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.
This is number fifty 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.
It will be the last “Cream of The Crate (Vinyl) for about 3 months because I have had a few people ask why it is I always retro-review vinyl, when CD’s have been around for at least 30 years and, don’t I have any great CD’s to review?
Well, I do! Vinyl will always remain my favourite medium and I believe to this day that on a good sound system you can most definitely hear a difference in the ‘warmth’ of the sound between the (analog) vinyl, and the (digital) CD.
It did get me to thinking that there are some really fantastic and unusual CD’s in my collection, so from the next review onward for the next fifty reviews- I will present, “Cream of The Crate: CD’s“!
So back to album review #50. Although this is another compilation, it is certainly what could be considered as a ‘righteous’ compilation!
This is “The Raven EP LP Vol.1“, and was released in 1982 on the RAVEN Records Label (RVLP-05).
It has 18 of the most excellent Aussie tracks from what some think of as the halcyon period of Aussie music.
Halcyon or otherwise, what Raven had done was to provide a series of albums of music that appeared on EP’s (that’s Extended Play vinyl, for anyone born after 1980), and in Volume 1 they kicked off with a bloody ripper!
The album features four excellent Aussie groups who all had their genesis in the 1960’s. Each group bought out some fantastic tracks, and all had musicians who were at the very least, highly accomplished and at the best, purely brilliant!
Three of the four groups had their formation way back in 1964 and the other, one year later in 1965.
|| The Purple Hearts –
|| Of Hopes And Dreams And Tombstones
|A2|| The Purple Hearts –
||You Can’t Sit Down||2:58|
|A3|| The Purple Hearts –
||Born In Chicago||2:29|
|A4|| The Purple Hearts –
||Tiger In Your Tank||2:04|
|A5|| The Purple Hearts –
||I’m Gonna Try||2:16|
|| The Purple Hearts –
||Early In The Morning||2:08|
|| The Wild Cherries –
|A8|| The Wild Cherries –
||Krome Platted Yabby||3:20|
|A9|| The Wild Cherries –
||Gotta Stop Lying||3:00|
|B1|| The Missing Links –
||All I Want||2:09|
|B2|| The Missing Links –
||We 2 Should Live||1:59|
|B3|| The Missing Links –
||Don’t Give Me No Friction||3:36|
|B4|| The Missing Links –
||Wild About You||2:40|
|B5|| The Missing Links –
||Some Kinda Fun||2:38|
|B6|| The Missing Links –
||Speak No Evil||2:26|
|B7|| The Throb –
|B8|| The Throb –
|B9|| The Throb –
||She Is Mine||2:24|
Here is a synopsis of each group.
A good place to commence this review of any of these groups is to remember that in the early 1960’s if you took the vocals away from the various groups that played, you would in most cases be left with collection of surf instrumental groups.
However with the Missing Links, we have an example of an early group that had not developed out of an instrumental group.
They were among the first to have long hair, or rather long untidy hair, and in their own way they worked hard to provide the same image as the Stones were projecting.
The line up changes weren’t as straightforward as the above list suggests, with members coming and going almost from day one.
What is indisputable is that they really were one of our early ‘garage bands’ and because they were in Sydney and I was in Melbourne, the opportunity to see them live was limited
. They did come with a big reputation for extraordinary feedback, well before it became de rigueur.
Oh, one final thing, one of their great claims to fame was that their act became so wild and outrageous, Johnny O’Keefe banned them from his popular TV program, “Sing, Sing,Sing“!
The track “Speak No Evil” written by Andy James. This track, whilst recorded by version2 of the group, is very representative of the sound the group achieved.
Speak No Evil
Next comes the wildest group to ever have come out of the (then) conservative city of Brisbane.
If the Missing Links were among the first groups to use feedback in their act, the Purple Hearts took it to either an art form, or, the threshold of pain.
That simply depended upon your ability to digest pure unadulterated high volume, blissfully orgasmic sonic blasts, or not!
They were tough, they were arrogant, they were pioneering, and, they had (in my mind) Australia’s first true guitar god – Lobby Loyde (or, Barry Lyde).
Even their choice of name, “Purple Hearts” was indicative of their disdain for the generally prudent society that they came from. Purple Hearts being a particularly popular form of amphetamine!
The thing I loved about the “Hearts” was that they were such a great musical outfit, with each member contributing 100%.
Just in case you think I’ve suddenly gone “Musicologist”, I haven’t. There is no doubt in my mind the music on this album and indeed all the music I heard this group play, was indeed played with skill and application.
The track, Of Hopes and Dreams and Tombstones, is a fantastic track, but with a poignant message.
There was also a fantastically natural arrogance about them which so many of us in this period, could really relate to.
Of Hopes And Dreams And Tombstones
I remember seeing the “Hearts” at the ‘Thumping Tum‘, with Lobby playing a blistering solo with a fag jabbed onto the end of an uncut guitar string, smoke spiralling almost in time with his tempo!
Money can’t buy that class!
This group had it’s genesis, much like many groups that formed in this period, from a surf-instrumental group with a very ‘un-surf’ group like name; “Geoff Doyle and the Resonettes“.
In 1964 the guitarist, Marty van Wynk and drummer Peter Figures formed a short lived Sydney based group, “The No Names” which had singer Janice Slater sitting in with them from time to time.
The group actually recorded two singles, both flops. The group folded but undeterred Van Wynk and Figures recruited singer John Bell and bass player Denny Burgess, and keeping (temporally) the name, The No Names, set about seeking fame and fortune.
Now John Bell has actually been the original singer for the “Easybeats” at the Villawood Migrant Hostel, and although dropped from that group to make way for Stevie Wright, he maintained a relationship with producer Ted Albert. Albert who saw the group as a form of poor man’s Easybeats.
Albert believed their tough image and on-stage frantic antics, along with their manic poses, might be something he could work with.
Somehow the group managed to get hold of the Rolling Stones latest release, Fortune Teller, before it was released, and hearing a hit in the making they cut their own version.
At the same time sensing that this was in fact a rip-roaring version of this track, which was in fact originally recorded by Benny Spellman in 1962, Albert suggested the name more appropriate name, The Throb!
History then tells us it was a major hit in Melbourne and Sydney and quite frankly, it was far superior to the Rolling Stones version.
Hysteria followed The Throb and their popularity skyrocketed!
Yet, there is that old saying – What goes up, must come down!
A reworking of an old folk song, “Black (is the colour of my true love’s hair)” resulted in a mega flop! The ride had been hard and meteoric but it was all over so quickly.
I listen to “Black” today and honestly, I think the guys were hard done by.
I guess in context with what were ‘hits’ of the day’ it didn’t cut it, but, it’s not a bad sound and was very much where the psychedelic sound was actually heading for.
In my mind (and ears) it is reminiscent of the sound The Fish (as in Country Joe) achieved with their guitar work a few years later.
Finally, we come to the last group featured on this album, and the old saying about leaving the best until last rings very true!
Some twenty musicians can rightly claim to have played in the Cherries.
Wild Cherries Mk I 1964-66
John Bastow (vocals, harmonica)
Les Gilbert (bass)
Geoff Hales (drums)
Rob Lovett (guitar, vocals)
Malcolm McGee (lead guitar, vocals)
Kevin Murphy (drums)
Wild Cherries Mk II
Keith Barber (drums) Jan. 1967- Oct. 1968
Peter Eddy (bass) 1967
Les Gilbert (organ)
Danny Robinson (vocals) Jan. 1967- Oct. 1968
Lobby Loyde (aka Barry Lyde) (lead guitar)
John Phillips (bass) Jan. 1967 – Oct. 1968
Wild Cherries Mk III (Oct. – Nov. 1968)
Barry Harvey (drums)
Lobby Loyde (aka Barry Lyde) (lead guitar)
Steve Pristash (bass)
Barry Sullivan (rhythm guitar)
Matt Taylor (vocals)
Wild Cherries Mk IV (Nov. 1968-April 1969)
Brian Wilson (lead vocals) Nov. 1968
Tim Piper (guitar) Dec. 1968-Apr. 1969
Steve Pristash (bass) Nov.-Dec. 1968
Barry Sullivan (lead guitar (Nov. 1968), bass (Dec. ’68 – Apr. ’69)
Wild Cherries Mk V (1971-72)
Lobby Loyde (guitar)
Teddy Toi (bass)
Johnny Dick (drums)
In my mind is was the second version of the Wild Cherries that was by far the best line-up, although the 3rd incarnation (albeit short lived) was a pretty damn good line up as well.
Yet it is a matter of degrees and each incarnation bought its strengths to the stage.
It has been said by rock writers far more knowledgeable than I, that the Wild Cherries were our equivalent of the “Stooges” or even the “MC5“! What is for certain is that they were one of the most stunning musical outfits ever to have been formed in this country.
There were as arrogant as the Purple Hearts and they were just as relentless as the Purple Hearts on stage.
But boasting stunning vocals, fantastic experimental musicianship and with Lobby moving to an even higher level of ability than he showed in the Purple Hearts – this was a real super group!
Version one of the group were, in fact, very much a jazz style group, but with major line-up changes and the introduction of Lobby on lead guitar, they blasted their way through the Melbourne music scene.
In fact they quickly established themselves as the dominant force amongst what was, in those years 1967 onward, a period when we were producing absolute gems of groups.
Despite the wonderful and fantastic groups of the day, the Wild Cherries stood out!
The group made no concessions to commercial demands and with audiences trying to come to grips with the move away from the Mersey sound to that of Hendrix and Cream, these guys just added more confusion.
In the end you either embraced them totally, or rejected them totally. There was no fence sitting with the Wild Cherries.
Listening to the Wild Cherries live (and I was very lucky to have seen them many times) was an experience!
I remember them clearly lifting the roof off of the “Catcher” Disco in Melbourne. I loved them live, but I also loved them on record! Only a handful of singles were ever cut by these guys in what the liner notes tell us, “…were bizarre excursions into a musical void – lengthy and erratic …”
As is the outcome for most true musical pioneers, they sold precious few records. Yet in many people’s minds the 1967 track “That’s Life“, might just be the most imaginative single to have ever been written, recorded and released in Australia in the 1960’s.
I remember how everyone ‘raved’ about how Molly Medrum was a genius for his innovative use of ‘flanging‘ in Russel Morris‘, “Real Thing“!
It was good, but, the Cherry’s were the real innovators and used flanging in “That’s Life“, TWO years before the Real Thing was even recorded.
So this is definitely a most unusual LP, made up of various EP’s, it’s unique in its form but certainly in terms of the uniqueness of the artists it features.
It’s far to say, that any collection of Australian music of this period without this album is, an incomplete collection!
Sadly a Volume 2 was never produced – more’s the pity!
This album can be found, but not easily. There are a few copies ‘floating’ around from between Au$40.00 and $60.00 on-line. These prices do not including postage.
It was very difficult locating videos of live performances by any of the four groups featured on this album let alone doing tracks featured on this LP.
I’ve done the best I can and all I could find is a rare clip of the Purple Hearts and the Wild Cherries.
Purple Hearts – Early In the Morning
Wild Cherries – God
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
Click to open:
#47. Donavon – Open Road