cream of the crate: cd review #45: skyhooks – the skyhooks tapes

cream of the crate: cd review #45: skyhooks – the skyhooks tapes
Cd 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.

 

 

 

"In the mid Seventies Skyhooks basically gave the Australian Music Industry the enema it had been needing." - (Peter Green- Skyhooks web site) _ . "The Skyhooks were one of the Australian music scene's hidden treasures." - (D. Hartley - reviewer Seatle USA)

Cream Of The Crate Reviews 1 to 50 were vinyl album reviews.  
The following fifty reviews (51 - 100) were originally marked as CD Reviews 1 - 50
and this numbering has been kept to keep consistency with the published CD reviews.

 

This is number forty five in the series of retro-reviews of Cd albums in my collection.

The series is 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 there is something unique about the group or the music.

Following the pattern of every fifth album I review being an Australian release, we arrive at Skyhooks.

The Cd is titled – The Skyhooks Tapes and was released on the Aussie Mushroom label originally in 1977, but I am unsure of the release date of the Cd.

It is dated 1977, but given Cd’s were not thought of until 1979, and the first release on a Cd was not until 1982, this is obviously the release date of the original album. The Cd code is D 19223.

 

cream of the crate: cd review #45: skyhooks – the skyhooks tapes
Cd label – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

The Skyhooks Tapes was the first compilation album released by the group. In total they had five studio albums between 1974 and 1980, two live albums and seven compilations including this Cd.

The Cd has 14 tracks on it and all represent singles released as either A or B sides with ten tracks featured on the first three albums and the other four tracks being strictly singles releases only.

In total they cover the years 1974 – 1977, of which it could rightly be argued, were the groups best years.

Membership of the group is fairly widely known. The best known and most consistent lineup consisted of:
Gregory John Macainsh (Songwriter)
Redmond Symons (Songwriter, TV Villain)
Bob “Bongo” Starkie (Guitarist)
Imants Alfred Strauks AKA “Freddy Kaboodleschnitzer” (Drums)
Graeme “Shirley” Strachan (Vocals) [source: Skyhooks website]

Other members were:
Steve Hill (Joined Skyhooks as Lead Singer in 1973. Departed Feb 1974.)
Peter Ingliss (Joined Skyhooks on guitar in March 1973. Departed July 1973.)
Peter Starkie (Bongo’s older brother joined Skyhooks before him, March 1973. Departed July 1973.)
Bob Spencer (Joined Skyhooks after the departure of Red Symons in February 1977. Part of the lineup till it’s demise in June 1980.)
Tony Williams (Joined Skyhooks after Shirley’s departure in January 1979 and stayed with the band till their demise in June 1980.)

cream of the crate: cd review #45: skyhooks – the skyhooks tapes
Steve Hill & Greg Macainsh (1973)

 

The history of the band is told succinctly and obviously with excellent reliability on the skyhooks website. So if you are interested in it, just click this link – history.

In summary they formed in Melbourne in March 1973 when Macainsh and Strauks came together, and were a full unit when joined by Symons and Starkie shortly after.

At this time it became evident, even to himself, that Steve Hill could not fill the role of lead singer adequately.

Steve passed away in 2005 from liver cancer.

cream of the crate: cd review #45: skyhooks – the skyhooks tapes
Steve Hill

 

So, Strachan joined around a year later. 

cream of the crate: cd review #45: skyhooks – the skyhooks tapes
Shirley Strachan

 

Their 1974 debut album Living In The 70’s was a #1 album.

“Red” Symons left Skyhooks in 1977 and was followed by “Shirley” Strachan in 1978. “Shirley” passed away in 2001 as a result of a helicopter accident.

In 1992, Skyhooks were inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame.

In 2011, the Skyhooks album Living in the 70s was added to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Sounds of Australia registry.

cream of the crate: cd review #45: skyhooks – the skyhooks tapes
Cd rear cover: Track Listing – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

Track Listing

  1. All My Friends Are Getting Married
  2. Party To End All Parties *
  3. Crazy Heart
  4. Ego (Is Not A Dirty Word)
  5. Hot Rod James *
  6. Million Dollar Riff
  7. You’re A Broken Gin Bottle Baby
  8. Let It Rock *
  9. Revolution
  10. Blue Jeans
  11. Living In The 70’s
  12. You Just Like Me ‘Cos I’m Good In Bed
  13. Forging Ahead *
  14. Horror Movie

* Only released on a single

So how do you go about looking at a compilation of releases by possibly the most popular Australian group of the 1970’s?

Well one of the benefits of actually writing the review, be it retro or otherwise, is that the writer gets to choose.

So I have gone with three tracks that really could be classified as “classic” Hook tracks, and a couple of tracks that were only released as singles – that is, never appeared on any album except for compilations.

So first to track #2 Party To End All Parties.

One of the tracks released as a single but not on a studio album and which was recorded in 1977.

Given the excesses of the 1970’s it’s not surprising that someone would eventually write a song about the parties that became a mainstay of social activities. The track featured Bob Spencer playing guitar, having replaced “Red” Symons who sought a more lucrative, if not longer lasting career, in television.


The track was seen as moderately successful reaching #2 nationally in Australia.

There was a rumour on the grapevine
The word had got around
There was a party goin’ on
On the wild side of town
I said to Jody “do you wanna go?”
Now Jody likes to party
And I knew she wouldn’t say no
Well we got the right street
But we got the wrong number
Then like a shot in the dark
We heard that thunder

Of the party to end all parties
Wildest one in the book
Party to end all parties
Step inside and take a look

Party To End All Parties

 

Track #4 Ego Is Not A Dirty Word.

This is in my mind was one of the first tracks to really put Skyhooks into the ears of almost all radio listeners.

Penned by Greg Macainsh, it shot to #1 in 1975. It had a mesmerising riff and the chorus of – “Ego – is not a dirty word” was so damn easy to remember, it became a phrase for a while on everyone’s lips.

The track was taken from the 1975 album by the same name and released as a single.

The story goes that initially, they were locked out of the recording studio until their manager, Michael Gudinski, sent down the money still owed for recording the first album. The end result was a track that has endured and remains as a Skyhooks fan favourite.

Greg

“Bongo” Starkey & Manager Michael Gudinsky

 

If I did not have an ego
I would not be here tonight
If I did not have an ego
I might not think I was right
And if you did not have an ego you might not care the way you dressed
And if you did not have an ego you’d just be like the rest

Chorus
Ego – is not a dirty word
Ego – is not a dirty word
Ego – is not a dirty word
Don’t you believe what you’ve seen or you’ve heard

Well if Jesus had an ego he’d still be alive today
And if Nixon had no ego he might not be in decay
And if you did not have an ego you might not care too much who won
And if I did not have an ego
I might just use the gu-u-u-uun
Chorus

Some people keep their ego in a bottom drawer
A fridge full of
Leonard Cohen
Have to get drunk just to walk out the door
Stay drunk to keep on
goin’
So if you have an ego
Better keep it in good shape
Exercise it daily
And get it down on tape

Chorus

Ego Is Not A Dirty Word

 

Million Dollar Riff Track # 6.

Well some would argue you would have to have a decent sized ego to write a track and call it Million Dollar Riff.

With a track so titled you would have to deliver, and they did! As well as being released as a single, where it reached #2. The track was also released on the 1976 album Straight In a Gay Gay World.

Incidentally the title would provide writer Jen Jewel Brown with the title of her book, which was a best seller on the group.

Sadly for her, the book company (Dingo Books) went under and like so many groups, she too was never paid.

Oh well, chalk up another “rip-off” in the music world.

“Red”

 

Anyway the result, as we all now, is a rockin’ piece of music with some nice subtle wah wah pedal at the beginning with some nice guitar work by Red.

Incidentally, didn’t we like the subtle little reminder of the riff in their big hit Horror Movie – nice touch that one, when you are singing about million dollar riffs.

Million Dollar Riff

 

Talking about interesting riffs, well we were talking about riffs weren’t we, when we come to track #9 Revolution. 

This was released on the album “Living In The 70’s“, and was actually called “Whatever Happened To The Revolution” on that album.

However it was reduced to simply Revolution, on this Cd.

The riff?

Oh that’s right – well it kicks off with a contagious chord sequence that may not exactly be a riff in itself, but was catchy anyway.

“Shirley” and Greg

 

The track tells the story of young people being conscripted into the army to fight in the Vietnam War, and the protests against that war on the streets.

It was topical, but also a nice piece of composition with “Shirleys” singing being beautifully supported by backing voices from the others, and some nice guitar playing from “Red”.

So the theme of the lyrics may no longer be so topical, but its still one hell of a great party track!

Revolution

 

Fred


The final track to lay before you, on what is after all, a pretty damn fine selection of music, is track #14 , the final track – Horror Movie.

This is actually one of my all time favourite “Hooks” tracks.

Once again, lifted from the “Living In The 70’s” album it was in fact, the second single taken from that great album.

It gave the Skyhooks their first #1 and although it only stayed at #1 for two weeks in March of 1975, it really did cement the group as a top line group.

Written by Macainsh it is often referred to as being one of three signature tracks by the group (along with Woman In Uniform and Ego).

It isn’t a complex story line and it reflects that period, although it could be argued its even worse now, when in the 1970’s it seemed like every time we watched the news, it was akin to watching a horror movie.

Yer, somethings never change!
The planes are a-crashin
The cars are a-smashin
The cops are a-bashin – oh yeah
The kids are a-fightin
The fires are a-lightin
The dogs are a-bitin – oh yeah

You think it’s just a movie on silver screen
And they’re all actors and fake old scenes
Maybe you don’t care who’s gonna lose or win
Listen to this and I’ll tell you somethin’

It’s a horror movie right there on my TV
Horror movie right there on my TV
Horror movie and it’s blown a fuse
Horror movie, it’s the six-thirty news

It is often claimed that it is one of the most “misheard” songs, when it came to fans singing the lyrics.

Such hacked misinterpretations included gems such as, “High moon beam right there on my TV“, “Hold me right there on my tutu, Shocking me right out of my brain” and, “It’s a horror movie, but there are martinis“, and so on.

One thing for certain, it is rightly remembered as one of their greatest tracks, it’s got power, its got catchy lyrics, it’s a good composition and, it’s played and sung with passion.

Can you ask for more?

Horror Movie

One of the things that endeared Skyhooks to music fans in Australia, was that they sang about Australian themes and Australian things.

In fact it was a two-edged sword. For while that formula bought them great success in Australia, that parochial approach was what bought them undone in the USA – where audiences simply “didn’t get it”!

However, the music legacy that the band bought has resulted in an indelible memory within the Australian music scene of a flamboyant, fun, and talented group, who certainly had their demons, but by god did they play some amazingly good music.

Sure by todays standards they are not controversial, and some of their pieces would now be deemed a bit simplistic but, when we listen we are taking a trip back over some 40+ years!

 

This Cd does not necessarily present the best of the group, but it is a fantastic snapshot of the music considered to be their most commercial, hence the tracks being released as singles.

It is worthy of being on any collectors shelf.

Incidentally, I would like to acknowledge that many of the pictures in this review, were from the Skyhooks web site.

The Cd is not readily available, and indeed the vinyl album is even rarer.

If you find it in either format – grab it!

You have a piece of memorable Aussie music history.

What was curious, was that a few cassettes (you do remember cassettes don’t you?) of this album were available for what was a bargain price.

But who the hell has a cassette player?


VIDEOS:

I chose three videos from Youtube that feature live performances by Skyhooks, of tracks from this album, that I haven’t discussed in the body of the review.

 

All My Friends Are Getting Married

 

Blue Jeans

 

Living In the 70’s


Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:

 

To view/listen the first 50 vinyl album reviews just click the image below –

cream of the crate cd review #2 : robert johnson – the complete recordings

 

Click to open the following CD reviews:

#1. The Fugs: The Fugs First Album

#2. Robert Johnson – The Complete Recordings

#3. Bob Dylan – Biograph

#4. Robin Trower – Essential

#5. Various Artists – Sixties Down Under Compilation

#6. Various Artists – The Big Ol’ Box of New Orleans

#7. Hugh Masekela – African Breeze: 80’s

#8. The Last Poets – The Very Best of the Last Poets

#9. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Down By The Riversiide

#10. Various Artists – Sixties Down Under: Vol. 2

#11. The Beatles – On Air: Live at BBC Vol.2

#12. The Rolling Stones – Singles Collection: The London Years

#13. Compilation: Girl Groups Of The Sixties

#14. The Byrds – There Is A Season [Boxed Set]

#15. Various Artists – Sixties Down Under: Volume 4

#16. Howling Wolf – The London Sessions

#17. The Who – Thirty Years of Maximum R&B

#18. Thomas Dolby – Hyperactive

#19. Various Artists – Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965 – 1970

#20. Various Artists: 60’s Down Under – Volume 4

#21. 2nu – Ponderous

#22. The Great Eric Clapton and The Yardbirds [Boxed Set]

#23. The Sue Records Story: New York City – The Sound of Soul

#24. Various Artists – The Encyclopedia of Boogie Woogie

#25. Cam-Pact – Psychedelic Pop ‘n Soul: 1967 – 1969

#26. The Clash – The Singles

#27. Arthur Brown – Fire: The Story of Arthur Brown

#28. Various Artists – Red Hot & Blue: Col Porter Tribute

#29. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Global a Go Go

#30 – Jeff St John’s Copper Wine – Joint Effort

#31 – John Lee Hooker – Boogie Man

#32. Jefferson Airplane – Jefferson Airplane

#33. Various Artists – The Ultimate Guitar Survival Guide

#34. Muddy Waters – The Real Folk Blues / More Real Folk Blues

#35. Dave Hole – The Plumber

#36. Sly & The Family Stone – Stand

#37. The Pretty Things – Latest Writes [The Best of]

#38. Fats Waller – Aint Misbehavin’

#39. The Kinks – The Ultimate Collection

#40. Ross Wilson – Now Listen (The Best of)

#41. New Riders of the Purple Sage – The Best Of

#42. Spirit – 12 Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus

#43. Women of Blue Chicago – Various Artists

#44. The Grateful Dead – American Beauty