“This album tries to capture the best (and probably the worst) aspects of music during those self consciously excessive years.” (Album liner notes)
“Taking up where Volume 1 left off, when psychedelia and soul were becoming more trendy than Merseybeat and mod.” (Allmusic Review) “They represent some absolute and utter brilliant pieces of Australian music from this period.” (This review)
This was album review number one hundred and thirty five in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl and CD albums from my collection that first appeared in the Toorak Times in July 2015
The series was called Cream of The Crate and each review represented an album that I believed was of significant musical value, either because of its rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of a music or because there is something unique about the music, the group or the particular production.
There are in fact a total of 35 groups featured on this album, and all are worthy of their place. The full album has the title of So You Wanna be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star – Vol 2 : The Psychedelic Years Of Australian Rock 1967 – 1970. The album is a gatefold double vinyl album bought out on the Festival label in 1977, and it has the identifying code of L 45705/6. Across the 2 vinyl albums are a total of 35 tracks.
It’s companion volume, Volume 1, was reviewed in TAGG last week and can be accessed by clicking here – So You Wanna Be A R ‘n’ Roll Star Vol. 1.
Unlike Vol 1, which split the two albums into one Lp of “known artists”, and the other Lp featured little known and “pretenders, this volume see the four sides representing four facets of the period 1967 – ’70.
I’ll enlarge on that a little later, although I will forewarn that like Vol 1, not every track on this album is what might loosely be described as “our best” music. It is a very colorful album in terms of the brilliance of the “cartoon” style cover and the inside of the gatefold has a well put together collage of photo’s from the time -that best support the album concept.
The album also has not one, but two inserts which are double sided black and white pages, the same size as the album cover. One contains some basic facts about each group. it’s nothing special, but is better than no information.
The other is a collage of newspaper articles, bits of Go-Set and other oddities, they add to the overall ambiance of the album, and you won’t get these in the more recently released CD set.
The front cover was painted by Alan Moir and while Glenn A. Baker has acknowledged him in the liner notes in Volume 1, he is mentioned in Volume 2 and a small bio on him is provided. Now there is no outright mention regarding his involvement with this volume, but I guess we should assume he assembled the liner notes that form the insert and the introduction that is found on the right hand side, of the right hand inner page of the gatefold.
We assume the following is Glenn writing, and while some of it is very “rambling”, but this part was very pointed, when it says: “The change in Australian music and society between 1967 and 1970 was drastic and sever. Music moved out of Melbourne’s steamy discos into Sydney’s thriving dances and finally on to open acreage. We intently watched Monterey and Woodstock and then (following the fine tradition of aping the rest of the world) tried rock festivals ourselves. . . . A few years later we tired of sitting in muddy fields dodging beer cans (How Australian! ([My words]) and gave the whole thing up as a bad joke.”
Baker goes on to convince us that really along with protests we tried to change the world but really achieved little.
Now I don’t agree with that position at all, Baker was taking a short-sighted view at results that took longer to show, however, what this period did do was to further develop out the essence of what our music was. There has always been a degree of derivative music about what we played, but that’s normal as all music has its roots elsewhere, but we were becoming more experimental, we were looking past the strict formula that we had followed in the 1960’s and we were becoming more worldly, and this reflected in the changes to our music.
This album does indeed give us the best of the period, and some of the worst. There is an argument that some of the music was self-delusion in terms of it’s quality and at times it does certainly express the ‘excesses” of the time. However that’s not just fine, I think it’s essential in terms of leaving us with an anthology that represents what was really happening musically.
That is one of the strengths of the album, it does show both sides of the musical coin of quality.
LP # 1
|A1||–Pastoral Symphony||Love Machine|
|A2||–The Dave Miller Set||Mr. Guy Fawkes|
|A3||–Heart & Soul||Lazy Life|
|A4||–Erl Dalby & Pyramid||Can’t Wait For September|
|A5||–Phil Jones & The Unknown Blues||If I Had A Ticket|
|A6||–King Fox||Unforgotten Dreams|
|A7||–The Valentines||Peculiar Hole In The Sky|
“Some R & B“
–Running Jumping Standing Still
Diddy Wah Diddy
|B2||–Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs||Good Morning Little Schoolgirl|
|B3||–The Wild Cherries||Krome Plated Yabby|
|B4||–The Bay City Union||Mo’reen|
|B7||–Jeff St. John & Yama||Nothing Comes Easy|
|B8||–Doug Parkinson In Focus||I Had A Dream|
|B9||–Rockwell T. James & The Rhythm Aces||Love Power|
|C1||–Samael Lilith||Nights In White Satin|
|C2||–The Cleves||Sticks & Stones|
|C3||–The Affair||Shoeshine Boy|
|C4||–Velvet Underground||Somebody To Love|
|C5||–Clapham Junction||Emily On Sunday|
|C6||–The Clik||Mary Mary|
“Some Pop Songs and Curios“
–Ram Jam Big Band
Sunshine & I Feel Fine
|D2||–The Love Machine||The Lion Sleeps Tonight|
|D3||–The Iguana||California, My Way|
|D4||–The New Dream||Groupie|
|D5||–White Wine||The Train Song|
|D6||–Lloyd’s World||Brass Bird|
|D7||–James Taylor Move||Magic Eyes|
|D9||–The Questions||Something Wonderful|
So let’s start with Side 1 of LP number 1 which carries the subtitle of “Classics”.
Now the first track can be variously described as “brilliant”, or, “over the top”! The track is Love Machine and the group is Pastoral Symphony. The first problem is that when this track was recorded in May of 1968, there was no such group as Pastoral Symphony.
Hot on the tail of the developing psychedelic sounds and in particular the work of the Beatles that were coming forth from Britain, newly arrived English record producer, Jimmy Stewart, began to search for groups to record and to cash in on these new sounds. Having connected up with the now infamous Jeffrey Eddleston, who at this time was operating as a local producer/manager, he decided that the track Love Machine was a track worthy of release.
It was one of several pieces of music he had brought with him and that it might better be served by bringing together a group of what he called, “faceless musicians”, to record the track – which was a practice much in vogue in Britain at the time.
But in bringing together his “faceless musicians” he actually brought together some of the best talent in Australia at the time.
He convinced the entire Twilights, the Johnny Hawker band, Ronnie Charles from the Groop, and Terry Walker, who had played with the Strangers, the Hi-Five and The Times to be part of the project.
Now Stewart wasn’t talentless and in fact he bought some cutting-edge production techniques with him that would be used and copied widely later on. The result was a decent hit!
It peaked at #21 on the Go-Set chart in June-July 1968 and charted for 11 weeks.
The problem was, he had a “hit” on his hands, and no group to promote it! And so the hunt began to form a real-life Pastoral Symphony and to quickly record a follow up release. But in what is part of the never ending R&R circus, a totally unknown group quickly registered the name and began to perform under the name Pastoral Symphony, even using snippets of Love Machine to promote themselves.
The inevitable legal battles took place during which Eddleston quickly departed for the USA to “further his medical studies” leaving the mess in Stewart’s hands.
I believe Stewart eventually won some sort of victory, but the moment had passed and Pastoral Symphony were never heard of again. Jeff Eddleston took up working in football and not music. In some ways the story is every part as good as the track, and the track, which most people would now know, was a actually a good track and so it should have been with the calibre of the musicians who contributed to it
In many ways the guys were Australia’s first Supergroup, albeit that they were manufactured!
Look all the tracks on this side of the album deserve to be here!
The Dave Miller Set released the memorable Mr. Guy Fawkes in 1969. The key to this group’s success was guitarist John Robinson, who took his “lead” from Hank B. Marvin initially, but later developed a taste for all things Jimmy Page and the group carved out a decent name for themselves as a heavy metal outfit. With New Zealand ex-pat Dave Miller singing at one point, they had Australia in their hand.
The next group, Heart and Soul, started out their music career as a “white suited” club band and as their music became more and more innovative, their broader acceptance was gaining and in fact, they fairly wear the mantle as Australia’s first rock “big band”. Why the producers of this album chose Lazy Days though, is quite perplexing as it is so totally not representative of their sound!
Erl Darby & Pyramid are the enigma of this side of the set. The track is a very good Vanda-Young composition and Earl, who came forth without any fanfare from Wollongong, actually had an amazing voice.
He recorded this track with his group Earl’s Court, but they split before it was released so he came to Sydney, joined up with Pyramid, stripped the track back to the vocals and re-recorded it. Then he disappeared as quickly as he came!
Track 5 – Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues had this one decent size hit in 1976. If I had A Ticket was an old blues standard with a decent rework by the group and it surprised everyone when it charted across Australia. Based in Sydney, at least 14 different musicians were at one time or another in the group.
Track 6 features King Fox. Now this was a group made up of 5 sons of very wealthy North Shore Sydney families who had more money than sense. They amused themselves with the best quality musical equipment bought by mater and pater! Their ambitions were to “become millionaires”, so why those chose music is beyond me.
The track actually is quite innovative, but then again the boys recorded on the best equipment with the best engineers and producers so something decent could have been expected. It actually charted at number 3 around Australia, but when all five failed their end of the year exams, the maters and paters bought the whole thing to an end!
Track seven – Peculiar Hole In The Sky by The Valentines is definitely worth pausing at. It has been claimed that there were the best group to come out of West Australia up to this point, and I won’t argue with that. Mind you their penchant for dressing in all things pink and purple and love beads, had them labeled by many as the “cupids of Australian pop”!
Some say they were similar to Zoot, but Zoot were young, cuddly and cute and the Valentines, older and some would say uglier in appearance – which might have been a definite positive.
They also had two brilliant singers – Vince Lovegrove and Bon Scott, and yes it was THE Bon Scott who went onto join Fraternity and later AC DC. They also had decent musicians including Doug Lavery and Warwick Findlay. The group had a big hit with My Old Man’s A Groovy Old Man, although this track – Peculiar Hole in the Sky which was a Vander/Young composition, is by far the better track.
It was released in July 1968 and despite the Easybeats also releasing a version of this track, this is without doubt the better version. It’s a much more highly-orchestrated version than the Easybeats and it really features Scott’s voice.
Peculiar Hole in the Sky
The final track is from Procession who were undoubtedly ahead of their time. Now this was in many was a “manufactured” group, but their brilliant and almost eccentric music style meant that they were never commercially viable.
It certainly wasn’t hurt any from the effort put in by many people including Lily Brett, Ian “Molly” Meldrum and David Joseph. The lineup always had classy and skilled muso’s, of which English guitarist Mick Rogers and Brian Peacock were the best known in the original lineup, and with Ross Wilson joining in the later lineup it became powerful in terms of skilled players.
Eventually, frustrated at the lack of success in Oz, the group did the trek to london and suffered the same fate as most australian groups overseas – a lack of direction.
Craig Collinge (drums, vocals) 1967-69
Trevor Griffin (keyboards, vocals)
Brian Peacock (bass, vocals)
Mick Rogers (guitars, vocals)
Chris Hunt (drums) 1969
Ross Wilson (vocals, guitar) 1969
The track Listen, which was released in February 1968, followed on from their debut single, Anthem – which was indeed an interesting capella track.
Listen was the first track recorded on the new eight track recording gear at Festival records, and it certainly allowed for the experimental nature of the group to be properly recorded. It never became an acceptable commercial hit, but it still sounds great to my ears with the lead vocals and harmonies being quite a treat, and surely represents some cutting edge music of the time and rightly finishes off the side called “Classics”.
So to the other side of LP number 1 – subtitled: Some R & B.
A fantastic side that kicks off with Running Jumping Standing Still and, Diddy Wah Diddy. RJSS hit the scene with an image of the great unwashed and a lead singer that could really belt out a tune. Andy James along with Rick Dalton, Doug Ford and Ian Robinson were the first incarnation of this group – and possibly the best.
It is reported that Andy once said: “We are sincere in our addiction to feedback and believes that it gives you a release, the sound can completely capture your mind.”
Track 2 really needs little said. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. By this time, 1970, Thorpie had completely thrown of the “fresh face” boy image and was getting down and dirty with the best – in fact he was in the top echelon of the “best”.
Next is another group which dabbled in R&B, and in fact dabbled in hard rock and grunge (before it got that title). Now they may have not been the first to use feedback extensively but they certainly made it a feature of their music. I am talking of the Wild Cherries.
Oh yes we had experimental groups, we had loud groups, we had strange groups, we had non-commercial groups, but when the Wild Cherries appeared on the scene in Brisbane – they had ALL these traits in one group. Not only that, they did it better and more often than anyone else.
Their music experiments in the void of weirdness was unparalleled and Krome Plated Yabby which is their track on this album, is a classic example. Another major tick in their favour was that they had a genuine guitar hero, a man who was our “Clapton” – Lobby Loyde aka Barry Lyde.
Now a total of 21 Aussie muso’s can claim to have been part of the Cherries at one stage or another, including some other great musicians such as Matt Taylor, Mal McGee, Rob Lovett, Barry Sullivan, Teddy Toi – oh the list goes on.
In 1967 when this brilliant and some what bent track was released the lineup consisted of Les Gilbert, Peter Eddy, Danny Robinson, Keith Barber and Lobby Loyde.
The track was totally uncommercial but also totally brilliant and highlights the amazing talent in the group.
Why it is featured under R&B is somewhat strange, but I don’t think there is a category you could put this group easily into for there would surely be no other groups to join them in such a classification. This is a track to revisit and re-enjoy!
Chrome Plated Yabby
The next track is Brisbane’s (then), Bay City Union and the track is Moreen.
The group had a decent sound and actually a decent pedigree which included an up and coming “Blues Freak” – Matt Taylor. The track was released in April 1968.
Now talking of Matt Taylor, the next track, track 3 on this side of LP number 1, is none other than the legendary blues outfit – Chain.
Matt didn’t join this magnificent blues outfit until 1970 but his addition was perfect and made a great group, fantastic. Now certainly the group had well and truly established itself as the premier Aussie Blues Group from its formation in late 1968.
The group’s membership has truly featured the “Who’s Who” of great musicians and singers in its wonderful lengthy on and off a career, that has seen it performing, albeit irregularly, right up to recent times.
There are no superlatives that are excessive to Chain, when talking about their best music. It wasn’t always consistently top-line but it was always brutally honest and it’s great moments were many, and they were very great. The group can claim to have had in it at least 31 musicians/artists in all it’s incarnations including the brilliant guitarist Phil Manning and for a while, Glyn Mason whose incredible voice added much to Chain – and this amazing number of musicians might just make it the group with the most membership ever. Here is a list as published in Wikipedia.
- Ace Follington — drums (1968–1969)
- Phil Manning — guitar, vocals (1968–1974, 1982, 1983–1986, 1991, 1995–current)
- Warren Morgan — keyboards, vocals (1968–1972)
- Wendy Saddington — vocals (1968–1969)
- Murray Wilkins — bass guitar (1968–1969)
- Glyn Mason — vocals (1970–1972)
- Tim Piper — bass guitar (1969)
- Claude Papesch — organ (1969)
- Barry Harvey — drums (1969–74, 1982, 1983–1986, 1988, 1995–current)
- Barry Sullivan — bass guitar (1969–74, 1982, 1983–1986)
- Matt Taylor — vocals, harmonica (1970–1971, 1982, 1983–1986, 1991–1992, 1995–current)
- Kevin Murphy — drums (1971)
- Charlie Tumahai — bass guitar (1971)
- Lindsay Wells — lead guitar (1971)
- Laurie Pryor — drums (1971–1972)
- Graham Morgan — drums (1972)
- Mal Capewell — saxophone, flute (1973–1974)
- Ian Clyne — organ (1973–1974)
- George Beauford — vocals, harmonica (1973, session musician)
- James Madison — guitar (1973, session musician)
- Mal Logan — keyboards (1974)
- Tony Lunt — drums (1974)
- John Meyer — guitar (1986, 1988, 1991)
- Roy Daniel — bass guitar (1988)
- Bob Fortesque — bass guitar (1991)
- Michael Burn — drums (1991)
- Dirk Du Bois — bass guitar (1991–1992, 1995–current)
- Jeff Lang — guitar (1991–1992)
- Bob Patient — piano (1991–1992)
- Gus Warburton — drums (1991–1992)
- Malcolm Eastick — guitar (1992)
Now to their track Mr. Time.
It’s a gentle tempo piece and really not in their mainstream blues idiom, but nonetheless it is a nice piece of work, certainly focussed more toward commercial appeal and often overlooked when Chain tracks are discussed.
Following that track is Mecca with a very old blues classic, Black Betty.
Not the strongest version ever recorded, even by an Australian group. However one of the groups redeeming features was that it had Dennis Wilson on guitar. Mecca was never a group that every grabbed me, but it might be different for you.
However we come to track number 7 which featured a man, and a group, that were both brilliant and hard to fault.
Jeff St. John might be better known for his work with the Id, but in this incarnation he was backed by Yama, which grew out of the split up of the Id. The group really never had a chance to establish itself for reasons that aren’t important in this retro-review. This was a shame because Yama had a good lineup, consisting of Virgil East from Python Lee Jackson, Peter Figures from the Throb, Wayne Myers, Murray Hill, Ross East, Keith Jenkins, and a little time after the group formed they were joined by Lloyd Hardy, also from Python Lee Jackson.
The penultimate group on this side of the LP is an absolute ripper!
Doug Parkinson In Focus. Doug was a big man, both in his image and his vocals. Sporting a ‘lucifer’ type beard, an amazing afro and being gifted with a raspy but tuneful voice – he stood out at the time as an elder statesman of the scene, probably only equalled by Billy Thorpe.
Most readers would be familiar with Parkinson, if for no other reason than his brilliant cover of the Beatles track, Dear Prudence. Now In Focus formed in 1968 and consisted of some of Sydney’s top musicians with, Billy Green (guitar), Mark Kennedy (drums) and Duncan McGuire (bass).
The skill and abilities of the group were a perfect backdrop to showcase Doug’s amazing voice. The group won the Hoadley’s battle of The Sounds in 1969, which gave them a major leg-up into what should have been a long and brilliant career, but the group disbanded not long after the Dear Prudence release in 1969. Doug went onto form Fanny Mae – but the group really didn’t fire and from then on most of his success would come from a solo career. Doug is featured in another group found later in this review, where his effort wasn’t quite as memorable.
The track by Doug Parkinson In Focus was I Had A Dream and was released in May 1968. It’s another great track from that period that “cashed’ in on the growing psychedelic sound and they did it very very well with Doug’s voice sounding quite spectacular.
I Had A Dream
The final track on this side of R & B, is Rockwell T, James and the Rhythm Aces.
Not a terrible noteworthy group, it is really the story of Ronnie Peel from New Zealand who had the alter ego, Rockwell T. James. He has an impressive CV of groups that he has been in, including: The Missing Links, The La De Das, John Paul Young and the All Stars, One Ton Gypsy, Cheetah, and The Rockwells.
The track The Love Power was actually Ron’s first vocal effort, and it’s not terrible, but it’s not fantastic either.
OK, I believe this is the weakest side on both LP’s.
In the main the groups were either attempted clones of overseas bands, or just not quite up to it, although there are exceptions as you might expect.
The first group is Samuel Lilith who recorded a poor imitation of the Moody Blues Nights In White Satin and despite their claim they were the “cool underground” group the claim simply doesn’t stack up.
However, they did provide Daryl Braithwaite with an opportunity to hone his skills before joining Sherbert.
Track 2 features The Cleves and the track Sticks and Stones.
Not a bad track and it bounces along nicely but the group despite winning commissions to write and perform for some notable theatre groups, really found their niche when they won the Stylus award for a rendition of a Coke advert. As a result they moved to the USA where they took on the name – Bitch.
Next comes The Affair with their initial release Shoe Shine Boy.
A gentle enough ballad style piece of quality nothing. Honestly, even with the well known and respected Pat Auton producing this track, as a single I wouldn’t buy it then and I wouldn’t now.
Now the next track brings us the Velvet Underground. No! really!
But not THE Velvet Underground despite the year being 1970 when the “real” VU were doing some serious damage with tracks like White Light White Heat. These guys were from Newcastle and they claimed that they had never heard of “the” Velvet Underground when they chose the name.
One thing is for sure, it doesn’t sound anything like the original group. The Aussie VU chose the Jefferson Airplane’s – Somebody to Love and made a workmanlike Newcastle effort to do it justice, and I guess the locals in Newcastle may have loved it – but not me!
Track number 5 gets even worse.
Clapham Junction recorded and released the track Emily On Sunday in November 1970 and obviously someone in the group thought it would be a good idea to try and emulate the Who.
The lyrics are puerile and their attempt to play in the Who style of power rock, fails, miserably!
Next track please!
It’s The Clik with Mary Mary. The track starts with a piece of organ that may have come out of the local church and lead singer Mario Milo tries – a bit! I kind of imagine his report card probably said something like Mario is a trying boy. It limps along and honestly, the less said the better.
Track 7 is Melissa with Mississippi Mama.
Now I’m trying to find a description that I haven’t used previously. I am struggling.
Apparently they used to share a stage with Tully at Paddington Town Hall and my god I’m still struggling to find words so let’s just leave it alone as being one of those local oddities that we can only hope time forgets.
Now to the penultimate track.
We can hope things improve with Elm Tree and Lonely Nights. They don’t! Talk about filling up an entire side of an album with B and C grade material. This track struggled to made it to C grade. In fact the track makes pueril sound great!
It is seriously dreadful with the most inane flute line of all times. OK, one positive, it had a young John “Mungo” Young in the lineup, who we were to come to know as a pretty damn fine singer later on in his incarnation as John Paul Young. Let’s run away from this track – really fast!
The final track at last, but wait, it’s good news!
The track features a class outfit with a . . . ok . . . it’s not really a class track, but given the history of the group we accept it as part of an evolving history.
It’s Sherbet and the track is Crimson Ships.
The ‘classic line-up’ that consisted of Daryl Braithwaite on vocals, Tony Mitchell on bass guitar, Garth Porter on keyboards, Alan Sandow on drums, and Clive Shakespeare on guitar provided their teen-orientated pop style in a market that was evolving and looking for ‘different.
In 1976 Shakespeare left and was soon replaced by Harvey James and that wasn’t a bad replacement and in my mind, it strengthened the group, helped refocus them and led to Sherbet’s biggest singles being “Summer Love” (1975) and “Howzat” (1976). Both these tracks reached number one in Australia and Howzat was also a top 5 hit in the United Kingdom.
let’s take a step back in time to the beginning when Sherbet formed in Sydney in April 1969 with Dennis Laughlin on vocals (ex-Sebastian Hardie Blues Band, Clapham Junction), Doug Rea on bass guitar (Downtown Roll Band), Sam See on organ, guitar and vocals (Clapham Junction), Clive Shakespeare on lead guitar and vocals (Downtown Roll Band), and Danny Taylor on drums (Downtown Roll Band).
There was nothing wrong with this lineup and we can see subsequently that many of them went onto become highly regarded musicians in this country’s music history, with some, such as Sam See, continuing to play today and playing better than ever.
Now this track was recorded in 1970 and it has Dennis Laughlin on vocals and amazingly none of the original members were on the recording. It sounds like it was not recorded very well and certainly isn’t regarded as being one of their better tracks.
Crimson Ships was originally recorded by Bad Finger, who did a brilliant job with it. Not so Sherbet and I believe the group disliked it so much it was wiped from their official history.
However, it is indicative of how bad I think this entire side of this album is that this track stands out as the best on it. Mind you I wish they faded the track around 2:50!
Thank the music gods, or the album producers, that someone got their shit together when it came to side 2 of LP number 2 – titled Some Pop Songs and Curios. Not the descriptive title I would have chosen as I believe it undersells the quality and variety on this side.
This a ripper o a side, as good as the last side was awful!
It starts off with the The Ram Jam Big Band and Sunshine and I Feel Fine. What a relief to the ears after the other side of this LP.
The group actually started out in 1966 as a (suit and tie) club outfit, before clubs became hip! By 1969 they had become incredibly popular right throughout the “rock” music scene. The move toward a more “popular” style of music started at an earlier period to when this track was recorded with this track, Sunshine And I Feel Fine being released in very late in 1967
It announced to everyone listening, that they were big in presentation and sound. Like most groups membership of the period, it did alter bit and it can be difficult actually tracking who was in the group when the track was recorded. It is believed that the personnel on this track were founders, Russell Smith and Trevor Villas, Ian Clyne, Peter Knapp, Don Weight and Stan Harris.
At a time when most groups were small combos with the traditional guitars, bass, drums and maybe a keyboard player, the addition of the brass section to the group gave them both a unique identity and the full live sound that most other groups could only get on studio recordings, when additional studio musicians came in to help fill the sound.
Despite their brilliance and massive crowd appeal, they never hit the big time and while I think this track deserved more than accolaids, it was their first release, the Smokey Robinson penned My Girl, that came to be the closest thing to a hit for them. But relive the sound of the Ram Jam Big Band and the upbeat and well played Ian Clyne composition – Sunshine and I Feel Fine.
Sunshine and I Feel Fine
The next track is by the Love Machine.
Now you will remember that there was absolute chaos when a studio developed group called Pastoral Symphony released Love Machine, and then someone else registered and used the name?
Well, producer Pat Auton decided he could also cause chaos with the name Love Machine. OK, yes he thought the time was also right to re-release the track The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and use a Sydney group – Tymepiece. Unfortunately the group had a current single out, so he couldn’t use that name and chose Love Machine!
The track became a number one, but the group Tymepiece very quickly got tired of playing at one gig under that name, then having to appear as Love Machine and having to have two different lists of music and, well chaos can be very wearing.
They chose to keep as Tymepiece, but undeterred Auton released more singles under the name Love Machine, using different studio musicians for each single which then made live performances somewhat interesting. You guessed it quickly the whole thing simply fell apart!
Track 3 features a Melbourne group who never really rose to any great heights despite some nice tight harmonies. Iguana released the Pat Auton produced California My Way and the fact that it reached number 10 in Melbourne was actually a good effort when you consider the original version was released by a group known the world round for their harmonies. That group was The Fifth Dimension and that was a hard act to follow vocally.
Track 4 – Groupie by The New Dream.
OK! I have mixed feelings about this group and this track. Look we need to understand that despite the penchant most of us in those years had for the ever growing variety of rock and blues, there was a growing “teenie-bopper” audience whose needs needed to be met, and could be met along with making some money.
Zoot were for a while the darlings of the teenie-bopper set, but Zoot grew up and their music certainly grew up and there was a hole to be filled. In fact it was filled when the powerful music agency AMBO recognised this, and began to look for a replacement group and to groom a new act!
A unknown little talented group called The Dream was promoted, given a makeover in look and personnel and reemerged as The New Dream. They were not without talented players as it included muso’s such as John Bois [then calling himself John Du Bois] and Peter Saunders. They were embraced by the teenie-boppers. I guess the track fits into both the “pop song and curio” category.
Next is White Wine with The Train Song.
The White who??? OK this track certainly fits into the “curio” category! Honestly there is a lengthy story behind this group, but in my soul I can’t see the point in relating it all as the group and track simply don’t deserve it. Suffice to say that it is yet another studio manufactured group. Gus McNeil is the central character and he was in the Nomads, some readers may recall them. At the end of the day really White Wine was just another studio band assembled to record an album to fulfil a deal. The group consisted of Angela Jones, Laurie Kemp, Bill Twyman, Graeme Conlon and Leonie Goodwin and of course Gus.
Yes they all had gained experience with other groups and some went on to do reasonably well post this disaster. But this cover of a Flying Burrito Bros number is really poorly done and in case you are interested it appeared on the resulting album “Overflow” released in 1969.
But if you want obscure “curio’s”, the next group has it in spades!
Track 6 is Brass Bird by Lloyd’s World. I would be utterly amazed if one reader can recall ever seeing this group, or even listening to this track. They took remaining anonymous to new heights. The track is a rather poor attempt to utilise the new flanging techniques that were so well used by master performers such as Hendrix and the Small Faces.
I am led to believe the group spent a lot of time developing material around the styles of these two artists. Obviously believing they were without peer (and maybe they were actually!), they departed for the UK and were actually picked up by Robert Stigwood’s company.
OK, so that was one feather in their cap, and the other feather in the cap was that Johnny Devlin produced this single – but they faded away into obscurity in the UK just as efficiently as they had in Australia.
I think I’ll actually share this track with you as it’s good to see all sides of the music coin.
The Train Song
Next is a genuine homegrown tip-top group who sadly didn’t last as long as many of us would have liked them to have. In fact so much so it is doubtful anyone except “hardened” music fans from the period remember them let alone saw them.
I believe Molly Meldrum said of James Taylor Move, “James Taylor Move is rapidly becoming the in-vogue name to the Australian pop scene.”
Sadly the group barely survived 18 months and yet the lineup consisted of some superb musicians, many of whom did go onto bigger and better things.
Lance Dixon (organ, sax) 1968
Kevin Peek (guitar) 1967 – May 1968
John Pugh (guitar) 1968
Wendy Saddington (vocals) 1968
Trevor Spencer (drums)
Allan Tarney (bass)
Robert (RJ) Taylor (vocals, bass) 1967 – June 1968
In July of 1967 they released the Hendrix inspired single, And I Heard The Fire Sing, which despite its great guitar work from Kevin Peek, was a bit pedestrian and was largely ignored by the radio stations of the day.
However, when you turned the single over it revealed this absolute gem! Rob Taylor’s voice is fabulous, Peek’s guitar work is again the best, the arrangement is excellent and fortunately for all the smart stations of the day did pick up on this side of the single.
Written by Taylor, Tarney and Peek – it became a moderate hit but really it should have been bigger and is a track that the group should always be pleased with.
Late version of the group with John Pugh on the right of Wendy Saddington
Do your ears a favour and check it out!
The penultimate track on this final side of LP number two features a group I have featured in their own right in previous retro-reviews.
Cam-Pact were a superstar group who had some real stars of the music scene and a decent pedigree.
Made up members of three Melbourne Groups, The 18th Century Quartet, The Delta-set and the Rising Sons, they were shaped into a mould to meet another demand of the day, that of a talented but “pretty group” but make no mistake though, they played with a punch, and, could be very controversial.
Even their name (originally Camp-Act) was too much for the sensibilities of the day. When this track, an original composition – Drawing Room, was released in May of 1968 the lineup was:
Mark Barnes (bass)
Greg Cook (organ, guitar)
Trevor Courtney (drums)
Keith Glass (guitar/bass/vocals)
Chris Stockley (guitar/vocals)
With original drummer Robert Lloyd and guitarist John Pugh having moved onto other projects, this lineup survived until 1969 when Mark Barnes was replaced on bass by Keith Glass and the group became a quartet. The group finally underwent two more lineup changes and folded in late 1970.
The track is really delightful piece of whimsical psychedelia. It holds up well today.
The final track doesn’t end with a bang or a whimper – maybe it could be with laughter, or maybe confusion might be your your responses.
The group that was called The Questions. It featured Doug Parkinson, and the story goes that Doug apparently approached Bob Taylor (of Johnny Devlin’s Devils), and asked whether he had any ideas for an appropriate “standard” he could record.
With tracks such as “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, “Maria” and “Blue Moon” all making good money, Doug thought this might be a good way of getting an instant “hit”. Personally I would love to know what bizarre circumstance led to Taylor suggesting this “gem” from of all places, the musical the King and I.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the agonising funeral style organ combined with Parkinson’s “manufactured” seriousness just led listeners into a world of hurt!
Doug Parkinson was one hell of a singer and his rendition of Dear Prudence remains an absolute classic cover – this track however, remains an absolute disaster of a cover and maybe it’s best forgotten – consigned to the heap that might be called forgotten and never forgiven! .
So, we have covered a all of groups to one extent or another and while I have been scathing of some, in fact almost an entire side of one album, and several tracks particularly on the final side, it is clear the other three sides demand attention and respect.
They represent some absolute and utter brilliant pieces of Australian music from this period and this album is a great companion to Volume 1 – So You Wanna Be A Rock and Roll Star Volume 1 – The Scream Years Of Australian Rock 1964 – 1966.
The album is part of a re-release on CD of volumes 1 & 2 so with this set you get clean reproductions of the tracks with additional material, but if you want the vinyl original and get the artwork and the inserts that are part of the gatefold album – which for collectors is an important part of an album, then it is available if you search hard. In decent condition you should expect to pay around $40.00+, and postage – I think it’s worth every dollar.
VIDEOS – Here are a series of clips from some of the groups. Where the group has no live performance I have chosen a video with stills and where there is a live performance but not of a track on this album, I have substituted, such as the clip of Phil Jones. There is only one known live clip, apparently made by the group, called “Pick a Bale of Cotton”.
The Dave Miller Set – Mr Guy Fawkes
Phil Jones and The Unkown Blues – Pick A Bale Of Cotton
Running Jumping Standing Still – Diddey Wah Diddey
Doug Parkinson In Focus – Then I Run
Iguana – California My Way
The New Dream – Groupie
Ram Jam Big Band – Sunshine And I Feel Fine