Fifty years ago, in 1969, Australia’s top pop male singer Normie Rowe went to Vietnam to serve in the Australian Army. Normie had been conscripted, along with thousands of other young Australian men, and trained for armed combat in the controversial Vietnam War. For those chosen, by random ballot, it was by law – compulsory.
Normie had already racked up 13 chart hits since breaking through in 1965. He was the ‘king of pop’ and yet his 2 years in the army curtailed that and left him having to start out again.
Normie’s career path took him on to a highly successful time performing on TV (Sons & Daughters) as well as a run of major musical theatre shows includingChess, Annie, Evita, Cyrano de Bergerac and who could forget his mighty powerful performance as Jean Valjean in Cameron Macintosh’s production of Les Miserables.
Fifty years on and Normie has had the opportunity to record and release a stirring version of the classic Australian ballad “Compulsory Hero” – written by songwriter and one time member of 1927 (and Moving Pictures) Garry Frost.
The song originally appeared on the 1927 album …ISH which, at the time, in 1989 sold over half a million copies in Australia and got released around the world.
The song was the third hit single from that album and the video for the song went on to win the ARIA Award for best Music Video that year.
Normie Rowe’s take on “Compulsory Hero” is a deeply emotional rendition of a song Frost originally wrote for a feature film that was to be made about the Vietnam War.
That film didn’t get made at the time but Garry made good use of the song when he formed 1927 and recorded their debut album with hit producer Charles Fisher.
The new recording of “Compulsory Hero” has been produced by Michael Carpenter at his Love HZ studio.
Michael created the recording playing most of the instruments as well as adding strings for the emotional orchestral build in the recording.
Normie says, “it’s a great thrill to be involved in this project. Such strong lyrics for me to interpret adds to a very stimulating experience. 1927 were a very strong musically, lyrically and skillfully endowed band of its time. To join in revisiting such an epic piece is a complete joy.”
Norman J Rowe, AM
“Compulsory Hero” performed by Normie Rowe – is being released April 19th2019 – 30 years after the song was first released and fifty years since Normie served his compulsory term in Vietnam.
A music video has been produced with Normie performing the song and there are photo images from the video shoot also available.
The recording is being released via Universal Music Australia and will be available on all digital services.