Wednesday, March 31, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Max and the Chief in the infamous Cone of Silence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 27, 2021

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

 (Australian 1973)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Greenough

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bongo on ANZ Rooftop For This Is My City Clip

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bongo grooms the Black Sheep for the Album Photo Shoot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Link 20/04/2021

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

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

(Australian 1967 - Present) .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIP  Doug Parkinson 15/03/2021


Saturday, March 13, 2021

Ted Nugent - Free For All (1976) + Bonus Live Tracks

 (U.S 1964 - Present)

Ted Nugent's decision to go solo proved wise. By the time of his August '79 cover story, nearly all oi his Epic albums had gone platinum. 1979 alone produced two million-sellers: Weekend Warriors and Double Live Gonzo, one of the most successful concert albums in CBS history. Nugent released four more albums on Epic before signing with Atlantic in 1982 tor Nugent.

Ted Nugent tours a city the way Godzilla toured Tokyo. He plays very fast, very loud. people come to my concerts just to lose weight," he huffs. I tell 'em to sit up real close - makes their ears bleed; it's good for them. One time a pigeon - and this is true - a pigeon flew in front of my speakers and just literally disintegrated - man, it just melted! "

Nugent, a native of Detroit, was born in 1949. For ten years he led his bands - various incarnations of the Amboy Dukes - on legendary marathon concert campaigns, mostly through the Midwest and South. He pushed himself and his musicians to the limit, blitzing town after town and leaving behind him a wake strewn with ransacked auditoriums, shell-shocked audiences, wasted groupies, cackling critics, and disfigured vehicle codes.

Ted's attire for these occasions included loincloths, animal pelts, teeth necklaces, war paint, and feathers. Regular features of the concerts included death-defying leaps from amp stacks, lectures against the hazards of drugs, the exploding of glass globes with his instrument's feedback, and open invitations to local hotshot guitar players to bring their axes up onstage and get slaughtered. Ted is a showman, and his fierce guitar duke-outs with Wayne Kramer (of the MCs), Mike Pinera (lron Butterfly, Blues lmage), and Frank Marino (Mahogany Rush) scored big with concert fans.

Ted is tall, and his lean, muscular physique and wild lion's mane of hair make for an imposing presence, to say the least, even without the snakeskin cowboy boots, the chipped-tooth grin, or the crazed stare. He is an outdoorsman who loves to hunt, and when he's in a wilderness area he often tracks, shoots, guts, and cooks his food. He favours the bow and arrow and decorates his home with the heads and antlers of his kills. He's also a collector of shotguns and a long-time member of the National Rifle Association: "l support everything they stand for," he affirms. He is especially proud of his efforts to help a group of hunters that successfully established new breeding grounds for the now plentiful wood duck, once an endangered species.

Nugent owns several souped-up, off-road vehicles, and he likes to go crashing over war-zone terrain, fusing together the vertebrae of hapless passengers. One four-wheel hot rod has an engine and suspension engineered to his own specs. It's equipped with a two-and-a-half-million candlepower light beam array on top. If I signal to someone to dim their lights," Ted says, 'the son of a bitch better dim them - otherwise l'll fire up those suckers on top and run him off the road. you can't look at those lights; it's like looking at the sun."

Looking at the sun is what Ted Nugent's image is all about. He is not one of the more self-effacing people you'll ever meet, and his descriptions of himself are reminiscent of Mike Fink, a mangy, likeable Disney river rat who once bragged to Davy Crockett that he could outeat, outdrink, outshoot, outfight, outcuss, outrun, and outtalk any man alive. "It is amazing, ain't it?" says Ted groping for undepleted superlative! and referring to his dazzling speed on the guitar. Concerning his phrasing, he beats around no bushes: "l would say I've got the best phrasing of any fucking guitarist in America." And commenting on his songwriting skills, he says, Sometimes I ask myself - have I the right to be this good?"

Nugent stokes himself up with so much hot gas that he threatens at any moment to inflate like a Macy's thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. But like the Cassius Clay of old, he has more than enough talent, savvy, and guts to back up the talk, and enough tongue-in-cheek humour and flair to avoid self-parody.

The weapons, Indian getup, guitar shootouts, howling feedback, dead varmints, and kick-butt concerts all add up to what Nugent describes as a lifestyle that has attracted as much press coverage as his relentless blues-rock boogie music, maybe more. But on more than one occasion Ted has complained that editors often extract all comments from his interviews except those  that heighten his image as a mad-dog guitar savage. "They only want the crazy stuff,', he said in a 'Creem' magazine article. "I'm human. I'm intelligent. I know what's going on."

When Ted travels he takes the time to catch the chauffeur's name, to compliment the waitress, to thank the bellboy. A polite Ted Nugent may appear to be a contradiction in terms, but he is quite capable of transcending his image. He knows all about his reputation - he's been refining it and living it for 15 years. Sometimes he reveals his human side, perhaps articulating newly acquired appreciations of home and kids; other times he chucks huge globs of gonzo-speak at the rock music press, playing the bad hombre role to the hilt and relishing the outrage he causes among "serious" critics. In either situation he chooses his words carefully.

The up-yours cockiness that endears him to his millions of fans also causes some people to assume that he is insensitive, a bore, or unkind. In much the same way, his brain-damage volume levels and let's-boogie stage raps make it easy for critics to overlook his musical talents, which are considerable, or his approach to the onstage manipulation of feedback, which is almost scientific. Besides, he's right about the speed - it is amazing. Though it sometimes sounds like he foregoes a guitar pick in favour of a ball peen hammer, he actually employs a number of innovative techniques, such as bending a string up to one pitch and then sounding a second note by slamming his pick into the string at a certain fret. He constantly and skilfully manipulates the controls on his guitar to increase the dynamic contrasts between volume levels and various tones, or to approximate bowed effects. And aside from the suicide speed runs, he can also play provocative melodies, drawing from influences far more diverse than his usual concert barrages would suggest.

Ted suffers almost total deafness in one ear, a self-inflicted casualty of too many concerts at too-loud volumes ("but it's well worth it, man"). But again, there is more to him than destructo decibelmania. Consider his guitar. Ted's Gibson Byrdrand - a jazz model, of all things - was invented over 20 years ago. It has long been his trademark and is essential not only to his tone, but to his technique as well. Its construction differs substantially from the guitars used by almost every other high-volume rocker. For one thing it has a hollow body, which necessitates a trapeze tailpiece that hinges at the bottom rim, rather than the bolt-on stop tailpiece.

The hollow body helps encourage the feedback for which Ted is famous. And the several inches of string length between the bridge and tailpiece allow him to manipulate the strings behind the bridge, changing the pitches of various notes for the air-raid siren efiects usually associated with the Fender Stratocasters of Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, and Ritchie Blackmore. The same technique permits him to embellish arpeggiated chord progressions with melodic note-bendings similar to those of a pedal steel (e.g., the intro to "Alone," on the Stafe Of Shock LP). Ted has demonstrated the Byrdland's suitability for rock, adapting it to things its inventors wouldn't understand and probably wouldn't like. He gets strat-like vibrato effects with no vibrato, and without the tuning difficulties that so many vibrato users seem to complain about. All in all, it's an inspired example of mechanical improvisation.

The Motor City Madman (Photo: Tom Hill)

The Motor City Madman goes way back to the Lourdes, a Detroit group he played with at age 14. He went to Chicago and formed the Amboy Dukes shortly after acquiring his first Byrdland in 1964, returning to his home base in Detroit. From there the Dukes hit the road, slugging it out for 150 or 200 concerts each year for much of the next decade, and recording nearly a dozen LPs, including 'Survival Of The Fittest', 'Call Of The Wild' and 'Tooth, Fang, And Claw' (an album that I'd like to post in the near future).

An indefatigable performer and road stormtrooper, Ted has been playing essentially the same style for 15 years. He was a pioneer of feedback, equipment destruction, playing with his teeth, and other hallmarks of late '60s rock guitar, and it is ironic that worldwide acclaim came relatively late. His early career was marked by assorted ripoffs, financial mismanagement, and little notoriety outside the Midwest and South. His "Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind" made it to #8 on the national charts in 1968 (though Ted earned no money from it), and some of the Amboy Dukes albums crept up toward midpoint on the national Top 100. In 1971 Ted began to make money and bought a farm.

In 1975, Nugent dumped the Dukes, went with new managers and a new record company (Epic), released the selftitled Ted Nugent LP (see previous post), and turned his career around. 'Free-For-All' was released in '76, followed by 'Cat Scratch Fever', which hit it big the following year. 'Double Live Gonzo' came out in 1977, and it was followed last year by 'Weekend Warriors'. All five Epic albums have turned platinum - a million units sold or more. From these LPs came several hits, including "Stranglehold," "Dog Eat Dog," and the huge "Cat Scratch Fever."

Ted increased his touring coverage, performing successful gonzolectomies on Japanese and Hawaiian audiences in '78.  'State Of Shock', released in May 1979, and Scream Dream, 1980 didn't chart as well but were still on the mark.  [Extract from Masters Of Heavy Metal, by Jas Obrecht. Quill Books 1984. p 92-95]

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my pristine vinyl and comes with full album artwork for LP and CD plus label scans.  This is another favourite Nugent album of mine (every track packs a punch) and is a must for any fan. The late 70's was definitely a prolific period in Nugent's career and everything he produced turned to gold. As a bonus I have included live versions of "Free For All" and "Dog Eat Dog", which provide an insight into just how good Nugent was on stage.

01 Free For All 3:21
02 Dog Eat Dog 4:04
03 Writing On The Wall 7:10
04 Turn It Up 3:36
05 Street Rats 3:36
06 Together 5:53
07 Light My Way 3:01
08 Hammerdown 4:08
09 I Love You So I Told You A Lie 3:49
10 Free For All (Bonus Live) 5:14
11 Dog Eat Dog (Bonus Live) 6:20

The Band:
Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar, Vocals – Ted Nugent
Bass – Rob Grange
Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Cliff Davies
Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Steve McRay
Percussion – Tom Werman
Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Derek St. Holmes

Ted Nugent Link (331Mb)  New Post / Track 1 fixed  14/03/21

Friday, March 5, 2021

Masters Apprentices - Now That It's Over (1974) + Bonus Track

(Australian 1965–1972, 1987–1991, 1994–1997, 2001–2002)

The Masters Apprentices were hugely popular throughout Australia, scored a string of hits and were consistently hailed as one of Australia's best live and recording acts. They started out as an instrumental band, rose to prominence during the mid-Sixties "Beat Boom", moved through psychedelia and bubblegum pop, finally becoming one the first and best Australian progressive/hard rock groups of the early Seventies. They went through many lineup changes, with vocalist Jim Keays being the only constant, and their membership also illustrates the intricate interconnections between so many Australian bands of that era.

By 1971 The Masters' had established themselves as one of Australia's finest progressive music acts. They were living in England in this era and that clearly helped keep them fully abreast of the latest trends. Their Choice Cuts album and "Because I Love You" 45 were both recorded at Abbey Road's No. 2 studio. The 45 gave them a No. 12 National hit.

This collection presents highlights from the Masters Apprentices' Columbia/EMI recordings during the years 1969-1972, widely considered to be this legendary band's most creative and productive period. The album also features seven hit singles including several tracks from the Abbey Road sessions of 1971. It also features my favourite Master's track - "Future Of Our Nation"

Liner Notes
It's about 6:30pm on a humid Sydney evening. l'm sitting in a very Australian lounge room in a very Australian cream brick veneer in a very Australian suburb somewhere west of the harbour.

I'm not alone - Jim Keays and Doug Ford of the Masters Apprentices, whose temporary home this is, and my friend Martin are here too - but the room is strangely silent. Nobody's talking. There is a stifling depression in the room, it's my fault, and the others have, after valiant efforts, resigned themselves to it.

Glen Wheatley (see left) comes in after an afternoon hustling newspaper columnists and disc jockeys. He asks how long we've been there. Jim indicates an empty bottle of Johnny Walker stranded on a coffee table. "Oh, about four hours. We've drunk a bottle of whisky." Jim doesn't drink.

That afternoon was fairly typical of my hung up brung down time in Sydney. A period of frustration (Godard's One plus One started the day after I left, it rained incessantly) and personal and private doubt. Sydney wasn't exercising its usual rejuvenating powers, but the fault, obviously was not in the city, on the stars...

My mood over that period soured many reunions and that afternoon with Jim Keays (see right) was no exception. Jim was the only member of the band I'd met before the Masters left for London last year to record an L.P. at Abbey Road. I had always had a great deal of respect for Jim Keays as one of the very, very few personalities on the local rock scene to project the calculated arrogance, abandon and intelligence that typifies the best international rock singers. I had a great deal of respect for the Masters altogether - Jim, Doug Ford, Glen Wheatley and Colin Burgess. In virtually the last six months many beautiful bands have suddenly appeared, bands like Spectrum, Lipp Arthur, Greg Quill and Country Radio, Sons of the Vegetal Mother and Daddy Cool, bands that are genuinely original and into themselves.

But it certainly hasn't always been so - the Australian pop industry, for that is what it is, was a giant vampire, stalking overseas trends, pouncing, sucking dry and leaving us animate but lifeless imitations. That's a vast, and perhaps not altogether fair, generalisation, but - to me - in all those arid years, apart from noble failures like Procession and Party Machine, only one Australian group consistently interested me. The Masters Apprentices. They are not an Australian band imitating an English band imitating a white American band imitating a South side Chicago band of black blues men in their forties.

The Masters have - until recently anyway - been underrated and misunderstood precisely because they haven't checked out overseas Brands X, Y or Z and then decided to become the local version of aforesaid Brands X, Y or Z. They (and perhaps I really mean Jim Keays, because since he formed the group over five years ago he has hired and fired many group members) have always been themselves, and in being themselves have always been the genuine article, a one hundred per cent rock'n roll band. Young, white and able. Horny poets. The Masters have never compromised themselves - 'Living in a child's dream' was a 'ballad', wasn't even written by the formidable Keays/Ford songwriting team, was
written by Mick Bower, but the Masters take it, make lt into something beautiful and distinctively theirs. They even pull off (just) a commercial piece of campyness like Linda Linda. (Were Parker Tyler alive and well in Australia I'm sure he'd build an article around Jim's extraordinary phrasing and inversion-of-the-obvious colloquial in this particular song...)

Anyway, I met Jim just before the London bit, and I dug him. Very much. A really good guy. So I was saddened that I couldn't manage to be a more gracious guest on that Sydney afternoon - particularly as he and Doug had so many incredible stories to tell. (One in particular, of fascist Panama and four Masters with their hair in pins under hats to avoid police barbers, and encounters with dealers in motor- mower clippings (and exactly that), sick donkeys, lunatic taxi-drivers, bleeding victims of the local authorities, and a wild, unwonderful climax that encompasses mountain tops and pursuing police, is, as told by Jim Keays, a side-splittingly funny nightmare that must sometime be put down and preserved on tape.)

Stories about London, how they've changed, grown, the complete dissolve of ego when 'you're on your own, no direction home, like a complete unknown'. And the development of their music...I've heard the acetate of Choice Cuts, the Abbey Road L.P. (with Lennon alongside, recording his solo album in Studio One) and it's there. It really is. I love it all. But there's a song called "Michael" which haunts me, coming to me in the most unexpected places...suddenly the desolately beautiful chorus is in-my-head. And I've only 'heard' it twice. And there's a song, "Death of King", which postulates the emergence of the Black Panthers as being a direct result of the assassination of Martin Luther King which is 'historically' wrong but emotionally and politically correct. And there's a whole lot of beautiful stuff going on [Notes by the late Howard Lindley].

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my 'out-of-print' CD (sounds better than my vinyl) and includes full album artwork for both media. As a bonus, I have chosen to include a re-recording of their 1970 hit single "Turn Up Your Radio", which was released in collaboration with the Hoodoo Gurus in 1995.  I have their other best of compilation called "Choice Cuts' but I personally prefer 'Now That It's Over' when I need a shot of the Masters. It should be noted that Glenn Wheatley went on to manage and promote John 'Whispering Jack' Farnham in the 80's and used the experiences he had  while touring overseas with the Masters to ensure that the same mistakes were not repeated with Farnham. 

01 Turn Up Your Radio 3:22
02 Because I Love You 4:32
03 Easy To Lie 4:27
04 I'm Your Satisfier 3:15
05 Death Of A King 3:09
06 5:10 Man 2:35
07 Love Is 4:10
08 Rio De Camero 3:19
09 Michael 3:51
10 Future Of Our Nation (Live) 4:27
11 Southern Cross 4:53
12 How I Love You 3:06
13 Think About Tomorrow Today 3:19
14 Thyme To Rhyme 2:28
15 Turn Up Your Radio '95 (Bonus Track)

Masters Apprentices were:
Jim Keays - Vocals
Doug Ford / Tony Sommers / Rick Morrison
Rick Harrison - Lead Guitar
Glen Wheatley / Gavin Webb - Bass
Steve Hopgood / Brian Vaughton - Drums
Peter Tilbrook / Mick Bower - Rhythm Guitar