Friday, 26 February 2016

Russell Morris - 1971 - Bloodstone

O Helley/Jail Jonah's Daughter/Saints And Sinners/Our Hero Is Dead/Heaven Shines/The Cell/The Gambler's Lament/Goodbye/Ride Your Chariot/Lay In The Graveyard/Sweet Sweet Love

Russell Morris has always garnered respect and recognition within the industry (he was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2008); it’s just that no one believed journeymen artists like him – who actually know how to write and perform songs – could sell records anymore. Things were entirely different back in the early 1970s when Morris was one of the country’s major record sellers. Under the direction of wildcard producer Ian “Molly” Meldrum, the ‘The Real Thing’ / ‘Part Three into Paper Walls’ suite remains an audaciously magnificent psychedelic artifact of the highest order.

Ross D. Wylie and Dick Williams present Russell Morris with a gold disc for sales of The Real Thing, August 1969.

He was still being feted as a pop star, however, having to record pop confection such as ‘It’s Only a Matter of Time’ and ‘Rachel’. The hard-rocking 1970 single ‘Mr. America’ was his first real stab at song writing (he’d co-written the ‘Paper Walls’ segment with ‘The Real Thing’ song writer Johnny Young) and it gave him a taste of where he really wanted to be – a respected singer/ song writer in his own right. He broke away from his manager Meldrum, and with the assistance of producer Howard Gable spent many months perfecting his craft with the Bloodstone album.

Essentially, Bloodstone featured singer-song writer rock mixed with folk and US West Coast country-rock influences and with Morris having written every track. The soaring, seductive ‘Sweet, Sweet Love’ was the big hit from the album (national #7 in July 1971) while the album itself went as high as national #12 that September.

It featured an all-star cast of session players from the upper echelons of the then current Aussie rock fraternity: guitarists Phil Manning, Brian Holloway, Billy Green, Rick Springfield and Charlie Gould; bassists Barry Sullivan, Duncan McGuire and Bob Arrowsmith; drummers Barry Harvey, Mark Kennedy, John Creech and Ron Sandilands; piano players Warren Morgan, Brian Cadd and Peter Jones; organ player Bruce Rowlands; harmonica player Matt Taylor; steel guitarist Dave Kelly; and backing vocalists Springfield, Creech, Cadd, Beeb Birtles and Marcie Jones.

The front cover presented a design by artist Geoff Pendelbury, one of those impressionistic art pieces that were fashionable back in the day but seem to be too esoteric and oblique to have any real significance or impact now. In a way it reminds me of the cover art that adorned Moody Blues albums circa the early 1970s, when it was de rigueur in the world of rock to be “mature”, “artistic”, “profound” although, fortunately, Morris steered well clear of the Moodies’ penchant for the dramatically orchestrated baroque pop-rock of those progressive-psych era masterworks.

Bloodstone is somewhat more down-home and modest without losing sight of certain lofty intentions. Song titles such as ‘Saints and Sinners’, ‘Our Hero is Dead’, ‘Heaven Shines’, ‘The Cell’ and ‘Ride Your Chariot’ bear the brush of an earnest and serious young artist finding his way in an already established world of adult contemporary pop-rock. At least Morris was willing to take up the challenge and his efforts did result in one of the best local albums of the year.

 There are some basic themes running throughout the album with the original Side One of the vinyl being the uptempo side while Side Two was the big ballad side. Opening track ‘Oh Helley’ is the most folk-rockish number, an ode to a deceased lover which sets out Morris’ approach from the outset. The next three songs are variations on the same genre – country-rock with bluesy harp (‘Jail Jonah’s Daughter’), country-rock with honky-tonk piano (‘Saints and Sinners’) and country-rock with pedal steel guitar (‘Our Hero is Dead’). The side ends with the catchy pop-rock of ‘Heaven Shines’ with more honky-tonk piano in the coda.

The first three songs on the second side, ‘The Cell’, ‘Gambler’s Lament’ and ‘Goodbye’, are all emotive piano-led ballads. Basically songs about the search for redemption from past sins, they do tend to get somewhat maudlin and this is where the singer’s tremulous voice can also get a tad annoying. The religious overtones continue with the country-gospel tunes ‘Ride Your Chariot’ and ‘Lay in the Graveyard’ but fortunately they pick up the pace and there’s more variety in the instrumentation (guitar, Hammond organ).

‘Ride Your Chariot’ and ‘Lay in the Graveyard’ are probably the most interesting tracks here, alongside the final song, ‘Sweet, Sweet Love’, which is just a great pop ballad with a terrific arrangement. It starts out in a gentle, minor key way and then about half way through the pay off comes when Morris changes key, ups the tempo and the whole thing just takes off – as good a pop song as any in 1971.

It was clear even at this point that Morris had his sights set overseas. Following a couple more hit singles during 1972, ‘Live with Friends’ and the brilliant ‘Wings of an Eagle’, Morris headed off into the sunset, recording two overlooked albums in the US before returning to Australia in 1978 to pick up his career. He hasn’t stopped touring or recording and 2016 sees him at the top of his game.

( By Ian McFarlane )

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Doug Parkinson - 1973 - No Regrets

Takin' It Easy/Tell Him I'll Be All Right/ I Ain't Gonna Live That Way No More/And Things Unsaid/No Regrets/Sweet Rock And Roll/Lonely/Get What You Can/Light My Fire/Dear Prudence/Love Gun

Parkinson began singing while still at school and his first band Strings and Things,  formed with the children of legendary test cricketer Sid Barnes,  made a minor impact around Sydney in 1966. By 1967 however he had teamed up with some of Sydney’s best musical minds to form The Questions and began exploring the outer regions of psychedelic rock. Their first recordings established them as one of the more innovative and interesting acts in a rapidly evolving scene. 

In 1967 the band supported The Who, Small Faces tour nationally and were placed second in the finals of the prestigious Hoadleys Battle of the Sounds. This led to appearances in Melbourne and this is where the story really begins.

A year later he formed Doug Parkinson in Focus which was the musician’s musicians outfit of the time. The band would later prove to be a benchmark in Australian rock folklore.

With this group he recorded the Beatles’ Dear Prudence in 1969 and it topped the charts. Parkinson re-interpreted this masterpiece and made it his own. He followed it up with another spectacular chart topper Without You.  The same year they won Hoadleys Battle of the Sounds and played to sell out shows around the country. In Focus recorded a third single Baby Blue Eyes which immediately entered the charts but the single died soon after, a casualty of the notorious Record Ban which denied Australian artists airplay.

fannyAdamsIn 1970 he moved to London with a new band Fanny Adams and recorded an album but returned a year later and formed a new In Focus. They packed the clubs and festivals but were kept out of the studio due to contractual restraints. 

 After a two year hard slog with no prospects of recording he made a major decision and went solo. In 1973 Doug took on his first major stage role in the concert production of the Who’s rock opera Tommy.  He recorded an album No Regrets.  He was involved in a media storm over a political commercial. More touring, this time as a solo performer. A lonely existence. But other roles beckoned.

1975-1976 he appeared in two shows Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Ned Kelly.  A steady stream of music and theatre followed. He collaborated and recorded two tracks for the cult film Stone and had another top ten hit with Everlasting Love. 

In 1978 he teamed up again with old friend Duncan McGuire to form the Southern Star Band.  Once again it was a band made in heaven. The group included guitar whiz Tommy Emmanuel, drum prodigy Mark Kennedy and pianist Frank Esler­Smith, who later went on to record and arrange the lush string arrangements for Air Supply.  They recorded the album I’ll Be Around which produced two top 10 hits The Hungry Years and I’ll Be Around.  The following year they supported Bob Marley and the Wailers on what was to be the legendary singer’s last tour.

More touring in 1979-80 and Parkinson’s first appearance as an actor in the Young Doctors television series. In 1981 he recorded a solo album Heartbeat to Heartbeat which produced another top 10 hit The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore with vocalist Broderick Smith. The early 80’s saw Parkinson star in the role of Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.  The production toured Australia for 12 months to rave reviews before final performances in Singapore and Hong Kong. 


His distinctive voice was also in demand in the advertising world. He recorded packages for Coke (which won an international award), BHP, Toyota, Carlton United Breweries, Sanyo, Philips and a host of other corporate giants. He was the voice on packages for radio stations 2SM, 3AK, 3UZ, 5AD, 4MMM, 6PM and the 0-10 television network. During his career Doug has appeared alongside many International stars including The Who, The Small Faces, Paul Jones, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Pointer Sisters, Thelma Huston, Bob Marley and The Wailers, and Randy Crawford. 

In 1985 acting roles in the tele-movies The Body Business, Butterfly Island and Watch the Shadows Dance.

He starred in the Kinsellas production Soulman in 1986 which toured nationally and in 1987 co-wrote the score for the surfing film Wind Warriors as well as co-writing the theme song Willing and Able for the 9 network series of the same name.

1988 and another collaboration with Kinsellas, the Motown Story. He produced and starred in Destination Moon a glittering tribute to the big band era which debuted at World Expo 88 in Brisbane. He was showcased at the Fosters Grand Prix Ball in Adelaide the same year and performed a season of Soulman at the Sydney Hilton.

In 1989 Parkinson cemented his reputation as an exceptional actor/singer by landing the role of Pap Finn in the lavish hit musical Big River. The production ran for 18 months. 

 1991 and Parkinson shines as The Big Bopper in the smash hit musical Buddy.  The show becomes the box office phenomenon of its time and Doug’s rendition of Chantilly Lace evolves into a showstopper. During this period he somehow finds the time to appear as the Barrister in Mike Batt’s musical The Hunting of the Snark. 

In 1994 Parkinson produced, directed and starred in the The Original Stars of Buddy in Concert. Due to unprecedented success the production toured capital cities and major regional centres for the next three years. In 1995 he recorded the theme song for Australia’s Wallabies competing in the Rugby World Cup in South Africa. 

1997 and Rock historian Glenn A. Baker released a definitive anthology CD entitled Doug Parkinson-In and Out of Focus.

Digitally re-mastered from the original recordings and taking more than two years to collate, the CD re-captured the very essence that has made Doug Parkinson one of the key players in Australian rock music. 


Parkinson secured the role of Vince Fontaine in the 1998 production of Grease-The Arena Spectular.  Together with fellow luminaries Anthony Warlow, Craig McLachlan, Glen Shorrock and Danni Minogue,  this unique theatrical event re-defined the phrase box office smash grossing more than fifty million dollars.

In 1999, hot on the heels of Grease he appeared in Happy Days-The Mega Arena Spectacular.  As Big Al Delvechio,  Doug stopped the show night after night with his rendition of Unchained Melody.  The song was a standout in the live cast recording which included performances by Max Gillies, Wendy Hughes, Human Nature, Jon Stevens, Craig McLachlan, Rebecca Gibney, Jobeth Taylor and Tom Bosley. 

2000 and more touring. The same year he was asked to put together a retrospective cabaret show. It was his first attempt at this up close and personal format and was a sellout success in Melbourne on two occasions.

An incredible opportunity then presented itself. In 2001 he auditioned for and won the role of the Cowardly Lion in the multi million dollar production of The Wizard Of Oz.  His became a celebrated performance and together with Bert Newton, Nikki Webster, Pamela Rabe and Phillip Gould,  and directed by the legendary Nancye Hayes,  the show ran for thirteen months despite considerable economic hardship caused by the worst drought in 100 years

After more than thirty years in the industry Parkinson was then rewarded with recognition he never expected or sought. At the prestigious Mo Awards he was voted Classic Rock Performer of the Year for 2001.  It happened again the following year. More Wizard of Oz. Sydney. Melbourne. Brisbane. In 2004 he won his third Mo Award,  this time as Contemporary Rock Act of the Year. 

2003 and a phone call to the Producers saw Parkinson on the regional tour of A Long Way To The Top a journey from Hobart to Cairns and all points in between. A long journey but definitely not the last. 

 In 2004 Doug rekindled the passion to record again. His first album after a hiatus of many years became a reality with the help of Sydney stellar musicans Gordon Rytmeister ­ drums, Leon Gaer - bass, Bill Risby - piano and David Longo - guitar. Doug recorded songs he recalls hearing and loving as a boy laying awake and glued to his bedroom radio somewhere after midnight.

The result a beautiful selection of standards sung by a man with an amazing gift we have all grown up with and loved for over four decades.

One of the truly versatile talents in Australian music, Doug Parkinson is happiest in front of an audience. Either starring in a hit musical or singing a bluesy soul tune backed by a pack of horns and a crack rhythm section, the fact remains that for four decades he has been Australia’s pre-eminent voice amongst the musical community

Friday, 19 February 2016

Little Pattie - 1964 - The Many Moods Of Little Pattie

Get Him/Lonely, Lonely, Lonely Me/My Buddy/We're Gonna Have A Party Tonight/Miss In Between/He's My Boy/1 If I Could/Let's Have A Party/Stompin' At Maroubra/Lonely Boy/Because Of You/He's My Blonde-headed Stompie Wompie Real Gone Surfer Boy

Patricia Amphlett, a popular Australian singer of the 1960s, was born in Paddington, Sydney on 17 March 1949. Amphlett began her singing career early, having appeared on the talent show, Opportunity knocks, at the age of 13. After that she became a regular performer at surf club dances on Sydney's southern beaches.

She picked up a weekly gig at Bronte Surf Club, backed by a band called the Statesmen. During one of these performances Amphlett was spotted by an EMI Records talent scout, was given an audition and then a contract. Her first single for the label, He's my blonde headed stompie wompie real gone surfer boy was released on 7 November 1963. By the following January it had risen to number two in the Top 40 charts, only kept from the number one position by the Beatles' I wanna hold your hand.

Amphlett left school three months before her 15th birthday to focus on her singing career. She released further singles over the following two years, scoring a number of hits, making regular appearances on shows like Bandstand and Sing, sing, sing, and winning the Best Australian Female Vocalist award in 1965. By 1966 she was among Australia's most popular performers. Having made one of several attempts to drop the 'Little' from her name, Pattie became, at 17, the youngest Australian entertainer to perform in Vietnam. She was performing at the Australian base at Nui Dat on the night of the Long Tan battle. Some soldiers recall having heard snatches of music as they headed out on patrol in the hours before the fight.

During the latter part of the 1960s, Amphlett won a number of music awards. In 1972 she participated in the now famous Labor Party It's time advertising campaign for the federal election held that year. The following year she married Keith Jacobsen, a fellow musician. During the 1970s, Amphlett performed on the club circuit and was a regular guest on television's long running Midday show.

  Amphlett has continued her musical career, performed in her own shows, hosted various charity and corporate events and given many concerts overseas. In addition to performing, she has also taught music and singing. Among her students was Nikki Webster who achieved fame for her role in the opening ceremony for the Sydney Olympics. More recently, Amphlett has taught at a number of
Sydney high schools.


In addition to her music career, Amphlett served on the Council of the Australian War Memorial between 1995 and 1998, and as the National President of Australia's Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance. She has also been on the Federal Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and was vice-president of Actors' Equity. In 2000 the Sydney Morning Herald included her on a list of the 'century's most loved faces', and she was included in a 1998 issue of Australian stamps featuring Australian bands.


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Pardon Me Boys - 1987 - Pardon Me Boys

Beat Me Daddy/Shoo Shoo Baby/I I I I I (I Like You Very Much)/Hot Voodoo-Monkey Doodle Doo/Embracable You/Lounging At The Waldorf/Rythm Is Our Business/Double Trouble/Perfidia/Choo Choo Ch-Boogie

In 1985 Ignatius Jones formerly of Jimmy and the Boys formed the band Pardon Me Boys, an affectionate and slightly irreverent salute to the hits of the 30s and 40s, with the smallest hint of speakeasy sleaze, the big band swing of Glenn Miller and the heavenly harmonies of the Andrew Sisters. It grew from a 3 piece vocal group into the incredibly popular 13 piece dance band extravaganza. MonicaTrapaga was a member of the band, we all know her from her time as the presenter on Playschool and her own band Monica and The Moochers the other mainstay is William O'Riordan or as you may remember him Joylene Hairmouth also from Jimmy and the Boys.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Adrians Wall - 1987 - Caught In The Web

Night People/Afraid To Be Afraid/Finally Deciding/Reach Out I'll Be There/This Waiting (Is Killing Me)/Soul Breaker/Time Stands Still/The Dancer/I Doubt It (Will Ever Come True)

Adrian's Wall was Adrian Campbell's child, a studio project with local professional musicians.
Campbell, a session vocalist himself, has recorded and arranged backing vocals in countless albums in the land of Oz.

Around 1976, was the lead singer and stable member of Avalanche, a hard rock band whose debut album had moderate success, opening live shows for major international bands. In the 80's, Adrian has recorded an album with the band De Arrow (pre - Roxus), sadly still unreleased, from which only 4 demo tracks are floating around, a great keyboard oriented melodic rock / AOR stuff.

 As said, Adrian's Wall was his own project, not strictly AOR, mixing many genres, but encompassing all the styles. Featuring the great Brett Garsed on guitars (before his international stardom in the USA).

                                                         Adrian in his Avalanche days

Monday, 15 February 2016

Master's Apprentices - 1971 - Choice Cuts

Rio De Camero/Michael/Easy To Lie/Because I Love You/Catty/Our Friend Owsley Stanley III/Death Of A King/Song For A Lost Gypsy/I'm Your Satisfier/Song For Joey - Part II

 If you are not yet familiar with The Masters Apprentices, I should direct you to the fabulous anthology "Hands Of Time-1966-1972" on the Raven label. This faultless collection was compiled by Australian rock historian Glenn A. Baker, and provides and excellent introduction to this great Australian group, who along with The Easybeats were the two top acts down under in the late 60's early 70's.

 The Masters started life in 1966 as a primal R&B garage outfit that specialized in ultra primitive rock and roll in the style of The Pretty Things and Van Morrison's early group Them. Their early sides were penned by the group's guitarist, a gifted writer named Mick Bower, but their obvious focal point was lead singer Jim Keays. Keays had both style and talent, and possessed a wailing vocal range that would rival Pretty Things lead singer Phil May.

 Early Masters recordings such as "Undecided", "Buried And Dead" & "Hot Gully Wind" are top drawer, freakbeat ravers that take a back seat to no-one. As time went on Mick Bower's songwriting became more sophisticated and reflective, tracks such as "Wars Or Hands Of Time", "Theme For A Social Climber" & "Tired Of Just Wandering" showed tremendous maturity. Sadly Bower suffered something of a nervous breakdown and was advised by his doctor to leave the pop business, which he eventually did. 

This could have spelled the end for the Masters, but Jim Keays picked up the pieces and weathered the group through the flower-power era. This era of the group was resonsible for the classic "Elevator Driver" 45 and also "But One Day" (which was a Mick Bower holdover.) The Masters entered their next phase leaning towards a harder, more progressive sound which was first introduced with the 1969 album "Masterpiece." All the while the Masters were incredibly popular in Australia regardless of their several lineup shifts. Jim Keays was the one constant that kept the group's head above water. However as 1969 turned into 1970 the group felt they were stagnating in Australia and decided to take a shot at global acceptance and relocated to England.

The Masters arrived in England in the spring of 1970 and signed with the EMI progressive label Regal Zonophone (home to The Move, The Tickle, Procol Harum & others.) This lineup featured Jim Keays on lead vocals, guitarist Doug Ford (previously with The Missing Links & Running, Jumping, Standing Still), Glenn Wheatley-bass and Colin Burgess on drums. This lineup would prove to be group's finest since the Mick Bower days.

 The Masters managed to book Abbey Road Studios to record their first album on UK soil. "Choice Cuts" (which was issued in the UK simply as "Masters Apprentices" or the "chair album") was nothing short of a revelation and a quantum leap artistically for the group. This album is just a drop dead classic from the word go. Released in 1970 "Choice Cuts" is the equal of any great record you care to mention from that year. The Masters prove to be just that, masters of any style they chose to attempt, pop, folk, progressive and full tilt, heavy rock. It's all there and it's all good!

"Rio De Camero" is a vibrant opener which combines a latin, shuffle beat with Glenn Wheatley's fluid, upfront bass lines and funky minor chords played by Doug Ford. Keays interjects with his shrieking, double-tracked vocals, the whole thing ends with a rush of guitar muscle (this track was included on the "Hands Of Time" collection.) "Michael" begins as a plaintive acoustic ballad that quickly evolves into an all out heavy guitar blitz that simply never lets up. 

  "Easy To Lie" is absolutely threatening! It begins with Wheatley's throbbing bass line and leaps right into a massive acid guitar frenzy, Keays has his vocals treated to where he sounds like Ozzy Osbourne. Doug Ford hammers at his axe with the savage intenisty of T.S. McPhee of The Groundhogs, while the rhythm section lays down a sinister, gorilla beat that would have made the Hogs proud. Then comes an absolute curveball in "Because I Love You" which reminds me of Peter Frampton's melodic contributions to Humble Pie, the song employs bright acoustic guitar patterns to a rousing chorus which fades in the manner of The Beatles "Hey Jude" & Donovan's "Atlantis." I'm sure the female fans of the group dug this romantic tune all the way.

"Catty" returns to the blistering hard rock of "Easy To Lie", the spare, punishing guitar chords remind one of Free's late, great guitarist Paul Kossoff. While the overall feel of the number is that of a funky Black Sabbath. "Our Friend Owsley Stanley III" is also in Black Sabbath territory with an equal measure of "Stand Up" era Jethro Tull. Obviously the song is an ode to the US acid kingpin, perhaps acid got to Australia a bit late, as most groups were more into singing about granola and ecology flags in 1970.

"Death Of A King" is another Groundhogs style pissed off heavy ballad which concerns itself with the tragic death of Martin Luther King. This song addresses the subject in a much more convincing fashion than U2's self-serving "Pride" anthem. "Song For A Lost Gypsy" goes for the heavy thud of Blue Cheer with positive results. "I'm Your Satisfier" is a down and dirty, funky number that once again draws a Free comparison. The final piece "Song For Joey Part 2" begins with some lovely acoustic guitar work from Doug Ford before hurling another curveball at the listener, this piece quickly shifts into the greatest Van Morrison copy since the USA garage band Things To Come's "Sweetgina", however this one goes for Morrison's "Astral Weeks" style and Keays and Co. pull it off perfectly. 

  "Choice Cuts" was greeted by glowing reviews in the UK press but somehow the record failed to attract much action at the shops or on radio and sank into obscurity until being re-discovered by collectors in the 1980's. The record now changes hands for $150+ but it lives up to that lofty price tag with room to spare. There have been a few legal and semi-legal CD re-issues of it down the years, but it seems to be out of print at the moment. Hopefully this will change very soon. "Choice Cuts" is a dazzling blend of folk, heavy and progressive styles that should be in every serious record library. The good news is that the Masters would actually up the ante with "Choice Cuts" brilliant follow-up "A Toast To Panama Red" (more on that one in a bit.)

The Masters Apprentices were one of the great groups of the late 60's early 70's and it's about time their name starts getting mentioned next to the MC5, Pretty Things, Stooges, Groundhogs etc. because they no doubt belong in that company.  (Reviewed by Dave Furgess)

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Fanny Adams - 1971 - Fanny Adams

Ain't No Loving Left/Sitting On Top Of The Room/Yesterday Was Today/Got To Get A Message To You/You Don't Bother Me/Mid Morning Madness/They're All Losers, Honey

Fanny Adams looked like a dream team, with four of Australasia's best musicians combining in a 'supergroup' and intent on conquering the world. Given the talent involved, this should have been a great group who did grand things, but, as so often happened in OzRock, the reality proved to be drastically different.
Vince Maloney, Johnny Dick, Teddy Toi and Doug Parkinson were veterans of some of Australia and New Zealand's top bands of the 1960s:
•Vince Melouney (sometimes spelled Maloney) had been in the original 1963-65 lineup of The Aztecs, but quit in '65 (along with the rest of the band) after a financial dispute. He and fellow Aztec Tony Barber then formed a shortlived duo, followed by a stint with Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays. Vince then formed his own band The Vince Maloney Sect, which became the house band on the mid-'60s pop show Kommotion. Moving to England, he spent several years as lead guitarist in the late-60s UK lineup of The Bee Gees with drummer Colin Petersen.

•Johnny Dick had joined Max Merritt & The Meteors in 1963 in New Zealand and came to Australia with them in '65, alongside Teddy Toi. After the original Aztecs split from Thorpe, he and Teddy jumped ship and joined the "new" Aztecs, which lasted until 1966. He later teamed up with 'Parko' in the highly-regarded Doug Parkinson In Focus

Teddy Toi left front and Johnny Dick brown jacket in Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs

•Teddy Toi was a highly respected bassist, already a rock'n'roll veteran whose CV went back to New Zealand in the late '50s with Sonny Day & the Sundowners and included a stint in the second lineup of The Aztecs in 1965-66.

•Doug Parkinson was (and still is) one of Australia's finest male singers. He started his career in a high-school band The A Sound, followed Newcastle pop outfit The Questions, which evolved into Doug Parkinson In Focus with Johnny, Duncan McGuire and Billy Green, scoring a Top 20 hit in '68 with their superb rendition of The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" and winning the Hoadley's Battle Of The Sounds in '69.

After three-odd years with The Bee Gees in the UK, Vince quit the band over the inevitable "musical differences" and had a short spell with Ashton, Gardner & Dyke (of "Resurrection Shuffle" fame) before landing a solo deal with MCA. He decided to put together a hard rock supergroup in the Led Zeppelin mould, in order to record the album. The first offer went out to Teddy Toi, an old friend and colleague who was doing session work in London at the time. In June 1970, he invited Johnny and Doug to join him in the UK, a trip made possible by the In Focus win in the Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds -- the first prize was a trip to England.

They put together a set of strong original material, and cut the album in London, although it was not evenutally released until 1971, just after they had split. They returned to Australia in December 1970 amid a welter of hype. Boasting that they would become the biggest band in the world immediately, the band encountered resistance from a sceptical public, a situation not alleviated by Doug's boast to Go-Set that "In three weeks Fanny Adams will be the best band that ever trod this earth". Perhaps it was simply a case of being an idea before its time (although other groups like The Dave Miller Set were treading this path successfully). In the event, their brand of heavy, blues-prog rock was (so we're told) upstaged by their support bands at the time, apaprently making a mockery of the group's claims.
According to Ian McFarlane, tensions within the band ran high, as one might expect of such an all-star outing. They made some notable appearances, including the Myponga Festival in January 1971, and early in the year MCA released one single from the album, "Got To Get A Message To You" (which was a group original, not the Bee Gees song of the name) backed by "They're All Losers, Honey". But within months of arriving back, the band had self-destructed. The straw that evidently broke the camel's back was a fire at Sydney's Caesar's Palace discotheque, which destroyed all their equipment. Parkinson left under a cloud, and MCA were sufficiently cheesed off with Doug that they effectively banned him from recording for the next two years.

Doug evenutally assembled a new version of In Focus, and later pursued a successful solo career on the rock and club circuit, on TV and on stage. Throughout the 1970s, Melouney worked with a succession of bands, including The Cleves, Flite, Levi Smith's Clefs, the Jeff St John Band, John Paul Young and the All Stars and Rockwell T. James and the Rhythm Aces. In 1999 he was reunited with The Bee Gees for their "One Night Only" concert in Australia -- the first time they had played together since Vince left the band thirty years earlier.

Teddy Toi and Johnny Dick played on Lobby Loyde's solo album Plays with George Guitar, and then joined Loyde in a new version of The Wild Cherries. Teddy moved on to a stint in Sydney supergroup Duck in 1972-73, followed by a couple of years in the final version of The Aztecs, and Johnny enjoyed a long and successful stint as the drummer in The All-Stars, backing Stevie Wright and then John Paul.Young.

The Fanny Adams LP, which is a very fine piece of work, is now a sought-after collector's item, but it has recently been reissued on CD (albeit as a bootleg) by a German label, and if you can find it you won't be disappointed. The thundering "Ain't No Loving Left" is also included on Raven's superb Golden Miles collection.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Gemini singles Sunshine River and Butterfly Wings

Sunshine River/12.30

Butterfly Wings/Nobody Knows When You're Down and Out

Gemini were a Perth band who were formed and broke up in 1969 but managed to release 2 singles "Sunshine River"  according to which source you believe charted at #4 #5 or #6 on the Perth charts and "Butterfly Wings". The band was discovered by some 6PR DJ's who were on a night out at the Chalet Healy were the band were playing and the tune that got there attention was "Sunshine River" they were put in touch with Martin Clarke of Clarion records and they cut "Sunshine River"  and ended up with a hit in their home town of Perth. It got as high as No 6 on the local 6PR Official chart of 17th October 1969.

The Band consisted of Sue Jennings on lead vocals with the rest of the band being Len Wright on keyboards, Paul Young on drums, Charlie Hall on Guitar, Bill Miller on Bass and Nick Melidonis on backing vocals.

Chris Hall would eventually become a novelist his debut novel, Summer’s Gone about life in the sixties was released in 2014. The book explores the reality of coming of age in Australia in that era, amid the musicbusiness, sexual freedom, women’s rights and the fight against conscription.

                         Left to Right Len Wright Sue Jennings Paul Young Nick Melidonis and Charlie Hall

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Avengers - 1967 - Electric Recording

Everyone's Gonna Wonder/Morning Dew/What Price Love?/Summer Set Morning/Flower Girl/Love Is Blue/Night Time/Water Pipe/Rosie/Take My Hand/1941 

For info on the band scroll down to the Medallion post.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Chariot - 1976 - Set Me Free

Set Me Free/Take Me Home

 Chariot came to be out of a reformed Kahvas Jute after Wilson and Davidson returned from the UK in May 1973. The group supported Bo Diddley on his second tour of Australia in October. In March 1974, Peter Roberts (ex-Band of Light) replaced Maxey on bass guitar but the group was renamed Chariot in May. The band toured constantly for four years, becoming a well-known act nationally, during which time Dennis furthered his reputation as one of Australia's foremost electric guitarists.Davidson left to join Band of Light and was replaced by Steve Webb on drums. Meanwhile, Roberts switched to guitar and John Strangio joined on bass guitar. The group performed about 300 gigs a year but extensive line-up changes reduced their recording output to two singles, "I'll Keep on Loving You" (January 1976) and "Set Me Free" (December). With Wilson as the only mainstay, Chariot continued until December 1977. In December 1980, Wilson issued his debut solo album, Walking on Thin Ice.

 (L~R) John Strangio (Bass/Vox), Dennis Wilson (Gtr/Vox) , Peter Roberts (Gtr/Vox), Steve Webb (Drums).

Band Of Talabene - 1972 - Herbert's Boogie

Herbert's Boogie/Tell It Like It Is

A nice little slab of Aussie pub/rock boogie. The band name may not be familiar but even in 1972 these guys were some of the best in the business. Fronted by Aussie guitar great Phil Manning after he had left Chain, he was joined by another excellent guitarist Tony Naylor (Bootleg Family Band/Avalanche/Jon English & the Foster Brothers), bassist Guss Fenwick (Pleazers/Bootleg Family/Band Of Light/Healing Force) & drummer Tony Tony Buettel (Bay City Union, Levi Smith's Clefs, Fraternity, Band of Light) "Herbert's Boogie" was produced by Brian Cadd & issued on his Bootleg Records label in late 1972. Phil would then leave the band in Naylor's capable hands while he joined Mighty
Mouse, who evolved back into Chain. Meantime Tony's new line-up released one more single in 1973 before forming the nucleus of Brian Cadd's Bootleg Family.  (Bio thanks Micko)

Phil Manning (vocals, guitar
Tony Naylor (guitar, vocals),
Phil Gaunt - 1972
Tony Buettel (drums),
Gus Fenwick (bass),
Peter Roberts (guitar),
Fran Kelly (bass, 1973),
Peter Curtain (drums),
Paul 'Sheepdog' Wheeler (bass, 1973),
Dallas 'Digger' Royal (drums, 1973),
Steve Webb (drums, 1973)

Manning - 1978 - Manning

Call Me/Loudspeaker/The Other Half To Come/The Kid Ain't Happy/Last Days/Roll On Love/Hear It Calling/Play For You / Survivors/When A Man Loves A Women

Philip John "Phil" Manning (born 1948) is an Australian blues singer-songwriter and guitarist. Manning has been a member of various groups including Chain and has had a solo career. As a member of Chain, Manning co-wrote their January 1971 single "Black and Blue" which became number one on the Melbourne charts and also Judgement, which reached number two in Sydney. The related album, Toward the Blues followed in September and peaked in the top 10 albums chart.

In July 1977 he formed Manning Keays Band with Jim Keays on vocals (ex-The Masters Apprentices) and Peter Cuddihy on bass guitar (ex-Space Waltz), John Grant on keyboards (ex-Freeway), Andrew Kay on violin and keyboards, and Robert Ross on drums. When Keays left later in the year, the soul pop group was renamed as Manning and released a self-titled album in May 1978. Manning provided the singles "When a Man Loves a Woman" (a Percy Sledge cover) in December 1977 and "Call Me" in April 1978.

Moving Pictures - 1983 - Matinee

 Back To The Streets/Judo Intellectuals/ Goldrush/Pleasure & Pain/Walk Tall/Where They Belong/Marianne/We Share Our Love/Sisters Of Mercy/Back To Blues & Booze

 Moving Pictures are an Australian rock music band formed in 1978. Their debut album, Days of Innocence, was issued in October 1981 and eventually peaked at No. 1 on the Kent Music Report Albums Chart in February the following year. In January 1982 they released their single, "What About Me", which reached No. 1 on the related Kent Music Report Singles Chart. Late that year Elektra Records issued Days of Innocence and "What About Me" in North America. The single reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and appeared on the associated year-end Hot 100 list for 1983. A proposed series of United States performances supporting REO Speedwagon, Tom Petty and Hall & Oates fell through when Elektra was substantially reorganised.

In November 1982 another single, "Winners", peaked at No. 12 in Australia. In October 1983 their second album, Matinee, was released. It reached No. 16 and, of its four singles, only the lead single, "Back to the Streets", reached the Top 40. Their non-album single, "Never", was used for two film soundtracks, Footloose (1984) and Hot Rod (2007). By the end of 1987, the group had disbanded. The band reformed in 2011 with tours in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Sandy Scott - 1969 - Sandy Scott Live

Here In My Heart/In The Arms Of Love-Can't Take My Eyes Off You/Beg Your Pardon/Impossible Dream/Man And A Woman/Women Women/Man Without Love/Wallpaper Roses/Sunrise Sunset/Thunderball/Skye Boat Song/Delilah

Sandy was the only son of English parents. In his teens he took a job in a bank in Sydney while singing with local bands at night.His big break came with national exposure on Brian Hederson's Bandstand. Sandy was very popular and signed a 10 year contract to appear exclusively on the program. Sandy Scott established himself as an Australian singer with the likes of Col Joye and other members of the so-called "Bandstand Family" with Brian Henderson, Col Joy and The Joy Boys, Judy Stone, Little Patti etc. His biggest selling hit came with "Wallpaper Roses" in 1966 #4 Sydney #10 Melbourne and he had a top selling album with "Great Scott It's Sandy" which went gold. Sandy Scott is married to Col Joye's sister Carol.

Sandy Scott established himself as an Australian singer with the likes of Col Joye and other members of the so-called "Bandstand Family" with Brian Henderson, The Joy Boys, Judy Stone, Little Patti etc.Sandy has worked on the telly as a compere for shows Family Feud and $10,000 Winner Circle.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Swanee - 1980 - Into The Night

Tough At The Top/Falling/Where Are You Now/Ol' Rosie/Mathew/Beware Of The Animal/We'll Find A Way/Linda/Darkness/The Old Rockers/Someday

John Swan was born John Archibold Dixon Swan in Glasgow, Scotland. He moved with his family to Australia when he was a child and settled in Elizabeth in South Australia. John left school at age 13 and joined a band as a drummer. He also sings, plays the The Harp, Banjo and Mandolin. John is a fan of Blue's music.

He joined the army where he gained the title of South Australian Amateur Boxing Champion. He is the older brother of rock singer Jimmy Barnes and the uncle of singer and stage performer David Campbell.

He has played in many bands including: Soul Union in 1965, Happiness in 1966, Pulse from1971-1972 with Steve Ball, Adrian Bills, Ben Bishop. Hard Time Killing Floor, Queen 1973, Don Walker, James Wright Band 1973, Cold Chisel 1974 and 1975, Mount Lofty Rangers 1974, Salvation Airforce 1975, Rick Morris, Steve Beleky, Fraternity 1974-1976, Jim Keays' Southern Cross 1975-1976, Feather 1976-1978, Swanee 1978-1985,1990, Roadworks 1986 and Party Boys 1987,1992,1998-1999.

In 1978 John released his first album Into The Night through WEA Records. His first chart success was a rendition of Tim Hardin's If I Were a Carpenter. Followed by the singles Lady What's Your Name and Temporary Heartache. Live in the Snow was recorded for Swanee fans.

John Swan has supported many nationals and international acts including: AC/DC, Joe Cocker, Tina Turner, Deep Purple, Bad Company, 10CC, Robin Trower and Johnny Winter, INXS, Jimmy Barnes, John Farnham, Renee Geyer, Midnight Oil, Marcia Hines, Tommy Emmanuel and many others.

                                                                                      Swanee with younger brother Jimmy Barnes

He was a guest artist with the Newcastle band: The Orphans: members included: Les Gully, Pam Gully, Jeff Dunn, Greg Dawson, Gordon and McLean. Other Members: Ray Arnott, Dennis Butler, Ian Crawford, Tony Heads, Peter Wholohan, Terry Lantrey, Jan Manning, Gil Mouat, Michael Punch, Phil Screen, Michael Stove, Steve Werren, Julie Wilson, Steve Wilson, Kevin Wyatt and Rob Coxon, Special Guests included: John Paul Young, Warren Morgan, John 'Swanee' Swan, Dennis Wilson, Jamie Redfern, Mick Tucker, Bob Spencer, Brett Johnson, Bruce Derkenne, Trevor Parkinson and John.
1986 John Swan featured in an ad for West End Draught, a South Australian beer. The brewer provided financial support to Swanee's tours and he in turn appeared in the company's TV commercials.

 John replaced Angry Anderson as the lead singer of The Party Boy's which was formed in 1983 by Paul Christie of Mondo Rock and they released a self titled album that went number one in 3 weeks. The single He's Gonna Step on You Again and two top 10 hits Hold Your Head Up and Gloria. Party Boys also had success with the Swan and Lancaster song Is This the Way to Say Goodbye.

John Swan in the Party Boys 4th from the left.

John Swan played at The Station Resort Jindabyne NSW Australia with Raiding Party. Members of Raiding Party included: James Davis-keyboard/piano, Brien McVernon-bass, Ian 'Candy' Sandercoe-vocal, Craig 'Rosie' Rosevear-drums and Paul Flaherty-guitar. Later Mark Tinson, Gary Wilson and Steve 'Mac' McLennan.

John has performed on Australia's East Coast as a guest on the Double Trouble Tour, featuring both Deep Purple and Status Quo. He was part of the Countdown Spectacular which toured Australia nationally in September and October of 2006.

He tours with his band Swanee, and has worked on a new album A Little Faith 2007 through Liberation Records. The project was recorded in Nashville and produced by guitarist Mark Moffatt. Musician credits players who have been session players for Garth Brooks, John Fogerty, Billy Joel, Dolly Parton and Shania Twain.

He has been a Session musician on the following releases: Ray Arnott LP Rude Dudes in 1979, Mickey Finn LP Mickey Finn in 1980, Kevin Borich MLP Shy Boys Shy Girls in 1981, Australia Too Single The Garden in 1985, Whispering Jox Single Santa Claus Is Back In Town in 1988, Oz Art For Ozone Single in 1989, The Kelly Gang cd Looking For The Sun in 2004 and Jimmy Barnes cd Double Happiness in 2005.


Swanee - 1985 - Bushido

Hasn't Anybody Told You/I'll Fall In Love Again/Turn Away/Surrender/You Oughta Know By Now/Here Comes The Night/Gone For Me/You've Got The Love/Snooze You Lose/One Chain

John Swan AKA Swanee. Firstly a bit of background to the John Swan story. John was born in Glasgow but emigrated to Australia with his family at age 8. His family settled in the tough migrant, working-class Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth, his family of course including younger brother James AKA Jimmy Barnes. Following a short stint in the army, Swan joined Adelaide based blues outfit Hard Time Killing Floor during 1971, as their drummer. But with a set of raucous rock vocal chords, John Swan was soon on a new tour of duty as the lead singer of Adelaide rock outfit Fraternity, replacing one Bon Scott in 1974 (Scott of course going on to front AC/DC). During 1975 younger brother Jimmy briefly took over vocal duties with Fraternity, with Swan relegated to drumming duties. But Fraternity was in its death throws by then, and soon John Swan left to become the drummer with Jim Keay’s Southern Cross, which was immediately followed by an 18 month stint with Feather.

Swanee in his feather days 2nd from the right.

The next chapter beyond Feather saw John Swan launch his own band called Swanee in November 1978. Initially playing Led Zeppelin and Bad Company style covers, Swanee quickly built up a strong live following around Sydney. Soon they were incorporating original rock songs like ‘The Road Keeps Moving Sideways’ and ‘Crazy Dreams’, the latter becoming Swanee’s debut single on the WEA label (OZ#68) in late ‘79. The line-up of the band changed markedly over the ensuing year but by late 1980 Swanee’s debut album ‘Into The Night’ (OZ#66) was in the can. The band didn’t yield any more hit singles but featured a solid mix of melodic rock numbers performed by a group of musicians well on top of their game. Guest players on the album included a young guitar ace by the name of Tommy Emmanuel.

The hard work and constant touring finally paid dividends in late 1981 when Swanee released the single ‘If I Were A Carpenter’. The cover of the Tim Hardin penned classic, which John Swan imbued with his own powerful vocal style, rocketed to #5 on the Australian charts and suddenly John Swan was as big on the charts as younger brother Jimmy Barnes’ outfit Cold Chisel (who Swan had once also performed vocals for). The follow up single ‘Samantha’ (OZ#90) missed the mark, but ‘Temporary Heartache’ returned Swanee to the top 20 a few months later (#18). ‘Temporary Heartache’ was featured on Swanee’s second album ‘This Time It’s Different’. A trimmed down line-up of the band recorded the album with contributions again from a string of top notch session players including Renee Geyer on backing vocals, guitarists Kirk Lorange and Tommy Emmanuel, and drummer Mark Kennedy. The album climbed steadily to a peak of #22, with the follow up single ‘Lady What’s Your Name’ scoring Swanee a #13 hit. The piano based love ballad was quite a departure from Swanee’s usual fare, but it did illustrate just how malleable John Swan’s vocals could be.

By the end of 1982 John Swan’s old Feather band mate Stuart Fraser had joined the Swanee line-up , along with ex-Sherbet guitarist Harvey James. In July 1983 they released the power ballad ‘Sail Away’, which though one of Swanee’s strongest songs, only managed to navigate to #52 on the charts. Yet another revamped band cast released the live set ‘Ready For Action - Live In The Snow’ (OZ#31) in late 1983. A couple of low key singles followed, the best of them ‘I’m Ready/Carrie Anne’ released in early 1984 (eventually crawling to #72 later in the year). Swanee concluded his tenure with WEA by releasing a ‘best of’ compilation in late 1984 titled ‘Days Gone By’ (OZ#52).

A new deal with RCA saw the release of the album ‘Bushido’ (OZ#73) in April 1985, but the singles ‘You Oughta Know Me By Now’ and ‘Turn Away’ indicated that the record buying public had largely turned away from Swanee’s music. ‘Bushido’ was essentially a solo album for John Swan, though still under the name Swanee, with another stellar roster of session players recruited for the project (among the backing vocalists on the album were Renee Geyer and future Noiseworks’ vocalist Jon Stevens).

In early 1987 John Swan joined the line-up of the ever popular Party Boys (see future post). His tenure with the Party Boys coincided with the cover band’s most commercially successful period, including their #1 cover of the John Kongas song ‘He’s Gonna Step On You Again’. He fronted the band on their support slot for AC/DC’s 1988 Australian tour - kind of a full circle journey given Swan’s original gig replacing Bon Scott in Fraternity. He revived his solo career with the 1989 single ‘Lucille’ for Mushroom (which I purchased on cassingle) and the 1990 single ‘Blood Is Thicker Than Water’ (which I bought on vinyl 45), both under the name Swanee. In 1997 Swanee released the album ‘Heart And Soul’ on the East West indie label, and toured once more, albeit briefly, with the party Boys in the late 90s. In 2005 he recorded the song ‘What Will They Say’ with brother Jimmy Barnes, from Barnes’ album ‘Double Happiness’, and most recently released the album ‘Have A Little Faith’ (2007).

One of the most gifted vocalists to grace the Australian music scene, John Swan has maintained an active involvement over the last decade in a number of capacities. He’s a regular of the music festival circuit, is involved with a number of charitable causes and lectures at the JMC Music Academy.