Friday, 27 May 2016

Town Criers - 1970 - Love Me Again

Love Me Again/Hey Girl/Any Old Time/Rene

 Popular Melbourne band The Town Criers formed around 1965. Their first single, a cover of The Kinks' "The World Keeps Going Round", was released on the Melbourne independent label Trend but didn't make any impression on the local charts. The B-side, a great 'garage-punk' number called "Big Deal", was included on the bootleg Oz '60s compilation CD It's A Kave-In, which also features another Criers rarity from this period, a version of the blues standard "Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut".

 The Criers gigged consistently around Melbourne over the next two years, and in late 1967 they were signed to the Astor label by A&R manager Ron Tudor. Their second single, released in February 1968 and nominally produced by Geoffrey Edelsten, was a strong version of "Everlasting Love", the much-covered hit originally recorded by American singer Robert Knight in 1967 and also released in 1968 in the UK by The Love Affair. The song was penned by pop songwriters Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden, who also wrote "Hayride" and "La La" (both hits for The Flying Circus) and "Groupie" (covered by The New Dream). It was an immediate success and became a big hit in Melbourne, reaching #2 and also charted in Sydney (#16) and Adelaide (#33) in April-May 1968, and this success proplelled it into thethe Go-Set Top 20; it peaked at #18 and consistently out-charted the Love Affair version. The song has been covered many times since then, including a 1990s version by U2.

 George Kurtiss left the band in May 1968 and was replaced by John Taylor (ex Strings Unlimited). Their second Astor single, "Unexpectedly" / "It's Hurting Badly" was released in September, but failed to chart. Astor also compiled the two Town Criers singles for an EP, Everlasting Love, released during 1968.

During the latter half of 1968 the Town Criers travelled to South East Asia where they entertained Australian and American troops stationed in Vietnam. This was followed by a trip to the USA, where they appeared on the Bob Hope Christmas Special. In early 1969 founding vocalist Andy Agtoft and John Taylor both left the group. Agtoft was replaced by singer Barry Smith from Adelaide; this raised the band's profile in Adelaide, but it may also have led some fans to think that the band itself was from Adelaide. It's also possible there was some confusion with The London Criers, a well-known late-60s Adelaide show band. Taylor subsequently joined the Sydney band Daisy Clover, who released two singles on Festival.

Now a four-piece, The Town Criers signed with Festival and released three more singles over the next year, "Any Old Time" / "Rene" (March 1969), "Love Me Again" / "Hey Girl" (Oct. 1969) and  "Living In A World Of Love" / "Roundabout" (May 1970), which just missed out on the Top 40. The next single "Love Me Again" (Oct. 1969) managed to get into the lower end of the Melbourne Top 40 (#35). In October 1970 the group moved to EMI's HMV label, for whom they recorded their last two singles.  "Laughing Man" / "Living In A Dream World" was issued in May 1971 and  "Love, Love, Love" / "Chorus Girl" came out in November, but neither release made any impression on the charts and the group had split up by the end of 1971. 

In the late 1970s Andy Agtoft joined Scandinavian band Soames Electric, singing with them and writing English lyrics for their songs. After he left that group he joined another Scandinavian band, Churchill, before returning to Australia. Andy and Barry Smith have collaborated on a history of The Town Criers called Everlasting Pop, published by Chris Spencer's Moonlight Publications.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Dig Richards - 1960 - Ain't She Sweet

Ain't She Sweet/Sweet Sue, Just You/What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For/Love Is Just Around The Corner

Digby George Richards (1940-1983), singer and composer, was born on 12 September 1940 at Dunedoo, New South Wales, elder child of New South Wales-born parents Gordon Forrest Richards, policeman, and his wife Mona, née Dennis. Dig attended Narooma Central and Moruya High schools. After completing the Leaving certificate in 1957 he worked at Waltons-Sears Ltd in Sydney.

His family and American rock’n’roll music were major influences on Dig. His brother Doug learned melody lines on their father’s guitar and started writing songs. Dig abandoned his retail traineeship for music, after becoming the vocalist for the band ‘The R-Jays’, which sought a recording contract. Ken Taylor of Festival Records auditioned the band in 1959 and, largely on the strength of Doug’s song I Wanna Love You, signed them. They became the third local artists, following Johnny O’Keefe and Col Joye, to gain a contract with Festival Records. The song entered radio 2UE’s Top 40 on 25 July 1959, and spent seventeen weeks on the charts, reaching number eight. Between his first hit and May 1960, Dig recorded more songs with ‘The R-Jays’, three of which—I’m Through, (Real Gone) Annie Laurie and Comin’ Down with Love—entered the charts, but did not have the success of their first record.

A handsome man with a good stage personality, Dig Richards was a popular performer who supported American singers including Ricky Nelson and Crash Craddock. Television shows such as ‘Bandstand’, from 1958, and O’Keefe’s ‘Six O’Clock Rock’, from 1959, extended his audience and popularity beyond dances and live performances. From August 1959 ‘The R-Jays’ were the studio band for ‘Teen Time’ on Channel 7.

Richards’ career was threatened as a result of injuries he sustained in a car accident in October 1959. A couple of years later he and ‘The R-Jays’ parted amicably and he began to write his own material. While he kept his early fans, he wanted to broaden his appeal. He took voice and guitar lessons and developed a new image. A comeback single in 1962, Raincoat in the River, defined his change from rock’n’roller to a slightly folky, country singer. On 10 July 1964 at the Church of St John the Baptist, Milsons Point, he married with Anglican rites Susan (Suzanne) Margaret Clark, a telephonist. That year he hosted the ‘Ampol Stamp Quiz’, a television show for children. Often performing in clubs, he sought new markets in South-East Asia, touring there—including Vietnam—in the late 1960s. 

  In 1970 Dig went to England he returned to Australia in 1971 and, as Digby Richards, continued performing and recording with a mainly country style. That year his next album, Harlequin, appeared on RCA. It provided four singles, "A Little Piece of Peace" (June 1971) No. 28, "Just Loving You" (September), "People Call Me Country" (February 1972) No. 24, and "Dirty River" (May). In 1973
he travelled to Los Angeles where he recorded his next album, Digby Richards (February 1974). Four singles were issued from the album, "If I Could Write a Love Song" (December 1973), "New York City (Send My Baby Home)" (No. 35, April 1974), "Do the Spunky Monkey" (No. 21, June) and "Be My Day" (September).

 Richards next album, Collection (1975) provided three singles, "Mr Hard Times" (January 1975), "Little Suzuki" (May) and a re-recorded version of "Raincoat in the River" (August). By 1977 Richards had relocated to the UK again.[27] His 1978 album, Whiskey Sundown, appeared in December and from late that year into the next year he toured Europe as the support act for Dolly Parton, including shows in London. His next album, The Thing is ...?, appeared in January 1981 and was followed by If You Could Read My Mind in December the following year. On 17 February 1983 Digby Richards died of pancreatic cancer, aged 42.

Dee Jays - Off Shore and Toy Balloons

Off Shore/What'd I Say/Toy Balloons/One Mint Julep

In September 1956 Johnny O'Keefe and his friend Dave Owen (an American-born tenor sax player) formed Australia's first rock'n'roll band, The Dee Jays. The original lineup of the group was ), Kevin Norton (guitar), Keith Williams (bass) and Johnny "Catfish" Purser (drums). Norton left soon after the band formed and he was replaced by Indonesian-born guitarist Lou Casch. Johnny Greenan joined the Dee Jays on tenor saxophone, replacing John Balkin. This was the band that supported a tour by Little Richard and his band.

Casch was a remarkable figure background and his contribution to O'Keefe's sound, both live and on record, was considerable. He was born in Ambon in 1924, grew up in Aceh and Jakarta, began playing guitar at an early age, and became a dedicated jazz musician. He came to Australia under the Colombo Plan in 1952 to study Medicine at the University of Sydney. He was introduced to O'Keefe by Keith Williams, whom he had known from a jazz trio in which they played. At their first meeting O'Keefe played Casch a selection of rock'n'roll records and asked him to imitate the guitar playing, which he was easily able to do. Impressed, O'Keefe offered him the job and handed him a pile of records, saying "Here, learn these. The dance is on Saturday night."

Their first performance was at Stones Cabaret in the beach side suburb of Coogee, and by early 1957 they were playing four dances a week and also performing on Saturdays in the interval between films at the Embassy Theatre, Manly. O'Keefe and the Dee Jays quickly attracted a strong local following, due in large measure to O'Keefe's magnetic personality and his dynamic stage performances.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Tony Barber - 1966 - Someday

Someday/I Want Her Too/Is It Raining/What Now

Guitarist, singer, songwriter and author Tony Barber is one of the unsing heroes of the Beat Boom in Australia. Rock historian Dean Mittelhauser considered him "one of our most underrated performers from the Sixties" and felt that Tony had "played a bigger part in the success of Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs that has been generally credited".

Tony was one of the many music-crazy young migrants who arrived in Australia in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and he had played in a minor band called The Electrons before leaving the UK. Within weeks of his arrival in Australia in 1964 he met a cocky young singer called Billy Thorpe in Kings Cross and he was immediately drafted in as the fifth member of Billy's backing band, The Aztecs. Tony was already developing into a competent pop writer and he composed both sides of the Aztec's first single "Blue Day" / You don't love me", released on the Linda Lee label in April 1964.

      Left to right Colin Balgent, Tony Barber, Vince Melouney, John Watson, Billy Thorpe seated.

Two days before The Aztecs' next recording session, Tony received a 'care package' from his brother in the UK that contained the Rolling Stones' first EP. Afer hearing The Stones' version of Lieber & Stoller's "Poison Ivy", Tthe Aztecs decided to record the song on their next single. It's now a matter of history that their version (widely regarded as being superior to The Stones') shot to #1, became one of the biggest Australian pop hits of the year, kept The Beatles out of the top spot in the Sydney charts in the very midst of their tour, and made Billy and The Aztecs into national stars. Tony featured on the next three Aztecs singles, "Mashed Potato" "Sick and Tired" and "Over The rainbow" -- all of which were major hits -- but in late 1965 Tony and the rest of The Aztecs quit en masse, mainly because of ongoing financial wrangles with manager John Harrigan.
After leaving The Aztecs, Tony and fellow Aztec Vince Maloney formed the shortlived Vince & Tony's Two, with John Shields on bass and Jimmy Thompson on drums. In late 1965 Tony was signed as a solo artist to the newly formed Everybody's label, which had been established by Clyde Packer's Consolidated Press. Tony's solo debut single (produced by Nat Kipner) was a thumping beat original called "Someday", which it was one of the first (and only) four singles issued on Everybody's. None of these singles -- including Tony's -- was unsuccessful on first release because of resistance from radio DJs who (not unreasonably) regarded the label as blatant cross-promotion for Packer's Everybody's magazine and refused to name it on air.

 The label was hastily rebadged as Spin Records and Tony's single was re-issued in February 1966. This time it took off, becoming a major hit that peaked at #7 in Sydney and #11 in Melbourne. Tony released four more singles on Spin -- "Wait By The Water" (Apr. 1966), "Wondrous Place" (July '66), "Lookin' for a better day" (Jan. 1967) and "Bird's Eye View", which was written for a long-forgotten TV documentary. Tony was also granted the rare privilege of recording an entire LP, entitled Someday ... Now!, on which he was backed by labelmates Steve & The Board and The Bee Gees.

 Although he was signed to Spin as a recording artist, Tony also worked with another independent label during this period, the Melbourne-based Phono Vox. He produced several singles by Phon Vox artists, including Denise Drysdale and The Bentbeaks, and he also wrote the A-side of Denise's single "Sunshine Shadow". In late 1967, after his Spin contract had ended, Tony released one single under his own name on Phono Vox, but this proved to be his swansong as a recording artist. During 1967 Tony married his girlfriend Sue Peck, a staffer with Go-Set magazine, and soon after he left the pop scene to concentrate on business ventures and raising a family. In the 1980s he reunited with his old friend Billy Thorpe in the successful 'Sunshine Friends' soft toy enterprise.

 In 2002, after more than thirty years away from the limelight, Tony reunited with Billy and the original Aztecs for the historic Long Way To The Top concert tours. His experiences inspired him to write a memoir of the tour and his early days as a pop musician, entitled Long Way Til You Drop. Regrettably, there was opposition to the book from some of those involved in the LWTTT tour, fuelled by pre-publication media hype that suggested it would be a tell-all exposé. In the event, Tony's book proved to be an entertaining, witty and affectionate account of an important chapter in Australian rock history.

Tony Barber - 1966 - Wait By The Water

Wait By The Water/What Now/No More Moanin'/You Can't Lie To A Liar

Anthony Arthur Barber, known as Tony Barber (born 3 December 1942, Norwich, Norfolk) is an English-born Australian public speaker and a diverse, innovative creator. Musician, singer, songwriter, author, plush toy designer, gift and craft tool product designer, paper sculptor, artist, teacher and mentor. He arrived in Australia in 1963.

He was a member of the hugely popular Australian band Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs in the 1960s and then as a solo artist. As a solo artist his biggest hit was "Someday" (Aust #13/1966). He wrote 35 children's books under the name A. A. Barber and Tony Barber and appeared on the children's television show The Music Shop as Tony the Toymaker.

In 2009, he theorized that if you were to re design the traditional A and H Frame easels to a stage where you removed all the visual and physical impediments and barriers that those easels place in front of an artist, not only would all artists feel better when they painted but their art would actually improve. He then proceeded to prove this theory to be true by inventing a totally new type of easel he called the ARTristic Easel. Artists that use it say it is a revolutionary and indispensable piece of artists equipment and is the most versatile easel in the history of art.

A popular fantasy character he created, named, designed the soft toy of and that appeared in many of his books, was taken and used to name the Australian baby Echidna.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Valentines - 1968 - The Valentines

 I Can Hear The Raindrops/ Why Me/She Said/To Know You Is To Love You

Alongside their Adelaide contemporaries Zoot, Perth pop group The Valentines was, for a brief period, one of the most popular bands in the country. Although they started out a energetic soul/R&B band, their best known image was associated with the so-called "bubblegum pop" phenomenon of 1968-70. But there was a wild side to the band which was evident in their live performances (and their off-stage carousing). These days, of course, they're best known by reference to the fact that one of the singers ended up in a little band called AC/DC -- although the enormous interest in them has resulted in many previously unreleased tracks becoming available in recent years.

The Valentines formed in Perth in mid-1966, bringing together members of three leading local beat groups: Scott and Milson were from The Spektors, Lovegrove, Ward and Cooksey from The Winztons, and Findlay from top WA band Ray Hoff & The Off Beats. Playing a mixture of soul, R&B and mod covers, by the start of 1967 they were already Perth's top group. A major drawcard was the double-vocal attack of dynamic frontmen Bon Scott and Vince Lovegrove, and within a few weeks of their live debut they were packing in crowds at their shows at venues like Canterbury Court and the Swanbourne Surf Livesaving Club (known locally as the Swanbourne Stomp). 

 It wasn't long before their local popularity came to the attention of Martin Clarke, who operated Perth's only record label in the 1960's, Clarion. The Valentines signed to Clarion in March 1967 and released their first single in May. The single was a good indication of where their early influences lay - the A-side was a cover of Arthur Alexander's "Every Day I Have To Cry", and backed by a cover of "I Can't Dance With You", an early track by British mod icons The Small Faces. It was a strong beginning, sellling well locally and peaking at #5 on the Perth charts.

The second single was a Beatlesque Vanda & Young composition, "She Said", released in August '67. It didn't do quite as well but still made the lower reaches of the Perth Top 40. The song came their way because The Valentines had become friends with The Easybeats, whom they supported when they toured Western Australia. Vanda and Young went on to write two more Singles specially for them.

In early 1967 they won the Perth heats of the Hoadleys Battle Of The Sounds, and in July they flew to Melbourne to compete in the national finals, where they came in runners-up to The Groop. In October '67, encouraged by their reception there, they made the inevitable they moved to Australia's pop Mecca and they soon became a popular attraction on the booming local disco circuit.

 The third Clarion single, released in February 1968, was also their first original effort. "I Can Hear The Raindrops" / "Why Me?" were both Lovegrove-Ward compositions. Promoted as a double A-side release, loyal Perth fans boosted the record to number 30 on the local charts, but again it failed to chart in other cities. There was also a lineup change in early '68: original drummer Warrick Findlay quit, and he was briefly replaced by Brian Abbot, but in July '68 the lineup stabilized with Bon, Ted, Wyn, Vince and hot-shot drummer Doug Lavery, whose sterling credentials included stints The Questions, Andy James Asylum, Running Jumping Standing Still and Doug Parkinson In Focus.

Despite press reports in April 1968 that the Valentines would join Ivan Dayman's Sunshine label, this never eventuated. In July they released their fourth and last single for Clarion; the A-side was a faithful cover of The Easybeats' 1967 psychedelic nugget "Peculiar Hole In The Sky". The flip side was a cover of the only single ever released by avant-guarde British outfit Soft Machine, "Love Makes Sweet Music", a track which had been brought to their attention by top Melbourne DJ Stan "The Man" Rofe. Both tracks were produced on Martin Clarke's behalf by the great Pat Aulton (Normie Rowe, Dave Miller Set, Kahvas Jute), and they're both fine recordings, but regrettably the single never made it into the charts. The original Easybeats version was not released in Australia until 1969, much to the chagrin of the band, who had only ever intended it as a demo for The Valentines, and they saw it's released as a cynical attempt to cash in on their reluctant Australian tour. It sank without trace.)

 Their breakthrough finally came in 1969. At the end of 1968 they signed to Ron Tudor's June Productions, who recorded them and then leased the singles to Philips (in the same manner that Albert Productions recorded The Easybeats and then leased the records to EMI). The "bubblegum" craze was by then in full swing and local bands -- or at least their managers and labels -- were enthusiasically embracing the new fad. Bands like Zoot and The New Dream were donning matching coloured outfits, and churning out catchy slices of sugary pop confections like riding high on the teenybopper success of their "Think Pink" campaign, with matching pink outfits, pink guitars etc. Many otherwise repectable bands were lured into the squishy clutches of bubblegum pop -- pioneering country rockers Flying Circus were diverted down this path for some time, scoring two major national bubblegum hits with the American song "Hayride" and Doug Rowe's delightfully vacuous "La La". Even the redoubtable Masters Apprentices seemed in some danger of succumbing to the insidious trend (under pressure from then-manager Daryl Sambell), as evidenced by their less-then-crucial 1969 single "Linda Linda".

In the same vein, The Valentines completely overhauled their stage act to include matching scarlet outfits, co-ordinated stage moves, exploding coloured smoke bombs and sparklers. On Valentines Day (February 14) they released their next single through Philips, "My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man" / "Ebeneezer" (another Vanda/ Young composition); the formula seemed to be working -- at first -- and it went on to become their first Australia-wide Top 40 hit. The single launch was reported by Go-Set who excitedly related the tales of fan frenzy which resulted in Bon's clothes being almost completely torn off during the show!

 In May '69 Doug Lavery was poached by Brian Cadd, to join to join his new country-rock supergroup Axiom; Doug was replaced by Paddy Beach (ex-Compulsion). In September John Cooksey also left, so Ted Ward took over on bass, reducing the band to a five piece. Later that month they made headlines when they became the first major Australian group to be arrested for the possession of marijuana -- although they were not the first, as is often reported -- members of The Id had been busted in Sydney a couple of years earlier. Luckily for the Valentines, they were treated rather leniently by the standards of the day -- they were each fined $150 and placed on good behaviour bonds. They were unrepentant, however, and made an open statement in Go-Set in favour of the legalisation of pot -- quite a controversial move at the time.

In July '69 The Valentines had their second stab at the Hoadleys, but again they were runners-up, this time to Doug Parkinson In Focus. In September they released their next single, which was an updated version of "Nick Nack Paddy Wack", and then took part in the historic Operation Starlift tour, which featured most of the leading acts of the day - Russell Morris, Johnny Farnham, Ronnie Burns, Johnny Young, Doug Parkinson In Focus, Zoot, and The Masters Apprentices. Needless to say The Valentines led the way in after-hours hijinks, with points being awarded for the most depsicable acts. Some of the more outrageous incidents have since passed into Aussie rock legend (one in particular which involved the daughter of the mayor of a country town). For those who are interested, the incident is recounted in detail Jim Keays' memoir His Master's Voice.

 By early 1970 the group was close to splitting up, but they solidiered on for several more months. As the bubblegum fad faded out, The Valentines and Zoot both jettisoned the matching outfits and dinky tunes, and went for a more streetwise image, and a heavier sound (e.g. Zoot's version of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby). The Valentines released their last single in March '70; "Juliette" / "Hoochie Coochie Billy". It was a local hit in Melbourne in April, reaching #28, but four months later, in August, the band split up.

After The Valentines ...

- Bon Scott went to Sydney where he joined Fraternity (1970-73) who enjoyed moderate success. After recuperating from a near-fatal motorbike accident in Adelaide he was invited to replace original AC/DC lead singer Dave Evans in late 1974. The band shot to national and then international fame making Bon a bona-fide rock legend. Bon fronted the band from Spetember 1974 until his untimely death in 1980.

- Wyn Milson became a live sound engineer and pioneered the use of large-scale sound systems in Australia

- John Lockery later joined Rock Revival.

- Paddy Beach joined Wholly Black and later moved to South Africa

- Doug Lavery moved to America after the split of Axiom, and at last report he was teaching drums in Los Angeles 

Vince Lovegrove worked as a writer for Go-Set, compered a television show in Adelaide called Move and issued a couple of solo singles in 1971 and 1972. He worked as a booking agent in Adelaide where, in September 1974 he introduced Bon Scott to the members of AC/DC - the rest is History. In the late '70s he worked on the Nine Network's A Current Affair covering stories on youth and the rock scene, and he was producer of The Don Lane Show for some time. In the '80s he continued his work as a rock writer and went into management; he managed The Divinyls until 1984. In the late 1980s, it was discovered that Vince's second wife Susie had unknowingly been infected by the HIV virus before the couple had met. As if that was not bad enough, the Lovegroves then discovered that their infant son Troy, who had been born just before his mother's disease was diagnosed, had also been infected. Vince produced a deeply moving documentary, Susie's Story, which charted the course of her illness and eventual death. After Suzi's death, Vince produced an equally heart-rending follow-up, A Kid Called Troy, which doumented their son's courageous battle against AIDS. Both programs were of enormous importance in raising public awareness in Australia about AIDS and HIV, and it's a lasting tribute to Vince and his family that they went through with the films in spite of such overwhelming personal tragedies. After Troy's death, Vince moved to London, where he wrote for several years for the Australian online music magazine Immedia.  Vince Lovegrove died after rolling his Kombi van just outside of Byron Bay in 2012.

Valentines - 1969 - My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man

My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man /Ebeneezeer/Nick Nack Paddy Wack/Getting Better

 The Valentines were an Australian pop band active from 1966–1970, chiefly noted for their lead singers, Bon Scott, who later went on to great success as lead vocalist with AC/DC; and Vince Lovegrove, who subsequently became a successful music journalist and manager of Divinyls.

"My Old Man's a Groovy Old Man" written by Vanda/Young charted at #23 in February 1969.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Pleazers - 1965 - A Midnight Rave with The Pleazers

Baby Jane/Thou Shalt Not Steal/I'm Moving On/Bald Headed Woman/Don't Give Me No Lip Child

The Pleazers were an Australian-based rhythm and blues musical group  that was popular in New Zealand in the mid-1960s.

The band began in Brisbane as the G-Men, before moving to Sydney, changing their name and going professional. In Sydney, they were noticed by Eldred Stebbing of Zodiac Records, who brought them to New Zealand in 1964, where they soon appeared on the Let's Go show. The initial release, "Last Night" / "Poor Girl", did poorly but the follow-up release, a cover of Them's "Gloria" broke into the national charts. The band eventually released seven singles, one EP and one album, called Definitely Pleazers. The band went through several personnel changes and, in March 1965, moved back to Australia, only to break up six months later. 

Originally an Australian band from Brisbane, known as the G-Men. They were joined by Bob Cooper, whose actual name was Bob London (brother of Billy) and decided to change there name to the Pleazers (not to be confused with NZ band The Pleasers). They then went professional and at this point Vince Lipton decided to leave and was replaced by Bruce Robinson (Bass). The band moved to Sydney, losing Jim Cerezo on the way, so Robinson moved to lead guitar and Ronnie Peel joined on bass.

 It was while playing in Sydney that they were noticed by Zodiac owner, Eldred Stebbing, who brought them to New Zealand in 1964, with a promise of guaranteed work and unlimited studio time. They started playing at the Shiralee and also appeared on the TV show "Let's Go". They looked to be set to take the nation by storm, but fell out with TV producers and were subsequently banned from the airwaves. They started looking scruffier and seemed more comfortable with this image.

 Their first single, "Last Night"/"Poor Girl", got minor response. It wasn't until they released their follow-up song, a cover of Them's "Gloria", with "That Lonely Feeling" on the reverse, in February 1965, that saw them get any action on the charts. Seven singles, one EP called "Midnight Rave", and one album called "Definitely Pleazers" were released on the Zodiac label. The other singles were "Like Columbus Did"/"Sometimes", "Is It Over Baby"/"Hurtin' All Over", "Guilty"/"Can't Pretend", "Here Today"/"La La Lies" and "Three Cool Cats"/"Security".

Eldred Stebbing took over the Shiralee in 1966 and renamed it the Galaxie. He installed as resident bands, two of the raunchiest R&B groups around, the La De Da's and the Pleazers. The La De Da's fitted in well with the image of the club, but the Pleazers wanted to continue their rough looking image and Bob Cooper was soon replaced by Shane Hales. Cooper showed up with Hubb Kapp and the Wheels.  Ronnie Peel left the group in 1966 and was replaced by Gus Fenwick from the Layabouts. The Pleazers  went back to Australia in June 1966, but returned in March 1967, without Peter Newing, only to split up 6 months later.

They were one of the premier groups on the New Zealand scene, but their behaviour was far from acceptable in a staid New Zealand society. Peel spent a brief period with the La De Da's before moving to the UK and a stint with  Thunderclap Newman. He later changed his name to  Rockwell T James and performed well in Australia. Gus Fenwick also continued his career in Australia, before joining Shane Hales in the Shane Group, which evolved into the Apple. In Australia Gus was a member of the Bootleg Family Band, Band Of Talabene, Healing Force,  Nightflyer, Swanee and The Joy Boys.

Shane Hales had a short stint with Jamestown Union, before forming the Shane Group, and after that had a very successful solo career, while Bruce Robinson went on to join Troubled Mind, then Flinders and Rockinghorse.

 Line-Up: (Original)     Jim Cerezo (Lead Guitar)
     Peter Newing (Rhythm Guitar)
     Vince Lipton (Bass)
     Dennis Gilmore (Drums)
     Billy London (Vocals)

Line-Up: (New Zealand)
     Billy London (Vocals)
     Bob Cooper (Vocals)
     Bruce Robinson (Lead Guitar)
     Peter Newing (Rhythm Guitar)
     Ronnie Peel (Bass)
     Dennis Gilmore (Drums)

L to R: Dennis Gilmore, Ron Peel, Peter Newing, Shane Hales, Billy London and Bruce Robinson seated.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Judy Stone - 1967 - And The Trouble With Me Is You

And The Trouble With Me Is You/Lost Without You/Forget Domani/One Little Voice

During the early 1960s, singer Judy Stone (b. 1944) became a regular on television pop show Bandstand, alongside the likes of Col Joye, Bryan Davies, Lucky Starr, Noeleen Batley, Patsy Ann Noble, The Allen Brothers, The Delltones, The De Kroo Brothers, Laurel Lea, Jimmy Hannan and Sandy Scott. Stone's duets with Col Joye were a popular feature of the show. She began touring with Joye and the Joyboys, and then signed a deal with Festival Records. 

Stone's first two singles for Festival, `You're Driving Me Crazy'/`It Takes a Lot To Make Me Cry' (June 1961) and `Danger! Heartbreak Ahead'/`You're Driving Me Mad' (August), were minor hits. Her third single, `I'll Step Down'/ `Mommy and Daddy Were Twistin'' (February 1962), took her into the Sydney Top 10 for the first time when it peaked at #5 during March. Stone also issued her debut album for Festival, I'll Step Down, in 1962. `Finders Keepers'/`I'm Confessing that I Love You' (June), `I Wanna Love You'/`Where are You?' (December) and `It Takes a Lot to Make Me Cry'/`I Cried' (July 1963) made minor impressions on the Sydney chart. It was her seventh single, however, that became Stone's most popular release of the 1960s. The heart-wrenching ballad `4,003,221 Tears from Now'/`Hello Faithless' (April 1964) peaked at #8 in Sydney and #7 in Melbourne. The `I Cried' EP (June 1964), plus the singles `Break My Heartache'/`Lonely People Do Foolish Things' (September), `Hard to Say Goodnight'/`Too Much' (December) and `In My Neighbourhood'/`This is My Prayer' (October 1965) were not so successful. 

 By that stage, Stone had teamed up with Col Joye on a number of recordings, including the EPs `The I's Have It' and `Clap Your Hands', and albums Col and Judy and The Best of Col and Judy, which contained cutesy material like `Young And Healthy', `Angry' and `Side by Side'. In early 1965 she embarked on a two-month Japanese tour with Joye and the Joyboys. A year later, she married Leo De Kroo of The De Kroo Brothers. In September 1966, Stone scored her third Sydney Top 10 hit when a cover of Sandy Posey's `Born a Woman'/ `I Need You' (her first release for Joye's ATA label) peaked at #3. Stone issued five more singles on ATA, `Don't Touch Me'/`So Softly' (February 1967), `And the Trouble with Me is You'/`Lost Without Love' (May), `I Might as Well Get Used to It'/`Love will Always Find a Way' (March 1968) and Janis Ian's `Society's Child'/`I'm Not Your Woman' (March 1969), before moving to the M7 label. 

 Throughout the late 1960s/early 1970s, Stone consolidated on her early pop successes with regular appearances on the club and country music circuits. Her first single for M7, `Day by Day' (from Godspell)/`Enough of a Woman' (November 1971) was overshadowed by Colleen Hewett's hit rendition, although it did peak at #6 in Sydney. Stone issued her third solo album, Pure Stone, in May 1972 on the Frog label. The albums Born to Love (1972), The Magic of Judy Stone (1973) and the double compilation Judy Stone's Greatest Hits (1974) followed. In 1974, Stone entered her most successful phase since the mid-1960s when her English-language version of `Mare Mare Mare'/`(I Am) Only a Woman' (January 1974) and `Would You Lay with Me in a Field of Stone?'/`Forgive Me for Saying' (June) charted in the national Top 20 (#12 and #2 respectively). With `Would You Lay with Me in a Field of Stone?' in the Australian Top 10, Stone represented Australia at Expo '74 in Spokane, USA. Stone's first album for the M7 label was In a Field of Stone.

 The 1975 singles `Where are the Clowns?'/ `Traveller' and `We Two will Love'/`I Believe in Music' were not successful. Stone returned to the national chart with her version of the country standard `Silver Wings And Golden Rings'/`We Need You' (her first release for Polydor), which reached #21 in February. `Silver Wings and Golden Rings' had been lifted from Stone's album A Part of Me, which also produced the single ABBA's `Hasta Manana'/`Runaway' (#14 in May). In 1977, Stone travelled to the UK where she had signed with recording and management company Power Exchange (which also handled Kamahl's affairs). Stone's second album for Polydor, What are You Doing Tonight? produced the single `What are You Doing Tonight?'/`Don't Cry Tears for Me' (1978). Stone issued one final single for Polydor in April 1980, `Years'/`Magic in Your Mind'. By 1983, Stone had signed with Powderworks/RCA and issued the single `Number One in My Heart'/`As Tears Go By' (November).

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Betty McQuade - 1966 - Betty McQuade Sings

Midnight Bus/Summer Love/Blue Train/Tongue Tied

  Scottish-born Betty McQuade migrated to Australia with her family at the age of eight. The family settled in Brisbane, and in 1960 McQuade relocated to Melbourne where she joined The Thunderbirds as replacement for Judy Cannon. Unlike other female singers of the day, such as Noeleen Batley (dubbed `Australia's Little Miss Sweetheart'), Judy Stone and Patsy Ann Noble, who were distinctly middle-of-the-road pop, McQuade developed a tough R&B style in the manner of Wanda Jackson. She went on to cover a couple of Jackson's songs, notably `Tongue Tied' and `You Make Me Mad'.

After working with The Thunderbirds for a year, McQuade signed to the Astor label and issued her debut single, a cover of John D. Loudermilk's `Midnight Bus'/`Tongue Tied', which reached #6 in Melbourne during December 1961. McQuade cut two more singles, Loudermilk's `Blue Train'/ `Summer Love' (January 1962) and `Doggie in the Window'/`Have You Ever Been Lonely?', before she joined another popular Melbourne group, The Premiers. With backing provided by The Premiers, McQuade recorded her fourth single, Jo Ann Campbell's `Bobby, Bobby, Bobby'/`You Make Me Mad'. It was her final single for Astor, and after making regular appearances on television pop show The Go!! Show, McQuade signed to the Go!! label. 

    Her two singles for Go!! were reissues of `Midnight Bus'/`Tongue Tied' (September 1965) and `Blue Train'/`Summer Love' (March 1966), plus the EP Betty McQuade Sings. McQuade issued one final single `Dum Dum'/`Beauty is Just Skin Deep', for the W&G label (1967) before slipping from view. In 1981 the Raven label issued the six-track McQuade EP Midnight Bus. During the mid-1980s she began appearing in a series of rock'n'roll revival concerts such as The Happy Days of Rock'n'Roll in Melbourne. In late 1996, the Canetoad label issued a compilation Girls! Girls! Girls! (Australian Female Performers of the Sixties: Volume 1), which included McQuade's `Midnight Bus', `Tongue Tied', `Blue Train' and `Bobby Bobby Bobby'. Other singers featured were Judy Cannon, Noeleen Batley, Yvonne Barrett, Carolyn Young, The Taylor Sisters, Vicki Forrest, Lee Sellers, Pam Oakley, Del Juliana, The Field Twins and Joy Lemmon.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Cheek - 1980 - Cheek

Do You Have A Soul/Take Me For What I'm Worth/So Much In Love/Still In Love

Great EP from Sydney band Cheek has 3 covers and an original. "Do You Have A Soul" by the Easybeats "Take Me For What I'm Worth" written by P.F. Sloan and made popular by the Searchers "So Much In Love" the Rolling Stones and the original "Still In Love" written by band member guitarist and  singer Lee Emmett.

Three of Cheek's five members had been in Jasper from 1974 before forming Punkz and releasing two singles with the guidance of pop journalist and manager Glenn A. Baker. With a name change to Cheek, they released two further singles but broke up in 1978 before a planned album could be completed. "So Much In Love" charted in several Australian cities in 1978 #22 Melbourne #13 Brisbane #26 Adelaide #32 Perth.