Thursday, March 31, 2022

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: Kevin Johnson - Aussie Rules 'AFL Centenary Season Song' (1996)


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

Kevin Johnson is one of the most internationally successful singer/songwriters ever to emerge in this country. He has produced a number of albums, containing close to 90 of his own songs, and with the exception of two tracks he recorded in Germany, all the others were recorded in Australia.

His catalogue has been released internationally, continuously, since 1973, making it 42 years of sustained interest in overseas countries, and he has just signed a long-term world deal with Demon Music Group and Angel Air Records in the UK and Ambition Music in Australia/NZ.

Johnson was born and grew up in the Rockhampton area in QLD, singing in beer gardens, then playing in a band doing covers of Beatles, Rolling Stones etc.

After marrying his wife Jill, he moved to Brisbane, and became a writer of songs for the Col Joye/Jacobsen label ATA having songs recorded by Col Joye, Little Patti, Judy Stone, Sandy Scott, etc. He wrote and recorded “Woman You Took My Life” which was immediately picked up and released by Decca Records in the UK, then covered by Tom Jones.

He then wrote and recorded his first album for Sweet Peach Records “In The Quiet Corners Of My Mind” a concept album telling a story, which received great critical acclaim. He wrote and recorded “Bonnie Please Don’t Go”(She’s Leavin’) which topped the charts in Australia, became the most requested record in Canada, and was then covered in the USA by Jim Ed Brown, who had a major USA hit with it. Brown’s album was then called “She’s Leavin'” and featured another of Kevin’s songs, “Summerset” (original and current title, “I Came to Somerset”). Kevin was awarded Best Australian Male Vocal Single of the year. Kevin then signed a world exclusive writing/recording deal with Tree Publishing/Dial Records in Nashville Tennessee and for the next 2 years stayed in Australia and wrote songs for them.

However, following a big hit with “Bonnie Please Don’t Go” he made no recordings at all for two years, waiting for Dial records in the USA to fulfill their obligations. Kevin tired of this and after those two years asked to be released from his contract.

He then wrote, and produced his second album “Rock & Roll I Gave You The Best Years Of My Life”, the title track of which became an instant hit in Australia, charted for Kevin in the USA and other countries, on the Mainstream Label, and was immediately covered by scores of artists worldwide.

Johnson signed with Festival Records' offshoot Infinity in 1977 to issue further singles and an album, Journeys, which was released in 1978. Additional albums followed including Best of Kevin Johnson (a compilation album, 1979), Night Rider (1981), Spirit of the Times (1985), Now and Then (compilation, 1992) and The Sun will Shine Again (September 1996).

In 1996 Johnson re-wrote "Rock 'N' Roll" for the Australian Football League (AFL) as their official Centenary Song, retitled "Aussie Rules I Thank You for the Best Years of Our Lives". It was used as an introductory theme before AFL games during that season. During the late 1990s it was used as the closing theme for Foster's Aussie Rules, a U.S highlights show.

Kevin Johnson formed a trio, JAM (initialism for Johnson Ashdown McClellan) with Doug Ashdown ("Winter in America" aka "Leave Love Enough Alone") and Mike McClellan ("Song and Dance Man"). They toured Australia through the 2000s. Recently, he has also performed in concert in Sydney, Canberra, and soon at The Palms at Crown in Melbourne promoting that recording, with special guests, his son Scott Johnson (Jersey Boys) and daughter in law Verity Hunt-Ballard (Mary Poppins, Sweet Charity), singing new songs written by Scott, including the single “What We Did”.

So this month's WOCK on Vinyl pays tribute to the great game of AFL and the 2022 season which recently opened with the return of fans to the footy stands, after 2 years of COVID restrictions and turmoil.  I thought it appropriate to share a rare and Obscure CD single from 1996, which was released to celebrate 100 years of AFL Footy.   Ripped to FLAC, this CD single also features Kevin's original song "Rock 'N' Roll - I Gave You The Best Years of My Life" from which the Centenary Song "Aussie Rules" was adapted.  And while I've got your attention - Go Bombers !

Monday, March 28, 2022

Divinyls - Monkey Grip (1982) Mini Album

 (Australian 1980 - 97)

The Divinyls formed in 1980, founded by Mark McEntee and fronted by lead singer Christina Amphlett. After scoring several gigs, they were discovered by Australian director Ken Cameron. This led to Divinyls providing the entire soundtrack for his 1982 film Monkey Grip. Amphlett was also given a supporting role in the film, playing a temperamental rock singer loosely based on herself, fronting a band played by other Divinyls members. In the film, the band performed their debut single "Boys in Town", as well as other songs "Only Lonely", "Elsie", "Only You", "Girlfriends" and "Gonna Get You", the latter being the first appearance of them in the film. The soundtrack Music from Monkey Grip was acknowledged as a Divinyls album, and when released in 1982, it made the top twenty-five of the Australian Albums Chart.

Monkey Grip

Nora (Noni Hazlehurst) lives with her 11-year-old daughter Gracie (Alice Garner) in a crowded share house in inner-city Melbourne, in the late 1970s. Nora works for an alternative magazine, as she tries to write fiction. Javo (Colin Friels) is an actor, a friend of her boyfriend Martin (Tim Burns). Nora feels a powerful attraction to Javo’s reckless charm. Her friend Eve (Cathy Downes) warns her that he’s a heroin user, but Nora is already in love. Gracie accepts her mother’s choice, as does Martin. Javo becomes a regular around the house and in Nora’s bed. They are mad about each other, except that Javo keeps disappearing to chase heroin and acting jobs.

Nora calls it off and tries to move on, drifting towards an affair with Willie (Harold Hopkins), a drummer in a rising rock‘n’roll band. Javo gets thrown in jail in Bangkok for a few months. When he returns, he and Nora reunite, but he is seeing another woman, the beautiful actress Lillian (Candy Raymond). Nora, Javo and Gracie go to Sydney for a holiday. He promises to kick heroin, but that never happens. Nora returns to Melbourne with Gracie and restarts her life. She begins writing again, moves to a new share house with Eve, and starts seeing Gerald (Don Miller-Robinson), the guitarist from the rock band. Javo reappears, with another declaration of love, but he is still using heroin. Nora tries to summon the courage to end it, for the last time.

Noni Hazlehurst won Best Actress at the 1982 AFI Awards. She had originally auditioned for the role of the singer Angela, who’s played in the film by Christina Amphlett, lead singer of The Divinyls (a group formed in Sydney in 1980). Nora’s daughter in the film is played by Alice Garner, the daughter of Helen Garner. Neither Hazlehurst nor Colin Friels was well-known at the time of their casting.

Chrissy Amphlett

Monkey Grip was released in Australian cinemas in June 1982. In addition to Noni Hazlehurst’s Best Actress AFI Award in 1982, the film was also nominated for Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Alice Garner), Cinematography (David Gribble) and Editing (David Huggett) awards. [Extract from Australian Screen Online]

This post consists of FLACS ripped from my vinyl, which I bought back in 1982, more than likely from Reading Records in Carlton.  Mini albums were big at the time, and this one was great value with seven tracks for $7.99   (Most mini LPs only had 5-6 tracks) 
Interestingly enough, the CD release is now worth considerably more than vinyl, with eBay prices reaching above $200.  Insane !

Of course, full album artwork for both vinyl and CD is included, along with label scans

Track Listing
01 - Boys In Town
02 - Only Lonely
03 - Elsie
04 - Elsie (Reprise)
05 - Only You
06 - Gonna Get You
07 - Girl Friends

Divinyls were:
Christina (Chrissy) Amphlett - Lead Vocals
Mark McEntee - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Bjarne Ohlin - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Rick Grossman - Bass
Richard Harvey - Drums

The Divinyls Mini LP (153Mb) New Link 19/12/2023

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Pear Jam - Unauthorised - Jeremy (1994) Bootleg

(U.S 1990 - Present)

This show was supposed to be in LA but Pearl Jam were having their war with Ticketmaster and so they refused to do a show there. Empire Polo Fields: Indio, California was chosen instead.

This show became legendary for the tirade that Eddie Vedder threw because of the shoe throwing. People were pelting the bands with shoes and anything else they could find. Eddie Vedder threatened to wait at the gate and kick the shit out of whoever was barefoot. During ‘Porch,’ Ed invites the audience to spit at him. They finished the show playing behind their amps to keep away from the shoes.

This show, was also problematic with respect to parking and cold temperatures. The unruly crowd was moshing in line during the soundcheck and to PA music! Before Pearl Jam started, a roadie sang a hysterical rendition of ‘Copa Cabana.’

The audience is launching shoes at the stage even before and during the opening acts. In fact, during Eleven’s set, a shoe hits Jack Iron’s bass drum, he stops the song and says that if he finds out who threw it he would make him pay for the damages (quite pissed).

Finally, Pearl Jam hits the stage, with the audience behaving outrageously. Prior to playing "Deep", Ed remarks, “Kill your local rapist, but torture him first, then serve him to your enemy for dinner.” Later: “The first guy I met today gave me this book and asked if I wanted to know the secret for living forever.” Tossing it into the crowd, he says, “Why the fuck would I want to live forever?” During "Porch", Ed invites the audience to spit at him. The agitated crowd, continuing to throw stuff onto the stage, leads Ed to comment that “… me and Jeff are going to the front gate and when you exit, we are going to beat the shit out of every barefoot person here” and “… throw a gun so I can shoot you.” 

The band eventually plays from behind their amps so they won’t be hit by the flying shoes. This audience was awful. The recording of "Blood" from this show is released on the "Daughter" single. "Fuck Me in the Brain" was released later on the third fan club single (as "Ramblings"). The guys deserve a medal for playing this long and this well despite the rowdy crowd. [extract from]

Concert Review: Los Angles Times, 8th Nov 1993
'Pearl Jam Blossoms in Desert'

INDIO — Early in Pearl Jam’s concert on Friday at the Empire Polo Club in this desert city, singer Eddie Vedder--commenting on the out-of-the-way location--told the huge audience, “You gotta run pretty far to get some space for yourself these days.”

But even Vedder, for all his recent comments about the pressures of stardom, probably never imagined that later he and his bandmates would have to seek space behind the amplifier stacks, running for cover from a barrage of shoes thrown at them by a pea-brained contingent of the audience.

Vedder and the band made the most of this, hiding from the crowd while performing the Dead Boys’ old punk song “Sonic Reducer” in a memorable moment of unplanned rock theater in Pearl Jam’s biggest concert so far of its new tour.

Neither the tongue-in-cheek retreat nor the rest of the show, however, really answered whether Pearl Jam, with its record-breaking album sales, is a band for the ages or the band of the moment.

Vedder left no doubt about his own talents, with his charismatic intensity losing nothing in this vast setting, where 25,000 people--an estimated 15,000 of them having driven the two or three hours from the L.A. area, which the band is avoiding for now--stood in the middle of the California desert singing along to anthems of youthful alienation, suicide and survival.

Vedder was clearly communicating with his fans, and such songs as the new “Daughter” and “Animal” and the now-standards “Alive” and “Jeremy"--portraits of young people haunted by familial betrayal and a world with no ground rules--rang solidly true.

The band, though, didn’t quite seem ready to jump to the arena and stadium headlining status, showing occasional sloppiness that might have been electrifying in a smaller setting, but didn’t really get across in the great outdoors. But maybe it’s good that for all its impact, Pearl Jam has room--and promise--for growth.

The site itself--essentially a really, really big, palm-lined lawn--proved on the whole a success, comfortably accommodating the large crowd with relatively few traffic and parking problems. It was certainly far better than last summer’s “Lollapalooza” shows at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in those respects. [taken from]

This post consists of MP3's (320kps) ripped  from my Grapefruit CD which I picked up recently from my local Salvos store.  Just love these Unauthorised boots - they keep popping up every now and then.  This particular release is one of the few that has the correct release date on the front cover and is the first half of the original concert. I suspect the 2nd half of the concert was released under the title of 'Unauthorised - Blood' which I have yet to locate. And so the hunt continues.

This particular concert doesn't start well and to be honest I didn't really enjoy the first 2 tracks. Things start to improve when they play "Animal" but its not until they play their controversial single "Jeremy" when they start to shine.  This is by far the best track here in my opinion, closely followed by "Daughter" and "Alive".  

To make your listening experience more enjoyable, I have taken the liberty of enhancing the volume on all tracks and also removing the first minute of the opening track "Release", as it only contained a few clicks and thuds while the band walks on stage.

Please note that this concert has been released under various titles, such as 'Manifesting Morrison' (by Hawk) and 'One Way Needle' (by Alley Kat). Covers for these releases are shown right

Track Listing
01. Release
02. Go
03. Animal
04. Why Go
05. Deep
06. Jeremy
07. Glorified G
08. Daughter
09. Alive
10. Rearview Mirror

Pearl Jam are:
Eddie Vedder (vocals)
Stone Gossard (guitar)
Jeff Ament (bass)
Mike McCready (guitar)
Dave Krusen (drums)
Pearl Jam Unauthorised (120Mb) New Link 30/12/2023

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Golden Earring - Moontan (1973) plus Bonus Singles

 (Netherland 1961 - Present)

Moontan is generally considered by fans and critics alike to be Golden Earring's greatest album. Credit for this popularity is largely owed to the hit single "Radar Love;" a track that has become as much of a radio staple as it has a fan favorite song. 

The original Dutch album on Polydor differs from the American version (released a year later) on MCA (other than the controversial cover), because it doesn't feature "Big Tree, Blue Sea". In it's place are two rather embarrassing songs, "Suzy Lunacy" and "Just Like Vince Taylor".

"Radar Love", good as it is, is only the beginning. Melodic, progressive heavy rock, absolutely cooking, literally from the very first chord to the very last. My Australian pressing, purchased in 1975, with the original sleeve featuring their hit single, has the following track listing: "Radar Love", "Candy's Going Bad", "The Vanilla Queen", "Big Tree, Blue Sea", "Are You Receiving Me". This is the album I am presenting here, and I accept no substitutes!

Golden Earring 1973

Moontan is the utterly fantastic Dutch Progressive Rock band Golden Earring's best album, by far. A lot of what makes the album so awesome are the really excellent and complex compositions of Lead Guitarist. Vocalists are George Kooymans and Flautist Barry Hay, along with the insanely great Basslines of Rinus Gerritsen. The album is full of long multi-part Prog excellence like "Candy's Going Bad", "Big Tree Blue Sea" and "The Vanilla Queen" And brain bashing stompers like the incredible "Radar Love". Moontan is a true Heavy Progressive Rock classic.

With their roots going back as far as the early 60s, many still overlook Golden Earring when considering the most enduring European rock acts. Initially a four piece beat combo, by the early 70s they were an accomplished psych-prog act, complete with a drummer who would mark the climax of every gig by launching himself over his kit. Since 1965, Golden Earring have released 25 studio albums, but by far and away their most successful was 1973's Moontan, an album of shamelessly groovy rock music, and home to one of the greatest road anthems of all time.

Released three years after Golden Earring had finally settled into the stable line up that heave remained the core of the band to this day, Moontan delivers pretty much what most people want from an early 70s guitar rock album, namely big riffs, musical pyrotechnics, extended song structures, killer choruses, and no small amount of virtuosity, without sounding like they were just demonstrating how many notes they could play in a set amount of time. Moontan never loses sight of the fact that rock music should be fun and entertaining, and as a result each of the six tracks on it is absolutely vital to the balance and general vibe of one of the frequently forgotten gems of the era.

On the first side of Moontan's vinyl, the album opens with the long version of "Radar Love" (6:21).  "Radar Love" isn't just a great rock song, it's possibly one the 'greatest' rock songs. With a killer bass line combining with an irresistible driving drum beat to create a relentless rhythm, an immense chorus and a classic theme of love over long distance with the songwriter listening to the radio as he journeys back to the arms of his lover, it's oddly timeless and utterly charming. It's a song that seems to pay homage to the entire history of rock and roll up to that date, yet still sounds utterly its own beast. Hell, even the mini drum solo sounds great. Oh, and the tinny brass used through the chorus evokes listening to shitty 70s AM car stereos like nothing else. If Golden Earring had never recorded another note of music, "Radar Love" would still have left them made men.

Side 1 of Moontan continues with 'Candy's Going Bad' rocks hard. The riff rolls over everything like a steamroller, bluesy in its simplicity. The chorus is awesome, very catchy and full sounding. Beautiful bass and keyboards really bolster the sound. "Vanilla Queen" then closes the side, a final demonstration of their ability to lay down a rock epic where the changes in pace are kept as smooth and un-clunky as possible. Where most bands often get lost in extended song structures by falling back on formless jams, the Golden Earring approach is beautifully structured and never loses sight of the song. It's what makes Moontan, an album of five songs, sound like it's been carefully considered, rather than a group of songs dragged out to lengthier durations because they just didn't have enough material.

Flip the album, and we are now presented with two more killer tracks, each clocking in at 8 and 9 mins respectively.  The first, "Big Tree Blue Sea" makes the Australian release different to its European counterparts (replacing 'Suzy Lunacy' and 'Just Like Vince Taylor'), and it was only very recently that I learnt this fact. "Big Tree Blue Sea" sounds like a cross between Jethro Tull and Yes. The album closer "Are You Receiving Me" which prances through campy choruses, playful horns, trippy guitars and stellar drum/bass interplay over 9+ minutes.

All things aside the hideously dated and off colour artwork considered, Moontan is a legitimately great album, and it certainly retains its charm today, particularly for those of us that are partial to classic rock. While Golden Earring are not a band who are name dropped with any regularity, many of their albums, and particularly Moontan, deserve to be reassessed as rock classics.

Note: America didn't allow the Roxy Music influenced European cover artwork, because it was considered too risque for their people.

Rolling Stone reviewed the album in June, 1974 (see right) and journalist Ken Barnes found most of the tracks on the album to be somewhat 'crippling pretentious'.

He also comments "Most of Side two's effectiveness is diluted by long, tedious stretches of instrumental meandering".

How wrong was he, and obviously he couldn't see past the commercial single 'Radar Love'. I just love it when they get it wrong.

I'm posting freshly ripped FLACs taken from my prized vinyl and includes the usual album artwork and label scans. I am also including a rip of my 'treasured' Radar Love' 45 (an edited version that was released to accommodate the 5min length limit imposed by most radio stations at the time) and its non-album B-Side called "The Song Is Over". Note that the Polydor label incorrectly states that the track was taken from the Moontan LP. To sweeten the deal, I am also including the single "Instant Poetry / From Heaven, From Hell" which was released in 1974.

Track Listing
01 - Radar Love
02 - Candy's Going Bad
03 - The Vanilla Queen
04 - Big Tree Blue Sea05 - Are You Receiving Me
Bonus Tracks
06 - Radar Love (Single Edit)
07 - The Song Is Over (B-Side Single)
08 - Instant Poetry (A-Side Single)
09 - From Heaven, From Hell (B-Side Single)

Guitar, Backing Vocals – George Kooymans
Bass, Synthesizer [Moog], Keyboards – Rinus Gerritsen
Drums, Percussion – Cesar Zuiderwijk
Guest, Saxophone – Bertus Borgers
Guest, Slide Guitar – Eelco Gelling
Guest, Vocals – Patricia Paay

Moontan Link (390Mb)