stillpoint. This album was recorded at TCS Studios in January and March and produced by John French. It was another breakthrough success for the band and provided Mushroom with their first gold record. It reached #11 nationally and #2 in Melbourne, where they had become one of the top live draws. The album is beautifully framed by Drak's wonderful cover illustration, which complemented the music in much the same way as Roger Dean's famous covers for Yes. The distinctive Madder Lake logo, designed by Ian McCausland, completed the package.
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In August another track from Stillpoint was released, and it showed the group had lost non of their penchant for evocative names, being "12 Lb Toothbrush", which fast became one of the groups most recogniseable tracks. "12lb Toothbrush" also featured on Mushroom's live Sunbury 73' triple album and their raw rendition of the hit single demonstrated just how good they were as a live act. Note that the rendition included on this compilation was an 'edited version' of their single release and is does not justice to the original release. As such, I am including the original 'single' for your reference.
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Jud Strunk (Daisy A Day)
A native of New York, Strunk moved to Farmington, Maine in 1960 and started out singing at a local hotel. He then began a solo act on the U.S. Armed Forces circuit, appeared in the Broadway musical Beautiful Dreamer, and during the early '70s was a semi-regular on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Strunk also appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and did his signature song "Daisy A Day" which went to #14 in Billboard in early '73. 

Although much of Strunk's material was humorous, his most popular song was not. "Daisy A Day" which Strunk wrote and recorded in 1973, is a gentle, sentimental ballad describing the relationship between a boy and girl who ultimately grow old together. For every day of their lives, he gives her a daisy as a sign of their love. In the last verse, she has died, but her widower husband continues to make daily visits to her grave. The song made the Billboard Top 20 on both the country and pop music charts.
After leaving show business, he started a business restoring antique airplanes. In 1981, he died in a plane crash while test-flying one of the planes he was restoring.
On the Apollo 17 lunar mission, a tape copy of his hit single "Daisy A Day" was brought along by the astronauts, making it the first recorded song ever played on the moon.
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Eric Weiss (Duelling Banjos)
Eric Weissberg (born August 16, 1939) is an American singer, banjo player and multi-instrumentalist, best known for playing solo in "Dueling Banjos," featured as the theme of the film Deliverance (1972) and released as a single that reached number 2 in the United States and Canada in 1973.
Weissberg released a related album, called Dueling Banjos: From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 'Deliverance' (1973), which also became a hit. The album was made up mostly of tracks which Weissberg had recorded on New Dimensions in Banjo and Bluegrass (1963), with Marshall Brickman and Clarence White.
Widely acclaimed as a landmark picture, the film is noted for a music scene near the beginning, with one of the city men playing "Dueling Banjos" on guitar with a banjo-strumming country boy, and for its visceral and notorious male rape scene.


Abigail (Je T'Aime)
Abigail Rogan (born 23 July 1946, in London) Known simply as Abigail, she became best known to Australians as a sex symbol, starting with the television soap opera Number 96 in the early 1970s. Despite common belief, she did not appear nude in the series. In fact it was fellow actor Vivienne Garrett who played Rose Godulfus from the same series who was the first to appear topless on Australian Television. In 1973, after leaving Number 96, she published her autobiography, Call Me Abigail which sold 150,000 copies in its first two weeks of sale. Also in 1973, Abigail made an attempt at a popular music career and scored a hit with a cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Je t'aime... moi non plus", which reached the top 10 in Australia. 
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Tony Marshall (Pretty Maid)
In 1973 in Australia one of the biggest hits of the year was "Pretty Maid" by Tony Marshall. Tony's song was first a hit in 1971 in Germany (his homeland) where it was called "Schöne Maid". The original German version had tweeting birds at the start but the musical arrangement was basically the same. 

Pete Bellotte who wrote the English lyrics for "Pretty Maid" has been churning out hits for many years. Pete was a British lyricist and producer, most notable for his collaborations with Giorgio Moroder. His hits include "Hot Stuff", "I Feel Love", "Love To Love You Baby" and "Son Of My Father". 

Tony Marshall was born February 3, 1938 in Baden-Baden as Herbert Anton Bloeth. He changed his name to Herbert Anton Hilger before changing for a third time to Tony Marshall. He settled on the name Tony Marshall in about 1965 when he started training as an opera singer at Karlsruher College of Music. 

Before his opera career took off Tony made the German top 40 with his first single "Schöne Maid". Since then he has had many hits in Germany but is considered a one-hit-wonder in Oz.
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Seals And Croft (Summer Breeze)
One of the signature soft-rock groups of the early Seventies, Jim Seals and Dash Crofts were childhood buddies from Texas who moved to California and had a huge hit with this sublimely mellow, CSN&Y-style ode to lazy, June-time domesticity. "Summer Breeze" rolled through the jasmine of America's mind in 1972, with an innocent melody played on a toy piano. “Summer Breeze,” became a No. 1 hit in 1972 selling over one million copies. The lyrics are about a guy who is happy with his life, happy that it's summer, and happy with his wife and his home. 
In addition to being legendary soft rock singers, Seals and Crofts were both accomplished instrumentalists playing in their group with Seals on guitar, saxophone and violin, and Crofts on guitar and mandolin. When they performed during their heyday, their instrumental skills were so impressive that their music could stand alone even without using vocals.
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Barry White (I'm Gonna Love You)
When I first heard Barry speak on a TV interview in the 1970s the TV actually shook as his voice was so low. The guy had the voice that every man would have loved to have as we all knew the ladies would love it. Add to that he could write and produce and sing and perform. Gosh this man was a love god.
Barry White was a five time Grammy award winner and Barry Eugene White was born in 1944 and died in 2003 from renal failure, plus other complications because of his weight.

Barry had been responsible in the 70s music for the Love Unlimited Orchestra who had a big hit with It My Be Winter Outside (But In My Heart It’s Spring) and Loves Theme, he also wrote the huge hit "Walking In The Rain, With The One I Love", later Barry went solo and became the "The Walrus of Love" to his fans.
But as a solo performer Barry had everything. Barry has his first UK single with the 1973 No.23 hit called "I’m Gonna Give You Just A Little More Love Baby" which had the Ghostbuster Ray Park Jnr on piano. 
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Dr Hook And The Medicine Show (Cover Of The Rolling Stone)
An American group, Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show assembled over a gradual period in late '60s around a nucleus of Locorriere and Southerners Sawyer, George Cummings and Francis. Sawyer, an eye-patched, ex-soul singer from Chicksaw, Alabama, and Locorriere, a New Jersey folkie, were vocalist-leaders of the group which played bars and dives around New Jersey area until their "discovery" by  cartoonist / songwriter Shel Silverstein.

Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show were featured on the cover of the March 29 edition of Rolling Stone magazine in 1973, thus gaining a massive plug for their CBS single at the time, "The Cover Of The Rolling Stone", which entered the US Top 10 in its first week. The song was penned by Shel Silverstein, the Playboy writer and cartoonist, who also wrote most of Dr Hook's earlier material.
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Jamie Redfern (Venus)
Jamie Redfern is a professional Australian entertainer and was the founding team member of Young Talent Time, which was one of the most successful phenomenons in the history of Australian television.

Jamie was voted Australia's "King of Pop" and best male vocalist, and was on numerous occasions called the best young singer and performer in the world by such legendary entertainment icons as Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Junior and Liberace. 

Johnny Young arranged to have Redfern signed with Festival Records, which issued his debut single in 1971. It was a cover version of "The Little White Cloud", which peaked in the Go-Set National Top 60.
In 1973, he released the single "Venus', a cover version of Frankie Avalon's song, and peaked at No. 8.on the Go-Set charts. 
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John Francis (Play Mumma, Sing Me A Song)
John J. Francis (b. 1945) is an American-born singer-songwriter and producer who lived in Newcastle, NSW from childhood.

In the 60's he was with Newcastle bands The Sorrows (1963-1965), The John Francis Collexion (c.1966-1967) and Magic (1969-1970), each of which released at least one single. 

After releasing four solo albums, some singles and an E.P through Warner 1972-1974 John J. Francis quit the music business permanently. He was heard for several years as a presenter on the midnight-to-dawn shift in the early days of 2JJ, ABC Radio's youth station launched in Sydney in 1975.


John J. Francis is remembered for "Simple Ben", that was heard on the soundtrack to Albie Falzon’s surf film Morning Of The Earth (1972), and the highly successful single "Play Mumma, Sing Me A Song" released in 1973, reaching #11 in a Australian National charts, both tracks coming from John's second album, 'Breaks, Works & Thoughts' - the most nominated album at the 1973 Australasian Radio Awards (the precursor to today's ARIA Awards) winning the coveted Best Song/Composer of the Year Award for "Play Mumma, Sing Me a Song". 
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This post consists of FLACs and MP3's (320 kps) ripped from my 'well played and much loved' vinyl and includes full artwork and label scans (for both LP and featured 45's).
As mentioned previously I have also included a rip of the original single release of Madder Lake's "12 lb Toothbrush" for your pleasure and comparison.
A nice collection of early 70 hits, I must say - simply majestic !

Track Listing
01 - Casandra (Sherbet)
02 - Free Electric Band (Albert Hammond)
03 - Why Can't We Live Together (Timmy Thomas)
04 - The Morning After (Maureen McGovern)
05 - Rocket Man (Elton John)
06 - Early Morning (Mississippi)
07 - Behind Closed Doors (Charlie Rich)
08 - Suzie Darlin' (Barry Crocker)
09 - Swamp Witch (Jim Stafford)
10 - The World's Greatest Mum (Johnny Chester)
11 - 12lb Toothbrush (Madder Lake)
12 - Daisy A Day (Jud Strunk)
13 - Duelling Banjos (Eric Weiss)
14 - Je T'Aime (Abigail)
15 - Pretty Maid (Tony Marshall)
16 - Summer Breeze (Seals And Croft)
17 - I'm Gonna Love You (Barry White)
18 - Cover Of The Rolling Stone (Dr Hook And The Medicine Show)
19 - Venus (Jamie Redfern)
20 - Play Mumma, Sing Me A Song (John Francis)
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Rock Explosion FLACs Link (368Mb)
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Rock Explosion MP3 Link (67Mb)
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