“Is It Any Wonder That The 1960’s Refused To fade Away Gracefully” [Liner Notes]
This was one of the Australian albums that I reviewed in past years on the Toorak Times. The series was called, “Cream of The Crate (CD’s)”, and they represent CD 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.
This CD is part of a set of four CD’s put out by the Raven Label consisting of Volumes #1 to #4 and they consist of singles released between 1964 and 1970. The music is by predominantly Australian groups, with New Zealand groups/artists, to a much lesser extent.
I have reviewed CD’s #1 and #2 now it is time to examine the third CD
Sixties Down Under: Volume 3 consisting of 28 Oz/Nz Rock Classics“. It is released on the Raven Label (RVCD 08) in 1990. Raven are well known for reviving tracks of Australian groups that long lost if not for their compilations, although seems they also include tracks released on other albums where these are perennial favorites of listeners and collectors alike.
One of the bonuses associated with the first two CD’s in this series was that they were annotated by well known and respected “Music Head” and “Rock Guru”, Glenn A Baker. In CD #3 the producers have recast the ‘writer’ of the notes, and have chosen Ian McFarlane who is an Australian music journalist and author of The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop.
Certainly McFarlane is correct when he writes that the ‘classic hits’ radio format continued to foist the overseas legends of that era upon us. He is also correct when he concludes that, we had our own pop heroes in abundance.
This conclusion becomes obvious, if it wasn’t already, when we take a cursory look at the track lineup on this CD. In essence CD #3 examines the R&B and psychedelic ends of the pop spectrum, with the first two tracks alone represent two of our strongest and most consistent groups – The Easybeats and Bobby & Laurie!
But it doesn’t end there as we scan down to see names we have become so familiar with and who are synonymous with quality recordings and regular releases. These include Ray Brown & The Whispers, Normie Rowe, The Purple Hearts, La De Das, The Twilights, The Wild Cherries, Procession, Doug Parkinson In Focus, The Masters Apprentices and Russell Morris.
There is even a fantastic list of groups who may not have had many releases but oozed quality and certainly had members that went onto even better things, such as M.P.D Limited, The Throb, Larry’s Rebels and James Taylor Move but, I am happy to declare that as with CD’s #1 and #2 in this set, all the tracks on this CD are worthy of being there.
1. SHE’S SO FINE – The Easybeats
2. SOMEONE – Bobby & Laurie
3. STUPIDITY – Peter Doyle & the Phantoms
4. LITTLE BOY SAD – M.P.D. Limited
5. THAT’S WHAT I WANT – The Cicadas
6. MARY LOU – The Changing Times
7. JUDY GREEN – Bobby & Laurie
8. WEDDING RING – The Easybeats
9. THE BREAKING POINT – Normie Rowe
10. AIN’T IT STRANGE – Ray Brown & the Whispers
11. GYPSY WOMAN – The Allusions
12. I’M GONNA TRY – The Purple Hearts
13. BLACK – The Throb
14. DIDDY WAH DIDDY – The Running Jumping Standing Still
15. IF I HAD A TICKET – Phil Jones & the Unknown Blues
16. HEY BABY – La De Das
17. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WAY I LIVE? – The Twilights
18. PAINTER MAN – Larry’s Rebels
19. KROME PLATED YABBY – The Wild Cherries
20. MAGIC EYES – James Taylor Move
21. SAD – The Playboys
22. LISTEN – Procession
23. HIDE AND SEEK – Somebody’s Image
24. 2,000 WEEKS – Terry Britten
25. DEAR PRUDENCE – Doug Parkinson In Focus
26. 5.10 MAN – The Master’s Apprentices
27. MR GUY FAWKES – Dave Miller Set
28. THE REAL THING – Russell Morris
The choice of what to feature and discuss is just as hard for this CD as for the previous two, but I will stay away from groups already discussed. So having chosen five groups I’m glad that i have at least chosen two groups from New Zealand, one being Larry’s Rebels, the other, you may be surprised that they were formed in NZ!
But lets work in order that they appear on the CD, which means I start with track #14 and Running Jumping Standing Still.
I chose this group because the track Diddy Wah Diddy really rocks! Written by Willie Dixon and Bo Diddley it is one of those tracks that has been covered so many times that it is ridiculous, but, yet somehow never failed to get a crowd dancing so thereby lay the reason.
When RJSS emerged from the demise of the Missing Links, they had two really fantastic things going for them. Number one was the volatile lead singer Andy James and a shit-hot guitarist by the name of Doug Ford, who would go onto even bigger and better things with the Master’s Apprentices.
Through the effort of Ford the group became known as the ‘feed-back kings’ of the Melbourne scene and in fact Australia wide, probably only the Purple Hearts with Lobby were brasher and louder.
Diddy Wah Diddy
Next in line is track #15, and Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues with the track, If I Had A Ticket.
Schoolboy singer Phil Jones formed the group in 1965 in Invercargill, NZ. By 1967 they group was resident in Sydney and swept along with the theme of the day that saw most groups if not playing blues based music, certainly adapting blues tracks into their repertoire, they reworked an old blues song which resulted in their 1967 debut single, which charted up to #20.
With the success of their single, the band toured in Brisbane and Melbourne. Original membership included Phil, Chris Brown, Bill Hodkisson, Dave Rowland and Andrew Blundell. There were a number of changes in the line-up, and I have been assured by an ex-member of the group, that the story is more complicated than the space here allows to tell. However, the group did see some great musicians contribute to it, including toward the end, Robert Lloyd on drums, who had previously been a member of another iconic Australian group – Cam-pact.
After disbanding in 1968, Phil Jones issued 2 solo singles before moving to England and becoming involved in the progressive/underground rock scene in the Notting Hill/Ladbroke Grove area of London. Jones adopted the name Shiva Shankar Jones and joined Quintessence. After leaving them in 1971, Jones joined Kala, along with Chris Brown and David Bentley of Python Lee Jackson.
They had four singles and one EP released, all blues based. In fact If I Had A Ticket was the B-side of their first release that had Howling Wolf’s “Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy“, as the A-side.
If I Had A Ticket
The second and far more impressive NZ outfit was Larry’s Rebels. The group were far more than musically competent, they actually were quite gifted. The track Painter man was actually their 9th release which released #6 in NZ and may have indeed gone higher, but for some unknown NZ housewife who having decided that the lyrics were lecherous, complained and the track was pulled from the airwaves.
They crossed the Tasman in February 1967 with Eric Burdon’s New Animals, Dave Dee, Dozy, Mick and Tich, and Paul and Barry Ryan for an Australian tour, and stayed on for The Easybeats homecoming tour.
Back in New Zealand, Larry’s Rebels introduced their homeland to full-on psychedelic light shows on the Blast Off ’67 and Golden Disc Spectacular package tours and released the patchy Study In Black album. Organist Terry Rouse left the group after the Blast Off ’68 New Zealand tour, replaced by Mal Logan, and Wellington blues wailer Glyn Mason joined for Larry Morris.
Larry’s Rebels – Left to Right: Terry Rouse, Dennis Stoo, Larry Morris, John Williams and Viv McCarthy
Rechristened The Rebels, they moved permanently to Australia, where they had gained a good profile, had the talented ex-kiwi Glyn Mason join them on vocals and guitar, all while still scoring a 1969 Kiwi chart topper with ‘My Son John’. They released a second album Madrigal before splitting in January 1970. Glyn Mason went onto be part of some of Australia’s best loved groups including, Chain, Ariel, Stockley, See & Mason, and, is still working today as one half of The Pardoners with Sam See.
The fourth group being examined is James Taylor Move and track # 20 – Magic Eyes.
Whilst not receiving the acclaim that The Twilights, their compatriots from Adelaide, received, James Taylor Move were still very much a class act. McFarlane refers to them to the city’s premier psychedelic group. In fact classy guitarist Kevin Peek from James Taylor Move was actually the original guitarist in the embryonic Twilights before being replaced by Terry Britten.
I don’t have the original single that Magic Eyes appeared on but it was in fact the B-side of their debut single, which has the heavily influenced Jimi Hendrix track “And I Heard The Fire Sing” as the A-side.
When it was played to Adelaide radio stations it proved to be too much for their delicate ears – Hey! don’t forget during the 1960’s Adelaide developed it’s reputation for really being the ‘City of the Churches’, and this label adequately reflected the conservative nature of Adelaide in that period.
The membership of the group included, Kevin Peek (1967 – May ’68), Trevor Spencer, Alan Tarney, Robert John Taylor (1967 – June ’68), John Pugh (1968), Lance Dixon (1968) and Wendy Saddington (1968).
|Late version of the group with John Pugh on the left of Wendy Saddington|
However, when the B-Side was played it didn’t offend the ears of the DJ’s, and in fact was found to be quite a beautiful psychedelic track in its own right and climbed into the Top 40 in Melbourne in 1967 after they won the South Australian finals of the Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds and traveled to Melbourne to compete in the national final.
In June 1968 Wendy Saddington, a blues vocalist, replaced Taylor but the group disbanded by the end of the year.
Peek then went onto actually join Terry Britten in later years in the group “Quartet” before eventually forming the wonderful and classical rock group, Sky in 1978. It would not be unfair to claim that James Taylor Move would be largely unforgotten today and it really is fortunate that Raven have produced this CD set so that groups such as this, will not be completely forgotten.
So now to the fifth and final track – just how hard was this to choose? Very! I have gone for track # 22 featuring Procession doing “Listen“.
Procession were a most interesting group that had some fine musicians at one stage or another:
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
It is pretty cool that our fifth group is in fact an amalgam of the Australian group, The Playboys, and the great NZ group, the Librettos. The group made its live debut at Sebastians disco in Melbourne on 17 December 1967.
Ambitious is a term often associated with this group, and most apt it is as well. Ambitious because they had an array of talent that was to be envied, and along with the talent came the drive to be different. With the likes of Molly Meldrum and Lily Brett talking them up, they had to deliver and they did and it paid off, for a while.
Within 2 months of formation they were not just appearing on top show ‘Uptight’, but were doing so regularly. If it weren’t for the talent in the group, it might have been tempting to draw attention to the fact that the bands manager – David Joseph, was also the producer of Uptight.
The group kicked off the first of four singles with “Anthem“, followed it with “Listen“, then came “Every American Citizen“, and finally “One day In Every Week“. The put out four singles between December ’67 and December ’69.
In my mind they hit their best record in “Listen“, and the two singles after that effectively flopped, although I do have a very soft spot for “Essentially Susan” which appeared on the B-side of “Every American Citizen“.
I would be very happy if I had their second released vinyl LP – “Procession” (Festival FL 33091) Australia, but I do have Procession Live At Sebastians (Festival FL 32903).
Their story is intriguing and complex and far to big to do justice here. Suffice to say that I have chosen to use the track “Listen“, loosely called a psychedelic track, I like to think of it as very innovative and quite ahead of its time. Each member went onto even bigger and better musical adventures, but as far as Procession is concerned, the musical ability of the group shines through and the vocal arrangements are quite superb. All in all a great track to finish this review with – just “Listen”!
In some ways I feel as though I am repeating myself as I have had the same response to the CD as the previous two. The CD doesn’t necessarily capture the best of the group, or even their top ‘hit’, but provides memorable tracks if not memorable moments for those of us who are part of the Baby Boomer generation and who were there when this was all unfolding.
For those of you who were too young at the time to appreciate what was happening as Australian music moved very quickly through its formative years and into providing genuine contenders who could stand proudly against the overseas groups.
Supported by the development of some of the best venues in the world, it was no wonder that Melbourne really did become one of the critical music centers in the world and so it is no wonder that the 1960’s refused to fade away gracefully – and thank god for that!
I would recommend that if you are going to buy this CD you go to the Raven Records website and buy direct, as they have the best price ($29.95) and the CD is in stock.
VIDEOS – Sadly there are few video clips of the groups on this CD actually performing their tracks, buy I have found four live performances, and one clip (Changing Times), that while not live, is a well made clip.
The Master’s Apprentices – 5:10 Man
Changing Times – Mary Lou
The Allusions – Gypsy Woman
Twilights – What’s Wrong With The Way I Live
Russell Morris – The Real Thing