cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
Front Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]

 This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that 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.

"Up until that time, songs you heard on the radio came from somewhere mysterious. So we gave it a crack and started doing it ourselves." [Harry Vanda]

This is number twenty four in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection. The series is called, “Cream of The Crate”, and they represent vinyl albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

We were blessed in the 1960’s by having so many ‘home-grown’ groups, that were very talented.

Album #24 is by the Easybeats and is titled “Absolute Anthology (1965 – 1969)”.

Immediately we look at the album track listing it becomes obvious that this IS the album to have. It was released on the Albert Promotions Label [ APM-1] in 1980.

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
Vinyl Label – [CLICK to enlarge]

Although Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs were the first to record on the Albert Label (in 1964), the label was very, very pleased to sign up
The Easybeats shortly after the Thorpe signing.


The history of the Easybeats is told many times elsewhere, and on-line at both Wikipedia.

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]

and at Milesago

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]

However, it would be remiss in doing an album review not mention that although they formed at what was then called the Villawood Migrant Center (Sydney), in 1964, all of the five members were from post World War 2 migrant families. Yet they turned out to be possibly Australia’s greatest commercial band in the 1960’s. In fact, they only survived a of around five years, but, they were five magnificent years!

This album is in fact a true compilation of their hits and notable tracks. It is a ‘gate-fold’ album with two LP records inside containing a total of 43 tracks including all their Top Ten hits and notable tracks.

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
Left Hand side gatefold – [CLICK to enlarge]
cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
Left hand side Gatefold – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

The other wonderful feature of this album is the six double-sided full size booklet. packed with information, stories, a full bio and pictures it reminds us that it is a feature that CD’s simply cannot provide.

Chalk up another √ for Vinyl LP productions.

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
An example of the booklet contained inside the gatefold. – {CLICK to enlarge]
Now unless you are ‘young and foolish’ and believe that nothing pre-1990 is worthwhile (Yes Virginia, these people actually exist), there are probably few Easybeat tracks you have never heard and I almost feel silly talking about the ‘best’ or even ‘favourite tracks.

Unlike many albums I have done a ‘retro-review‘ on in this “Crate” Series, there are a multitude of videos on Youtube, so I will pick out three of the best known and place them at the end of this review
and pick out four tracks (one from each side) two that may not be so well known and, two better known tracks.

LINE UP

  • Dick Diamonde
  • Harry Vanda
  • Stevie Wright
  • George Young
  • Snowy Fleet 
  • Tony Cahill**

 ** Joined 1967 after Snowy left

 

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
Original line up. Left to right: Harry Vanda; Stevie Wright; Dick Diamonde; George Young; Snowy Fleet – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

The track Peculiar Hole in the Sky was actually released in September 1969 against the bands wishes. It had been put together by the band as a demo for the Valentines, who actually did record it.

It is certainly quite different to most of their compositions and had a hard psychedelic edge to it.

Peculiar Hole The Sky

There are over 12 absolutely brilliant tracks on this set, but “Friday On My Mind” must surely be their most well known, most popular and most played track.

The track was recorded in UK in 1966
It reached the following heights in these nine countries.
#6 UK #16 USA #1 Sydney #3 Melbourne #1 Brisbane #2 Adelaide #2 Perth #2 NZ #1 Netherlands #10 West Germany #13 Ireland #16 Belgium #39 Canada
.

I have included a video of it live at the bottom of this review.

If you aren’t familiar with the track “St. Louis“, do have a listen.

Not a track discussed often, it is a great example of their overall style of vocal delivery and musicianship – and, it rocks!

St. Louis

One of their two #1 hits in Australia is the track – “Sorry”. Written by George Young and Stevie Wright and released in 1966.

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
Stevie – [CLICK to enlarge]
In many ways the lyrics are very simple, but is some ways it is part of the success of this track. It was easy to remember and to sing along with – and the “hook” line of ‘Sorry’ . . . not to mention the infectious Yiyiyi’s! This track was made for audience participation’

 

Mailman came this morning
Brought a message by
Said it was from my babe
Think I know just why

Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry that I
Didn’t go last night

Had a date at seven
With a girl named Fleur
Then I just remembered, had a date with her

Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry that I
Didn’t go last night
Yeah

Mailman came this morning
Brought a message by
Said it was from my babe
Think I know just why

Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry that I
Didn’t go last night
Didn’t go last night
Didn’t go last night

Sorry

Line-Up

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
Rear Cover – [CLICK to enlarge] 

Tony Cahill (drums) 1967-69
Dick Diamonde (bs, vcls)
Gordon “Snowy” Fleet (dr) 1964-67
Harry Vanda (gtr/vcls)
Stevie Wright (vcls/perc)
George Young (gtr/vcls/kybds)

 

 

 

 

Album Tracks

A1
  For My Woman
3:02
 
A2
  Say That You’re Mine
2:40
 
A3
  She’s So Fine
2:02
 
A4
  Wedding Ring
1:58
 
A5
  Easy As Can Be
2:28
 
A6
  Sad & Lonely & Blue
2:10
 
A7
  You Said That
2:32
 
A8
  You Got It Off Me
2:22
 
A9
  You Can’t Do That
2:22
 
A10
  Funny Feelin’
2:25
 
A11
  In My Book
3:05
 
A12
  Women
2:30
 
B1
  Come & See Her
2:38
 
B2
  I’ll Make You Happy
3:07
 
B3
  Too Much
1:45
 
B4
  Sorry
2:30
 
B5
  Made My Bed, Gonna Lie In It
2:17
 
B6
  Friday On My Mind
2:46
 
B7
  Pretty Girl
2:20
 
B8
  Remember Sam
2:32
 
B9
  Who’ll Be The One
2:34
 
B10
  Do You Have A Soul?
2:58
 
B11
  Heaven & Hell
2:38
 
C1
  Hello How Are You
3:56
 
C2
  Come In You’ll Get Pneumonia
3:23
 
C3
  Good Times
3:23
 
C4
  Bring A Little Lovin’
2:20
 
C5
  The Music Goes Round My Head (Fast)
2:16
 
C6
  Falling Off The Edge Of The World
2:33
 
C7
  The Shame Just Drained
2:40
 
C8
  What In The World?
2:15
 
C9
  Land Of Make Believe
3:10
 
C10
  Peculiar Hole In The Sky
2:48
 
D1
  Lisa
3:10
 
D2
  Saturday Night
3:24
 
D3
  Amanda Storey
2:43
 
D4
  Down To The Last 500
2:38
 
D5
  Lay Me Down & Die (Vocal Version)
2:48
 
D6
  Wait A Minute
2:37
 
D7
  I Love Marie
2:35
 
D8
  Rock & Roll Boogie
2:27
 
D9
  Can’t Find Love
3:25
 
D10
  St Louis
3:08
 

 

In addition to the 43 very fine tracks, this album has that booklet of 10 pages that I referred to earlier. Just a few more words about it.

The quality is satisfactory in terms of print and readability but the paper isn’t terrific and they used sepia tones.  So as the years go on it isn’t as sharp as it may have been once and maybe they should have used gloss paper and even black ink.

However, the quality of the information is very high with the well known rock historian Glenn A Baker being responsible for writing the material.

The vinyl pressing itself is surprisingly good given the fact Australian pressings on vinyl traditionally weren’t as good as the UK or USA pressings.

However, when I listened back to it (and allowing for the fact that it is 33 years old), I was pleased when I listened through headphones to just how good it sounded.

Discography

Title
Release date Label AUS Chart
Easy
September 1965 Parlaphone
4
It’s 2 easy
March 1966 Parlophone 3
Volume 3
November 1966 Parlophone 7
The Best of The Easybeats
January 1967
Parlophone 3
Virgil
October 1968 Parlophone
Friends
January 1969 Polydor
Best of the Easybeats – Vol 2
October 1969 Albert
Easy Ridin’
August 1970 Rare Earth
The Shame Just Drained
October 1977 Albert
Absolute Anthology
November 1980 Albert 35
The Easybeats (compilation) September 1981 Hammard 76
The Definitive Series
September 1992 Albert

 

Now another track to remind us of the absolute quality of this groups writing, arrangement and playing. Women (Make you feel alright).

The track reached #4 on the Australian charts. It was the group’s debut single in the United States, released on the United Artists Records subsidiary label, Ascot Records under the title “Make You Feel Alright (Women)”

Women

So what became of the Easybeats?

Sadly the story of the rise and fall of Stevie Wright is a story all too well known. After the group folded Stevie became a permanent member of the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar, but the damage done by the ravages of drugs had already taken its toll.

Releasing Evie in 1974 did make it seem like he might have been back, and, he may very well have. However, he was admitted to the (now known) notorious Chelmsford Private Hospital for ‘Deep Sleep Therapy’.

Based upon the use of drugs and electro-shock therapy, Stevie along with many patients, suffered some brain damage, adding to his woes. During the 80’s and 90’s further drug use just exacerbated his poor health and he nearly died on two occasions.

With professional help and a will to be cured, Stevie clawed his way back and greatly improved his health and in 2002 was a hit at the ‘Long way to the Top’ National Tour. Finally, he closed the 2009 Legends of Rock Festival at Byron Bay.

Stevie Wright eventually retired and lived on the South Coast of New South Wales. He died on 27 December 2015 at Moruya Hospital of pneumonia.

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
Stevie – [CLICK to enlarge]

The “Heart & Soul” of the Easybeats was (in my mind) Harry Vanda and George Young.

cream of the crate #24 : the easybeats – absolute anthology [1965-1969]
Vanda & Young

 

Having worked in the UK after the Easybeats split (to pay off debts incurred by the Easybeats), Harry and George returned to Oz in 1974 and have been responsible for some great hits including, “Love is in the Air”, and “Yesterday’s Hero”. They have also released tracks under their pseudonym name of ‘Flash and Pan’.

Snowy Fleet, Dick Diamonde and Tony Cahill took a quieter path. Original drummer, Snowy Fleet, became a successful builder in Perth and now runs a recording studio in Jandacot, WA.

His replacement, Tony Cahill, remained in the UK for a time, eventually joining the final studio lineup of ‘Python Lee Jackson’, as a bassist before moving to the United States. Bassist, Dick Diamonde, moved to the north coast of NSW and retired from performing, after some years of performing in pubs.

If you are interested in adding the album to your collection, at the time of writing this review there were five copies on ebay, retailing for between $40.00 and $60.00 including postage. There is a recent 2017 remastered CD version but remember – NO large accompanying booklet.


VIDEOS:

Three clips that capture some of the excitement the band generated.

Friday On My Mind

 

Wedding Ring

 

I’ll Make You Happy