Thursday, January 17, 2019

Max Merritt & The Meteors - A Little Easier (1975) / Out Of The Blue (1976) with Bonus Tracks

(New Zealand 1956 - 2008)
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There's an attitude among some of the more churlish citizens of the Mother Country to dismiss anything remotely Antipodean or otherwise Australian and New Zealand in origin. Bad judgement on their part. Not for them an eloquent bouquet of well chilled Fosters. Not for them the literary richness of Barry McKenzie. Worse still. No Max Merritt and the Meteors.
Max Merritt is one of the Antipodes' finest. Introduced to a guitar at the age of twelve in his native Christchurch, New Zealand, the enterprising Merritt lost little time in creating his own club residency. He opened the Teenage Club with his parents.
Fueled by rare soul and rhythm and blues records supplied by US servicemen at a nearby Army base, Max Merritt and the Meteors quickly became the talk of the North and South Islands. Soon the Merritt talent began to encompass song-writing and at 19 his hot teenage single "Get A Haircut" was danced into the Top Ten.
Australia beckoned and it was conquered. Then it was time for the Mother Country.

A few years to settle in and then a contract to capture the Meteors' magic on wax. Amusingly, while most of the Mother Country still awaits the pleasure of succumbing to Max Merritt and the Meteors, these platters have caused their fame in their homelands to escalate out of all proportion. When Max Merritt and the Meteors now canter homeward, they play in concert halls and sports stadia.
Featured in this post are the first 2 Max Merritt and the Meteors LP's to grace the Arista label. Unlike its 1970 RCA predecessor, we find the group in a more rocking mood, as the racing "Let It Slide" and acid "Monopoly" readily atest.

But Max hasn't totally forgotten those special moments: "The kind of song I wanted to hear coming over the car radio when I was around sixteen or seventeen, sitting in a car with my arms around a girl, just, y'know, looking at the sea."

You said it, Max. There are several such moments contained herein, and Max is a master at creating exactly the song you want to hear at those special times. Close your eyes and you can almost smell the salt air and see the surf curling as Max croons "Midnight Man" or "Ain't You Glad You Came' .
Like it's predecessor, this record is a bonzer platter. The Meteors play with verve and panache, and Max's sandpaper-to-silk voice is in top form. This is a record to give parties that extra spark, to impress friends with your expansive cultural and musical tastes, to add that tang and allure to those magic moments.
When you're sitting in the comfort of your own home with this waxing wafting around you, remember those churlish chaps who, unlike you, will never experience what makes a country great. Silly sods [Liner notes by Jonh Ingham].
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MAX MERRITT- THE LEGEND RETURNETH

Max Merritt 1973
The Story So Far: Back in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the early 60's a teenage brick-layer called Max Merritt started up a teenage dub to play the sort of music he liked. There was an American Military Base nearby and the Yankee, servicemen would supply Merritt with rare (in New Zealand and Australia) soul singles for the club juke box. Merritt came to Australia, playing the same rough edged R&B that inspired him so mightily. The band built into a legend — a roaring soul outfit whose popularity never faded, no matter what variation the pop scene was going through at the time. In I970, Merritt took his band to England. Years of re-building his musical reputation from scratch ensued. But once again, Merritt was building into a legend — this time on the London pub circuit, especially at two pubs, the Windsor Castle and the White Hart. Finally, in 75, Merritt and the Meteors were signed to the prestigious Arista label in England and released the album A Little Easier which had "encouraging" sales in England, but did bloody well in Oz. We catch him just before the opening of his Oz tour.

You've been through a hell of lot, both in Australia and now over in England. Would you-like to tell us how you felt when you left Australia to go to England after having battled it out for so many years here.

MAX MERRITT: The reason I left Australia in the first place is that I couldn't really see much more of a future for me and the band as we were then, because we were sort of played out right round the music scene. You know, we'd been around so many times everybody had seen us and the only thing left for us to do was go into RSL and Leagues clubs and things. And I thought, well I'm never gonna do that... I'd rather give up than do that. So I figured we d go over to England and have a crack at it because we had nothing to lose. Rather than go into RSL clubs, I'd stop playing altogether. So we went to England instead. I hadn't really realised the size of the place and when I got there I got such a shock. Mainly because it's hard to get to see people. Nobody's really interested because of the size of the place. They've got so many groups and so many managers going to see them all the time that its very hard to get a breakthrough.

Has it been heartbreaking for you over there, or have you found it more of a challenge?

MAX MERRITT: Well I found it a challenge the last three years. The first part I found a bit heartbreaking. What happened was ... I got involved with this manager ... and he ripped me off for a considerable amount of money. I was really pretty destitute at that time, you know, I've got a wife and a family and I had nowhere to live. To be in London like that is pretty frightening. I mean, it's alright for a single guy, you can manage, you can do anything ... but when you've got a wife and kids it makes it a bit different. That scared me a bit at that time. But after that I went and got a job in a timber yard for about 6 months to just get some bread together. Then I started up a new band with Stewart (drummer Stewie Spears — ed) Stewart stuck by me and I got various London guys together, and that's how it is now.

In Australia, at the moment, there seems to be a revitalized interest in Max Merritt — your records are really starting to pick up and things seem to be going incredibly welt. Are there similar signs to a breakthrough elsewhere.

MAX MERRITT:  Well, it's doing that in New Zealand too.

What about Europe, rather than America or England? I believe you've been doing quite a bit of work over there, and you have quite a following in Europe.

MAX MERRITT: Well I'm not sure exactly what's happening in Europe, but I think there's been quite a bit of interest and at the moment we're getting quite a bit of airplay with "Let it Slide" in England.


Max with Stewie Speers
Talking about that Max, do you find that English radio is not as encouraging for acts who are not a straight out pop, band? Do you find that English radio is restricting in that way?

MAX MERRITT: Well it can be, yeah, because the whole thing is governed by the BBC. They pick what's going to go on  their play lists and if you don't make the pi ay list it just doesn't get played in England because even the commercial radio stations listen to what happens on the BBC.The BBC is the one that most people listen to.

Can you tell us a little about the backtrack of "Let It Slide"?

MAX MERRITT: That was one I wrote a while back and we actually released it in Australia at one time but it did nothing, it just died.

There are a few people who remember that, but this is a brand new version isn't it?


MAX MERRITT:  Yeah. This is more like I wanted to record it In the first place. Unfortunately, at the time we originally recorded it, I was involved with this certain fellow management-wise — I don't really want to mention his name — and he insisted on producing the record. It ended up something that I didn't want. To my mind it spoiled the song because I wanted just a plain rock n" roll sort of thing. Bar-room rock "n' roll if you like. But he hanged all that, he spoilt the whole feel of it. So I thought, well, I can't be all that wrong, so I tried it again.

And you weren't wrong this time?

MAX MERRITT:  No.

Haven't you ever thought about going to America?

MAX MERRITT: Yeah, we have. We want to cater everything towards the American market, more than the English one. We  should know in a couple of weeks what's happening about the American side of things because we haven't had  anything released there.

How do you feel about coming back to Australia ... the last time you were here was five years ago for a Sunbury Festival?

MAX MERRITT: Well, naturally very, very excited because it's the old home territory. I'm very pleased that "Slipping Away" did so well because it can't be relying on our past history. I feel it must be selling to a reasonable extent to another generation. So I'm very pleased about the record doing so well for that reason. And I guess we'll probably be seeing a lot of new faces at the concerts. I hope so anyway. I just feel that we've gotten through to a younger generation.

Well, it seems the legend of Max Merritt just keeps on going. It gets passed down from punter to punter til you've got a whole stack of people still talking about Max Merritt, this great ex-Australian (they class you as Australian because a lot don't know you're from New Zealand). It seems a lot of people are really looking forward to the concerts.

MAX MERRITT: I hope so. I'm really looking forward to it. We did a farewell concert in London  at a place called The Nashville Room. It's not all that far from Earls Court so we got a lot of Australians  and New Zealanders down there and it was really a terrific night. Really a great night.

Can you tell us a bit about your next album?

MAX MERRITT:  Well, we were in the recording studio right up until we left for Australia. "Let It Slide" and "Whisper In My Ear" ... they'll be on it. Seven of the songs are my songs and there'll be three others. There's not all that much I can say because we haven't got them down at the moment. All I can say is that they're slightly different from the first album. Probably a little bit of a country feel has crept in slightly. And it's a little more rockier.

Are there any tracks in particular you've written you'd like to talk about?

MAX MERRITT: There's one I've written called "Ain't You Glad You Came", and I'm quite pleased with that one because I wrote it about a friend of mine. I'm pleased with the way it came out because I think it actually touches the feeling.

Are there any favourite tracks on the upcoming album?

MAX MERRITT: Let me think ... Aw, I like them all, otherwise I wouldn't be recording them.

That's a fair enough answer. We can't ask any more questions following that statement [extract from RAM Magazine, June 18, #34, 1976, p24]
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The post consists of two albums, both ripped from my personal vinyl collection in FLAC format, supported with full album artwork and label scans. Please note the alt New Zealand cover for A Little Easier, shown below.
As usual, I have sourced some bonus tracks to enrich your experience and am indebted to a mate (Sunshine) for making the single: "Slipping Away / I Keep Forgetting" available. It is worth noting that the single release of "Slipping Away" is shorter than the version recorded on the LP and the B-Side has never been released in any other format. In addition, an earlier version of "Let It Slide" (as discussed in the above interview with Max) is also included along with a rare recording the band made for Levi Jeans back in the early 70's.
Finally, I would also like to acknowledge the source of the interview with Max - 'The Legend Returneth', taken from RAM Magazine, June 18, #34, 1976, p24, and a scanned copy is also included.
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A LITTLE EASIER
01 King Size Rosewood Bed 6:25
02 Mr. Horizontal 3:28
03 Wrong Turn 5:32
04 Coming Back 5:05
05 A Little Easier 4:48
06 Find A Home 5:23
07 Long Time Gone 4:29
08 Slipping Away 5:34
09 Live Levis (Bonus Track) 3:04
10 I Keep Forgettin' (Single B-Side)  3:09
11 Slippin' Away (Single A-Side)  3:36

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Credits:
Bass – Martin Deniz
Drums – Stewart Speer
Engineer – Richard Dodd
Guitar – John Gourd
Keyboards – Dave MacRae
Pedal Steel Guitar – BJ Cole
Percussion – Ray Cooper
Producer – Del Newman
Saxophone – Barry Duggan
Vocals – Max Merritt

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OUT OF THE BLUE
01. Let It Slide
02. Whisper In My Ear
03. Monopoly
04. Blame It On The Reggae
05. Midnight Man
06. Rosie
07. Gotta Have Your Love
08. Tell Me Mama
09. Take Part Of Me
10. Ain’t You Glad You Came
11. Let It Slide (Bonus Track Early Version)


Credits:
MAX MERRITT: Vocals, Guitar
STEWART SPEER: Drums
LANCE DDCON: Keyboards, Saxaphone,
Backing Vocals
MARTIN (FUZZ) DEN IZ: Bass, Backing Vocals
JOHN GOURD: Guitar
PRODUCED BY: Joe Renzetti for CUKce Productions 

RECORDED AT: Trident Studios, London, England
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A Little Easier FLACs Link (294Mb)
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Out Of The Blue FLAC Link (220Mb)
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10 comments:

  1. I've followed and loved you blog for ages - but File Factory never works for me any more. Sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Hingehead - are you selecting the option to CONTINUE in one of the Pop-up windows. Most important that you do this to progress to the Countdown / Download screen
      I suspect this is the problem

      Delete
    2. Hi - I'm doing the continue thing (File Factory used to work for me for years) but now after the 30 second wait I get this message every time


      M@X MERR1TT & THE METE0R$ - Out Of The Blue (1976) 320.rar
      83.05 MB uploaded 2 days, 15 hours ago.

      Download error (265)
      There is a problem with your network connection. Please read this page for more information.

      Please contact support if you require further assistance.


      I'm just on vanilla Bigpond NBN.

      Delete
  2. On the other Uloz rocks so I'll just download the flac and convert it to mp3. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello from France! Just need to say i'm very grateful to your great work through the years that let me discover albums i totally ignored before (impossible to found out some). And this last post is the best exemple! I wish the gods of music bless you and always have an eye on you! Thanks a million!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Looping for these kind words. I'm really glad that I am able to make these 'hard to get' albums available for our French families. PS> Merci Beaucoup for your wonderful wines

      Delete
  4. thanx for all the grooves greatly appreciated!

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  5. By chance I came here and discovered music never heard before. My favorite at the time is now Max Merritt. I love all three of his albums that you've posted but "A Little Easier" might be his best.
    Cheers from Germany

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  6. Slipping Away was a huge hit in my country back in the 70's but sadly until today I was only able to find the short version(3:33) thanks for posting the full version(5:34).

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  7. Fantastic to see you keeping very hard to find Aussie vinyl alive! What type of turntable/stylus set up are you running? Sounds great.!

    ReplyDelete