Tuesday, October 31, 2017

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: Pink Floyd - What If It's Just Green Cheese (1969)

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.

The landing of Apollo 11 on the moon easily qualifies as one of the truly epochal moments of the twentieth century. The three American astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin, spent about 21 hours on the moon, during which time countless thousands of people surely looked up and thought, “Wow, there are human beings up there.” In fact, we know for sure that David Gilmour of Pink Floyd was one of those people (see his thoughts below).

With some assistance from its colleagues in the Netherlands and Germany, the BBC mounted programming to celebrate the great event. One of the shows featured a live jam by Pink Floyd. The program was a one-hour BBC1 TV Omnibus special with the whimsical title of "So What If It’s Just Green Cheese?". It was broadcast on July 20, 1969, at 10 p.m. Interestingly, the program featured two actors who would become much more famous about three decades later—Ian McKellan and Judi Dench. Dudley Moore and the Dudley Moore Trio were also on hand.

The Floyd jam session eventually came to be called “Moonhead.” Pink Floyd performed live in the studio, providing suitably spacey music throughout 
the programme. Collector have had audio tapes of this for several years and refer to the music as  "Moonhead". 
The band claim they improvised the entire six-minute instrumental from scratch. It’s included in Pink Floyd’s massive new box set The "Early Years 1965-1972", which was released in 2016.   [Extracts from the book "Pink Floyd: In The Flesh - The Complete Performance History, by Povey & Russell, 1998" ]

David Gilmour reminisced about the appearance in an article he wrote for the Guardian in 2009:

We were in a BBC TV studio jamming to the landing. It was a live broadcast, and there was a panel of scientists on one side of the studio, with us on the other. I was 23.

The programming was a little looser in those days, and if a producer of a late-night programme felt like it, they would do something a bit off the wall. ... They were broadcasting the moon landing and they thought that to provide a bit of a break they would show us jamming. It was only about five minutes long. The song was called “Moonhead”—it’s a nice, atmospheric, spacey, 12-bar blues.

I also remember at the time being in my flat in London, gazing up at the moon, and thinking, “There are actually people standing up there right now.” It brought it home to me powerfully, that you could be looking up at the moon and there would be people standing on it. [extract from dangerousminds.net]

Thanks to Mr. Weird & Wacky for the rip included here for this month's WOCK on Vinyl post. This rarity from Pink Floyd certainly fits both the Weird and Obscure categories, but perhaps gives us some insight into their early fascination with anything Stellar and maybe was the impetus for their master piece 'Dark Side Of The Moon', released several years later.

What If It's Just Green Cheese (MP3/256kps)  New Link 01/07/2022

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Van Morrison - Live Unapproved (1993) Bootleg

(Northern Ireland 1958 - Present)
Raised in Belfast, Van Morrison came to fame with Them, who had two UK hit singles in 1964-5, with 'Baby Please Don't Go' and 'Here Comes The Night'. The former hit's B-side was 'Gloria', a  Morrison original, which the Shadows Of Knight took to the US Top 10 in 1966.

Morrison left Them in 1966 after a US tour, and his first solo single, 'Brown Eyed Girl', (1967) was a US Top 10 hit. He then signed to Warners for 1968's 'Astral Weeks', one of the most critically  acclaimed albums of the era.
Between 1970 and 1974, he worked with a superb backing band, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, releasing five single albums and one double: 'Moondance' (1970), 'His Band & The Street Choir' (1970), Tupelo Honey' (1971), 'St Dominic's Preview' (1972), 'Hard Nose The Highway' (1973), and the double live album, 'It's Too Late To Stop Now' (1974).
Many regard this period as Morrison's best, as it showed his tremendous vocal range from skillful soulful ballad to straightforward R&B.

1979's spiritually influenced 'Into The Music' included Morrison's first UK hit, 'Bright Side Of The Road' while 1983's 'Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart' was his first UK Top 20 album.
1989's 'Avalon Sunset' involved Georgie Fame on keyboards and included a duet with Cliff Richard, 'Whenever God Shines His Light', which became Morrison's biggest ever UK hit single.
'Enlightenment' (1990) and 'Hymns To The Silence' (1991) -both UK Top 5 - continued his new-found direction.

1993's Too Long In Exile' (with guest John Lee Hooker) and the 1994 double live set 'A Night In San Francisco' then preceded 1995's 'Days Like This', which received rave reviews.
[extract from "The Encyclopedia of Rock" edited by Michael Healey, Carlton Books, 1996.p79-80]
Stogumber Church, Somerset U.K
Bootleg Review
The show on this CD must be a audience recording. Recorded live at the Church of our Lady St. Mary, Stogumber, Somerset, U.K., January 17, 1990. The sound is not the greatest, probably because of the acoustics of the church where Van was playing. The concert was a surprise concert where only
about 300 people could take part in. For more information on this show, see pg. 167 of Steve Turner's biography of Van Morrison.

Additional notes from Andy Lock:
I'm the person who set up the concert (see the John Collis book). The reason the sound is poor is because it was recorded from the front, which picked up the band monitors rather than the main PA.
The band members listed on the The Church of our Lady St Mary CD are completely wrong  [the correct lineup is shown below]. The CD missed off "In the Garden", which closed the set, and I think it was the first ever live performance of "It's So Quiet in Here".

From the liner notes:
It hardly seemed credible - Van Morrison, a rock legend for over 25 Years, playing live to a small audience in the Somerset parish church of Stogumber. But it was happening, and there was a good mix of locals and Somerset people together with a sprinkling of 'devotees' from far and wide to witness it. In the side-chapel Van Morrison waits, his face gleaming above his dark coat. He really looks quite distinguished with long straggly hair. He grabs the saxophone and plays a Latin style intro to "Did Ye Get Healed? *"

His voice sounds so good and natural in these surroundings. He looks round to his band and bursts into his Christmas hit "Whenever God Shines His Light"*, gesturing the crowd to clap. They need little encouragement. He plays the standard "It's All In The Game" with Georgie Fame singing falsetto backing like any regular choir boy. The crowd loves it. Then it's a run-through some of Van's best-known songs and you realise how many of them have a spiritual fell. Almost too soon it's the interval. The vicar says he will ring the bell when it's time to come back! The second half includes the powerful "Into The Mystic" and closes with "Down By The Riverside"*, which almost brings the house down. 
[ * not included on this bootleg release - see alternative releases]
This post consists of MP3's (320kps) ripped from my MOJO CD Bootleg and includes their 'signature red' artwork. As mentioned, the quality of the recording is nothing to write home about being an audience recording rather than soundboard sourced.  But if you enjoy hearing 'Van the Man' belt out what he does best (a spiritual song fest), then go gotta have this one.
Track Listing:
01. When Will I Ever Learn (5:07)
02. Full Force Gale (2:15)
03. Beautiful Vision (3:58)
04. It's All In The Game (5:34)
05. Orange Field (3:24)
06. Give Me My Rapture (3:39)
07. Bright Side Of The Road (3:42)
08. Vanlose Stairway (4:27)
09. Dweller On The Threshold (4:01)
10. Thank God (3:01)
11. Into The Mystic (4:54)
12. Northern Muse (6:16) 

Van Morrison: Guitar, saxophone, keyboards 
Georgie Fame: Hammond organ 
Dave Early: drums 
Bernie Holland: guitar 
Haji Ahkba: flugelhorn 
Brian Odger: bass 

Van Morrison Link (104Mb) New Link 04/01/2024

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Larry Carlton - Discovery (1987)

(U.S 1962 - Present)
Perhaps more than any other guitar player, Larry Carlton helped create and define the West Coast guitar sound of the 70's, having played on over 3000 sessions and over 100 gold albums by such stars as Steely Dan, Quincy Jones, Joni Mitchell, Linda Rondstadt, John Lennon, Barbara Streisand, Neil Diamond and Christopher Cross. Larry's talents stretched into television, garnering four Grammy nominations, winning with Mike Post for "Hill Street Blues." His soundtrack credits include "Against All Odds."

Carlton gained distinction for the unmistakable and often imitated "sweet" sound he delivered with his Gibson ES-335. He also broke new ground with his new trademark volume pedal technique, eloquently displayed in his featured performance on ­ Crusader One with legendary jazz/rock group The Crusaders in 1971.

During his tenure with The Crusaders (through to 1976), Carlton performed on 13 of their albums, often contributing material. In 1973, Carlton released his second solo project, 'Singing/Playing', on Blue Thumb Records ­ aptly titled, as he not only played guitar, but also performed vocals on eight tracks.

Before he transitioned completely to a solo career, Carlton became one of the most in-demand studio musicians of the past three decades.
As his association with the Crusaders began to draw to a close, Carlton signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1977. Between ’78 and ’84, Larry recorded six solo albums for Warner Bros. Records:  Mr. 335: Live In Japan, Friends; Eight Times Up; Sleep Walk; Strikes Twice; Larry Carlton. The latter self-titled album was released hot on the heels of his debut session with rock supergroup Steely Dan. Rolling Stone magazine lists Carlton’s tasty ascent on Steely Dan’s Kid Charlemagne as one of the three best guitar licks in rock music.

After thirteen albums with the legendary Crusaders and numerous Steely Dan sessions, Larry's solo career has expanded his worldwide reputation as an artist/producer of great sensitivity and high standards. In 1985 he was approached by the newly formed MCA Master Series to consider doing an acoustic jazz album. His first release for the new label was 'Alone, But Never Alone', a consensus No. 1 album on the Radio & Records and Billboard Jazz charts.

Larry continued studio session work and touring in between, emerging again in 1986 on MCA Records with an all-acoustic album, 'Discovery', which contained an instrumental remake of Michael McDonald’s hit, "Minute by Minute." The single won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1987. Carlton’s live album, Last Nite, released in 1987, got him a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance.
This post consists of FLACs ripped from my prized 'MINT' vinyl and includes artwork for both vinyl and CD, plus label scans.  I was ecstatic when I found this album in amongst a pile of classical albums at a garage sale recently, still sealed in its shrink wrap and still as new as the day it was first pressed. What makes this find even better is the quality of the pressing - a special Audiophile custom pressing using premium virgin vinyl as part of the MCA Master Series.  The quality of the recording is amazing and Larry has once again demonstrated why he is considered to be the king of the West  Coast guitar sound.  As much as the Doobie's cover "Minute by Minute" is the highlight of the album (on which Michael McDonald plays keyboard), the remaining tracks hold their own making this one of Larry's best acoustic releases.
Track Listing
01. Hello Tomorrow
02. Those Eyes
03. Knock On Wood
04. Discovery
05. My Home Away From Home
06. March Of The Jazz Angels
07. Minute By Minute
08. A Place For Skipper
09. Her Favorite Song

Acoustic Guitar: Larry Carlton
Keyboards: Terry Trotter
Bass: John Pena
Drums: Rick Marotta
Percussion: Michael Fisher
Sax Solos: Kirk Whalum
Keyboard on "Minute By Minute": Michael McDonald
Horn Section: Jerry Hey and Gary Grant (Trumpets) with Larry Williams on Woodwinds
Vocals by Larry, David Pack and Michele Pillar
Larry Carlton FLAC Link (250Mb)  New Link 26/02/2024

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Various Aussie Artists - Classic Homegrown Rock (1988)

(Australian 1965 - 1980).
The first Triple M radio station was 2MMM in Sydney which commenced broadcasting on 2 August 1980. Together with then rival station 2Day FM (now also owned by Southern Cross Austereo), it was the first commercial FM radio station in Sydney. The station has always been primarily a rock music station, but with a more blue-collar/hard rock (Jimmy Barnes, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, AC/DC as some examples) emphasis than other stations in Melbourne in particular. Throughout the 1980s, Triple M was one of the highest-rating radio stations in Sydney, spearheaded by its morning show presented by Doug Mulray and featuring the writing of and occasional appearances by Andrew Denton. For all of this period and into the 1990s, Triple M's promotional campaign featured the character "Dr Dan", a guitar-playing satyr with wings, inspired by artwork by legendary Australian cartoonist Peter Ledger, and a theme song that was an extended reworking of the Mike Batt track "Introduction (The Journey of a Fool)", from his 1979 album Tarot Suite.

In 1988, Melbourne radio station EON FM (3EON), 92.3 was taken over by 2MMM and changed its callsign to 3MMM and moved to 105.1 MHz in November 1988. EON FM was Australia's first commercial FM radio station, commencing broadcasting on 11 July 1980. To commemorate the name change MMM released this compilation of classic homegrown rock through a collaboration between EMI and one of the largest record re-sellers in Australia at that time - Brashs.

The Easybeats
The Easybeats, are one of Australia's greatest pop bands of the 60's. Formed in Sydney in 1964, they were the first Australian rock n roll act to have an international hit with 'Friday On My Mind'.
Lead singer Stevie Wright originally came from England (although he'd been in Australia for some years), and bassist Dick Diamonde hailed from the Netherlands, as did guitarist Harry Vanda, while the others, guitarists George Young and drummer Gordon "Snowy" Fleet, were recent arrivals from
Scotland and England -- most significantly, Fleet was Liverpool born and raised, and had been a member of the Mojos, one of that city's more promising bands of 1963 and 1964.

They all had talent, but he had a sense of style and an idea of what worked in rock & roll; it was Snowy Fleet who came up with the name "The Easybeats," and the sharp image for the early group, which made them a piece of authentic Brit-beat right in the heart of Sydney, 13,000 miles from Liverpool and as precious there as water on a desert. By the time "Friday On My Mind" was released in Australia, The Easybeats had already had half a dozen Top 10 hits in Australia, including four at #1. "Easyfever" may have engulfed the Aussie pop scene, but in London the pressure was on them to come up with something fresh for their new British producer, Shel Talmy. One of the results, Harry Vanda and George Young’s Friday On My Mind, was their fifth Australian #1, but this time it was an international hit as well. It rose to the Top Ten not only in England but across Europe and much of the rest of the world, and reached the Top 20 in the United States as well where, for the first time, Americans became aware of The Easybeats.

Russell Morris
Russell Morris is one of Australia's most enduring singers. A major pop star in the late '60s, he went on to become one of the country's first singer/songwriters.
Morris' career started in September 1966 with the formation of the Melbourne group Somebody's Image, which rose to prominence with a local hit version of the Joe South song "Hush." Morris was convinced to leave Somebody's Image for a solo career. His manager/producer, local music identity Ian Meldrum, spent unprecedented hours and money to create a seven-minute production extravaganza around a song called "The Real Thing." Once the result was released to shocked radio programmers who had never been asked to play such a long Australian single before, it was up to Morris' personality, singing, and performing talents to make the record work. It reached Australia's number one spot in June 1969. Without any promotional support from Morris, "The Real Thing" reached number one in Chicago, Houston, and New York.

Line-up: Mike Rudd  (lead vocals, guitar); Mark Kennedy (drums); Bill Putt (bass guitar); Lee Neale (organ).
Mike (ex-Sons Of A Vegetal Mother) and Bill (ex-Lost Souls) founded Spectrum in April, 1969. They stuck mainly to the Melbourne disco circuit and their early style was very much akin to English band Traffic.
To the Australian public at large, Spectrum will always be remembered for the 1971 #1 hit ‘I’ll Be Gone’, an enduring rock classic if ever there was one. As song writer and Spectrum lynchpin Mike Rudd has put it “‘I’ll Be Gone’ has had a marvellous life”, with indications that its potency will continue to rise. It still gets played on Australian ‘Classic Hits’ radio to this day. Spectrum still play the song at practically ever gig with the enthusiastic, sing-along response of the audience inevitable; a perfect example of this was the band’s appearance at the 2002 arena rock spectacular Long Way to The Top. The sound of an entire concert audience singing the song’s rousing refrain at full voice, with little encouragement, was indeed magnificent. While the song’s appeal is unquestionable, to the dedicated Australian rock music aficionado Spectrum is more than just one gloriously brilliant song.

Many fans will tell you that Spectrum music is some of the greatest progressive psych rock recorded in the day, and nominate the band as purveyors of a uniquely Australian sound and identity. Spectrum’s debut, Part One was originally released on EMI’s progressive label Harvest and is rightfully regarded as not only a landmark progressive rock release, but the beginnings of one of Australia ’s more remarkable bands. In its original incarnation (1969-1973), the band went through three different lineups, also gigging extensively under the alter-ego moniker of the Indelible Murtceps, released five albums and five singles, and left behind many fond memories from their concert appearances.

Daddy Cool
Original line-up: Ross Wilson (vocals, guitar); Ross Hannaford (lead guitar); Gary Young (drums); Wayne Duncan (bass guitar).
The two Ross's started out in the Pink Finks in 1965. They formed a partnership that lasted until they formed Daddy Cool with Wayne and Gary, who had worked together in the Rondells.
Their first appearance was at the TF Much Ballroom in Melbourne in November 1970. From there they took the dance and disco circuit by storm with their vintage rock'n'roll, outrageous acts and ostentatious outfits (which included a towel and bathing cap, Mickey Mouse ears and an Archie-style cap complete with a propeller).
In May 1971, they released their first single, 'Eagle Rock' (written by Ross Wilson), backed by 'Bom Bom' (written by the two Rosses). The record entered the Melbourne charts at number twenty after only ten days in the shops. It went on to become the best selling Australian single of the year. On conquering Melbourne, the band set off on a hectic tour of all the capital cities. In July their debut album, Daddy Who? . .. Daddy Cool, was released.
The band was also voted Australia's best group of 1971 in the national Go-Set Pop Poll. This was quite an achievement when you consider they had only been on the scene for six months and had had to contend with competition like Chain, Zoot and Masters' Apprentices.
Meanwhile, their album was selling like wildfire, with radio stations programming all or most tracks. By August it had gone gold and, of course, the single had already achieved gold status within eleven weeks of its release. Also in August, the band took its first step toward international recognition when they set off for the US to play at the Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood. The gig was a success. As a result they were offered more concert dates later in the year. At the same time, 'Eagle Rock' was released in the US on Warner Brothers.

Zoot became one the most popular Australian bands of the second 'pop wave' of the late 'Sixties when they and other acts like The Valentines, the Masters Apprentices, Russell Morris and The New Dream were scoring hits and causing riots. Like so many groups at the time, Zoot were drawn along by the rapid stylistic shifts of that uncertain period and they suffered under some ill-advised management decisions that led to them being tagged as a lightweight 'bubblegum' act — an undeserved reputation which overshadowed their fine musicianship and their genuine desire to be taken seriously..
Ironically, they're probably best remembered these days for the 1970 single that they hoped would scuttle their pop image for good — their classic heavy-metal version of "Eleanor Rigby" — and also for the fact that Zoot was first successful outing for two future stars -- solo performer and soapie heart-throb guitarist Rick Springfield who went on to have major success in the U.S. in the eighties and Little River Band lynch pin Beeb Birtles.

Chain were an Australian blues band formed in Melbourne as The Chain in late 1968 with a lineup including guitarist, vocalist Phil Manning; they are sometimes known as Matt Taylor's Chain after lead singer-songwriter and harmonica player, Matt Taylor. Their January 1971 single "Black and Blue", which became their only top twenty hit, was recorded by Chain line-up of Manning, Taylor, drummer Barry Harvey and bass guitarist Barry Sullivan. The related album, Toward the Blues followed in September and peaked in the top ten albums chart.
Chain had various line-ups until July 1974, they separated for several years then reformed in 1982 for a one-off concert and more permanently from 1983–1986. Further line-up changes occurred with some forms called Matt Taylor's Chain, from 1998 Chain members are Harvey, Manning, Taylor and Dirk Du Bois on bass guitar. Both Manning and Taylor have also had separate solo careers.

Masters Apprentices
Masters Apprentices were a highly-rated band who formed in Adelaide in 1965. Their diverse musical styles ranged from R'n'B to psychedelic rock to heavy rock. They were one of Australia's most popular bands of the sixties and their talent has continued to be recognised to this day.They formed out of the instrumental outfit The Mustangs who started playing raucous R'n'B material penned by their guitarist Mick Bower and took on vocalist Jim Keays at the same time.
In early 1967 they moved to Melbourne and put out their eponymous debut album, which contained both sides of their first two singles to name some of its fine original material.
They started out as one of Australia's top R'n'B bands in the sixties and had moved into psych-pop territory towards the end of the decade. They had veered towards progressivism by the start of the seventies and "Turn Up Your Radio" in 1970 gave them their first and only Top 10 hit.
The Masters were hugely popular throughout Australia, scored a string of hits and were consistently hailed as one of Australia's best live and recording acts.

Billy Thorpe
Billy Thorpe is one of the enigmas of Australian music, a man of many careers. It began in Brisbane when the young Thorpe was overheard by a television producer playing his guitar and singing at the back of his parents' Brisbane store. At the age of ten he was appearing regularly on Queensland television and appearing on the same stage as many of the top artists of the day.

When he was 17 he moved to Sydney as a solo country/pop singer just as the Beatles were breaking. Always one to recognize opportunity knocking, Thorpe teamed up with instrumental band the Aztecs and together they became one of the first Australian groups to contribute to the new '60s era of pop, in June 1964 scoring a huge national hit with their version of the Rolling Stones' version of "Poison Ivy." After a couple more era-influenced hits, Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs gravitated toward releasing songs that showed off Thorpe's fine singing voice and scored another major hit with a straight ballad version of "Over the Rainbow" from the film The Wizard of Oz, and in July 1965 a version of the Platters' "Twilight Time." By now the original Aztecs had been replaced by other musicians. Thorpe also became the star of his own national TV show, 'It's All Happening' in 1966. In the space of two years he had scored nine major hits.

Entering the 70's, a new Aztecs' blues-based heavy-rock repertoire evolved that was dramatically different in style from the original group, and they quickly became famous (or notorious) for the ear-splitting volume at which they played. Thorpe had also drastically changed his appearance—he grew a beard, often wore his now shoulder-length hair braided in a pigtail, and he had long since traded the tailored suits for jeans and T-shirts. Needless to say this did not endear him to people who came to the shows expecting the 'old' Billy Thorpe of the "Poison Ivy" era, and this led to sometimes violent confrontations with disgruntled fans and promoters.
In early 1972 the Aztecs released what became their biggest hit, and Thorpe's signature tune – "Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy)", a song now widely regarded as one of the classics of Australian rock. It was a huge hit for the new Aztecs, peaking in the Go-Set National Top 40 Singles Chart at number 3 in May 1972; propelled to the top of charts by the band's triumphant appearance at the 1972 Sunbury Music Festival.

Stevie Wright
Stevie was born in the UK on December 20, 1948 and he migrated to Australia with his parents at the age of sixteen. On their arrival they stayed at the Villawood Hostel in Sydney and it was here that Stevie met with four other migrants who shared his interest in rock music and formed the Easybeats.
The band went on to become Australia's most successful group of the sixties and even achieved some international recognition..
The Easybeats finally disbanded early in 1970 and Stevie formed a group called Rachette which was only short-lived. He also did some songwriting with ex-Easybeat George Young and for a brief period he left the music business. Stevie worked as a process worker and a clothing salesman, but entertainment was in his blood and in 1972 he auditioned for the production of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was awarded the part of Simon Zealotes and spent two years in the show.
At the end of his stint with Superstar he embarked on a solo career and formed his own eight piece backing group called the Stevie Wright Band. Coinciding with the band's formation he recorded an album entitled Hard Road, which was co-written and produced with former Easybeats, George Young and Harry Vanda. A single, "Evie", was lifted from it and it entered the charts in June, 1974, as did the album. A second track off the LP, 'Guitar Band', was released later in the year and it also became a top ten hit.

When Skyhooks appeared on the Melbourne pub circuit in 1973, little did Australia know that its entire bungling, struggling, apologetic little wader's pool of an industry was about to be swamped, revamped and exhilarated almost overnight.

Two years later Skyhooks, a band of unknowns with little more than a lot of lip, nerve, talent, imagination and several million dollar riffs with lyrics to match at their disposal, had completely revolutionised the face of Australian rock.
The band was the basic conception of bass-player Greg Macainsh, who wrote most of their repertoire, built upon by other Skyhooks Red Symons (aka Rocco Simone, guitar/vocals/odd compositions); Graeme Strachan (aka Shirley, vocals); Bob Starkie (aka Bongo Star, guitar) and Fred Strauks (aka Freddy Kaboodleschnitzer, drums/vocals).

They sold over 350,000 LP's and cassettes of their first two albums. 'Living in the 70's' and 'Ego Is Not A Dirty Word' (the first outside productions of the multi-talented Ross Wilson). 'Living in the 70's' alone sold around 200,000 LP's and cassettes by October '75; approximately four times the previous record sales for a locally-produced rock album in Australia (set by Daddy who? Daddy Cool in 71-72). This amounts to over thirteen gold records. Ego went gold several times in pre-release orders alone and continues to give its forerunner a run for its money. Both albums have sold gold cassettes, a first for Oz rock. "Horror Movie" was a gold single and both subsequent singles have been National Number 1.

When Dragon arrived from New Zealand in 1976, having spent the previous 4 years building up a small following and releasing two progressive rock albums, they released the more commercial single "This Time" for CBS. The single found its way onto the the Sydney charts and after being picked up by other states it peaked at number 26 on the Australian national charts in November 1976. With the success of this single, their manager at the time Sebastian Chase sent them touring around the country. They tightened up as a group and along the way began gaining fans like never before.
Through the brittle, tensile exhilaration of their early hits — This Time, Get That Jive, April Sun In Cuba and Are You Old Enough? among them — Dragon dominated the Australian charts for three intense years, from 1976 to 1978.

The fourth album "Running Free" was released in November 1977 and went on to exceed double platinum status with sales, reaching number 6 on the album charts. Again a mixture of songs from the four songwriters, the standout release was "April Sun In Cuba". Written by Paul and Marc, the single reached number 2 on the charts, only to be held out of the number 1 spot by Paul McCartney's "Mull Of Kintyre". The single was released in New Zealand to give them their first chart entry back home, making it to number 9 in March 1978.

Cold Chisel
Cold Chisel consisted of Jimmy Barnes (lead vocals, guitar), Ian Moss (lead vocals, lead guitar), Don Walker (keyboards), Steve Prestwich (drums) and Phil Small (bass guitar). All band members were also songwriters, the most proficient being Don Walker. The band spent their first 4 years working the Australian pub circuit and trying to get a recording contract. After being given a hard time by the record companies, WEA finally gave them a chance after hearing a four song demo tape (that another record company rejected!)
"What happened after this was that Cold Chisel produced one of the finest Oz rock albums of all time. Their debut album showcased the writing of Don Walker, who has a fine musical and lyrical sense, the wood-rasp voice of Jimmy Barnes and some fine flashes of guitar work from Ian Moss, perhaps one of the most expressive and hard-working guitarists currently playing in Oz."
The single from the album, the Vietnam-vet tribute "Khe Sanh" became one of Aussie rock's most enduring anthems with its punchy piano line and everyman pathos.

Split Enz
Split Enz was a successful New Zealand band during the late 1970s and the early 1980s featuring brothers Tim Finn and Neil Finn. They achieved success with the music charts in New Zealand, Australia and Canada during the early 1980s and built a cult following elsewhere. Their musical style was eclectic and original, incorporating influences from art rock, vaudeville, swing, punk, rock, New Wave and pop.
Split Enz was the first New Zealand band to achieve worldwide success. First known as Split Ends, the group began as a progressive art-rock band fuelled by the song writing talents of founders Tim Finn and Phil Judd. The group's career was marked by numerous changes in personnel. In 1977, the band went on a promotional tour of the United States after which Judd left the group. 1977 also saw the release of the band's third album "Dizrythmia". Split Enz soon returned to Australia and in 1979 released their most successful album, the new wave pop hit LP "True Colours" which reached No. 1 on the Australian charts as did the single 'I Got You'.

Australian Crawl
Australian Crawl (aka Aussie Crawl) was an Australian rock band founded by James Reyne (lead vocals / piano), Brad Robinson (rhythm guitar), Paul Williams (bass guitar), Simon Binks (lead guitar) and David Reyne (drums) in 1978. David Reyne soon left and was replaced by Bill McDonough (drums, percussion). They were later joined by his brother Guy McDonough (vocals, rhythm guitar). The band was named after the front crawl swimming style also known as the Australian crawl. Their first album 'The Boys Light Up', enjoyed an instantaneous popularity comparable only to Skyhooks' spectacular debut. The album remained high in the Australian charts for an unbroken 104 weeks, and when Countdown viewers were asked to name their favourite band and male vocalist for 1980, Australian Crawl and James Reyne won hands down. The single 'The Boys Light Up' (March, 1980), came close to being banned from radio airplay due to the explicit nature of some of the lyrics.

Original line-up - Malcolm Young (guitar); Angus Young (guitar); Peter Clark (drums); Rob Bailey (bass); Dave Evans (vocals).
Malcolm and Angus were younger brothers of ex-Easybeat George Young who played an important role in advising and directing the band. The boys began playing with a variety of musicians in 1973, consolidating with the above line-up in April 1974.
The band began working to develop the AC/DC sound, but their progress was temporarily delayed with Rob and Peter leaving to be replaced by Phillip Rudd (drums) and Mark Evans (bass).
This change was followed by the departure of vocalist Dave Evans to join Rabbit, and led to the new notorious line-up including singer Bon Scott. Bon was an experienced rock performer, having worked in top bands Fraternity and the Valentines and seemed to be the spark AC/DC needed to set the rock scene on fire.

Their single, "Can I Sit Next To You Girl?", sold only moderately. However, the follow-up, "Baby, Please Don't Go" (which was a hit for British blues group 'Them'), entered the charts in March 1975 and became a national hit.
The band's first album, 'High Voltage', which was also released in March 1975, became the second biggest Australian album of the year and stayed on the charts for a mammoth twenty-five weeks. The track "She's Got Balls" was lifted from their debut album for this compilation, and has become a crowd favourite when played live at gigs.
As well as establishing themselves on the charts, the band began to develop a strong punk rock (or at least hard rock) image with their aggressive stage act portraying Angus as a schoolboy, and publicity detailing their hard drinking, hard living lifestyles.
Meanwhile, their follow-up singles, "High Voltage" and "It's A Long Way To The Top", charted well and their second album, TNT, which was released at Christmas in 1975, was declared gold within two months.

The Angels
Line-up: Doc Neeson (Vocals); Buzz Throckman (drums); Chris Bailey (bass); John Brewster (guitar); Rick Brewster (guitar)
The band's early involvement with pure fifties rock, sixties pop and rhythm and blues finally established it in 1978 as a hard rock connoisseur's delight.
The embryo of the Angel's sound developed in 1971 when the nucleus of the group was playing in Adelaide coffee shops and universities as the Moonshine Jug and String Band.
Adopting a more electric sound, they evolved some three years later into the Keystone Angels, a four piece vintage rock band. The Keystone Angels toured with fifties rock king, Chuck Berry, and released a single 'Keep on Dancing'/'Good Day Rock 'n' Roll' (both originals), featuring drummer Peter Chris-Topoulos, with John doing lead vocals and Doc on the guitar.
As the band began developing their now-famous blues-based brand of seventies rock, they shortened their name to simply 'The Angels'. They released their first single as Angels, "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again", on the Albert label early in 1976, and this iconic track is featured here.
The boys had developed a strong following on the pub circuit and early in 1977 their fans were treated to the band's first album, The Angels (produced by Vanda and Young). The group was now five piece with the acquisition of Chris Bailey, and Doc out front. Of course from here, the Angels released one hit single after another and have become one of the most popular names in Australian Music History.

The La De Das
Original line-up: Bryan Harris (drums); Trevor Wilson (bass); Bruce Howard (organ/sax); Phillip Key (lead vocals); Kevin Borich (lead guitar).
The band formed in New Zealand in 1965 and after reaching the top there (with their single, "Hey Baby" which made number one), they left for Sydney two years later.
On their arrival in Australia they received little attention from their recording company who at first refused to let them record. As a result they fell into a rut working steadily, but uneventfully, in Melbourne and Sydney. Then early in 1968 they decided to buy new instruments and develop a new act. The change brought with it a renewed interest in the band and in March, 1969 they released their highly acclaimed 'Happy Prince' album. Two months later they left Australia to try their luck in England. Other, more renowned groups, had tried before them without success and the La De Das found the going just as tough. They returned in April, 1970 minus Trevor and his place was taken by Reno Tehei (ex-Genesis and Compulsion). In the meantime their album had sold steadily during their absence, and later in the year Bryan left and he was replaced by Keith Barber.
More line-up changes occurred in January, 1971 when Bruce left to form a duo with Trevor, and Reno also moved out. The band added Peter Roberts and reformed as follows: Phil Keys (vocals and guitar); Peter Roberts (bass); Keith barber (drums); and Kevin Borich (vocals and guitar).
They consolidated with the new format and released a new single, "Sweet Girl"/"I Can't Find A Reason". Then in November, '71 came the breakthrough they had been waiting for when they made the charts with one of their biggest hits "Gonna See My Baby Tonight".

John Farnham
John Farnham, aka Farnsy, Johnny, Whispering Jack and The Voice is an iconic Australian entertainer whose career has spanned over four decades.
Farnham was born on the 1st July 1949 in England and moved to Melbourne at the age of 10 and has lived here ever since. This wannabe plumber took a break from his apprenticeship in order to pursue a music career which has seen him become one of Australia's best-loved performers with a career spanning over 40 years.
In 1967, Sadie (The Cleaning Lady) was his first hit which topped the Australian charts for six-weeks running.  Selling 180,000 copies in Australia, "Sadie" was the highest selling single by an Australian artist of the decade. Farnham's debut studio album, Sadie was issued in April 1968.
He later released a cover of BJ Thomas's "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" in 1969, which also reached the #1 position on the Australian charts and then a cover version of Harry Nilsson's hit "One"
Most of his early 70's material could be classified as being both Pop and Cabaret music, but he soon reinvented himself in the early 80's with the help of Glenn Wheatley to be labelled as one of the best voices in Australian rock and affectionately known as Whispering Jack.
This post consists of FLACs ripped from my CD copy and includes full album artwork for both Vinyl and CD. I have this album on both media and consider it to be one of the best 'Aussie' compilations released. Take note that the CD release comes with 2 extra tracks not included on the vinyl release, The La De Das single "Gonna See My Baby Tonight" and John Farnham's hit "One" which was his final #1 single while working in the cabaret industry.
Also take note that this album had previously been released in 1979 by EMI (under their TRAX series of albums), entitled 'Australian Made Vol 1.' and the cover is displayed below.  Note: it is my intention to post some more of the TRAX series at a later date, so stay tuned.

Track Listing
01 - Friday On My Mind  (The Easybeats)  
02 - The Real Thing (Russell Morris)  
03 - I'll Be Gone  (Spectrum)
04 - Eagle Rock  (Daddy Cool)
05 - Eleanor Rigby  (Zoot)
06 - Black And Blue  (Chain)
07 - Turn Up Your Radio (Master's Apprentices)
08 - Most People I Know (Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs)
09 - Evie (Edited Version)  (Stevie Wright)
10 - Horror Movie (Skyhooks)
11 -  April Sun In Cuba (Dragon)
12 - Khe Sahn  (Cold Chisel)
13 - I Got You  (Split Enz)
14 - The Boys Light Up (Australian Crawl)
15 - It's A Long Way To The Top (ACDC)
16 - Am I Ever Going To See Your Face Again  (The Angels)
17 - Gonna See My Baby Tonight  (The La De Das) *
18 - One  (John Farnham) *

* CD only

Classic Homegrown Rock FLACs (478Mb)
New Link 05/01/2024

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Skyhooks - Hot For The Orient (1980) plus Bonus Tracks

(Australian 1973-1980, 1983-84, 1990, 1994)
For their first album with Tony Williams, Skyhooks once again worked with American producer Eddie Leonetti. The band demoed tracks that had already got a good reaction live, songs such as "Don't Leave It Too Late", "Nerve Gas", "Rolls Royce In The Swimming Pool" and "Warm Wind In The City". But Leonetti rejected the songs and told Greg to write more.
Macainsh states "He (Leonetti) had his own agenda — to get a deal for the record in the US. Those songs were a bit too political and esoteric. He wanted a more straight-ahead rock record. And that's what that record became. But we enjoyed working with him."

Bob Spencer and Tony Williams didn't share Greg's feelings. Bob's view is that "Basically Hot For The Orient is a horrible record. And I wouldn't put the blame at Tony's feet. The band had simply lost it. There's a couple of great songs on that album, but the band wasn't playing like a band, and it didn't feel like a band. It was a confused mess. It was a very disheartening time."

New lead singer 'Tony Williams'
Williams recalls: "It was the first time I had made a record, and it was not the most pleasant experience. A lot of that came down to the producer. I don't think he got the best out of me or the band. He told Greg that we needed a lot of new songs, so Greg threw a lot of songs I really liked out the window, and came up with a lot of hastily written new ones. I left those decisions to the more experienced heads. In hindsight, I wasn't confident enough to say: 'Stop. Let's do it this way', which was unfortunate. I didn't feel part of the process. Greg and Bob and Freddy were very much involved right through, which I can understand, but I've got an ear, too."

Williams felt that his toughest critics were the Skyhooks road crew. "Nothing was said, but I was aware (of their scepticism). They're the hardest audience you'll find." He tried to sing "Women In Uniform", but the crew wouldn't let him because they said his voice didn't suit the song. Williams also never sang "Horror Movie" and "Balwyn Calling".

L to R: Freddy, Bob Starkie, Tony, Greg and Bob Spencer
The album was preceded by the single "This Town Is Boring". The B-side was a track called "Is This Too Much", which proved to be too much for Festival Records who censored the record. On the track, Leonetti yells: "Play guitar motherfucker", which Festival changed to: "Play guitar mother [guitar twang]". A company spokesman said they did not want to risk the single being banned. They needn't have bothered. "This Town Is Boring" failed to chart.

The album was released in April. Greg told Juke: "There are a lot more singles on this one. There was really only one single on the last one." Juke said the band needed a "blockbuster". It was inexplicably called 'Hot For The Orient'. The title reflected Bob's growing fascination with all things Japanese. The cover featured a photo of a Japanese geisha girl taken by Hideki Fujii, whom Bob called "the Japanese Andy Warhol". The band got the rights to use the photo for just $500. Bob was keen to get the album released in Japan, but first Mushroom wanted it to be a hit locally. For the first time ever, however, a Skyhooks album was universally slagged.

Vince Lovegrove turned the lyrics of the single around to attack the band: "This band is boring, this band ain't what it used to be, this band ain't for me ... What happened? Did they all get stoned and fade away? Or are they still living in yesterday? There's only two good things about the latest offering from Australia's leading 70s band — one is the front cover design, and the other is the new Mushroom label logo." Lovegrove said that fans would be better off spending their money on a real frisbee. "Lyrically, every single track is trite, trite, trite. And the sound is not much better. It drones on and on, similar, in fact, to a dentist's drill. Undoubtedly, they lost the plot. I'd say the band has almost reached the end."

This Town Is Boring (Back)
Evan Grove wrote in Juke that Greg had turned his attentions from the politics of the streets to the politics of between-the-sheets. "I don't know if Macainsh is just trying to be hip or what, but a writer of his capacities doesn't need to resort to cheapness ... To me, the new phase Skyhooks have yet to ignite their own electricity. To have any claims to the greatness that they once were, they'll have to find this electricity."
lan Meikle wrote in the Adelaide Advertiser: "I don't think living in the 80s is going to be easy for Skyhooks."

John Peters said on Nightmoves: "Do we really need songs like 'Bondage On The Boulevard'?"
Rolling Stone placed its critique under a review of Australian Crawl's debut album, The Boys Light Up, and the two records weren't compared favourably. Andrea Jones said: "The problem with Skyhooks here is that they are living with such damned legendary ghosts. The changes wrought by time have left Skyhooks a bloodless successor to the legend." The Rolling Stone piece had only one positive thing to say: "Tony Williams vocals... His confident delivery rescues several tracks from farce."

Even Molly Meldrum — who was noted for never bagging albums, especially local releases — criticised the album on Countdown. "I didn't want to do it," he recalls. "But Michelle Higgins at Mushroom forced me. She said: 'It doesn't matter what you say, just do it. So I did. And I was blamed for their demise. That had nasty repercussions. I was at Yarrawonga on a golf course when eight guys with golf clubs were ready to lynch me because 'I'd killed Skyhooks'. It simply wasn't so." Molly just didn't think that Hot For The Orient measured up to other Australian albums of the day. "If anyone can prove that Hot For The Orient is anywhere as good as albums like [Cold Chisel's] East or [Mi-Sex's] Space Race, then I'll eat my words."

Starkie states "I occasionally wonder what must have gone through Tony Williams' head. He was picked up by us and taken on tour across Australia and then mauled by the critics and even the Skyhooks fans in some way." 
Tony Williams remembers: "I think the critics had some point. But they went a bit over the top, and missed some good things. I put it down to the fact that around the same time, Australian Crawl released their debut album, Cold Chisel had East, and Split Enz had True Colours. Our album paled in comparison. Those records were full of great songs. Ours went for sounds rather than songs."
Dave Warner told Greg: "The Skyhooks are so far 'out', before long they'll be 'in' again."

Juke's Ed Nimmervoll was about the only critic to keep the faith. A cover story was headed: "Whaddya Mean They're Back'? We Never Went Away". Nimmervoll wrote: "There are no prizes now for jumping back on the Skyhooks bandwagon because the die is already cast. Skyhooks is about to storm back into contention as one of Australia's premier rock acts. They know they've won back their winning streak, the fans know it, and now the rest of us are hearing about it. Soon Skyhooks will be the band on everyone's lips again ... Skyhooks are back. They never left. We did. Skyhooks, we're back."

When Hot For The Orient failed to chart, Mushroom rush released a second single, "Keep The Junk In America", a track which had Bongo on lead vocals. It also failed to chart. Spencer recalls: "The last couple of months were very difficult, we did the most shit gigs."
Williams enjoyed the period — "I liked sharing a room with Bob Spencer, I liked his youthful exuberance" — but he knew that things were going bad. The Hooks did a show in Perth to just 15 payers. They did a Sunday afternoon show there to 10 people. "It was a very heartbreaking time," 

Spencer says. On Sunday, June 8, 1980, the Skyhooks played at Kalgoorlie's Tower Hotel. Greg remembers it as a "symbolic place".
Macainsh "It was the end of the road. We'd driven out to the desert and played there. Then we decided to stop and we just headed back into civilisation."
Bob Spencer can't remember much. "I think I was just drunk. I was drinking too much. I think I lost the plot a bit. I do remember slamming into Tony and almost taking his teeth out with the microphone. I felt bad about that."
Tony Williams remembers: "We did three nights there. On the Saturday night, someone was stabbed in the car park, which says something about the type of place it was."

The Hooks had a rule that they would stop playing if they were losing money. At Kalgoorlie that night they played to about 50 people. They were sailing close to the wind. It was Fred and Bob who brought the issue to a head. They told Greg: "That's enough, we should stop." Greg replied: "Why do you want to stop ... Aren't you enjoying yourself?"
Tony Williams can't remember the gig. "All I can remember is the next day driving back and seeing this huge pile of beer bottles on the side of the road. We got out and shot them up with Greg's .22      I accepted it was over. We were really only working two nights a week. Working became the unnatural thing. The album had bombed, the singles had bombed. We had nowhere to go."

The band played its final Countdown on Sunday, June 15. On the following day, they placed an ad in Juke that read: "Owing to rising costs, unfavourable conditions, increased media opposition and the general political climate, Skyhooks Pty Ltd has come to the decision to suspend operations for an indefinite period. Why dontcha all, why dontcha all, why dontcha all get Fucked". The split had the Hooks on the front page of the Herald.

One week later, a letter appeared in Ram: "It took a while to open up my conscience to the Australia of Greg Macainsh — but it hit me hard when it came. Skyhooks were on the stereo the first time I ever got so drunk that I spewed all over the floor of someone's parents' place. They were playing on the radio the night I lost my virginity. I've had this amazing affinity with this band, a strange sense of loyalty I've never felt to anyone/thing before."
[extract from Ego Is Not A Dirty Word - The Skyhooks Story, by Jeff Jenkins. Kelly & Withers Books, 1994. p142-146]
This post consists of FLACs (thanks to Dave) ripped from CD and includes full artwork for both vinyl and CD.  Admittedly, when I first purchased this album I was a little disappointed as it seemed that the band had grown up too quickly and become all too serious. However, in hindsight, one can now understand why they did this with Shirl no longer fronting the group, and actually appreciate Tony William's vocals on these recordings.
This album is still worth the listen and for those of you who missed growing up on their earlier material might actually appreciate this album more. 
As a bonus, I have also included a couple of those tracks from the same recording sessions, that were dismissed by Leonetti along with that censored B-Side Single "Is This Too Much".  
01. Bondage on the Boulevard
02. This Town Is Boring
03. White Skin and Black Sheep
04. She's Okay But She's Not You
05. Cars, Bars, and Girls
06. Red Fingernails
07. My Heart Gets Blown to Bits
08. Fathers and Daughters
09. No Inspiration
10. Keep the Junk in America
11. Over the Border
12. Wrong Number Right Girl
13. Warm Wind In The City (Bonus Track)
14. Rolls Royce In The Swimming Pool (Bonus Track)
15. Is This Too Much (B-Side Single)
Tony Williams (Vocals)
Bob Spencer (Guitar)
Greg Macainsh (Bass, Vocals)
Bob Starkie (Guitar, Keyboards)
Freddie Strauks (Percussion, Drums, Vocals)
Bill Harrow (Sax)
Peter Jones (Piano)
Broderick Smith (Harmonica)