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.
This is number fourteen 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.
I believe it is quite appropriate that I start 2013 [remember this is a re-post article] with an album by not ‘just’ an Australian artist, but some would claim, THE Australian Artist – the original ‘WILD ONE‘ – Johnny O’Keefe.
Now this is one of the few records that I have in my collection and that I have identified as being worthy for discussion in ‘The Cream of The Crate”, that I have not had since new. I purchased it from a second-hand shop in the early 1980’s and in my mind even though I actually have Johnny O’Keefe releases from the early 1960’s, this IS the one for a retrospective review because it is so comprehensive.
Bought out in 1972 under the title of the “20TH Anniversary Album” (FL 263/4), it represents a broad range of styles and a good range of years in terms of releases. It includes J.O’K’s first recording, ‘(You Hit The Wrong Note) Billy Goat (recorded 1957 on Festival – FS 1502), through to his 1971 release of “Keep On Smiling” (Festival – FK 4482).
Along the way we are treated to what might be called the J.O’K songbook. This album really is a celebration of the music of Australia’s first homegrown Rock and Roll singer! I don’t think it is overboard to actually call him our first homegrown Rock and Roll hero!
Record 1 – side 1.
Shout (Part 1)/(Part 2)/I’m Counting On You/Jubilee/Ready For You/I Thank You/Wild One/Move Baby Move
– side 2.
She’s My Baby/Cry Cry Baby/Ooh Poo Pah Doo (Part 2)/Tutti Frutti/It’s Too Late/(You Hit The Wrong Note) Billy Goat/Be Careful Of The Stones That You Throw/Come On And Take My Hand
Record 2 – side 1.
Rock ‘N Roll Will Stand/Shake Baby Shake/She Wears My Ring/Keep On Smiling/Right Now/Own True Self/Quarter To Three/Don’t You Know
– side 2.
You’ll Never Cherish A Love So True/Confessions Of A Lonely Man/ Come On (Part 1)/(Part 2)/My Heart Belongs To Only You/Dangling On A String/That’ll Be All Right/Sing
The story of J.O”K is legendary, complex, rich with the vagaries of the rock and roll scene, and historic in terms of, he was the first! Also known as “The Wild One“, it was a persona very much at home within him whether on stage, or off stage. Yet that persona allowed him to generate and focus amazing energy and ‘presence’!
The Wild One
As I have commented with previous artists lives on “Cream of The Crate“, stories such as this man’s have been told by people far more in the ‘know’ than I am, and all I could do would be to replicate what has already been written.
Suffice to say, his story is beautifully summarized on the Johnny O’Keefe web site, and I encourage you to click on his name to be taken to that page.
Here is a small piece of what they say about J.O’K.
“Following a couple of years performing at local dances and live radio shows for free, John’s first paid engagement as a singer was for Bathurst (NSW) radio station 2BS for which he was paid 17 pounds. 2BS and its sister FM station B-Rock still broadcast successfully in 2008 and recently added the new Jet/Iggy Pop recording of “Wild One” to their FM playlist.
After hearing Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” in the film Blackboard Jungle in 1955. J O’K and sax player Dave Owen formed Australia’s first rock ‘n’ roll band in 1956, named Johnny O’Keefe and The Dee Jays.
Although there were a couple of early line up changes the mainstays of The Dee Jays were Dave Owen, Keith Williams, John Greenan, Lou Casch and of course drummer Johnny “Catfish” Purser. I (Bruce Powell) became mates with “Catfish “during my years at Festival in the early 1970’s.
Aside from still playing with The Dee Jays he was also our stationery representative and sold me a lot of pens and pencils. It should be noted of course that Dave Owen, John Greenan, J O’K and Disc Jockey Tony Withers wrote “Wild One” and the rest is history.”
The album is available second hand today and a fast trek through the net reveals it can be purchased for as little as $10.00 up to $40.00 – depending upon it’s condition.
I don’t find it hard to sit and listen all these years later, to J.O’K belt out tracks, which have become standards. “Shout” – both Parts 1 and 2 will always be synonymous in my ind with the great man.
His voice is not the voice of a balladeer – it is the rough, powerful and emotional voice of a R&R singer with the edge of a fire and brimstone preacher. When he cries, “I wanna make you SHOUT!….” – it’s hard not to sing along with him.
We all want to shout! We all want to rock that Stadium! Yet, his voice was often bought back to a more gentle, almost reverend quality with tracks such as, “She Wears My Ring”. This is a love ballad that I would find it hard to imagine anyone singing with more passion and emotion.
She Wears My Ring
And so the tracks just roll on and on in an almost endless carnival of musical redemption, of rock and roll salvation, of a tortured soul whose singing was as much a cry of pain, as passion.
His like will never come this way again, because it was not just that he was larger than life, not just that he could really rock the joint – it is because he did it first. Like the first love in our lives, there may be better, there may be more passionate that follow – but the first is very, very special.
So we should remember Johnny O’Keefe as a man whose desire to sing rock and roll was only part of a story. It’s also a story that tells of the strengths and weaknesses of the man and, of wonderful timing and bad timing.
It is the story of a man who celebrated life through his passion, a passion to make music – and by god, did he succeed!
This is what I believe to be the complete discography of J.O’K’s releases. It isn’t until you see it set out like this that you realise just how amazingly prolific his work rate was!
|1||J. O’KEEFE SHOW||(Leedon LL 30739)||1963|
|2||TWIST||(Leedon LL 30747)||1963|
|3||COME ON||(Leedon LL 30805)||1963|
|4||J O’K ON CAMERA||(Leedon LL 30905)||1963|
|5||ABOUT LOVE||(Leedon LL 30989)||1963|
|6||THE BEST OF||(Leedon LL 31103)||1963|
|7||J O’K||(Calendar R 91241)||196?|
|8||KING OF ROCK||(Calendar L 15163)||196?|
|9||SHAKE BABY SHAKE||(Leedon LL 31199)||1964|
|10||SHOUT||(Leedon LL 31200)||1964|
|11||J O’K SOUND||(Leedon LL 31292)||1964|
|12||J O’K STORY (dbl)||(Leedon LL 31505/6)||1964|
|13||SUN’S GONNA SHINE TOMORROW AND OTHER J O’K HITS||(Leedon LL 31944)||1965|
|14||J O’K BALLADS||(Leedon LL 32087)||1966|
|15||WHERE THE ACTION IS||(Leedon LL 32285)||1966|
|16||MY HEARTS BELONGS TO GO||(Universal U 594)||1967|
|17||WHERE THE ACTION IS||(Calendar R 66-672)||1968|
|18||SHE’S MY BABY (reissue)||(Leedon LL 33541)||1969|
|19||COLLECTOR’S ITEMS FROM THE 1950s||(Festival FL 33607)||1970|
|20||THE GREAT J O’K||(Universal )||1970|
|21||20TH ANNIVERSARY ALBUM (dbl)||(Festival CL 45137/8)||1972|
|22||JOHNNY B. GOODE||(Festival CL 35049)||1973|
|23||WILD ONE ROCKS AGAIN||(Summit SRA 250 038)||1973|
|24||JOHNNY O’KEEFE LIVE||(Summit SRA 250 125)||1974|
|25||JOHNNY B. GOODE (featuring Mockingbird)||(Festival CL 35147)||1974|
|26||PEPPERMINT TWIST||(Festival L 25197)||1975|
|1||TAKE MY HAND||(Leedon LX 10121)||1963|
|2||SHOUT||(Leedon LX 10135)||1963|
|3||I’M COUNTING ON YOU||(Leedon LX 10408)||1963|
|4||RIGHT NOW||(Leedon LX 10421)||1964|
|5||TWISTIN’ WITH J O’K||(Leedon LX 10422)||1964|
|6||MORE TWISTIN’ WITH J O’K||(Leedon LX 10433)||1964|
|7||SING||(Leedon LX 10528)||1964|
|8||TWISTIN’ TIME||(Leedon LX 10529)||1964|
|9||I THANK YOU||(Leedon LX 10628)||1964|
|10||MOVE BABY MOVE||(Leedon LX 10719)||1964|
|11||SO TOUGH||(Leedon LX 10730)||1964|
|12||JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE||(Leedon LX 10762)||1964|
|13||SING SING SING A J O’K SONG||(Leedon LX 10766)||1964|
|14||SHAKE BABY SHAKE AND TWIST AND SHOUT||(Leedon LX 10778)||1964|
|15||DON’T BE CRUEL||(Leedon LX 10788)||196?|
|16||MY HEART BELONGS TO YOU||(Leedon LX 10806)||196?|
|17||GIRL NEEDS TO LOVE AND BE LOVED||(Leedon LX 10807)||196?|
|18||SHE WEARS MY RING||(Leedon LX 10823)||196?|
|19||THE NEW SHOUT||(Leedon LX 10843)||196?|
|20||ROCK! ROCK! ROCK!||(Leedon LX 10886)||196?|
|21||ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WILL STAND||(Leedon LX 10920)||196?|
|22||LET’S GO, LET’S GO, LET’S GO||(Leedon LX 10933)||196?|
|23||WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW||(Leedon LX 10944)||196?|
|24||SUN’S GONNA SHINE TOMORROW||(Leedon LX 11206)||196?|
|25||J O’K||(Leedon LX 11208)||196?|
|26||SHE WEARS MY RING||(Leedon LX 11215)||196?|
|27||BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ||(Leedon LX 11271)||196?|
|28||SHE’S MY BABY||(Leedon LX 11629)||196?|
|29||WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN’ GOING ON||(Festival FX 11629)||196?|
|30||OOH POO PAH DOO||(Festival FX 11787)||196?|
|31||CONFESSIONS OF A LONELY MAN||(Festival FX 11792)||19??|
(1963 – 1975)
||I Thank You/Heaven Sent||(Leedon LK 298)||1963 –|
|2||Move Baby Move/You’ll Never Cherish A Love Like Mine||(Leedon LK 378)||1963 –|
|3||Shake Baby Shake/Good Luck Charm||(Leedon LK 454)||1963 –|
|4||Twist It Up/Twist And Shout||(Leedon LK 493)||1963 –|
|5||She Wears My Ring/Let’s Love Tonight||(Leedon LK 574)||1964 –|
|6||Shout (Parts 1 & 2)/Come On And Take My Hand||(Leedon LK 636)||1964 –|
|7||Rock ‘n’ Roll Will Stand/Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow||(Leedon LK 770)||1964 –|
|8||Cry Cry Baby/Nobody Love Me||(Leedon LK 886)||1965 –|
|9||Sun’s Gonna Shine/Mansion Over The Hilltop||(Leedon LK 1293)||1966 –|
|10||Be Careful Of Stones/My Heart Belongs To You||(Leedon LK 1416)||1966 –|
|11||Hey Girl/Don’t Be Cruel||(Leedon LK 1533)||1966 –|
|12||Ooh Poo Pah Doo/Ecstasy||(Leedon LK 1653)||1967 –|
|13||Buzz Buzz Buzz/Where The Action Is||(Leedon LK 1716)||1967 –|
|14||Just A Closer Walk With Thee/Why Do They Doubt Our Love?||(Leedon LK 1974)||1967 –|
|15||She’s My Baby/She Wears My Ring||(Festival LK 3220)||1969 –|
|16||Come On And Take My Hand/Right Now||(Festival FK 3355)||1969 –|
|17||Confessions Of A Lonely Man/To Love Somebody||(Festival FK 3493)||1970|
|18||I’m Counting On You/I Am Blessed||(Festival FK 4098)||1971 –|
|19||Dangling On A String/Keep On Smiling||(Festival FK 4482)||1971 –|
|20||So Tough/Holly Holy||(Festival FK 4774)||1972|
|21||High Rollin’ Man/My Lady By The River||(Festival FK 4917)||1972|
|22||Mockingbird/Soulshake||(Festival FK 5177)||1974|
|23||Rock ‘n’ Roll Music/Mary Lee||(Festival K 5392)||1974|
|24||Saturday Night/Over And Over||(Festival K 5583)||1974|
|25||On The Road/Rock ‘n’ Roll Boogie||(Festival K 5795)||1975|
|26||Full Blooded Natural Man/Taste The Wine||(Festival K 8114)||1975|
JOK’s performances on film and televison never fully captured the enrgy and passion that the audiences were exposed to.
I have done my best to find clips that try to do that.
Sing Sing Sing
She’s My Baby
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
Click to open: