Monday, April 12, 2021

The Bushwackers - Murrumbidgee (1977)

 (Australian 1971 - Present)

The Bushwackers
were familiar to many Australians before turning to country music in the late 1970s. Founded in Melbourne in 1971 by Dave Isom, Jan Wositzky, Bert Kahanoff and Mick Slocum, they gained international recognition when their frenetic folk/rock sound became prominent in the world wide revival of traditional song and dance. The band was conceived at Latrobe University in Melbourne when the founding members, in order to qualify for a grant to travel to the Aquarius Arts Festival 1972 at the ANU in Canberra, had to register as a formal act, consequently taking their name from the title of an album by the English folk singer Martyn Wyndham-Read.

Later, Dobe Newton (vocalist from 1973) and Roger Corbett (1980) took up the mantle and the Bushwackers started evolving with a strong country music flavour while still retaining their passionate focus on being Australian. Notable recordings include Faces in the Street, Beneath the Southern Cross, Bushfire, Murrumbidgee and The Shearers Dream – two of which were released through Australian record label Astor Records. The album And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda was released through EMI records in 1976 and is regarded as one of their finest recordings.

After his stint in The Bushwackers, Dave Isom co-founded The Sundowners with Peter McDonald from The Mulga Bill's Bicycle Band in 1977. They played Australian folk music and recorded their first album "Colonial Classics" in the early 80s.

The Bushwackers won their first Golden Guitar in 1981, becoming a fixture in Tamworth where their famous “Chardonnay” show is still a finale of the Festival.

They toured widely and, with Dobe and Roger as the core, a veritable cavalcade of talented country performers flowed through their ranks … Tommy Emmanuel, Clare O’Meara, Mark Oats and Michael Vidale to name a few.

For decades, Dobe and Roger and their “mates” have brought together the folk stories and traditional music of Australia, writing about, performing, recording and celebrating our heritage with an exciting mix of emotion, humour and floor-thumping energy.

A household name, The Bushwackers hold a unique place in the hearts of so many proud Australians. [extract from the Tamworth Festival Website]

The Bushwackers 1977

Album Review (by Paul The Stockman)
Their landmark ‘Murrumbidgee’ LP was recorded at London’s Morgan Studios with the legendary producer, John Wood, in 1977.
The opening track "Augathella Station" is more usually known as "Brisbane Ladies" or similar. It was penned by one Saul Mendelsohn, a stockman, in the 1880s but minor variations have been collected. It is firmly based on the British sea song "Spanish Ladies" about British sailors returning to England from Spain.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, someone with little or no idea decided the song could benefit from some tinkering. Now I'm not opposed to a bit of sensible tinkering - it is a folk song after all. I could live with the elimination of most of the place names although I can't see the point of it. The really absurd bit though is that this version has the drovers still in possession of the herd of cattle on the trip back to Augathella Station (Ranch) after having sold them in Brisbane?? No, they would not have driven any stock back home! Further, this version also has the drovers spending all their "money on the shanty town women" in some country town on the way home. This raises two points - firstly, it was very unlikely that any drovers that way inclined would have any money left after the "Brisbane Ladies" and the "girls of Toowong" (Toowong is an inner suburb of Brisbane) but more tellingly, Australia may have had "shantys" (inns), but not "shanty towns" in that sense and "shanty town women" appears to someone's crude attempt at evoking the concept of USA wild west saloon girls. Altogether, it is very disappointing that the Bushwackers had anything to do with such unauthentic garbage.

The Bushwackers pictured in London in 1976 before their Cambridge Folk Festival appearance. They appeared on the main stage alongside Don McLean, David Bromberg and Steve Goodman. 

"Rain Tumbles Down" was one of the legendary Slim Dusty's earliest songs; the classic "When the Rain Tumbles down in July". He wrote it in 1945 and it was first released in 1947 on the old Regal Zonophone label as a 78rpm. The initial release was definitely of the Australian "hillbilly" style but Slim thankfully released continuously improved performances of the song over the years and they appeared on several of his 103 albums. The Bushwackers remain fairly true to the song and it retains a country and western feel.

Great versions of "The Lachlan Tigers" and "Flash Jack from Gundagai".

For those who may be wondering, the LP cover is of a "lagerphone" in frantic motion. A very popular instrument in any respectable "Bush Band". It's often thought to be purely an Australian invention but it's an import from England but given the now very common name "lagerphone" in Australia (because of all the crown beer bottletops used in its construction). [see]

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my well played vinyl. I've applied some minor crackle and pop removals to freshen up the rip, but in my opinion the crackles give the music a more rustic and natural sound that enhances the listening experience.  Full album artwork and label scans are also included.  To clench the deal, I've also included as a bonus track, their original 1973 single release of "When The Rain Tumbles Down In July" (a shorter / different sounding version than that on this album) recorded on Warner Bros.

01 Augathella Station 3:54
02 Lachlan Tigers 3:14
03 Billy Of Tea 3:52
04 Cold Feet      2:27
05 Rain Tumbles Down       4:18
06 Streets Of Forbes 5:14
07 The Cameo 1:05
08 Tomahawkin' Fred 2:53
09 Murrumbidgee River     4:59
10 Flash Jack 2:47
11 When The Rain Tumbles Down In July (1973 single)  3:00

Bass – Pete Farndon
Bodhrán, Harmonica, Vocals – Jan Wositzky
Drums – Dave Mattacks
Fiddle, Viola, Vocals – Dave Kidd
Guitar, Fiddle, Mandolin – Louis McManus
Piano, Accordion, Vocals – Mick Slocum
Producer – John Wood
Vocals – Dobe Newton

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

REPOST: Think - We'll Give You A Buzz (1976)

(New Zealand 1976-1979)
Winners of New Zealand’s battle of the band contest, Think recorded one album on Atlantic records. The band comprised Kiwis Richard Pickett (vocals), Alan Badger (bass), Phil Whitehead (guitar and one time member of Human Instinct), Don Mills (keyboards), and Neville Jess (drums).

Think were an Auckland progressive rock band who formed in 1976. Phil Whitehead and Don Mills came from the disbanded top 40 covers band Beam, which featured his brother Chris on drums and Alan Badger on bass. Phil also had a short stint with the legendary NZ band Human Instinct in-between. They produced an album in 1976 called "We'll Give You A Buzz" and a single "Arrived In Time"/"Big Ladies" the following year. One further single came in 1979 with "Good Morning" / "Peanut Joe". Kevin Stanton (guitar) was also a member at one time. He later went on to play with Mi-Sex. Whitehead also went on to join progressive rock unit called Father Thyme [extracts from NewZealand Music of the 60's and 70's].

Their one and only LP "We'll Give You A Buzz" is a great progressive rock album with loads of keyboard, guitar, mood shifts and includes some great riffs. For a progressive rock album it is very accessible so don’t expect any serious ‘head’ music. Keyboard sections have a Rick Wakeman/Ken Hensley feel about them while at times the guitar work of Phil Whitehead matches that of Mick Box, Joe Satriani and even the great man himself 'Carlos Santana'. Vocals exhibit great harmonies and at times sound a lot like Godley and Creme from 10CC.
The only negative is that some of the lyrics sometimes miss the mark and are somewhat shallow at times.
The rip was taken from vinyl at 320kps (and in FLAC from the 2008 South Side CD release) and includes original album artwork. If you enjoy band's like Eloy, Sebastian Hardie, Uriah Heep or even Badger then you will really enjoy this album.

01. Light Title
02. Look What I've Done
03. Ripoff
04. Stringless Provider
05. Big Ladies
06. Our Children (Think About)
Band members:
Alan Badger (Bass)
Phil Whitehead (Guitar)
Neville Jess (Drums)
Don Mills (Keyboards)
Ritchie Pickett (Vocals)
Think MP3 Link (87Mb) New Link 01/10/2013

Think FLAC Link (244Mb)  Upgraded Link 07/04/2021

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Johnny Winter - The Progressive Blues Experiment (1972)

 (U.S 1959 - 2014)

Originally released in 1968 on small Austin, TX label Sonobeat Records in a small pressing of 100, Winter sold the rights to Imperial Records for wider release.

Give the press a lead on an up-and-coming blues musician who isn't black, and you can be sure that someone, somewhere is going to use the phrase 'Great white hope'. And, to be fair, it's hard to resist it when your up-and-comer is Johnny Winter, whose whiter shade of pale is the first thing you notice about him. Until he starts playing, that is. Then, the only thing that strikes you that has anything to do with colour is how naturally this man turns blue.

The blues was not exactly in the doldrums in the late '60s, but it was hardly a booming business. The time was ripe for new heroes, and during the winter of 1968-69 Rolling Stone devoted at least two articles to placing bets on one such. In a feature on Texas music, Larry Sepulvado and John Burks invited the magazine's readers to 'imagine a 130-pound cross-eyed albino bluesman with long fleecy hair playing some of the gutsiest blues guitar you have ever heard,' a trailer that hauled the 24-year-old Winter to prestigious New York gigs and lengthy contractual negotiations as several labels scuffled to sign him. CBS won and his debut album, simply called Johnny Winter, arrived in the spring of '69, sparking a long fuse of gigs that ended in explosive summer performances at Woodstock and Detroit's Motor City Rock Festival. 

Over the next five years Winter's records and appearances would establish him as one of the biggest draws on the blues-rock circuit. After several gear-changes and some stops on the road, not to say crashes, he still commands a substantial fan base and his career is carefully charted at at least one extensive website.

Just before the 'official' debut album hit the shops, another piece of Winter's work was exhibited by Imperial Records: an album he had made earlier for a small Texas label, Sonobeat, under the provocative title The Progressive Blues Experiment. Although the CBS release occupied most of the fierce spotlight that was being trained upon Winter, and prompted even hard line critics like Blues Unlimited's Mike Leadbitter to call him 'the best male, white blues guitarist there ever was', some reviewers - among them Rolling Stone's Pete Welding - preferred the rawer production of the Imperial set, and it has continued to find admirers ever since.'As murky as hell but fresh and powerful in approach', wrote Charles Shaar Murray recently. And here it is again.

It's Johnny Winter's earliest album as such, but by no means his first recording: he'd been in that game since his mid-teens. Born in 1944, he grew up partly in his father's hometown of Leland, Mississippi, and partly in his mother's, the Texas Gulf Coast city of Beaumont. As a youngster he played clarinet, then ukulele, before taking up guitar. With his three-years-younger brother Edgar he had a preteen group modelled on the Everly Brothers, then in high school in Beaumont they formed Johnny & The Jammers, with Edgar playing keyboards, and recorded a rock 'n' roll single, 'School Day Blues', for the Dart label, which got them some attention. Johnny quit technical college to go into music full time, and for most of the next ten years he was in and out of studios in Houston and Beaumont, making singles for local labels under a variety of names, or playing guitar on sessions with other artists - blues, R&8, rockabilly, pop, whatever.

Meanwhile the club work went on and on, sometimes in white joints, sometimes black. Johnny had loved blues since he was a kid, had hung out with Beaumont's Clarence Garlow, of 'Bon Ton Roulet' fame, and had spent some time visiting the blues clubs in Chicago, and he took every Opportunity of playing both with local black artists and with visiting out-of-towners like Jimmy Reed' Johnny & The Jammers were transformed into other entities: around '65/'66, they were Johnny Winter & The Black Plague, wearing black, playing in black light.

By '67', Uncle John'Turner was in place as the group's drummer, and soon afterwards Tommy Shannon (later a charter member of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble) joined on bass: this is the rhythm section heard on The Progressive Blues Experiment. The album was recorded at the Vulcan Gas Company, a club in Austin, Texas, in 1967 or '68. Though a version has circulated with crowd-noise on it, implying a live recording, the original tapes, as heard here, indicate that the only audience in the club was the guys doing the recording.

Winter playing his National Steel Guitar
The influence of Muddy Waters (whom Winter would later produce, in a fine series of albums for Blue Sky) hangs over the proceedings like a dark blue cloud, from the opening 'Rollin'and Tumblin" through the tribute track - actually 'Still a Fool, Muddy's take on'Catfish Blues - to the acoustic 'Bad Luck and Trouble', which is pretty plainly modelled on Muddy's early sides with Little Walter. 0n this track Johnny plays the harmonica and mandolin as well as the National steel guitar. The National is also heard on'Broke Down Engine', where Johnny seems to apply the style of Robert Johnson to a theme by Blind Willie McTell. 'l Got Love If You Want it' came from Slim Harpo, 'Help Me'from Sonny Boy Williamson ll, 'lt's My Own Fault' from B.B. King and'Forty-Four' from Howlin' Wolf, 'Mean Town Blues' uses the riff from Slim Harpo's 'Shake Your Hips' - or Little Junior Parker's 'Feelin' Good, or John Lee Hooker's'Boogie Chillun', take your pick. Johnny sounds as if he has Hooker in mind: listen to his guitar solo, especially the passage from 1.52 onwards.

But the sources of Winter's material are much less the point than the skill with which he shifts his technical gears, from the throbbing slide lines of the Muddy tracks, through those Hookeresque chords, to the lissom single-string picking of 'It's My Own Fault'. In my own mind, I was the best white blues player around,'he would say later. A lot of white players have come down the blues highway in the last 30 years. Some of them, no doubt, have had chops to rival his.
But how many of them give you live blues action as incandescent as this? [Liner notes by Tony Bussell, July 1999]

This post consists of FLACs taken from my newly acquired CD (another great flee market find) with full album artwork for both vinyl and CD.  Winter's earlier material is certainly his strongest and this release is testament to this by far.  Absolutely brilliant and Blues at its Best.

01 Rollin' And Tumblin' 3:09
02 Tribute To Muddy 6:20
03 I Got Love If You Want It 3:52
04 Bad Luck And Trouble 3:43
05 Help Me 3:46
06 Mean Town Blues 4:26
07 Broke Down Engine 3:25
08 Black Cat Bone 3:46
09 It's My Own Fault 7:20
10 Forty-Four 3:28

The Winter Band:
Johnny Winter - Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin, Mouth Harp
Tommy Shannon - Bass
John 'Red' Turner - Drums

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: Barbara Feldon - Max & 99 (1966)

Before things get too serious here at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song / album at the end of each month, that could be categorized as being either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.

In her famous role as Agent 99 on the 1960s hit TV show "Get Smart," Barbara Feldon said she was probably the only actress in Hollywood with callouses on her ankles: She often folded her foot over and slouched to avoid standing taller than the leading man Don Adams, who played the role of Maxwell Smart.

"I am so much taller than him," Ms. Feldon said of her co-star. "He was so surprised the first day. He never met me before they did the pilot and they cast me. So when I walked in on the first day and I was taller than Don, it wasn't good news. I can barely watch the first year [of the show] because I'm slouching so much."

Ms. Feldon, who was born in Butler County and graduated from Bethel Park High School, discussed her character before an audience of about 200 people Saturday at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District. It was part of "Vintage Pittsburgh: A Retro Weekend" held in connection with the center's ongoing exhibit celebrating 1968 as "The Year that Rocked America."

That was also the year "Get Smart" was among the top-rated shows on prime-time TV.

Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, "Get Smart" was a parody of James Bond and other spy movies that became popular at that time. Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 are secret agents working for a spy agency in Washington, D.C., who battle the forces of evil plotting to take over the world. Agent 99 is the faithful sidekick to the brilliant, but clumsy, Maxwell Smart. She often saved the day with her skill and intelligence.

Interestingly enough, Agent 99 never had a real name. "She was only a pretty number," Ms. Feldon said. "They wanted to call her Agent 100, but 99 seemed like a girl's number."

Max and the Chief in the infamous Cone of Silence

The show was notable for its high-tech spy gadgets, such as the shoe telephone Maxwell Smart used to communicated with the "chief," bullet-proof invisible walls, a hidden camera in a bowl of soup and the infamous "Cone of Silence," a transparent bubble that Max and the chief used for top secret conversations, although it never worked as it was supposed to.

As for her personal relationship with Adams, who died in 2005, there really wasn't one during the show's run from 1965 to 1970. She said Adams was preoccupied with acting and writing scripts for the show. Although the two spy characters eventually fell in love, got married and had twin babies, they did not socialize at all off camera.

"Don was very nice, but we had no relationship," she said. "But Agent 99 and Max had a relationship. So the minute we were in character, there was this absolutely no-holds-barred communication between us. Later on [after the show ended its run], Don and I became really, really sweet friends." [Published April 14, 2013, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

The Single
Recorded at the height of the popularity of the "Get Smart!" TV show, this is a somewhat humorous pair of songs named after the characters in the series. Feldon played Agent 99 in the series--thus the plug side is entitled "99". The other side is....would you believe..."Max"?

Feldon does not really 'sing'. She reads the lyrics with the delectable purr of Agent 99. It's all fairly silly, but brings back fond memories that will probably lead to the purchase of more "Get Smart!" DVDs. With top comedy writers and the participation of no less than Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, "Get Smart!" was one of the edgier comedies of the sixties.

How obscure is this? So obscure I didn't even know it existed until a few years ago, even though I was an incredibly huge "Get Smart" fan as a kid, even though Barbara Feldon is pretty much the only T.V personality I have ever had a crush on, except maybe for Mary Anne from Gilligan's Island and Emma Peel from the Avengers. Even though I knew about the Get Smart LP of all things: I had no idea Barbara Feldon had ever recorded a single.

So, is it good?  Well, as you might expect, Barbara Feldon can't actually sing, but as you also might expect, this doesn't matter. Honestly, I kind of like it. Anybody can try to be sultry when they have a decent singing voice, but being sultry when your singing is flat and has no range at all, well, I for one find that to be infinitely more appealing. So yeah, I like it! More celebrity novelty records should sound like this, I think. And dig that Swingin' Pop Art cover!

As you can guess, this single fits in nicely with the W.O.C.K on Vinyl theme - it's  a little Weird, it's a little Korny and I reckon it's Obscure.  But then again, others may not agree. So much so, that famous catch cry of Max might be appropriate "Missed by....that much!"    I'll let you be the judge.

Ripped from vinyl, this post consists of FLACs, full artwork and featured photos.  Thanks to Mustang for the rip

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Crystal Voyager - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1973) plus Bonus Track

 (Australian 1973)

After the unexpected success of "Morning of the Earth", Albert Falzon and David Elfick were able to secure funding from the Australian Film Commission for another surfing movie. The new movie would concentrate on George Greenough a Californian knee board rider who pioneered the earliest water shots by adapting a fibreglass housing to fit his movie camera. With a surfer/traveller theme "Crystal Voyager" would track Greenough as he finished making his own sailing boat and sailed off to find the perfect, uncrowded wave!

George lives without consuming too much, recycling whatever he can. He uses his knowledge gained from observing the world around him to make dolphin shaped fins for his kneeboards and uses natural curves for the keel of his yacht. George even constructed his yacht from materials scavenged from junkyards throughout California.

His kneeboard riding is incredible and it could be considered the forerunner of the modern 'short board' style of surfing. Alby Falson's camera captures the surfing and other adventures with Nat Young and Richie West beautifully, especially Nat's ever so smooth approach to wave riding.

It was very late in the day when Albert Falzon & David Elfick approached G.Wayne Thomas to write and produce the soundtrack for their new movie 'Crystal Voyager' 1973, reluctant at first he eventually agreed. The timing was crucial as the movie was already towards the final edit and had to be finished for release by a specific date to fit with government funding arrangements.

The whole soundtrack was written, performed and produced in TEN DAYS, with the help of the specially formed Studio Band consisting of Bobby Gibbert (piano), Mick Liber (guitar), Rod Coe (bass), and John Proud (drums) with assistance from Michael Carlos (keyboards), and Wayne sang and played rhythm guitar.

Crystal Voyager has been described as one of the "greatest concept albums of all time". In 1974, G. Wayne Thomas was presented with Best Soundtrack by the then Minister for Arts and Communications the Honorable Doug McClelland. (this Awards ceremony was a forerunner of today's spectacular ARIA Awards.)

The film became a cult hit in London's East End when it was exhibited for an amazing six month run to packed audiences. The film was also a huge hit in Australia and appealed to every budding surfie riding swells on our world renowned surf coasts.

 This album was released on license by PolyGram on the Warm & Genuine label which was set up by G. Wayne Thomas and singer/actor Jon English. At the time PolyGram was installing a new computer system and sales records for an 8 month period were accidentally erased. However Crystal Voyager is reputedly the highest grossing surf movie of all time due to its sustained popularity throughout Europe .

The soundtrack featured the track "Echoes" taken from Pink Floyd's 1971 album Meddle.  It was used on a 16 minute tube sequence filmed with George's head and shoulder mounted cameras, and using one of the very first 'fisheye' lenses that Greenough designed.. 'Echoes' was licensed and used in the movie sound track for no charge as long as Pink Floyd could use the movie sequence whenever they played the song 'live' on stage.

George's footage captured the audience's imagination with the visual experience of surfing in the 'tube' or 'barrel', where the powerful forces of nature create the curving of the wave. This is regarded by most surfers as the ultimate surfing experience - almost spiritual, and an almost unattainable's the challenge that drives the desire.

George Greenough

Most of the film's footage was taken along the far north coast of NSW in particular Lennox Head and Byron Bay. Greenough had moved to Australia on a semi permanent basis and was known for his radical political views and eccentric lifestyle and interest in movie making. The other surfer featured in the film is Richie West who also went on to star in the "Forgotten Island Of Santosha" with Joey Cabel.
[Extracts from G.Wayne Thomas Website and CD liner notes]

This post consists of MP3's (320kps) ripped from vinyl and includes album artwork for both vinyl and CD. This is another surfing movie which I saw with my older brother (he was the surfie in the family) at the Pix Cinema in West Geelong if my memory serves me right. I rated it a close second to 'Morning Of The Earth' which had blown me away a year earlier. I clearly remember the "Echoes" sequence and the fisheye imagery, it was mind blowing. Therefore, I am including the shortened version of Echoes as a bonus track for your full experience.

01 Changes (Thomas Reed)
02 Into The Blue
03 Junkyard I / Jinkyard II
04 Red Sun Sea (Bobby Gilbert)
05 Slipping Away
06 Changes II
07 Morning Light
08 (That Could Be The Reason) Clouds Cry
09 Gypsy Shoes
10 Hollywood
11 Space And Time
12 Echoes (Pink Floyd) [Bonus Track]

Bass – Rod Coe
Drums – John Proud
Guitar – Mick Liber
Keyboards – Bobby Gibbert
Vocals, Guitar, Producer [Produced By] – G. Wayne Thomas
Written-By – G. Wayne Thomas (tracks: 01 to 04, 07 to 11)
Cover illustration – Ian McCausland

Monday, March 22, 2021

Skyhooks - Straights in a Gay Gay World (1976) with bonus tracks

 (Australian 1973-1980, 1983-84, 1990, 1994)

"Straight ln A Gay Gay World"
I'm just a straight in a gay, gay world
I'm carryin' the banner, tryin' to keep the flag unfurled
Well, I'm just a straight in a gay, gay place
I might look a little odd but I'm part of the human race

It was to be The Skyhook's most expensive album to date. The budget was $60,000- four times what it cost to make 'Ego Is Not A Dirty Word'. At the end of the American tour - as the guys were itching to return home - the band entered the $100 per hour Record Plant in Sausalito, California to make their third album. The studio was a long way from TCS in Bendigo Street, Richmond - both in distance and in style. The Record Plant had a Jacuzzi and a pinball machine. Also on hand was a speedboat, which could take you to trendy restaurants. If that was unavailable, there was a Rolls Royce with the number plates "GREED".

In the studio next to Skyhooks had been Fleetwood Mac. Red remembers the stories about various Mac members taking nitrous oxide. The band lived in a big cedar house, where the Eagles had written "Lyin' Eyes". The house had a spa. The guys were joined by their wives and girlfriends, who after a couple of weeks went for a trip to Mexico while the band was rehearsing.

Ross Wilson flew to America after he finished work on the Oz soundtrack. He was to produce the album. An American, Bill Halverson, was to engineer the record.

'Straight In A Gay Gay World' should have been Skyhooks' finest moment. Made in America at a state of the art studio with a big budget, it was a chance for the band to make the album which would break them worldwide. Instead they made a record that disappointed them and added to the pressure on the band. The major players have differing versions of events.

"It was hard to capture the sound we wanted. The studio in Melbourne had a much more live sound. The studio in Sausalito was a dead sounding space. "We weren't hearing the sound on tape we wanted and knew was there."

"It was unfortunate that we had to do it at the end of the tour because we were all really tired and really sick of living with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The sessions were very, very tense. We hadn't had a chance to really perform the music. Greg had been writing in his hotel rooms. He'd come up with quite a few interesting songs but because he was starting to withdraw a bit and he wasn't being so friendly, for us it became more of a job, rather than doing it for the love of it."

"We just wanted to go home. We'd been touring the states for five months. It was a contractual album".


"It was rushed. At the end of the tour, the idea of making a record was kind of nice, but they also wanted to make it home. So in that sense, it was more pressured. I guess that is the word. We wanted Ross Wilson to do it. However, I don't know if Ross was that crazy about doing it."

"There were obvious tensions with Ross Wilson. The biggest problem was that the studio was so pure, as far as sound and clarity goes. We had so many fucking tuning problems. It ended up stressing everyone out. You'd go to do something and the guitars would be out of tune."

"The first two albums were good, I reckon. Part of the reason they were good albums was all that material was conceived before the band was successful. When it came to a third album, we had a whole lot of associated pressures, like being in America (away from home). But it was a struggle because it was post-success material. All the motivation had gone. It had become a job.

Ross remembers the making of the Straight album as 'the start of a crappy period for him' for a few years. He got bogged down with running a record label, OZ, with Glenn Wheatley, and he had an unhappy time producing Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons. "That's when I decided I didn't want to be a full time record producer. There was constant disagreement, It was even tougher than the Skyhooks."
Wilson's post-Straight blues mirrored the Skyhooks."

"This ls My City"
This is my city
This is your city
This is our city now
This ls My City

THE HOOKS ARRIVED HOME from the U.S Tour on Wednesday, June 16, 1976.

The Melbourne Sun reported: "Skyhooks came home from the US to a screaming, hysterical welcome."
Shirley, Red, Freddy and Bob were met by more than 100 fans at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport. Greg flew in by himself a couple of hours earlier. Red had his coat torn off and his shirt ripped. When he was asked whether that was the sort of reception the band got overseas, he said: "Yeah, except it was us banging on the doors." He told a press conference that America was great because the band had learn't words like "cheeseburger", "far out" and "funky". As for his immediate plans: "To go home and have a nice cup of tea".

Shirley told the Sun's Pat Bowring that the U.S "brought us down to earth. We were over-confident at first. And we were brought down to our level fast. The workload was huge, the pressure great and the future uncertain . . . there wasn't much time for fun."

Shirley announced that the band's next trip overseas would most probably happen in October and would include Britain and Europe. But the Hooks never again made it overseas. In 1975, they conquered Sydney and Australia - going much further than any other Australian band had dreamed. In 1976, most of the band found that they didn't have the desire to go further.

"All in all, it (the US) was a fantastic experience. But it dawned on us that if we were going to continue, it would be basically 10 years of sitting on a bus doing that same sort of thing over and over again. All the bands were doing that. We played with lots of bands there who subsequently became big in America four or five years after we met them, bands like Styx and Journey. That was the career path, how long it would take. I don't think that interested Red. I remember having conversations with him and he'd be asking: 'Do you really want to do this?' I think he didn't want to do it. And maybe ir wasn't stimulating enough for everybody."

Michael Gudinski continued to hype the overseas angle. He said that he got a telex from Mercury saying that they were ecstatic about two tracks from Straight In A Gay Gay World, "Blue Jeans" and "Crazy Heart", as potential singles. But Mercury never did release any more Skyhooks singles. They did release the Straight album (with the track "Living In The 70's" replacing "The Girl Say's She's Bored), in 1976.
Gudinski and Strachan promote the Brats Are Back Tour

Creem Magazine reviewed the album in the U.S, saying that Skyhooks was different to 'bland-outs' like LRB, Sherbet, the Bee Gees, Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton-John. "But whether they'll break big here is a big ? I mean, can a group of self-confessed weirdos inhabiting a nebulous nether world between Alice Cooper, Steely Dan, The Stones and The Bonzo Dog Band really make it? Yeah, well, a little like that, but I am glad there are bands like these guys. It just makes living in the 70's a little more interesting." But with no promotion from Mercury, Living was dead on arrival in the U.S

Ross Wilson filled the Sun readers in on where the Hooks were at, in an interview at the end of June: "When a band has been together for two years and gone through the various trips - fame, fortune and all that - it reaches a point where it re-evaluates things. This is the point Skyhooks is at now. When Skyhooks started, it was more like a hobby thing to them. Now, it';s more like hard work."

Wilson also announced that he would not be producing any more Skyhooks albums. "It's a completely amicable decision. I just feel that after three albums, both the group and myself should move on to other things."

Bongo on ANZ Rooftop For This Is My City Clip

The band released its new single, a double A-Side, " This Is My City" / "Somewhere in Sydney", on July 12. It just made it into the National Top 20. This is despite a strong clip for "This Is My City", which had the band filmed from a helicopter as they were on top of the 16-storey ANZ Bank building in Collins Street in Melbourne.

On July 28, the band started its return Australian tour: 'The Brats Are Back'. The tour captured some of the old excitement. The band became the first major act to play in Alice Springs. Half the town turned out.

Straight In A Gay Gay World was released on August 21. Unlike its two predecessors, it did not top the charts, instead it peaked at No.7 nationally. There was irony in the title - a band that wore make-up and outrageous costumes saying it was straight. The cover - a lone black sheep on the front, a lamb chop dinner on the back cover - led to some talkback on Melbourne radio. Bob Starkie reported that the lamb had since died. Red Symons said "Everyone has their own interpretation of it, but I think it's how this band is all lambs to the slaughter!"

The album opened with their 1975 hit single "Million Dollar Riff", which had reached #2 on the national charts, only being kept out of the top spot by Abba's "Mama Mia"

The next track was all about Greg's American observations, "ls This America?". "lt's about hotel rooms, and blacks and whites, and New York Subways. I wrote that one in a hotel in a night, just like the good old days when the songs were coming thick and fast." The album also featured two songs about the sexual revolution, the title-track and "I'm Normal". "'I'm Normal" is about a guy who's dissatisfied with the sexual revolution, so he's going back to holding hands and making out like he used to when he was young. Degeneracy seems to be the norm . . . of course, some of the guys in the band are pretty degenerate."

The album also included a track that Greg had written before the first album, "Blue Jeans". He told Ram Magazine: "I wouldn't like to limit myself to the field of social comment all the time. "Blue Jeans" is more of what you'd call social comment. We used to do it when we first started. Ross Wilson has always tried to get it recorded, but we've never been real keen on the idea until we got stuck for a song on this album." Red said: "We knew when we recorded it that it'd be a pain in the arse. It's like with 'All My Friends Are Getting Married', where all these jewellery shops selling engagement rings were using it on radio ads. Lyrically, it makes a statement about how people try and look different, but in the end they look similar.". "Blue Jeans" became the band's first major hit in New Zealand, when it crashed into the Kiwi Top 10. It was Mushroom's first gold record in NZ.

Bongo grooms the Black Sheep for the Album Photo Shoot

Straight In A Gay Gay World closed with perhaps Greg's "nicest" song ever, "Crazy Heart". "lt's been described as a song of social impotence. It's about a guy who fantasise about a whole lot of different types of girls but can't quite get himself together to do anything about it. It's almost an extension of the sentiments on 'Love's Not Good Enough'.

Greg described Red's solitary contribution, "Mumbo Jumbo", "as the nonsense song to end all nonsense songs. It's his reaction to disco music - mindless lyrics and mindless music. It's the best song he's written, I think."

‘Freddie’ Strauks, ‘Shirley’ Strachan, Red Symons and
Bob ‘Bongo’ Starkie during an interview in 1976

The Straight album was launched at a lavish reception in Melbourne, broadcast live on 3XY, and during which the band was also presented with seven platinum records for Living and Ego (marking sales of more than 350,000, which grossed more than $2 million). Straight was a slow starter sales-wise, taking two months to finally go platinum. In local sales, the Hooks had been overtaken by their support act, Ol'55 whose 'Take It Greasy' had sold more than 100,000 copies. 

The writing was on the wall - things had to change if the Hooks were going to survive. [Extracts from 'Ego Is Not A Dirty Word - The Skyhooks Story' by Jeff Jenkins.Kelly & Withers 1994. p104 - 117]

This post consists of FLACs ripped from a remastered CD (released in 1994) and includes full album artwork for both Vinyl and CD media. When I originally bought the album on vinyl, I must admit I was a little disappointed, even though there were a couple of typical 'Hook' tracks (Million Dollar Riff and Blue Jeans). They seemed to have lost the magic that was evident in their first 2 albums. However, I have since grown to like this album over time and consider it to be an important piece of the Hook's discography.  
I have chosen to include a couple of bonus tracks, the non-album B-Side of Million Dollar Riff "Forging Ahead" and a rare live recording of 'This Is My City' - recorded in Perth during their Brats are Back Tour.  

01 Million Dollar Riff 3:50
02 Is This America? 4:30
03 Blue Jeans 2:30
04 Somewhere In Sydney 3:40
05 This Girl Says She's Bored 3:20
06 This Is My City 3:40
07 Straight In A Gay Gay World 4:30
08 I'm Normal 3:15
09 Mumbo Jumbo 3:20
10 Crazy Heart 5:00
11 Forging Ahead (B-Side Single)*     4:07
12 Somewhere In Sydney (Bonus Live Perth)     4:05

The Hooks were:
Shirley Strachan (Lead Vocals)
Red Symons (Guitar/Vocals)
Bob Starkie (Guitar)
Greg Macainsh (Bass/Vocals)
Freddy Strauks (Drums/Vocals)

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

REPOST: Doug Parkinson & The Southern Star Band - I'll Be Around (1979)

(Australian 1967 - Present) .

Doug Parkinson is one of the most soulful singers Australia has ever produced. He first started singing with a band called 'The A Sound' but soon graduated to a more professional outfit, forming The Questions in 1967. This band supported The Who and The Small Faces Australian tour in 1968 and were placed second in the finals of the prestigious Hoadleys Battle of the Sounds. This led to appearances in Melbourne and this is where the story really begins. A year later he formed Doug Parkinson in Focus which was the musician’s musicians outfit of the time. The band would later prove to be a benchmark in Australian rock folklore. With this group he recorded the Beatles’ Dear Prudence in 1969 and it topped the charts. Parkinson re-interpreted this masterpiece and made it his own. He followed it up with another spectacular chart topper "Without You". 

The same year they finally won Hoadleys 'Battle of the Sounds' and played to sell out shows around the country. 'In Focus' recorded a third single Baby Blue Eyes which immediately entered the charts but the single died soon after, a casualty of the notorious Record Ban which denied Australian artists airplay. In 1970 he moved to London with a new band Fanny Adams and recorded an album but returned a year later and formed a new In Focus. They packed the clubs and festivals but were kept out of the studio due to contractual restraints. After a two year hard slog with no prospects of recording he made a major decision and went solo. In 1973, Doug took on his first major stage role in the concert production of the Who’s rock opera Tommy. He recorded an album 'No Regrets'. He was involved in a media storm over a political commercial. More touring, this time as a solo performer. A lonely existence. But other roles beckoned.

  Between 1975-1976, he appeared in two shows Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Ned Kelly. A steady stream of music and theatre followed. He collaborated and recorded two tracks for the cult film Stone and had another top ten hit with Everlasting Love [ extract from Doug's Website] . In early 1978, Doug began one of the most successful phases of his rock career when he formed his acclaimed new backing group The Southern Star Band (see below). Back in the fold were his old friends Duncan McGuire and Mark Kennedy, plus Frank Esler-Smith (keyboards; ex-Marcia Hines Band) and Englishman Jim Gannon (guitar; ex-Black Widow, Yellow Dog, Fox). Gannon was later replaced by a young prodigy who went on to become one of Australia's best known guitarists: Tommy Emmanuel. Regarded as one of the hottest ensembles of its day, the Southern Star Band played a smooth but powerful blend of soul, funk, jazz-rock and R&B, and with so much talent involved it's hard to explain why this group failed to fully connect with the general public, other than to point the finger at radio for its continuing lack of interest in local talent. 

Keith Kirwin (guitar, bass, vocals; ex-Avengers) joined in September 1979and during their four-year lifespan the band released four excellent singles -- "The Hungry Years" (July 1978), the superb "I'll Be Around" (January 1979), "In My Life" (April) and "You Ain't Going Nowhere Without Me" (September). "I'll Be Around" charted nationally (#22 in March) A decade after his first hit with a cover of Dear Prudence, Doug Parkinson finally found himself back in the charts with "I'll Be Around", a cover of the song made famous originally by the Spinners. Interestingly though it wasn't the Spinners track that had inspired him. He'd heard Ross Wilson perform it at a nightclub in Kings Cross as was immediately struck by it. It's been a long time favourite of mine. 

. Their Festival album, also called 'I'll Be Around', was a steady seller and received good airplay (especially on Double Jay) but it didn't manage to crack the Top 40 album charts. During the year the band supported Bob Marley & The Wailers on their Australian tour. The following year they supported Bob Marley and the Wailers on what was to be the legendary singer’s last tour. [extract from Milesago] In 1981, Doug recorded a solo album "Heartbeat to Heartbeat" which produced another top 10 hit, "The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore" with vocalist, Broderick Smith. In 1987 co-wrote the score for the surfing film "Wind Warriors". After many years of playing on the stage, Doug rekindled the passion to record again in 2004. His first album after a hiatus of many years became a reality with the help of Sydney stellar musicans Gordon Rytmeister ­ (drums), Leon Gaer (bass), Bill Risby (piano) and David Longo (guitar). 

Doug recorded songs he recalled hearing and loving as a boy laying awake and glued to his bedroom radio somewhere after midnight. The result is a beautiful selection of standards sung by a man with an amazing gift we have all grown up with and loved for over four decades. The album is entitled 'Somewhere After Midnight'. . 
This post features MP3's (320kps) ripped from near virgin vinyl and includes full album artwork for both LP and CD. Select photos and label scans are also included along with a video clip of Doug and his Southern Star Band performing "I'll Be Around" on Countdown in 1979. (Thanks to Micko at Midoztouch for the CD artwork). . 
As a tribute to this legendary Aussie Music icon, I am re-posting with FLACs.  He will be sadly missed. Read more

Track Listing
01 - I'll Be Around
02 - In My Life
03 - Now You're On Your Own
04 - Rainbow In Your Eyes
05 - Soon As Your Thing Is Done
06 - Hungry Years
07 - Riff Raff
08 - Midnite Sky
09 - Lonely
10 - Shuffle Up
11 - I'll Be Around (Live on Countdown 79')
12 - Dear Prudence (Bonus Single)

Band Members
Doug Parkinson (vocals)
Tommy Emmanuel (guitar, vocals)
Frank Esler-Smith (keyboards)
Duncan McGuire (bass)
Mark Kennedy (drums) . 

RIP  Doug Parkinson 15/03/2021