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 album retro-review number one hundred and five in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl and Cd albums in my collection.
The series is called “Cream of The Crate” and each review represents an album that I believe is of significant musical value, either because of it’s rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.
The first fifty reviews were vinyl only, and the second fifty reviews were CD’s only. Links to these reviews can be found at the bottom of this page. From review 101 onward I have mixed vinyl and CD albums and, try and present an Australian album every fifth review!
Given this is Number 105 (and thus the 5th Review after Number 100), I have taken an Aussie Cd from the shelf. This album was released around June of 2013.
This album is by one of the true doyens of the Australian music scene, Bobby Bright. The album, more appropriately an EP/Cd as it has five tracks and is titled Child Of Rock And Roll.
It was released by Bobby on his own label and is presented in a fold out cover, making it yet another very successful indie release.
It is almost unnecessary to give any form of introduction to this man, he has been on the “scene” in Australia for over fifty years.
Born in the UK, he arrived in Adelaide with his mother in 1953 had a short stint in Adelaide singing before moving to Melbourne in 1962, where he has been based for the majority of the next fifty-two years of his musical career.
His first record release was in 1963, and in fact consisted of two singles on the W&G label.
His early career will be long remembered for his successful duo with Laurie Allen and in 1964 they formed the much loved and quite brilliant act of Bobby and Laurie.
During the period they were together they released three albums and ten singles and extended plays, closing their act in 1967.
By 1971 after a brief reunion between 1968 and 1971, their time together was up and while remaining friends sought separate careers.
Over the intervening years Bobby has worked in film and television, live theatre and continued his singing career.
There certainly have been quiet periods as styles came and went. However, whether he was up on the stage belting it out or taking a break as he did in the mid 1980’s living near Bellingen in NSW, he has continued to reinvent himself and to mature both vocally and with in his songwriting.
And that brings us to this 2013 Cd release, which I have to be honest and say has had a lot of playing.
It does sit most comfortably in my Cream of the Crate albums, for several reasons. I admit I feel a kinship with Bob that many of us have that grew up through the same period, and went to shows he played at and listened to him as his music changed and developed.
I also have fond memories of being in a young group that was finding its way and was fortunate enough on occasions to share a stage as a support act, when he and Laurie were headliners.
But, to this album.
Child of Rock and Roll also sits comfortably in the crate because it nestles very agreeably, if not cozily, with some amazing Australian albums in my collection.
Finally, it is of such an amazing quality and to support that contention, maybe its time to examine the tracks.
To do this it is highly appropriate to look at who is supporting Bobby Bright on this album.
The track listing and credits are printed the right hand side of the inner cover.
These start with Gerry Pantazis on drums. Playing bass, on all but one track, is Roger McLachlan.
John Dallimore plays guitar and next is Michael Oliphant, who produced, arranged & engineered the album as well as also contributing keyboards.
Ross Hannaford contributes bass and guitar on one track, and, rhythm guitar and vocals feature Bobby.
Backing vocals on various tracks are supplied by Katie Slaney and Michael Oliphant.
The horn section consists of Donald Stewart on trumpet, trombone & cornet and Greg Clarkson on sax.
When I first reviewed this track back in June of 2013 I wrote, “Now if you are expecting five “classic” rock and roll tracks, you are going to be disappointed.”
In creating Child Of Rock And Roll Bob is acknowledging his past and all the music influences that have touched him, but, this is not a journey to relive the past.
It’s a series of five compositions that reflect various elements of Bobby’s musical journey over a 6 decade period.
Bobby recognises and shares with us the listener, his love and passion, almost his musical Raison d’être with his opening track, where he pays homage to his rock and roll roots.
Commencing with the title track, “Child of Rock and Roll“, he makes his declaration of his love for rock and roll initially with no musical backing at all.
The first instrument we hear is a gentle piano refrain, underscoring that the track is not a power-rock track, but is a statement, a reflective journey that many listeners will strongly relate to.
It actually makes for a brilliant opening, an introduction to the journey we are about to embark on with this ‘Child of Rock and Roll‘.
Child Of Rock And Roll [Sample]
Next up is Living In Limbo.
Bob has always had an excellent rock and roll voice and as the years passed he was able to alter his style and in doing so, demonstrate that his voice can handle far more than rock.
As those years has passed a wonderful thing has actually happened, he has been blessed with developing a wonderful “gravelly” edge to his voice which has allowed him to be even more expressive.
Living In Limbo is a great track to demonstrate this! The track itself is beautifully crafted both in construction and from the playing by the musicians on it.
The bass/drum combination is simply superb and sets the foundations of a track that is simply impossible not to swing and sway too as you listen.
The keyboard provides a wonderful addition to the emotion of the piece and Michael Doyle’s guitar work is oh so sweet, the middle eight guitar solo is as good as it gets.
For me it’s a track I can sit back at home and listen to or put on the car stereo or, as I have done, load onto my iPod. Anywhere and at anytime, I guess many of us have experienced living in limbo!
Living In Limbo
Track three – Younger Days.
This is a wonderful “lay-back” track and it drops into such a sweet “unfussed” groove. No one is pushing or pulling yet the five guys, Gerry, Roger, John, Michael and Bobby, just move into the track with style and comfort.
It really tells not just the story that Bobby is eluding to in “paying for his excesses” as a younger man, it also tells the story that these five muso’s have a tight bond that shines through in the playing.
I really like the lyric construction and because he wrote it, Bobby is able to deliver it in an exquisite style.
Younger Days is a track that many of us who have taken the journey through the fifties, sixties and into the second decade of this century, can really relate to.
We played and partied hard, and now we must pay the piper as we get older.
Getting old, and paying for my younger days
Got a long list of things, that I have to reappraise
There’s things I don’t see, things I don’t hear
And simple things confuse me when they aught to be clear
It ain’t appealing this feeling
Paying for my younger days
Well I’ve paid through the nose, for good times, I had in my youth
Didn’t know what I was doin’ when I did it
ain’t that the truth
Now there’s aches and there’s pains
Things I can’t explain
Like when my legs aching and I know it’s going to rain
It ain’t appealing this feeling
Paying for my younger days
Yes I’m paying, uh huh, yer
Paying for my younger days……………
Yet, this is NOT a track of complaints, it is a track about coming to a realisation that age and it’s affects while they are an inevitability, it’s ok – it’s all good!
Great Life (Elsie’s Song) is the penultimate track on this Cd.
Surely when a song writer sings off his experiences and shares them with the listener, it results in lyrics that come not just from a real time and situation, but from the heart.
Elsie was Bobbys mother, and the song IS Elsie’s Song, because what Bobby is doing is sharing with us the philosophy of his mother, which she had shared with him.
It’s a track that might have ended up as a ballad, but instead it has been born into a fabulous reggae style composition that is certain to be played over and over again.
Like all he best reggae style compositions, it’s a song of promise.
“It’s a great life
If you don’t weaken
It’s a great life
If you stay strong . . .”
The full story of how the track came to be, as related by Bobby, in the video clip below.
This is a terrific track and musically it’s the complete track because it not just bounces along, but is utterly right in melody and structure.
Playing bass and guitar was non other than Ross Hannaford, himself a long-standing and highly respected muso. Ross is one of those guys that oozed quality and skill, yet never took himself overly serious. He enjoyed his music and had a knack of creating an ambiance around himself that encouraged us to enjoy ourselves as well.
Sadly “Hanna” passed away on 8 March 2016, leaving a hole that is unlikely ever to be filled.
Producer Michael Oliphant has done a fantastic job with this track, he has allowed Hannaford to “be himself” and it is reflected in his playing, which is superbly supported by Gerry Pantazis on drums (no wonder this man is in such demand).
Michael plays keyboards on the track, and there is some fabulous brass playing by Clarkson and Stewart, with backing vocals by Bobby and Katie Slaney. It’s a track that simply jells together screaming, “try and ignore me at your own peril”!
Sadly, because of the incestuous nature of Australian Commercial radio, that is being totally “in bed” with the large music corporations, this track will only get airplay on the community radio network. Thank goodness IT is in such good health.
But those who insist on supporting commercial radio – well, you miss out!
What a musical crime!
Great Life (Elsie’s Song)
So we (sadly), come to the final track – Close To You.
What a “arse-kicking” track to finish off with!
It is a perfect track too close with. It’s an great uptempo, upbeat track that calls upon everyone who is contributing to this CD to now have their moment.
What’s more, I can hear Bob saying, “It’s fine by me”!”
It’s one of those great stylistic tracks, where the composition is rich. Yet at the same time, none of the instruments try to “fill” every gap.
What we have is perfect balance between each instrument, each is presented with enough opportunity to make a musical statement without dominating.
Fantastic playing, and fantastic production!
Close To You
Bobby’s music in 2013 was not just a statement of how appreciates these various styles, but is also a statement of how he made those styles his own.
We quickly realise this ‘child’ has successfully embraced many styles over those 6 decades and in 2013, he coalesced those experiences into a ‘HERE I AM NOW’ statement of his journey.
What a journey and, what a polished statement.
Bobby has remained active on the musical scene despite the multiple stylistic changes music has gone through. In fact he has more than survived, he has adapted whilst still remaining true to a love of rock and roll.
With this Cd he has shown us that composition wise he has made a huge leap, breaking away from his traditional choice of material and yet, retaining the essential element – that pure heart of rock and roll.
The choice of material on this EP is excellent and all involved can feel a great degree of satisfaction from what they achieved.
Personally, I love the entire works and enjoy playing the Cd to people who I know haven’t heard it, and then, watching their reaction
It can be bought as a Cd for $19.00 (which includes post and package), or downloaded from iTunes. Either way just click on the album cover below to be taken to Bobby’s web site where you have those two options of ordering the Cd, or downloading the tracks.
More recently Bobby has released another CD album, which again demonstrates how this desire to reinvent himself is constant.
Check out INTRO_SPECTION 
Didn’t See It Coming (Sample)
Available from – bobbybright.com.au
There are no shortages of Bobby Bright video clips on Youtube, but here is one that was actually filmed on the night of the Cd release featuring a track from the Cd.
Great Life (Elsie’s Song)
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
To view/listen the first 50 vinyl album reviews just click the image below –
To view/listen the first 50 Cd album reviews just click the image below –
Click to open the following Vinyl reviews from 101 onward: