Friday, 27 May 2016
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".
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.