Friday, November 30, 2018

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: John Inman - Are You Being Served Sir? (1975)

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.
John Inman  endeared himself to millions as the outrageously camp menswear shop assistant in the 1970s BBC television series Are You Being Served

Inman's character 'Mr Humphries' was, against stiff competition, one of the most arresting characters on the staff of Grace Brothers department store, created by the formidable comedy writers Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft (Croft himself had once worked in a department store). The show was first tried as a pilot in the BBC Comedy Playhouse slot in 1972. It ran at peak time for 12 years from 1973 to 1985 - a total of 69 episodes.

The large and anachronistic family business at its heart was run on traditional lines by a doddering "Young Mr Grace", and staffed by oddities like Mrs Slocombe of ladies' wear, played by Molly Sugden, who was always prattling on about her "pussy", and a floor manager, Captain Peacock (Frank Thornton), who was invariably referred to by his military rank. Inman's suggestive catchphrase, when asked to attend to a customer, was "I'm free," after which he would set about measuring an inside leg with attentive enthusiasm. He become instantly recognisable in the street and was constantly asked, "Are you free?" "No, but I'm reasonable," became one of his stock ripostes.

Inman claimed he was cheeky but not dirty, and that he found the character a joy to play. Mr Humphries was, in Inman's eyes, a jokey figure about whom the audience could never decide whether or not he was "queer". "I always say that when it comes to sex, Mr Humphries is nothing really. He's neither one way or the other."

Some critics who had no such doubts described Inman and Mr Humphries as two of the best friends of gay liberation on television. But the gratitude was not universal. In 1977, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality targeted Inman in Brighton, where he was appearing in a seaside show. They handed out leaflets blaming him for depicting homosexuals as sexually obsessed, too extravagant in manner and too eager to drag up. They argued that most homosexuals did not behave like Mr Humphries, and that Inman was contributing to television's distortion of their image. Poor Inman, not a strong swimmer in the fast-flowing river of controversy, argued that he was not campaigning in any way, merely trying to make people laugh.

There were compensations for him, too. Are You Being Served? made Inman famous not only in Britain but also in the US, where the series was sold. He was recognised in Los Angeles as much as in London. Once, in San Francisco, a young man fell off his bicycle because he was so surprised to see Inman, and lay in the road shouting "I love you, Mr Humphries."

Before the success of that one role, however, Inman's impact had been modest. He was born in Preston, Lancashire, the son of two hairdressers who moved to Blackpool to open a boarding house. His parents financed his elocution lessons at the local church hall, and he made his professional debut at 11 on the South Pier, Blackpool. The Jack Rose Repertory Company paid him £5 a week to play a boy in the drama Frieda.

But it was showbiz rather than acting that had the greater appeal for Inman. "I'm a tits-and-feathers man really," he explained. He loved the Tiller Girls, and blamed the Beatles for making show business less glamorous. At 17, he left Blackpool for London to become a window dresser. To augment his income, he sewed garments for theatres and lived in a £3-a-week bedsit. At 21, he joined the repertory company at Crewe as an actor, and made his first West End appearances in Anne Veronica, Salad Days and Let's Get Laid (which, he had to explain to his mother, was about a poultry farm).

During the 69-episode, 13-year run of Are You Being Served?, Inman also appeared in the 1977 film of the series, in which the characters visited the fictional Spanish holiday resort of "Costa Plonka"; Odd Man Out, his own sitcom in 1977, playing the owner of a fish and chip shop who inherits half of a rock factory; and Take a Letter, Mr. Jones, a 1981 sitcom where Inman played Graham Jones, who is secretary to Rula Lenska's character Joan Warner. Inman also toured with his own shows, and he released several records, including Are You Being Served, Sir?, which reached number 39 in the UK singles charts. This came from an LP of the same name, and was followed by two further albums: I'm Free in 1977 and With a Bit of Brass in 1978, both were released by DJM Records.

He made a cameo appearance in the film The Tall Guy in 1989, and was one of five of the Are You Being Served? cast to be reunited in character for the sitcom Grace & Favour (titled Are You Being Served? Again! in the United States), which ran for twelve episodes in 1992 and 1993.

By this time, however, Inman was secure as a national comic treasure. In 2005 a poll found that the 1977 film of Are You Being Served? was the worst ever feature film remake of a television series - but his reputation had never been dependent on the cinema, and the television episodes continued to sell around the world.

Inman suffered from poor health. In 1993, he was hospitalised with bronchitis. In 1995, he collapsed during a performance of Mother Goose, and in 2004 he had to withdraw from Dick Whittington at Richmond theatre after contracting hepatitis A through eating contaminated food.

In December 2005, he went through a civil partnership ceremony with Ron Lynch, his partner of more than 30 years.  Inman died aged 71 after a long illness on March 8, 2007.
One of my favourite BBC comedies from the seventies, I couldn't help myself when I found this spin off LP which Inman had recorded at the peak of his acting career, at my local flee market.  Even though the tracks on this album are full of innuendo's and suggestive lyrics, Inman still manages to show that he can 'pull off' a tune or two with the greatest confidence.  
So this month's W.O.C.K on vinyl post salutes a very Camp and Cheeky character from Are You Being Served? who made me laugh more times than I 'd like to admit.  Thanks John and I hope you are now Truly Free 

Ripped to MP3 (320kps) from vinyl with full album artwork and label scans. 

Track Listing
01 - Are You Being Served Sir?
02 - Teddy Bears Picnic
03 - Buttons and Bows
04 - My Big Best Shoes
05 - Come To The Supermarket (In Old Peking)

06 - Nobody Does It Like Me
07 - Sun Signs
08 - The Sailor With The Navy Blues Eyes
09 - I'm Too Old To Be A Mermaid
10 - How Do You Do It
11 - The Fleet's In Port Again
12 - We All Love Captain Ginger

Are You Being Served Link (75Mb)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Yes - Big Generator (1987) + Bonus Live Tracks

(U.K 1968 - 2004, 2008 - Present)
Big Generator is the twelfth studio album by progressive rock band Yes. It was released in 1987 on Atlantic Records’ ATCO subsidiary label (Yes’ last studio album for Atlantic) and was the follow-up to the massively successful '90125' album.

The 1980s version of the classic rock band Yes put out interesting, modern rock oriented albums which differed starkly from their prog rock efforts of the 1970s. Despite the shifts in personnel which made many loyal fans suspect of the material’s legitimacy, these albums were some of the most solid put out by a “second British invasion” band in the eighties. 1987’s Big Generator was the third of these and, perhaps, the most potent (even though it didn’t sell as well as 1983’s 90125) and it would ultimately become their last album to chart songs. This album was the high point of the tenor of guitarist Trevor Rabin, who in addition to his role as guitarist wrote a large amount of the material, provided co-lead vocals on several tracks and took over as producer during the later stages of the album’s production.

CD Cover
Big Generator was recorded in three different countries and took over 2 years to make, mainly due to creative differences and shifting production duties. Trevor Horn, a former band member and producer on 90125, started out as the project’s producer but departed after a few months of the band recording in Italy. Next the band recorded in London with producer Paul De Villiers, with the most fruitful of these recordings being the complex vocal-driven “Rhythm of Love”. Finally, the production moved to Los Angeles for the final stages under Rabin.

Despite all the production turmoil, the result was a highly energetic and entertaining album that was successful in blending accessible and commercially songs with flourishes of musical virtuosity, which was the longtime trademark of the band. There is also a great mix of song styles and tenor, making the listening experience very diverse and interesting.

The opener “Rhythm of Love” contains some of the best harmonies every put on tape outside of the Beach Boys. This complex vocal ensemble during the intro and chorus refrain turns an otherwise typical late 1980s pop song into a very unique and enjoyable listen. On this track lead vocalist Jon Anderson shares the vocals to an extent with Rabin, a pattern which ids common on the album. “Rhythm of Love” would become the last charting single for the band in 1988. The title song “Big Generator” follows with as a more standard rock song but with some added elements that make it unequivocally Yes. There are low key soundscapes during the verses, the orchestral-hit effects during the choruses, it also contains a very odd, short guitar lead which is almost out of tune with minimal backing instrumentation.

“Shoot High, Aim Low” was one of the first songs recorded for the album while Horn was still the producer in Italy. This is a well-crafted and accessible for a slow and dramatic tune, held together by a crisp and steady beat by drummer Alan White and accented by some lead keyboard riffs by Tony Kaye. The 7-minute song never really breaks out of its original pattern, in vast contrast to much by Yes through their career. Still, it never lags or drags due to some interesting counter riffs of flamenco guitar and lead vocals which literally trade lines during the verses. “Almost Like Love” finishes off the first side with a foray into the world party rock, as a strong and fast, upbeat tune with brass accents and a clear hook.
On Stage Big Generator Tour
“Love Will Find a Way” is a solo composition by Rabin which he had originally written for Stevie Nicks before deciding to use it on this Yes album. It starts with a string quartet intro before breaking into a crisp rock guitar riff. It is a very accessible and radio-friendly pop song with Rabin firmly in the lead vocally aside form a counter-post-chorus with Anderson offering a alternate take on the hook. The ballad “Final Eyes” is the best song on the Big Generator. It begins with a heavily effect-driven choppy guitar riff before breaking into the main 12-string acoustic riff in a beautifully blended transition. Starting with excellent lead vocals by Anderson, everything on this song is melodic and romantic with just the right proportions of sonic decor in differing parts to keep it fresh and exciting throughout. There is just a short bit of new age lull at about the 5 minute mark, which may seem out-of place until the song reprises strongly about 30 seconds later to a climatic finish which dissolves into a rather upbeat acoustic solo fade-out.

Yes 1987
“I’m Running” begins with a crisp bass riff by Chris Squire, building with Caribbean beats and overtones make for an interesting intro. A marimba-led verse leads into lots of different sections where the band seems to attempt a reprise of their prog-rock past. However, this may be a bit superfluous as they are repeated in differing lights and the song ends up too long by perhaps two minutes. “Holy Lamb (Song for Harmonic Convergence)” is a solo composition by Anderson which is melodic and pleasant enough but a bit of a letdown as a quasi-religious ballad to conclude the album, leaving the listener a bit unsatisfied in the climax.

Big Generator Tour T-Shirt
After Big Generator, the personnel shifts continued with the group actually splitting in two when Anderson organized a reunion project with three former members of Yes from the 1970s with the short-lived group 'Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe', who released a single studio album in 1989. However, these two factions united for a one-of-a-kind Yes album in 1991 called Union which included eight members of Yes from previous eras [extract from]
Jon Anderson 1988
Album Review 
(by Producer Paul DeVilliers  Sept 10, 2015)
This album may say YES on it, but take the name away and simply use the name they were going to use before the 90125 smash album, and this would have been "CINEMA - BIG GENERATOR" and removing all comparisons to the Yes of the 1970's and you have a great rock album and a worthy follow up to what would have been "Cinema's" debut in 1983.

But then again I am biased as I Produced the album. Trevor Horn left after 10 miserable days in Italy. The project moved to London where is progressed...very slowly. Basically until Trevor Rabin's mansion/home studio could be completed well enough to finish the album there, which it was. You could call this a 3 producer marathon, Horn for the first few meters (he was contracted to be guaranteed Producer credit even if he only showed up a single day. We were hoping he would have stay a bit longer.

As for me, Paul DeVilliers did the very long haul, and heavy handed Rabin ensured this would be mixes as we hear to this very day. In spite of my great efforts, to this day feel Trevor Rabin's overloading of the mixes couldn't have been any better and sure was a departure from my previous big budget production of Mr Mister's 'Welcome To The Real World' in spite of the multi-millions more than Big Generator though the album was a commercial success, just not the monster that 90125 was. There are no 'out-takes" or other material achieved from these sessions. Just getting the 8 songs done was laborious enough as it were.

The final track, Jon Anderson's solo contribution was originally agreed to be recorded merely to quiet him during the sessions and capitulate to the Rock-Leanings of the album. It was recorded last. However as the production of the recording continued, the song built and built into a wonderful piece. This is the only song which Trevor Rabin contributed nothing music to. The multiple overdubs fell into the hands of the Producer who after continued a close professional relationship with Jon for well over another decade, even helping in a non contractual manner especially when Paul introduced Jon to the California hamlet town own of San Luis Obispo, where DeVilliers was raised and went to college. Resulting in the entire band of Yes relocating there for a three album span. 

~Enjoy, there is only one album on the planet like this and thank you to Paul Lani & Lois Oki who without their patience this album just wouldn't have been the same or possibly never seen the light of day [extract from].
This post consists of FLACs ripped from my Dmm Mastered Vinyl (in absolute pristine condition) and blows away my CD copy (Original Album Series)  in terms of sound quality. Full album artwork for both media is included along with select photos of the band on the Big Generator Tour.  Also include are 3 bonus live tracks, recorded in Houston, Texas on Feb 19, 1988 from the same tour.
My favourite track on the album is "Shoot High, Aim Low" and every time I listen to it, the volume knob on my amplifier gets cranked up to 10. The songs mesmerizing riff gets me every time.
In my eyes this album is highly underrated and was in many ways as good as their 90125 album, although others may not agree.  If you haven't heard this album, then all I can say is shoot high, and aim low with your mouse pointer to download this gem.
Track Listing
01 - Rhythm Of Love 4:49
02 - Big Generator 4:31
03 - Shoot High Aim Low 6:59
04 - Almost Like Love 4:58
05 - Love Will Find A Way 4:48
06 - Final Eyes 6:20
07 - I'm Running 7:34
08 - Holy Lamb (Song For Harmonic Convergence) 3:15
09 - Rhythm Of Love (Bonus Live Houston 1988)
10 - Big Generator  (Bonus Live Houston 1988)
11 - Shoot High, Aim Low  (Bonus Live Houston 1988)

Yes were:
Jon Anderson – Lead Vocals
Trevor Rabin – Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Tony Kaye – Keyboards
Chris Squire – Bass, Vocals
Alan White – Drums
(with Harmonica – James Zavala)

Big Generator FLACs Link (435Mb) New Link 05/01/2024

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Thanks for visiting folks and stay tuned for the next BIG Post

Monday, November 19, 2018

Genesis: Live - Not Authorised (1993) Bootleg

(U.K 1967 - Present)
This post features a live soundboard recording and "Radio Broadcast' of Genesis – Live At The Uptown Theatre from October 13, 1978 during their World  “And Then There Were Three” Tour. It was recorded at the Uptown Theatre in Chicago, Illinois and is the second half of the concert.  This is confirmed during the intro to "Say It's Alright Joe", when Phil Collins refers to having been in some of the seedy bars in Chicago, while chatting with the audience

When Genesis revisited Chicago on their extended “…And Then There Were Three” Tour, it was decided to play at a smaller venue with better acoustics and the Uptown Theatre was chosen. Local radio station WXRT received permission to record the show for broadcast, one of only three radio recordings made during this tour.

The quality is very high and a lot of fans seem to rate this bootleg among the top for this tour. The volume level is somewhat low, but besides  that there is little bad to be said about this one.
In fact, I believe this is Highland's version of the famous Uptown Theater show, one of the most famous recordings from their world tour. This one claims to be "straight from the reels," and though I know nothing about that, I do know that this is a very nice version of this show. If you only want a few Genesis bootlegs, this one should  probably be on your list!
The Uptown Theatre
"The Uptown had been showing second-run movies when rock consortium Jam began booking rock shows there. The list of performers is impressive: The Grateful Dead for six three-night stands between 1978 and 1981; Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for three shows in 1978 and 1980; Bob Marley and the Wailers for dates in 1978 and 1979; Frank Zappa for four visits (and five shows) between 1977 and 1981; Cheap Trick opening for the Kinks in 1977; Genesis and Peter Gabriel playing six days apart in October 1978; and Prince opening for Rick James in early 1980 and headlining later that year.

Even now, one of the well-worn seat backs in the dusty auditorium boasts a Grateful Dead bumper sticker that reads, “Warning, I Brake for Hallucinations.” In the oval ladies lounge, these words remain scrawled: “Springsteen is God.”

Genesis's performance literally blew the roof off the Theatre !
But the rock bookings and movie screenings couldn’t keep the theater — owned by the Plitt movie theater chain and, for much of Jam’s time there, a local theater operator named Rene Rabiela — from falling into disrepair and eventual insolvency. The heat was shut off, and in winter 1982 the pipes burst, flooding the basement and causing extensive damage to ceilings, walls and staircases that has yet to be repaired.” [Chicago Tribune, October 11, 2011]
Concert Review I
Uptown Theatre, Chicago, IL – October 13th, 1978

Disc 1: Intro., Eleventh Earl Of Mar, In The Cage, Burning Rope, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight/The Musical Box, Ripples, Deep In The Motherlode, One For The Vine, Squonk

Disc 2: Phil talking, Say It’s Alright Joe, The Lady Lies, Romeo and Juliet story, The Cinema Show/In That Quiet Earth, Afterglow, Follow You Follow Me, Dance On A Volcano (with drum duet), Los Endos, I Know What I Like, After show interview with Phil Collins.

Near the start of the And Then There Were Three tour Genesis played at the Stadium in Chicago. They were unhappy about their sound at the Stadium and so returned to play the smaller venue the Uptown Theatre by the end of the tour. WXRT in Chicago broadcast the concert on the air that night and the two and a half hour show ended with a seven-minute interview with Phil Collins discussing the tour and the broadcast.

From The Mouth Of The Monster
The broadcast resulted in a great sounding early release on vinyl called From The Mouth Of The Monster on Atlantis (GTT 78), a ninety-minute recording spread over two LPs. Compact disc releases include 'Follow You, Follow Me' on Great Dane Records (GDR CD 8918), Live In Chicago 1978 on Golden Stars (GSCD 2104/1-2), Live and Alive with Genesis and Phil Collins (IMT 900.019/20) on the infamous IMTRAT label, and Live at Uptown Theatre Chicago International Pop (INP023, INP024).

A source that claims to be from the WXRT reels, including the post-concert interview, surfaced and was released on Master Of Chicago (HL446/447) on Highland. The final note of “Ripples” is missing and the complete source on Follow You Follow Me was used to complete the track. Two fan-based releases on SAB and BURP also exist and circulate among Genesis collectors and Sirene most likely is a copy of SAB 05 volume 2.

Between 1976-1981 Genesis were almost always on the radio with each tour producing at least two or three excellent quality broadcasts. This is one of the best concerts from the “interim” period between the “progressive” Gabriel and the “eighties pop” Collins eras. They have always excelled in narrative song writing and they sing about a whole host of interesting characters and take the audience through several different vignettes.

“Eleventh Earl Of Mar” is a high-energy opener followed by a frenetic “In The Cage”. “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight” makes a brief return to the set and is edited into the closing heavy section of “The Musical Box.” Phil goes go great pains to teach the audience when to cheer and boo to his pantomimes before “The Lady Lies” (“People are going to think we’re not going down well!” he quips).

“The Cinema Show” segues seamlessly into “In That Quiet Earth” which runs into “Afterglow” as per the studio version. The majestic “Afterglow” is followed by the Brazilian beats of “Follow You Follow Me” which was their big hit of the day. The finale begins with an aggressive version of “Dance On A Volcano” where Collins really spits out the lyrics (“Holy mother of GOD!!!) and leads into the drum duet between him and Thompson. This feature does not translate well on poor audience recordings with the duet becoming lost in the general mush of sound.

But the clarity of this recording offers a detailed glimpse into Thompson’s and Collins’ contribution. This leads into “Los Endos” and “I Know What I Like”, which includes the “Stagnation” interlude, is the encore. The interview is interesting with Phil explaining the came back to Chicago because they were not happy with the sound mix at the Stadium, their impending first ever tour of Japan, and plans for recording the new album.

Concert Review II
Radio Chicago - David Dunnington
Uptown Theatre, Chicago, IL – October 13th, 1978

Genesis at the Uptown in Chicago 1978 manifestly deserves its place in the hall of fame: the recording is a veritable case study on everything that makes bootleg material so precious to connoisseurs of live music. For starters there's the sheer extra ordinariness of the event, a bonus theater show to compensate faithful Chicago for a bad gig earlier in the tour. Genesis hauled their spectacular show of lasers and mirrors around the stadiums of the world from March until the end of the year to much acclaim, but were very unhappy about their sound at the Chicago Stadium (now long gone) in early April.

Chicago was an important stronghold for rock music in general and for Genesis in particular, the main "underground rock" station WXRT having provided the band with plenty of exposure in the years before they began to churn out hits. So from the moment that news broke about a special additional show at the comparatively small Uptown Theater, WXRT fed the frenzy with plenty of hype; excitement was riding sky high in the run up to the concert. To cap it all, following the inevitable instant ticket sell-out, WXRT announced they would be broadcasting the show live on the air.

Which brings us to the second ingredient of a classic bootleg: amazing sound fidelity. Radio engineers produced a nice crisp quadraphonic mix from the Uptown which captured both the superb detailed musicianship from Genesis and the cosmic atmosphere in the venue from the rowdy and adoring crowd Vocals and guitar were high in the mix, drums and keyboards well represented, bass somewhat less distinct (compensated for in this release). Interrupted only by the occasional radio ID between songs, WRXT caught the entire 2.5 hour event from their own opening concert introduction through to the completion of John Platt's post concert interview with Phil. The ensuing double LP bootleg release "From The Mouth Of The Monster" helped inspire a generation to collect and trade unofficial live recordings.

In part the electric atmosphere was generated by the presence of concert hardware desired to wow stadiums, now crammed into the confines of this 4400 capacity theater venue. Rotating mirrors, suspended and operated by chain motors, reflected lights and lasers from the floor, the rig and extras suspended 10 feet in the air. Accompanying this spectacle was the buzz generated by a pervading feeling that the show was a gift from Genesis to their fans in Chicago.

And what a show! Seven months' practice on the road allowed plenty of time for the material to mature and develop and to integrate new guitar/bass player Daryl Stuermer. During an outstanding performance Genesis displayed the full gamut of their repertoire, from a dizzying and frenetic rendition of "In The cage" to the tender and poignant stirrings of "Ripples". But the song that sent shivers down the collective spine of those present and of fans listening to this recording through intervening decades, was the grafting together of "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" with the closing of "The Musical Box".

An eyewitness account does justice to the moment:
"...Phil is talking to the audience about how much they have enjoyed playing in Chicago over the years, and how their shows have sold consistently well in Chicago ... then lie says 'This ones for you...' and then he sings 'Can you tell me where my country lies..-'. Well the place went nuts! You really couldn't hear the next line or two because of the cheers. We all felt that they picked a song we all knew and loved, that had not been played in years and dusted it off just for us. And then to end it with the last part of "Musical Box", well, people were just melting in their seats with joy."

Together with a great recording of a powerful, energetic virtuoso performance we also have this fascinating, unique set variation: the final and conclusive hallmark of a truly classic bootleg.
This post consists of MP3's (320kps) ripped from my AMCOS CD and includes the usual 'generic' artwork produced by this Australian Bootlegger.  Quality of the recording is pretty damn good - I'd give it a 9/10, but its a shame that the interview with Phil Collins is not included in this release.
Track Listing
01 Squonk (8:29)
02 Say It's Alright Joe (9:04)
03 The Lady Lies (with the Story of Romeo and Juliet)  (10:23)
04 Cinema Show / Riding the Scree (6:54)
05 In that quiet earth (4:31)
06 Afterglow (4:49) 
07 Follow You Follow Me (4:32)
08 Dance on a Volcano/Drums (5:46) 
09 Los Endos (6:26)
10 I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe) (9:15)

Genesis were:
Lead Vocals, Drum, Percussion – Phil Collins
Bass Guitar, Guitar, Backing Vocals – Mike Rutherford
Drums, Percussion – Chester Thompson
Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar – Tony Banks
Lead Guitar, Effects – Daryl Stuermer

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Max Merritt & The Meteors - Selftitled (1970) plus Bonus Tracks

(New Zealand 1956 - 2008)
Max Merritt was a star in New Zealand when he came to Australia in 1964. The Meteors bluesy rock fitting perfectly with Merritt's warm growling vocals. In 1967, Max Merritt and his metereors almost died in a car accident. Merritt lost the sight in his right eye and drummer Stewie Speer was hospitalised for four months.
They headed to England were in 1969 they recorded their biggest hit 'Western Union Man' which stayed in the Australian charts for 11 weeks, and peaked at #13 for RCA.
Original (1965) line-up: MAX MERRITT (guitar, vocals); PETER WILLIAMS (guitar); JOHNNY DICK (drums); TEDDY TOI (bass guitar).

Max was born on 30th April, 1941 in Christchurch, New Zealand. He started taking guitar lessons at the age of twelve and eventually formed the Meteors. They began as a part-time group while Max worked during the day as a bricklayer. Max and the band moved to Auckland after a while and began recording. It was at this time that they scored a local hit with a single called, 'Get a Haircut'.
In December, 1964 they came to Australia to do a four week stint at the Rex Hotel in Sydney. The gig was so successful that they decided to stay on. Max and the boys gained immediate respect from both pop fans and fellow musicians. By April '65 they had released their first Australian single entitled 'So Long Baby'.
Early Max Merritt & the Meteors in Christchurch
During their first twelve months or so the line-up experienced many changes, but by early 1966 it had consolidated at Max, Peter Williams and newcomers BRUNO LAWRENCE (drums) and BILL CHRISTIAN (bass). It proved to be the year that the group really put themselves on the map in Australia and they released four singles for the Parlophone label, all of which sold steadily — 'You Deserve What You Got', 'Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah', 'Shake'/'I Can't Help Myself, (a double-sider) and 'Fannie Mae'.

Stewie Speer
By early 1967 they had become perhaps the country's most respected band and Max decided to travel to the UK around August. He completely rebuilt the group in preparation for the trip to consist of STEWIE SPEER (drums), JOHN 'YUK' HARRISON (bass), BOB BERTLES (sax) and of course Max on guitar. (N.B. - Peter joined the Groove.) Then came an unfortunate incident that was to postpone the trip for over six months. In July '67 the band was involved in a terrible head-on motor accident. The most seriously hurt were Max, who lost the sight in his right eye, and Stewie, who was in hospital for four months. However, their esteem in the business was signified by the generous donations which poured in from all sections of the entertainment world.

Late in 1967, they were back on stage and within no time at all they were sounding as good as ever. The next two years saw the consolidation of the group's line-up, an overseas jaunt and also a change of record companies to RCA. In fact in December, 1969 they scored their first national hit with 'Western Union Man'.
In January '70 they experienced their first member change in two and a half years when John left to be replaced by DAVE RUSSELL (ex-Invaders). The change didn't seem to affect their sound and in March they released their best-selling selftitled 'Max Merritt and the Meteors album'.

L - R: Max Merritt, Bob Bertles, Stewart Spear & John 'Yuk' Harrison 1970
Then in October 70, they left for a full onslaught of the English market. At first things looked good, but management rip-offs forced Max to let the band go and take on a job in a timber yard. After a while he re-formed with Stewie and two London musicians and they gradually established themselves on the local pub circuit.
Early in 1971 they released another album, Stray Cats and a single from it called 'Good Feeling'. By now their material had developed a more experimental feel as opposed to a strictly soul feel. Another single, 'Hello L.A., Goodbye Birmingham' followed in May '71 and in January '72 they returned for the Sunbury Rock Festival in Victoria.

Max Merritt And The Meteors On Stage at Sunbury 72
'Let It Slide' was released for the first time (on RCA) to coincide with their return to London. During this trip they played in the more exclusive venues such as the Windsor Castle, and when they re-visited the Sunbury Festival in January '73, they portrayed a highly professional sound and style.
Back in London they completed negotiations with Arista/Bell Records and put down their first album for the label which was called 'A Little Easier'. The album was released in Australia during October, 1975 and it took the charts by storm as did the single from it, 'Slipping Away'. Another track, 'Mr. Horizontal' was also lifted off the album.

Just prior to their return to Australia for a national tour during May and June, 1976 they released 'Let It Slide' (with 'Whisper In My Ear' on the flip) for the second time. This time the song became a hit. The line-up for the tour was — Max (guitar), Stewie Spears (drums), JOHN GOURD (guitar/piano), HOWARD MARTIN DENIZ (bass), LANCE DIXON (sax). On the completion of their tour they were happy to note that the latest album, Out Of The Blue, had soared into the LP charts.

In February, 1977 Max recorded a live performance at the Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne before a crowd of enraptured fans. The resultant LP was released under the title of 'Back Home Live'. Towards the end of the year another change of record label occurred, from Arista to Polydor.

All in all Max Merritt must be one of the most persistent rock legends Australia (and New Zealand) has ever known.   Note:  Bob Bertles remained in Europe and popped up later playing in a German band. (extract from Noel McGrath's 'Australian Encyclopedia of Rock', Outback Press, 1978. p199-2000)

Merritt decided to relocate in Nashville, USA in 1977 and signed as a solo artist with Polydor Records, which released 'Keeping In Touch' in 1978. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he continued to reside, and toured Australia in 1979 and 1980. On the second tour, he put together a band with Stewie Speer on drums, Paul Grant on guitar, John Williams on keyboards, Martin Jenner on guitar and Phil Lawson on bass. This was Merritt and Speer's last major tour together: Speer died of a heart attack on 16 September 1986. Merritt released singles "Growing Pains" in 1982 and "Mean Green Fighting Machine" in 1986, the second was a promotional single for the Canberra Raiders Rugby League team. He toured Australia in 1991 with Brian Cadd (ex-The Groop, Axiom, solo) in the Brian Cadd and Max Merritt Band, which comprised Merritt, Cadd (vocals, piano), John Dallimore (guitar; ex-Redhouse, Dallimore, Jon English Band), Craig Reeves (keyboards), Des Scott (bass) and Dave Stewart (drums; ex-Daniel). In late 1996, Merritt returned to Australia to tour the club and pub circuit.

Max Merritt today
Merritt toured Australia on a short club circuit in April 2001 along with Doug Parkinson - a fellow veteran rocker from the 1960s. This marked a resurgence of interest for Merritt: April and May were spent touring Australia under the banner "The Heart & Soul of Rock & Roll" with Parkinson; August and September 2002 was the Long Way To The Top - The Concert tour. After that, whenever Merritt returned to Australia, a reformed Max Merritt & The Meteors was in demand for special events and music festivals: Melbourne Music and Blues Festival, The Perth Moonlight Festival, The Veterans Games in Alice Springs, The Queenscliff Festival and The Toyota Muster in Gympie. In April 2006, the group appeared at the Byron Bay Blues Festival and the Gladstone Harbour Festival.

In mid-April 2007, Merritt was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital suffering kidney failure. He was diagnosed as having Goodpasture's syndrome, a rare auto-immune disorder that affects the kidneys and lungs. Merritt was struggling with his health and finances, so his manager, Wal Bishop, along with Australian music industry friends, organised a Concert for Max held at the Palais Theatre,
St. Kilda, Victoria, on 21 October 2007, and raised $200,000. He is currently on a dialysis machine awaiting a kidney transplant and is unable to tour extensively. On 1 July 2008, Merritt was inducted by Glenn A. Baker into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Merritt was joined on-stage by Kasey Chambers and Bill Chambers to perform "Slipping Away" [extract from Wikipedia]
This post consists of FLACs ripped from CD and includes full album artwork for both media. Also included are three bonus tracks, featuring a very early version of "Let It Slide" and some rare live recordings. Although this album is a classic, I personally enjoyed their later 70's releases - 'A Little Bit Easier' and 'Out Of The Blue'. If there is enough interest, I might be coerced into ripping my treasured copies and post them for your pleasure. Anyhow, hope you enjoy the classic album featuring his big hit "Hey, Western Union Man".

01  Hey,Western Union Man 3:52
02  Fannie May 3:39
03  To Be A Lover 3:00
04  Louisiana Anna 3:33
05  You Touch Me 5:40
06  I've Been Away Too Long 3:02
07  Home Is Where The Heart Is 3:47
08  It's Just Wasting Time 2:45
09  Turkish Bath 4:37
10  Lay A Little Love On Me 3:25
11  You Can't Come Back 3:20
12  Respect (Bonus Live) 2:13
13  Live Levis (Bonus Track) 3:06
14  Let It Slide (Bonus Early Version) 3:34
Band Members
Max Merritt - Guitar, Vocals
Stewie Speer - Drums
Bob Bertles - Sax, Flute, Bass Clarinet
John 'Yuk' Harrison - Bass
Gentlemen Of the Ensemble:
Russell Smith, Barry McKimm - Trumpets
Brian Brown - Tenor Sax
New Link 25/12/2023

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Boys - Selftitled (1981) + Bonus B-Side Singles

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