This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site which was abandoned for its current site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.
From the Cream of the Crate Collection – An album in my collection that is irreplaceable, and simply a classic!
This is number eleven in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my collection that I believe have significant musical value. For the second album in a row I’ve dipped into another classic Australian act – possibly the best rock/country duo we have ever had.
The album is, ‘Hitch Hiker’ and the artists are Bobby and Laurie (Bob Bright and Laurie Allen). The album was released in 1966 on the label (Alberts/Parlophone PMCO 7535) and (later reissued as Parlophone PMEO 9438).
I have the reissue copy which was still released in Mono.
1. No Next Time
2. Jump Back
3. Sweet And Tender Romance
4. Not My Girl
6. You’ll Come Round
1. Hitch Hiker
2. Tonight When I Come Home
3. Bless You
4. I’ve Learned
5. Down In The Valley
6. Trouble With A Woman
One of my first comments is, that there are very few Bobby & Laurie albums. Here I am talking about ‘unique’ albums rather than Compilation albums of previously released material. It seems as though there are only three such ‘unique’ albums
All three albums stand-alone, and what I mean by that is that they are strong in their own right, containing material that any aficionado of the works of Bobby and Laurie would want in their collection.
In 1965 they released “Bobby & Laurie” (Go!! GLP-3001). This album actually contains two of their classic tracks, “I belong to you”, and, “Judy Green”.
In “I belong with you”, we may just hear some of the best guitar playing on a record released that year, courtesy of Bernie O’Brien (The Rondells), playing at his best.
In 1966 they released the album “Hitch Hiker”, and again, this album has two key tracks, being two of their most requested tracks– “Jump Back” and “Hitch Hiker”.
As much as I enjoy the first album, this is the one I prefer. It has an amazing selection of styles and composers and Bobby and Laurie show their predilection for dipping into a wide range of musical styles.
We have a Rufus Thomas track (composer of Walking the Dog) – “Jump back”.
This is a rocking good track and while Thomas had it as an R&B track, Bobby and Laurie turned it into a track that caught live audiences imaginations.
It was a shame it was never released as a single.
There is a Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (Brill Building composers) track, “Bless you”, which is beautifully treated by the guys.
Then there is a Neil Sedaka track – Fallin’, and, Roger Miller’s “Hitch Hiker“. I believe this recording represents the very first Australian song to use a fuzz box. It was produced by English producer Roger Savage, who had just arrived in Australia from London where he had worked with the Rolling Stones.
Each track is given special treatment by Bobby and Laurie, to basically make them their own. If there is one thing I can say in the production of this album, as indeed with their live performances- they gave their all.
I saw Bobby and Laurie a number of times in the 1960’s, and was even fortunate to share the stage with them on one occasion with my band.
In fact in an interesting twist of fate, the bass player of my band who was also our singer – John Sullivan later on the join the Rondells (Bobby & Laurie’s backing group).
What I saw, every time, were two guys who gave everything in their performances, and were always respectful of their audience.
This combined with their individually unique voices and their amazing harmonies as well as their ‘hand-in-glove’ stage act; set them as a premier Australian music act.
I believe that the music on the albums, while never being able to recreate the excitement they generated on stage, still represented beautifully, their vocal abilities.
The album is a testament to Albert Studios and the production team.
The third album, and possibly the most controversial, and hardest to find album, was the 1967 “Exposaic” (Alberts/Parlophone PMCO 7539).
This album can command a price of over $300.00 and much more if you have an even more rarer copy with the track “I Want Woman” – which was removed under direction of a Senior Executive from EMI, he believed it could hurt the sensibilities of his daughter.
So to me, the fact that except for the various compilation albums, that they only produced three original albums is somewhat surprising, as this amazing duo blitzed the Australian music scene between 1964 and 1967.
In fact while the critics claimed they were washed up in 1966, they went ahead and had three top 20 hits, “Sweet and Tender Romance” (#20 in Jan. ’66), their hit version of Roger Miller’s “Hitchhiker” (April), which was #1 in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, and a version of the “High Noon” theme song (#14 in September).
This is not a biography of the guys, but in a brief background.
Laurie was a “… the veteran of the earliest days of rock’n’roll in Melbourne. His first amateur group in the late Fifties was The Three Jays, followed by The Lories ca. 1958. He was a member of The Roulettes in 1958-59, then from 1959-61 he was lead guitarist for Malcolm Arthur & The Knights, one of Melbourne’s pioneering rock & roll bands.” [Milesago]
He eventually joined The Roulettes and around 1963 met Bob Bright.
Now Bob was born in England and moved to Adelaide around 1953. Prior to coming to Melbourne he had been working solo in Adelaide. It was here he changed his name from Bob to Bobby, because whenever he left phone messages with promoters and dance organisers, they constantly misheard and thought he was Bob Right – by using Bobby that problem was overcome.
Bobby and Laurie hit off a friendship and occasionally worked together but more often than not independently until they both happen to appear on a TV show.
That was the “Go!! Show”, the then Channel O in Melbourne, and as a result of the ir success as a due and the reaction they got, they decided to join forces and so Bobby & Laurie – the act, was formed.
Their fabulous backing group – The Rondells, were certainly no slouches.
With top guitarist Bernie O’Brien at the helm, they were a formidable outfit. Bernie did write material and the band also did excellent covers of rock standards.
Yet the group had a constantly shifting line-up that included Wayne Duncan (bass) and Gary Young (drums) who, at the turn of the decade, became the rhythm section for Daddy Cool.
Another line-up had O’Brien and Denis Tucker (bass), John Sullivan (rhythm guitar) who was in the group until the end, and Dennis Collins (drums).
Laurie Allen (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Bobby Bright (vocals, guitar)
backed by The Rondells:
The Rondells Mark I (aka The Impalas)
Dennis Collins (drums)
Dennis Tucker (bass)
Ron Gilbee (rhythm guitar)
Bernie O’Brien (lead guitar)
John Sullivan (rhythm guitar) replaced Ron Gilbee
The Rondells Mark II
Wayne Duncan (bass)
Barry Rogers (rhythm guitar)
John Sullivan (rhythm guitar)
Roger Treble (lead guitar)
Gary Young (drums, vocals)
Management: Ron Blackmore, then Mal Fisher
- I Belong With You – March 1965
- Someone – June 1965
- Judy Green – September 1965
- Crazy Country Hop – December 1965
- Sweet And Tender Romance – January 1966
- Hitch Hiker – April 1966 (reached #1)
- High Noon – September 1966
- Carroll County Accident – December 1969
- Through The Eyes Of Love – December 1970
- Bobby And Laurie – 1965
- Hitch Hiker – 1966
- Exposaic – 1966
By the way; Cum Sum Ambulant? – When I Walk!
Sadly, Laurie is no longer with us. Over the last few years of his life his spirit and willingness to keep going was epitomised by his circuit and club work, but his health was suffering, something he kept largely to himself.
Bobby & Laurie were slated to take part in the Long Way To The Top concert tour, but these plans were dashed by Laurie’s sudden death from a heart attack on 13 June 13 2002. It prematurely ended one of Australia’s true gentlemen of the music scene, and finished for all time, in the mind of this reviewer, the BEST Australian music duo of all time.
The album Hitch Hiker is indeed a rare album if you can find a copy. A quick check on Discogs website found only three copies and the cheapest was $99.00Au plus postage.
Bob is still working and those that see and hear him say he has lost none of his charisma, his stage presence and while his voice has changed, it can easily be argued the change has just improved his voice, the way a good wine ages.
In 2013 Bob released an EP titled “Child of Rock and Roll” – and that was reviewed and can be found by click on the title – Child of Rock & Roll
In 2019 he is working in another album that is due to be released later in the year.
There are some fine Bobby and Laurie videos and here is a selection.
I Belong With You – 1987
Through The Eyes Of Love
You’ll Come Round
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
Click to open: