Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Scandal - Selftitled (1978)

(Australian 1976-1978)
Line-up: STUART KERRISON (lead vocals); CHRIS HARRIOT (keyboards, vocals); PETER WATSON (guitar, vocals); MICHAEL SMITH (bass guitar, vocals); ALDO CIVITICO (drums).

One hit single, one very smooth album and then suddenly Scandal was no more. A little over two years after their first appearance in June 1976, the boys felt they were stagnating and, in November, 1978, announced their break-up.

The band formed in Adelaide in February '76. Comprising four English migrants and a token Australian (drummer Aldo Civitico) the band’s stylish UK-centric sound drew on influences such as Supertramp, Bryan Ferry and David Bowie for inspiration. They spent their first four months rehearsing then things happened quickly. Late in 1976, they were signed by Mushroom Records, in January '77 their first single, 'Best Deal In Town'/'Mountain Legend' was released, followed by the very bizarre 'Harry' (which featured a 1930s type sound) .

The band then enjoyed its only national chart success with their third single, a cover of the smooth soul/pop track How Long (originally by British band Ace). Scandal’s version reached #23 in Australia in May 1978. As the disc climbed the charts in May, their debut album, simply titled Scandal, was issued. It included a re-recorded, heavier sounding version of 'Best Deal In Town' and a classy track called 'She's A Lady' — released as their next single in June.

The band continued to tour until November '78 when they went off the road to prepare their second album. But all was not well in the Scandal camp. By the end of the month it was confirmed that they had split up, feeling they had achieved all they could in their present form Their final performance was in December.

Kerrison, Harriott and Watson decided to start a new band called The Extractors to be launched early in 1979, while Smith resolved to settle in Sydney. By August 1979,  the three revived the Scandal name for a new band with Adrian Dessent on guitar, Greg Trennery on bass and Nat de Palma on drums. The new line-up was not successful and Kerrison left the music industry while Dessent went on to work with Wendy and the Rocketts. By 1983, Watson had joined Sydney band, The Venetians. [extracts from Noel McGrath's Australian Encyclopedia of Rock 1978-79 Yearbook p37-38  AND]

Article from 'The Haze' by Michael Smith
(Issue 16 - Autumn 2019. p 40-41)
With nearly 50 years in entertainment through performing onstage and writing about those who appear on one, the career of Katoomba's Michael Smith's is as long and dense as his white head of hair, lending him an appearance akin to a musical wizard. Corin Shearston reveals more ...

In a 2016 feature for Rhythms' Magazine, one of many in Michael's CV's of publications alongside The Music, the magazines Juke, Duke and RAM and the Journals Overland and Australian Musician, Smith recalls how his family lived in three different places in London before moving to the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth, "the Mt Druitt of South Australia", for Michael to attend Elizabeth West Primary School. Throughout his schooling, Michael remained distantly aware of John 'Swanee' Swan, fellow student and older brother of Jimmy Barnes, in a connection to resurface in 1973 at Adelaide University in fourth year at Elizabeth High, Michael discovered guitar through the gift of a 'dodgy little acoustic' instrument making him fall from being a good student to barely scraping into Uni. His first of numerous bands, 'barely adequate' cover group 'Handle With Care assigned Smith with the position of singer and guitarist. 

Tarkus featuring Jimmy Barnes and Michael Smith
Things really clicked in December 1971 through meeting 'real' guitarist and singer John Pryer at a Christmas party, a young man engrossed in a garage jam With fellow English migrant and drummer Steve Prestwich, direct from Liverpool. As Michael tells me, "there was a bass in the corner. I picked it up and I found all that really bad lead guitar playing was perfect for really good bass playing." The jamming trio, dubbing themselves as Ice, went on to play about 20 gigs before disbanding - Fortunately Michael's time in Ice cemented his decision to be a bass player. The following year, a coincidental meeting with Swanee at a Blackfeather gig led to Michael signing up as bassist in the short lived group Tarkus (named after the LP released by the then popular Emerson, Lake and Palmer), 16 year old Jimmy Barnes' only covers group before joining what would become Cold Chisel. Or as Michael writes in Rhythms, 'just four young guys intent on making a racket together'.

After a stint in the group Slim Pickings one year before helping found his first nationally successful group in 1975, Smith was in yet another covers group, Roadwork. The band was fronted by singer Stuart Kerrison, who Michael had replaced as bassist in Tarkus two years prior. Towards the end of 1975, Kerrison and keyboardist Chris Harriott grew restless, deciding to redesign their act with a new name, gaining popularity that lead to a signing with Mushroom Records in 1976 as Scandal.

Thus began a three year career supporting the likes of ELO and 10CC over 550 gigs, while appearing on Countdown four times for each respective single from their self-titled and only album in 1978.
Helping their success was the fact that all the really good Adelaide bands left for Sydney in 1976, including Cold Chisel and The Angels leaving Scandal to rise to the top  of the heap. The group were an anomaly, "four migrant kids from England with an Italian drummer and typically ridiculous English humour", who also incorporated Flamboyant elements of pantomime into tracks like "Harry" and the album version of 'Best Deal In Town', which unlike the single was slow, sleazy, and featured ''alluring Parisian whistling' from Michael.

Despite the novelty, Scandal were a hit. In a charity event at the Adelaide Royal Children's Hospital, the group were totally hyped, performing at vigorous rock 'n' roll speed and simply powering through their set, all with four part harmonies and tight arrangements.

Coming off stage, MC Ian 'Molly' Meldrum was blown away, going back to Melbourne to tell some of his friends the news, including Michael Gudinsky, Australian music mogul and founder of Mushroom Records. Glenn Wheatley of Oz Records got wind of the same thing, and both Gudinsky and Wheatley flew back to Adelaide to check out Scandal, landing the group with a record deal from Mushroom by end of the year. As Michael recalls, Scandal got signed with five original songs under their belt.

Although "Best Deal In Town" and "Harry" both got to top 10 on the Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth charts, Scandal never really cracked it big, and Michael finished his Bachelor degree from Adelaide in Sydney, where the band had wound up.

Michael tells me, "after a year of floundering, trying to find a band that would work, I thought the best thing for me to do was go back to University, as a great way for me to clear my head." While completing a Masters Degree in English Literature in 1979, Michael was playing bass in indie groups No Traces and Phil de Void, the latter including Divinyls' rhythm guitarist Bjarne Ohlin. Michael's next group Pat Drummond's Skooldaze, was an academically-themed concept that

went on to spawn a mini musical and album with singer/songwriter and current Medlow Bath resident Pat Drummond at the helm. As Michael remembers, "Pat's a lovely guy and songwriter but he's not a rockstar, and he looks like a school teacher. So we turned the stage into a classroom."  Meanwhile, Scandal were still functioning under the name The Extractors, before ultimately falling apart. Funnily enough, keyboardist player Chris Harriott became a composer for TV shows like Bananas In Pyjamas, Hi-5 and McLeod's Daughters. Singer Stuart Kerrison ended up going to England to work as a sound man for such groups as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and now runs a Norwegian studio in 1985. Michael interviewed the group China Doll for Juke, who later invited him to be their bass player. Transforming the group into hard rock five  piece at the resignation of singer Shaylee Wilde in 1986.

One of the most important things that Michael gained through Scandal was his career as a music journalist. After taking his first steps into music journalism with a low budget journal called Australian Musician, Michael was able to contact artist's he'd met through  tours with Scandal and enquire on the possibility of articles, features, interviews and reviews, Building up the Australian Musician side of things, Michael then sent pieces to Duke and RAM, with the proposal of  'remember me', I was in Scandal, here's a review. So that's how I conned my way into rock journalism. And I'm still there".

This post consists of FLACs ripped from vinyl (thanks to Sunshine) and includes full album artwork and label scans.  There are also a multitude of band photos included (not all displayed above) and a copy of the Haze Article.  One thing that I really enjoy about this album is the diversity of musical styles demonstrated in each track and the great vocal harmonies, not dissimilar to those of Mother Goose.   It is a shame that Scandal didn't go on to record a follow up album, as I'm sure their output would have been a lot more mature and a certain commercial success (in line with their hit single "How Long").
Track Listing

01 - Matador Song
02 - Kidnap
03 - My Lady's Chamber
04 - How Long
05 - Suicide Rag / Colonel Bogey March
06 - She's A Lady
07 - Never Push A Door Marked Pull
08 - Best Deal In Town
09 - Mountain Legend
10 - What Am I Supposed to Do?
11 - Harry
12 - On A Wing & A Prayer

Bass, Whistling, Backing Vocals – Michael Smith
Drums, Percussion, Timpani, Gong, Snare – Aldo Civitico
Guitar, Finger Cymbals, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals – Peter Watson
Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Bells [Tubular], Timpani, Percussion – Stuart Kerrison
Piano, Synthesizer, Organ, Clavinet, Spinet, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals – Chris Harriott

Friday, November 8, 2019

John Denver - Live At The Sydney Opera House (1978) + Bonus Tracks

(U.S 1962 - 1997)
Singer/songwriter/guitarist, born John Henry Deutschendorf in Roswell, New Mexico, on Dec 31, 1943. His father an air force pilot who held three world aviation records, the young John Denver travelled U.S. as his parents moved from one base to another. First performed as folk singer in Lubbock, Texas, where he attended college - majoring in architecture - in the early '60s.
Denver performed in Los Angeles from 1964 and successfully auditioned for gig with Chad Mitchell Trio, replacing the departing Mitchell. Toured with Trio between 1965-69 before embarking on solo career performing much of own material, notably "Leaving On A Jet Plane" which Peter Paul & Mary recorded in 1969 for huge hit.

Denver's version of song was included on his first solo album Rhymes & Reasons, released in U.S. Sept 1969 (Denver albums issued in different order in U.K.). By 1970 and two more albums, Take Me To Tomorrow and Whose Garden Was This?, Denver was still seeking widespread acceptance although the tenor of subsequent recordings had by then been established - saccharine acoustic melodies topped off with lyrics which plumbed the depths of naivete.

Ideal Easy Listening fodder, in fact, for those who felt urge to empathise with the "youth movement" (Denver has also milked ecology dry as a source for material) but couldn't handle the incisiveness of a Bob Dylan, Neil' Young or even Paul Simon - and in 1971 America eventually took country-boy Denver to its heart with the gold single "Take Me Home Country Roads" and the similarly million-selling 'Poems, Prayers & Promises' album.

"Friends With You" also made singles lists later same year, and Denver's buck-toothed grin and homespun banalities have dominated U.S. AM airwaves and charts ever since.
'Aerie' and 'Rocky Mountain High' became gold albums in 1972, the title track from the latter becoming his second million-seller. In 1973, "Farewell Andromeda" similarly went gold, as did "Annie's Song" single following year which saw Denver enter U.K. charts for first time.

In 1975, the Denver bandwagon accelerated into new gear with a series of U.S. TV specials and Lake Tahoe cabaret appearances back to back with Frank Sinatra. His album 'Windsong' racked up a million in advance orders alone, while "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" and "I'm Sorry" kept him at top of singles charts. Backed by coast-to-coast John Denver TV Special 'Rocky Mountain Christmas' watched by some 30 million viewers, Dec 1975 album of same name was guaranteed gold virtually on announcement of its release.

A measure of Denver's phenomenal commercial appeal is the fact that his 'Greatest Hits' collection had, by the end of 1975, racked up two consecutive years on the U.S. album charts.
'Live In London' (U.K. only) was recorded during spring 1976 concerts in the city and - in what is probably record time - rush-released within some ten days of Denver's last gig. In the same year, Mercury issued 'Beginnings', an album from Chad Mitchell Trio days.
In 1977, Denver co-founded The Hunger Project with Werner Erhard and Robert W. Fuller. He served for many years and supported the organisation until his death. Denver was also appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the President's Commission on World Hunger, writing the song "I Want to Live" as its theme song. In 1979, Denver performed "Rhymes & Reasons" at the Music for UNICEF Concert. Royalties from the concert performances were donated to UNICEF.

A longtime aviator, Denver died on October 12, 1997, when the experimental plane that he was piloting went down over Monterey Bay, California.

Advert  (Sydney Morning Herald 05 Nov, 1977)
Album Review
This recording contains the title track from what was at the time his latest release, "I Want to Live" and 1977 was the pinnacle of John's career; which is why this live offering is one of his best. The tracks on the LP are in the order performed except for, "Today", "Calypso" and "Me and My Uncle" which were not initially included, but I have chosen to include them here as bonus tracks (sourced from the 1999 CD release)

In my opinion the only enhancements which could be made, would be if they would have included more of the banter between John and the audience; which was a trademark of his concerts. One left his shows feeling as though you'd visited with an old friend, having spent the evening catching up and listening to music, he was a terrific story teller.
If dialog is not your preference, then the perfect renditions of the songs included will be well worth the purchase price.

Sydney Opera House
If you just want John Denver alone with his guitar, this performance is probably not for you. There are a couple of songs like that, but for the majority he has orchestra and vocal backups in this performance, as well as extra guitars, banjos, etc. The recording quality is crisp and clear, the songs are beautifully arranged. The female background singer’s voice blends so perfectly with John’s.

John takes me back to a simpler time, when honest felt love songs and songs of nature were on the radio,... and had a important place in our lives. If you love John Denver, you will love this live performance at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

Inside The Concert Hall
Throughout his decade-spanning career, Denver’s works were portrayed across an array of mediums, from film to social activism, to politics, to music, where he would arguably have the most impact. Known for his love of the environment, and his disdain for fast paced, city living, Denver became a unique voice for an era, and one that’s all the more relevant today.

The John Denver Celebration Concert
A Night of John Denver’s Voice, Songs and Videos

The John Denver Celebration Concert tour was an innovative musical treat and unforgettable tribute show that toured Australia in December last year. It featured archival video footage of Denver performing classic songs backed by live performances from former members of his band with an accompanying string section!

Audiences were given a-close-as-they-could-get experience of seeing Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and Poet Laureate of Colorado John Denver in a concert setting, some 20 years after his passing.

This post consists of MP3's (320kps) ripped from my mint Vinyl and includes full album artwork, label scans and Tour Booklet. To enhance the experience, I have chosen to include 3 additional tracks that were released on the CD release but were not included on the original vinyl release due to the time limitations of the LP media. In addition, I thought I'd throw in a live of recording of "Amsterdam" taken from his 'Live At The London Palladium', a song which I really like. Hope you enjoy this offering.

.Track Listing
01 - Rocky Mountain High
02 - Back Home Again
03 - Fly Away
04 - Looking For Space
05 - I Want To Live
06 - It's A Sin To Tell A Lie
07 - Moreton Bay
08 - Grandma's Feather Bed
09 - Thank God I'm A Country Boy
10 - Take Me Home, Country Roads
11 - The Eagle And The Hawk
12 - Annie's Song
13 - Today (Bonus)
14 - Calypso (Bonus)
15 - Me And My Uncle (Bonus)
16 - Amsterdam (Bonus Live At London Palladium)

The Band:
John Denver - Vocals, 6 & 12 String Guitars
Hal Blaine - Drums & Percussion
James Burton - Dobro, Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Emory Gordy - Bass, Mandiolin
Glen D.Hardin - Keyboards
Herb Pedersen - Banjo, Acoustic Guitar
Danny Wheatman - Mandoin, Fiddle
Background Vocals:
   -Renee Armand
   -Mike Crum
   -Herb Pedersen
John Denver Live Link (147Mb)

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Jon English - English History (1989)

(Australian 1962 - 2016)
Jonathan "Jon" English was born in Hampstead, London, and came to Australia when he was 12. He is one of few Australian performers who have successfully combined a career in music, television and stage.
English's musical passion and skill were evident early and before he graduated high school he had been a member of two bands - Zenith and Sebastian Hardie. In 1968 Sebastian Hardie was employed as Johnny O'Keefe's backing band. English played the rhythm guitar and sang. A stellar career was underway!
In the early '70s English auditioned for Harry M Miller's first production of 'Jesus Christ Superstar. He was given the prestigious and demanding lead role of 'Judas' at the age of just 22. The show's phenomenal success kept him busy for the next five years, touring all over Australia and New Zealand.

During the time English was touring with Superstar (see earlier post), he also recorded his first four albums. He had hits with songs such as his debut single "Handbag and Gladrags", "Turn the Page" (his first number one) and "Hollywood Seven". At the same time he appeared in guest roles on popular television drama shows including 'No 96', 'Mattock Police' and the 'Homicide' telemovie, 'Stopover', for which he received a Penguin award nomination for Guest Actor of the Year.

For the rest of the '70s English remained in the public eye as an actor and musician. He sang the role of Ned on the soundtrack of the rock opera 'Ned Kelly'. He starred in the play 'Bacchoil', co-wrote lyrics for a ballet called 'Phases' and wrote a regular column for a major newspaper. He also produced his old band's first album, 'Four Moments' by Sebastian Hardie. He won an Aria award for best male vocal performance for "Turn the Page" and was voted RAM magazine's best male singer on three separate occasions.

1977 culminated with English's fifth album and the hit single "Words are Not Enough" plus a concert tour with the band 'Thin Lizzy'. He then took a short break from the rock music scene in 1978 when he appeared in the lead role of the incredibly popular television mini-series, 'Against the Wind'. English won a 'Best New Talent' Logie for his  performance as convict Jonathan Garrett in the series.
In partnership with Mario Milo, English wrote all the incidental music for 'Against the Wind'. He also wrote the theme song, 'Six Ribbons', which became a number one hit in more than six countries. As a result of 'Against the Wind'  English became one of the rare performers to win an acting Logie and a TV Week/Countdown award (for best male vocalist) in the same year.

'English History', Jon's seventh album was released 1978. This 'best of album' made history by becoming the biggest selling double album in Australia. Albums number eight, nine and ten followed in 1980, 1981 and 1982 - 'Calm Before The Storm', 'Inroads' and 'Jokers and Queens' (with Marcia Hines). 'Calm Before the Storm' produced the hit singles "Carmilla" and "Hot Town". During this time English also appeared in a feature film called 'Touch and Go' for which he wrote tbe theme song of the same name.

During the '80s, English's career broadened overseas, with tours both at home and in Europe with his own band, The Foster Brothers. Album number eleven, 'Beating the Boards', featuring the Foster Brothers live, was released in 1983. While in Norway with the band, he won the award for best concert by a visiting artist, over other major acts such as Bruce Springsteen. Tours with the legendary American band 'Chicago' followed, and he was invited to Los Angeles to perform with Tower of Power.
English's first collaboration with producer David Mackay also began in 1983, with his twelfth album 'Some People'. The title track of the same name became another hit single. This collaboration saw the beginning of a partnership that would eventually give birth to the highly successful rock opera 'Paris'.

Jon the Pirate !
1984 saw English's first appearance as the Pirate King alongside Marina Prior, Simon Gallaher, and June Bronhill in the Victorian State Opera's production of 'The Pirates of Penzance'. As the Pirate King he won the Melbourne Critics Green Room Award for 'Most Outstanding Actor' for two occasions. That same year he also co-wrote the feature film soundtrack for the movie 'Coolangatta Gold' and in 1985 he shared an AFl award with Renee Geyer for the theme song for the movie 'Street Hero'. During this time English continued touring pubs and clubs and won the Mo Award for Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the year three time. 1985 and 1986 saw English in return seasons as the Pirate King, with his thirteenth album, 'Dark Horses', also being released.

In the late '80s English took on the role of the mad monk 'Rasputin' in the musical of the same name. This production, although controversial at the time, served to fire English's ambition to write his own show, 'Paris', based on the Trojan wars. He left 'Rasputin' and travelled to England to again work with David Mackay, determined to complete what would become a virtual magnum opus.

For the next three years English focused on this ambition. He took a few short breaks to release has fourteenth album 'The Busker' (see earlier post), to play the role of Pap Fin in the Sydney production of the musical 'Big River' and to appear with Mike Batt and Michael Parkinson in a concert version of 'The Hunting of the Snark'. After this he finally recorded the finished version of Paris, which won an ARIA award for the best cast album featuring artists such as: The London Symphony Orchestra, Barry Humphries, Doc Neeson,John Waters, Demis Roussos, Francis Rossi, Phillip Quast, Donovan, John Parr, and Harry Nilsson.

English planned a break after the Paris, recording - but those plans were short lived. He took on the lead role of Bobby Rivers in 1991 to the television sitcom 'All Together Now', co-starring Rebecca Gibney. The show, about a faded '70s rock star who discovers parenthood late in life, lasted for three years and over a hundred episodes. English again wrote the theme song and was musical director for the series. 'All Together Now' was sold in over thirty countries, including Germany where it was called 'Rock and Roll Daddy'.

English worked alongside Simon Gallaher again in 1994 when Gallaher produced an updated version of the 'Pirates of Peinzance'. With English again as the Pirate King, the show played to sell-out crowds around Australia and New Zealand. The ABC produced video of Pirates sold triple platinum and the live recording won an ARIA award for 'Best Cast Album'.
The success of 'Pirates of Penzance' was followed up with another two Gilbert and Sullivan classics -'The Mikado' and 'HMS Pinafore'. With English again cast in the lead roles, both shows toured extensively throughout New Zealand and Australia, until Pinafore finally closed the hugely successful 'trilogy' in October 1997.
In August 1998, English started rehearsing for a new production of the hilarious British theatre farce 'Noises Off'. He spent the rest of 1998 touring Australia to much acclaim for his comic ability in this famous Michael Frayn comedy.

After this, English re-established his partnership with Simon Gallaher and EssGee Productions to undertake the role of 'Pseudolis' in the great Broadway musical 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum'. The show played to rave reviews for English's performance and toured major Australian and New Zealand venues until July 1999.
English then finished off another beloved project -writing, producing and performing his own musical stage show 'Buskers and Angels', which toured September through October 2000, subsequently releasing a CD of the same name. The production was nominated for a Green Room award for 'Best Original Music and Lyrics'. 2001 then saw English in a trio of back to back theatre appearances in 'Are you Being Served' (with John Inman from the original television series), 'Don't Dress for Dinner' with Dennis Waterman and a special anniversary production of 'The Pirates of Penzance' with Simon Gallaher.

2002 and 2003 saw return seasons of the ever popular Pirates again in Melbourne, as well as more theatre appearances with John Inman in Brisbane, this time in 'Bedside Manners'. Added to this were well over 100 'In Concert' shows.
English then released the amateur rights to his rock opera 'Paris'. Productions have since been staged throughout Australia, New Zealand, the UK and in Europe,

Jon with Molly Meldrum
During the rest of the 2000's, English continued to perform and tour extensively. He acted in a season of the all time favourite 'Dad's Army' at the Twelfth Night theatre in Brisbane and in the British Comedy Festival In Auckland. He appeared in the feature film 'Walk the Talk'. He circumnavigated the country in the hugely successful 'Countdown Spectacular' tour, teamed up with fellow Pirates actor, friend and musician - Peter Cupples (of 'Stylus' fame) on their show 'Uncorked', featured as 'the Narrator' in the acclaimed musical 'Blood Brothers' and took part in the recording and world premiere of Gavin Lockley's classical work 'Symphony of Australia'.

In 2007, English filmed a children's 13 part mini-series 'Time Trackers' that was shown in Australia and New Zealand, playing the role of a lovable but havoc raising hologram from the future. In 2010, in a departure from his usual musical theatre roles, English appeared in the title role of the Perth Theatre Company's production of David Williamson's dark comedy, 'The Removalists'.

English's major project over the final years of the decade was with a multi-talented troupe of young rockers, producing and starring in a spectacular 10 piece theatre show honouring '60s and '70s classic rock. 'The Rock Show' continued to tour Australian theatres in 2011 to sell out audiences and outstanding reviews, returning to venues a second and third time by popular demand.
To his impressive list of television credits over the years can be added Graham Kennedy's long running comic game show, 'Blankety Blanks', regular appearances on The Don Lane Show and as a panellist on Daryl Sommers' enduring 'Hey Hey It's Saturday', an episode of the popular Australian drama series 'The Flying Doctors', plus a cameo role in the ABC's current affairs spoof, 'Frontline'. He also appeared in episodes of 'Pizza', 'Rafferty's Rules', 'Chopper Squad', 'Bellamy', 'Ocean Girl', 'Last Man Standing', the celebrity version of 'Sale of the Century' and more recently on the ABC's foremost music trivia show 'Spicks and Specks' and the SBS rock quiz show, 'Rockwiz'.  English has been interviewed twice each for both '60 Minutes' and 'Parkinson' and his life story was captured for episodes of 'This is Your Life' and the ABC's 'Talking Heads'.

In 2012, English returned to Tasmania, working with Encore Theatre, for a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, with English in the role of Pilate. Funds raised at each performance and at the Launceston preview were donated to the programme. In 2013, he played at the Sweden Rock Festival, backed up by Swedish hard rock band Spearfish.
In 2015, he returned once again to play the Sweden Rock Festival and during his stay in Sweden he decided to record a new solo album together with his friends in the band Spearfish. Many new songs were written and recordings were set to start March 14, 2016...

RIP Jon English
In late February 2016, English was hospitalised due to "unexpected health problems" and he was forced to cancel several scheduled performances due to planned surgery for an aortic aneurysm. He died following post-operative complications late in the evening of 9 March 2016, 17 days short of his 67th birthday. A public memorial service commemorating his life was held at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney on the evening of Monday 4 April 2016. The memorial took the form of a tribute concert and included performances by the Foster Brothers, John Paul Young, Simon Gallaher and John Waters, among others.  [taken from liner notes "Six Ribbons: Ultimate Collection of Jon English"]

A prolific songwriter, experienced screen composer and a popular actor with wide community recognition and critical public acclaim, Jon English was undoubtedly one of Australia's most successful, loved and enduring recording and performing artists. This post is a tribute to 'ol Dark Eyes'.

This tribute post consists of FLACs ripped from my CD copy and includes full album artwork for both Vinyl and CD, along with label scans.  It should be noted that this single AMCOS CD release only features 17 of the 20 tracks originally featuring on the double LP set (probably to reduce costs).
I have taken the initiative of ripping the 3 missing tracks from my vinyl and including them here as bonus tracks. I have also edited the back CD tray artwork for those of you who want to replicate the original release and turn this into a double CD set.
I always love listening to Jon's music and hope that this post will act as a fitting tribute to a great musician and actor. We miss you Jon.
01 Get Your Love Right
02 Wine Dark Sea
03 Words Are Not Enough
04 Turn The Page
05 Minutes To Midnight
06 Hollywood 7
07 Same Old Feeling Again
08 Lovin' Arms
09 Superstar
10 Handbags & Gladrags
11 Laughing At The Guru
12 Everytime I Sing A Love Song
13 Nights In Paradise
14 Lay It All Down
15 Sandcastles
16 Behind Blue Eyes
17 Six Ribbons
BONUS TRACKS (from original 2 LP release)
18    I'm A Survivor
19    Play With Fire
20    Brand New Day

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: MAD - Mad Twists Rock´N´Roll (1962) & Fink Along With Mad (1963)

Before things get too serious at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song at the end of each month, that could be considered to be either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.....
Let’s hear it for Alfred! Mad Magazine released two great albums in the early 1960s: Mad Twists Rock´N´Roll & Fink Along With Mad
A wonderful symbiosis of Mad humour and rock´n´roll. Produced independently by Norm Blagman and Sam Bobrick who then played it for the Mad staff who then saw to it that it was released. Now, let’s do the pretzel!
For most of its history, MAD magazine has been at the forefront of gleefully juvenile printed humour. Its pop culture spoofs are legendary, its cartoonists among the finest humorists of their generation. But along the way, MAD created some of  the most fun (and suitably warped) musical creations of the 20th century.

MAD’s first real foray into recorded sound began in the late 50s with Musically Mad. Conceived, composed and directed by Space Age Pop arranger Bernie Green, a veteran of radio comedy who served as musical director of the anarchic, acerbic Henry Morgan Show (and whose later television work included the excellent Garry Moore Show and Wally Cox’s Mr. Peepers.) Morgan himself makes several contributions, helping Green send up everything from Gunsmoke to The Mikado.

After the inevitably-titled 45 “What, Me Worry?” MAD moved up to the big leagues with a full-length LP (pressed on vinyl, not cardboard!) 1962’s Mad “Twists” Rock ‘N’ Roll was written and produced by Norm Blagman and Sam Bobrick. The prolific Bobrick later wrote for Andy Griffith, Get Smart, The Paul Lynde Show, The Smothers Brothers, and Saved By The Bell (as well as a very MAD-esque comedy album called Folk Songs Of Madison Avenue, credited to “The Flagpole Singers”); Blagman wrote and arranged for Tiny Tim, contributed to the original 1968 soundtrack of The Producers, co-wrote “Give Me The Right” and “Put The Blame On Me” for Elvis Presley, and would continue making MAD records into the 1980s. The album featured a time capsule of 1962 pop culture preoccupations spoofing James Bond (“Agnes The Teenage Russian Spy”), teenage car-race death ballads (“All I Have Left Is My Johnny’s Hub Cap), and chiropractically-ill-advised dance crazes (“Let’s Do The Pretzel”).

The success of Mad Twists demanded a follow-up, 1963’s Fink Along With MAD, which featured the same creative team and the same clever spoofs, from the heartfelt “Loving A Siamese Twin” to “She Lets Me Watch Her Mom & Pop Fight”. It also features one of MAD’s most memorable—and most revisited—songs, “It’s A Gas”, which artfully combines percussive belching with a great King Curtis sax solo. Sam Bobrick co-writer of "It's A Gas" annotated in albums credits that the musicians themselves provided the burps. The band loved going up to the mike, we would just have them belch, and then we cut the belches in later.  This album is one for the ages. [extract from]

Of course, MAD started declining a bit in the 70s, when it was eclipsed by The National Lampoon. It's still going strong, but seems a bit formulaic, and I find it sad that I usually enjoy Cracked (MAD's second-rate competitor for many years) online more than anything I've read in MAD in years.

Society has changed, of course, but both of these MAD albums are still very funny albums in my opinion. But then again, you could call me MAD, MAD, MAD I say, absolutely MAD

This month's MAD post is a prime candidate for the WOCK on Vinyl award, ticking all boxes and more. It's Weird, it's Wacky, it's Obscure in that these recordings were only released on Flexidiscs found inside MAD magazines and above all the songs are Korny yet Catchy. Ripped to MP3 (192kps) - not my rips folks - there is unfortunately little artwork or information associated with these flexi albums. If you are as MAD as a hatter, you will find more MAD material on a previous post found HERE.
Mad Twists Rock´N´Roll (Big Top LP, 1962)
1. (Throwing the) High School Basketball Game
2. (She Got A) Nose Job
3. Please Betty Jane (Shave Your Legs)
4. Somebody Else´s Dandruff
5. Blind Date
6. Agnes (The Teenage Russian Spy)
7. Let´s Do the Pretzel
8. I´ll Always Remember Being You
9. When My Pimples Turned To Dimples
10. She´s A Serious Teenager In Love
11. (All I Have Left Is) My Johny´s Hubcap
12. Written On the Boys Bathroom Wall

Fink Along With Mad (Big Top LP, 1963)
1. Let´s Do the Fink
2. Her Mustache
3. Biggest Mouth In Town
4. Her Dad´s Got Money
5. His Hair
6. It´s A Gas
7. Don´t Put Onions on Your Hamburger
8. Loving a Siamese Twin
9. She Lets Me Watch Her Mom and Pop Fight
10. The Braces on Your Teeth
11. Contact Lenses
12. The Neighbourhood Draft Board
13. A Mad Extra 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Aunty Jack - Sings Wollongong (1974)

(Australian 1972-1975)
The Cool Bananas was a pseudonym for Grahame Bond and Rory O'Donoghue, who were the stars of the ABC's Aunty Jack show. The programme was a highly successful, bawdy television comedy which, despite its popularity, was dropped after only two series.
'Farewell Aunty Jack' was released on a special record which had a pictorial representation embedded into the vinyl. The single was enormously successful, and by June 1974 it had reportedly sold over 100,000 copies. (see previous post)

As a result of its popularity, a group called Gong was formed to tour as Aunty Jack and the Gong. The band included Tony Buchanan, Mark Punch, Ian Clyne, Russell Dunlop, Tim Partridge and Denny Gordon.
Before the fad began to wither, an album entitled 'Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong' was released on Polydor in April 1975, although the album cover and associated record label specify 1974..
Rory continued performing and composing and formed a successful music writing company with Grahame [extract from Noel McGrath's 'Australian Encyclopedia of Rock', Outback Press 1978, p74-75]

“The Aunty Jack Show” was one of Australia’s earliest and best loved TV Logie Award winning comedy series. Starring a motor-cycling transvestite boxer, it ran from 1972 to 1973 on Australia’s national broadcaster ABC-TV and attained an instant cult status that persists to this present day. The main character “Aunty Jack” was a unique comic creation, an obese, moustachioed, gravel-voiced transvestite, part trucker and part pantomime dame who habitually solved any problem by knocking people unconscious or threatening to ‘rip their bloody arms off’. Visually, she was unmistakable, dressed in a huge, tent-like blue velvet dress, football socks, workboots, and a golden boxing glove on her right hand. She rode everywhere on a Harley Davidson Motorcycle and referred to everyone as “Me Little Lovelies”.

Under threat of having their “bloody arms ripped off” if they didn’t, Australians of the early seventies had little option but to tune in each week to their favourite Aunt. [extract from]

The album 'Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong' was  conceived as an aural/visual experience; a T.V show on record; sound with pictures. From a day trip to Wollongong to Spider Farrelly's Buck Party. Settle back, close your eyes and be transported to a day in the life of Aunty Jack with Thin Arthur and Kid Eager.

Share the dingy atmosphere of the Gong a Go Go with MC Norman Gunston. Hear the Farrelly Brothers perform their greatest hit. Attend an audition with Mervyn Whipple,Man of 1000 faces. Come into the other World of Neil and Errol, then take a trip to the abattoirs with Kev Kavanaghand the Kavemen and join in the Wollongong National Anthem with Norman. Come to Spider Farrelly's Buck's party where the Ri Fol Tit Men make a special appearance.
Aunty Jack takes her clothes off and the Farrelly Brothers take dangerous substances. A stirring rock opera Tarzan Super Ape followed by a fish milkshake. More country and western suburbs music then the Ode followed by Aunty Jack and the Box.
"Farewell Aunty Jack" leads to a jam session with a famous Japanese blues star and his Indian sidekick. The rest is history  [extract from CD liner notes]
This post consists of FLACs ripped from a double CD release entitled 'Aunty Jack - Auntyology (1972-1985)' which features this album. I own a vinyl copy of this album (in fact I have 2 copies), but I decided that a CD rip would provide better quality recordings. Full album artwork for both vinyl and CD are included, and features a 20 page booklet of lyrics to all songs and dialogue.
Now, in the infamous words of Aunty Jack, if you don't leave a comment after downloading this post, I'm gonna come out of your computer screen and Rip Ya' Bloody Mouse Off ! LOL
01 Rip Off
02 I've Been Everywhere *
03 The Kid Eager
04 Doin' The Aunty Jack
05 Man Of 1000 Faces
06 Last Refrain
07 Veggie Queen
08 Wollongong The Brave
09 Wollongong The Brave Revisited
10 Head Of The Pack
11 Spider's Bucks Lunch
12 Don't Take It Off
13 What's On In Wollongong
14 Snowy Aloha
15 Tarzan Super Ape
16 Fish Shakes
17 The Western Lady
18 Aunty Jack 'N The Box
19 Farewell Aunty Jack
20 Nagasaki Blues

Backing Vocals [Vocal Backing] – Creenagh St. John*, Denny Carger, Judy Henderson
Bass – Bruce Worrall, Stein
Drums – Greg Henson
Harmonica – Garry McDonald*
Jew's Harp [Jewish Harp], Acoustic Guitar – Grahame Bond
Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards – Rory O'Donoghue
Music By, Lyrics By – Grahame Bond (tracks: A1, A3 to B12), Rory O'Donoghue (tracks: A1, A3 to B12)
Other [Union Delegate] – Spider Farrelly*
Performer – Neil And Errol (tracks: A6), Norman Gunston (tracks: A8, B1, B5)
Performer [Cast] – Garry McDonald*, Grahame Bond, Rory O'Donoghue
Piano – Jamie McKinley
Saxophone [Saxaphone] – Jeff Oakes*
Vocals [Tarzan] – John Derum, Margaret Ferguccio

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

John Klemmer - Waterfalls (1972)

(U.S 1963 - Present)
Waterfalls is a live album by American saxophonist and composer John Klemmer (born 1946)  featuring studio enhanced live performances recorded in Los Angeles for the Impulse! label.
Picked up this LP based on the cover art alone not knowing who John Klemmer was and I was not disappointed. Some tasty, psych-tinged post-bop led by saxophonist John Klemmer. Waterfalls is a live recording, but the sound is studio-quality.

Really feelin' the echoplex on the sax, as well as the electric piano, which helps to make for a generally loose, mellow vibe.

This really is a wonderful classic from John Klemmer – one of those artists we've under-appreciated for years, but grow to love more and more as time goes by! The set's an incredibly soulful set of explorations played by Klemmer (on tenor, soprano, and Echoplex) with a group that includes Mike Nock on Fender Rhodes, Eddie Marshall on drums, Victor Feldman on percussion, and Wilton Felder on bass – definitely in the post-Coltrane mode, with long spiraling solos that explore both space and the outer sonic reaches, yet never too way-out, and never losing a subtle swing that makes the record sparkle with unimaginable appeal. One of those few hippy jazz classics that really works – and which arguably sounds better now than it did back in the 70s! Titles include "Centrifugal Force", "There's Some Light Ahead", "Waterfall", and "Utopia: Man's Dream".

Waterfalls, released in 1972, was John Klemmer's 6th album. While living in L.A. in the late 60's and early 70's at the height of the rock explosion, he did concerts with Janis Joplin etc. and local L.A. rock groups and musicians. He incorporated these new styles etc. in his recordings for Cadet Concept/Chess & Impulse! records, constantly breaking new ground, broadening & increasing his critical interest & acclaim & fan base.

Klemmer, the self-styled "Ambassador Of Cool," was a smooth jazz saxophone pioneer, composing and performing music back in the 70's that was smooth, hip and easy - way, way before Kenny G broke the world of smooth jazz saxophone wide open.

Waterfalls is a psychedelic Jazz recording of eight tracks with a cavalcade of shared Exotica particularities, envisioned by tenor saxophonist John Klemmer and his sextet, performed live at the Ash Grove Club in Los Angeles in June 1972 and, as the liner notes astutely claim, enchanted at The Village Recorder in the same city and month. The album offers a superb fusion of Exotica, Funk, Batucada and Ambient, but seriously, the Funk part of this list is probably the least
stringent force that wafts around this aquatic LP. The front artwork suggests a wonderful magic world full of vivacious trees and valleys, but this is simply not applicable in the given arrangements which burst at the seams when it comes to glittering moonbeams, nocturnal cascades and nightly rivers. This feeling is fueled in large parts by the use of an electric Rhodes piano and plinking cymbals in tandem with the saxophone.

While there is not even one birdcall in sight, let alone the probably expected inclusion of water drops or liquid field recordings, Waterfalls paints a galactic yet humane and inhabitable void of drenched landscapes. Even though it is recorded in front of a live audience, the sound quality is unbelievably crisp, with the few cheers and hand claps of the audience hailing from a curious distance, as if they cross-faded from a parallel universe into the intrinsic world which John Klemmer and his band create. The sextet comprises the talents of Mike Nock on said electric piano, Eddie Marshall on the drums, Victor Feldman on various sparsely used and not overly exotic percussion devices, bassist Wilton Felder, vocalist Diana Lee who appears in two tracks, and last but not least John Klemmer on the tenor or soprano saxophone. Luring, cleaning and seductive: here’s a closer look at John Klemmer’s Waterfalls.

"Prelude I" functions as the introduction to the cascading movements of Waterfalls. Sure, its title states exactly that, for it is the reason of any prelude to make the listener comfortable with the things to come, without letting him- or herself immerse all too densely in the unfolding structures. It is therefore no surprise that this is a proper solo; only John Klemmer is heard on the tenor saxophone whose heavily convoluted and labyrinthine spirals are given enough time to let the listener fathom out the backdrop of nullity and blackness. There is a strong wideness in this piece, but it is not erected via blurred reverberations rather than soaked echoes created via Echoplex electronics. The result feels emaciated yet rich, and it is this bewildering gallimaufry which the listener must swallow in order to reach the dreamier parts of John Klemmer’s Utopian gardens.

And eureka, "Waterfall I" is ameliorated by Wilton Felder’s thick bass riverbeds and the excited cheers of the audience which otherwise remains whisper-quiet and is blinded out completely during the performance. The feeling is laid-back and nocturnal, not yet as bright as the delicate artwork suggests. Victor Feldman only very cautiously ennobles the tenor saxophone-heavy coils with a cymbal and softened hi-hats once in a while, whereas Mike Nock’s Rhodes piano delivers glistening scintilla which superbly augment the moonlit spirit of purity. Notwithstanding the esoteric psychedelia, this is indeed a postmodern Exotica piece, one that grows larger during its climactic end which does not lead to a definite eruption rather than a stream of carefully maintained bliss… followed by the introduction of Mr. Nock on the piano. These instances might throw the listener out of the dreamworld, true, but Waterfalls I is simply too luring and enchanting to get hurt by these fragments of the real world.

Up next is the innermost core called "Utopia: Man’s Dream" which is divided into Part 1 and Part 2, having a total runtime of almost 13 minutes. The CD reissue merges both parts together, as it should be. Completely enthralling times are ahead of the listening subject: a cosmic mélange of languorous wind chimes, galactic Rhodes piano shards and yearning saxophone tones in tandem with Diana Lee’s vocal-related mimicry await the traveler. After approximately two minutes, the composition is revised by Eddie Marshall’s skillful drum protrusions. In the meantime, it turns out that Klemmer’s sax and Lee’s vocals are really glued to each other; there are several purely instrumental segues and interludes, but the temptress joins the silkened brazen effulgence time and again. The saxophone is clearly in the forefront, as is common in Klemmer’s album, and this fact does not diminish Mike Nock’s polyhedron piano crystals but only makes the backdrop a more interesting and luring underbrush to venture into. The aura is occasionally calcined by cheers and claps of the attendees, but only infrequently.

The moments of soothing quiescence are probably the most surprising revelation of "Utopia: Man’s Dream". And indeed, once the saxophone is mute and lets bassist Felder, pianist Nock and percussionist Feldman interact with each other at the end of Part 1, the ensuing interdependency takes both the song and its arrangement to new heights. Instead of high billows of rapture, a more reduced, carefully kindled luminousness is reached which partially reaches the colors of the front artwork, but otherwise nurtures the positively ashen moonlit tropicana. Part 2 is not much different and relies on the same four-note alterations of the main theme.

Speaking of the susurrant darkness: "There’s Some Light Ahead" addresses the missing cavalcades of colors by injecting them into the uplifting arrangement. Eddie Marshall’s drums are ubiquitous, the five-note main theme on the saxophone is gorgeously accompanied and then exchanged with glistening sparks of electric piano prowess and the accordant backing chords which mesh very well with the heavier drums and shakers, especially so since Klemmer’s tenor saxophone is replaced by a soprano one; this newly introduced device is at the same time played in a more soothing, not all too protuberant fashion. The result is a classic Funk escapade of the sumptuously poeticized kind, strongly mellow and pristine.

However, nothing prepares the listener for the following Centrifugal Force, a fast-paced, eclectic yet accessible maelstrom of Diana Lee’s chants, Mike Nock’s heftily crystallized electric piano prongs, Eddie Marshall’s cymbalscapes, Wilton Felder’s bouncing bass runlets and… the omission of John Klemmer for exactly three minutes. Despite the joyously upbeat wind chime-underpinned aqua adventure, this trip never feels forceful nor staggering. There are many Ambient segues hidden in the alcoves of the titular centrifugal force, and even though the listener as well as the band are absorbed and soaked into its very center, the tune always feels like a reverie and an breakneck voyage. The simultaneity of these feelings only makes it stronger. The album ends the way it began by offering reinterpreted versions of the first two tracks: "Prelude II" is strongly tied to the first prelude and features anyone but John Klemmer on a reverb-affected tenor saxophone.

"Waterfall II", however, differs in that it weaves the theme of Waterfall I into a more groovy, city-like beat structure without neglecting the phantasmagorical luminescence of the album. This very beat is not dropped before the Ambient half of the tune is over, and even then the ambience takes over time and again, rounding the album off with the endemic Rhodes piano glitters and mellifluous saxophone tones.

John Klemmer’s Waterfalls is a strong concept album with an admittedly bewildering last third – a second prelude? Really? – and an ever-sparkling physiognomy whose complexion is potentially gelid and frosty, but strikingly heated by the interplay between the sextet. John Klemmer is naturally heard most of the time, but he allows his fellow band members to bathe as well in the limelight by delivering highly melodious segues whose textural range is awesomely tempting. This is obviously no clear-cut Exotica album, but if the genre had not faded away during the middle of the 60’s, chances are that John Klemmer’s album would have provided one possible missing connection to the graceful, exhilarative and nocturnal moirés of the late 50’s indeed. I deem Mike Nock’s Rhodes piano as essential as the tenor saxophone, especially so since its purified omnipresence is, as the word already explicates, all over the album and rarely ever silent except in the two preludes.

This is a Jazz album alright, one with quickly vesiculating build-ups, ebullient shapes and structures, but there is never a dull moment or a designedly off-putting eclecticism that prevents birdcall-swarmed Exotica listeners from enjoying the coziness-augmenting textures. Sure, there are vintage listeners who do not want their beloved genre to be pestered with electronic devices. In this regard, they may well skip Waterfalls, but contemporary listeners in search of fast-paced, varied takes should pre-listen to Centrifugal Force and see whether it suits their fancy, whereas followers of the Ambient Exotica movement will be pleased with all other tracks.  [Exotica Review 255: John Klemmer – Waterfalls (1972). Originally published on Aug. 31, 2013 at]
This post consists of FLACs and MP3's (320kps) ripped from vinyl (another flee market gem) and includes full album artwork and label scans.  A nice jazz fusion recording, with occasional interactions from the live audience - not to be missed. Just love the album cover, very Psychedelic.
Note: because tracks 3 & 4 run into one another, I have recorded them as one track, so as not to interrupt the listening experience.
Track listing:
1. "Prelude I" - 3:33
2. "Waterfalls" - 4:19
3. "Utopia: Man's Dream, Part 1" - 8:47
4. "Utopia: Man's Dream, Part 2" - 3:50
5. "There's Some Light Ahead" - 4:29
6. "Centrifugal Force" - 5:59
7. "Prelude II" - 4:02
8. "Waterfall II" - 6:08
John Klemmer - tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, echoplex
Mike Nock - electric piano
Wilton Felder - electric bass
Eddie Marshall - drums
Victor Feldman - percussion
Diana Lee - vocals (tracks 3, 4 & 6)
John Klemmer FLACS Link (218Mb)

John Klemmer MP3 Link (94Mb)