Sunday, 30 October 2016

Johnny O'Keefe - 1961 - Shout WAVE

Shout Parts 1&2/That's My Desire/What'd I Say/Movin' On

Johnny O'Keefe is recognised as the pioneer of Australian Rock 'n' Roll music.

He was born in Sydney on 19th January 1935 and in a career that spanned 20 years he released over 50 singles, 50 EP's and 100 albums.

J O'K as he was known became the undisputed King of Australian rock and roll. There was little or no rock music scene in Australia in the mid 1950's and certainly no Australian rock recordings. When Bill Haley toured the country in 1957, a local band, the Dee Jays with lead vocalist Johnny O'Keefe was chosen as the supporting act. Johnny O'Keefe had been performing in talent shows, mainly doing impersonations of Johnny Ray singing songs such as 'Crying' and 'Little White Cloud that Cried'.

 His performance in supporting Bill Haley led to a recording contract with Festival Records. At his first recording session on a Saturday afternoon in July 1957, Johnny recorded Bill Haley's 'Billy Goat' and 'I'm Still Alive'. The recording had to be on a Saturday afternoon because Johnny was working in his father's furniture shop in the morning and during the week and, of course, you couldn't work on a Sunday in the fifties.

Reluctant radio stations gave very little airplay to Johnny's first record but by the time of his next recording, 'Wild One' was released early in 1958, there was sufficient demand from Johnny O'Keefe Fan Clubs throughout the country to make it a hit. Many of these Fan Clubs had arisen out of performances which Johnny gave at Police and Citizens Boys Clubs.

Radio at the time was experimenting with pop or rock 'n' roll music as they introduced the Top 40 and dee jays such as Bob Rodgers and John Laws were beginning to become very popular by playing not just American artists but Aussie artists like Johnny as well. Johnny of course befriended both announcers and they began to play his records and give him more air time.


A series of hit records and performances on Lee Gordon's 'Big Shows' supporting overseas artists such as Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, The Crickets with lead singer Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Paul Anka, led to Johnny O'Keefe being given his own national TV show, Six O'Clock Rock in 1959.
She's My Baby - The Very Best of Johnny O'Keefe

The TV show was an enormous success and ran until Johnny left to tour America. In the U.S. he visited 35 states but made little impact, although 'She's My Baby' reputedly sold more than 100,000 copies in the States. When he returned to Australia overwork led to Johnny being instructed by his doctors to take a rest, but he was soon back on television and recording another string of hit records. To cover his US failure he bought a bright red imported 1959 Plymouth Belvedere and began touring relentlessly up and down the east coast of Australia to pay off the car and replenish his finances. He would spend the whole week making appearances at clubs and pubs, returning to Sydney every Saturday to present Six O'Clock Rock.

He insisted on driving himself and on 27th June 1960 he fell asleep at the wheel of the Plymouth and ploughed into a gravel truck. He was seriously injured as his face smashed into the steering wheel and he was thrown out of the car suffering multiple lacerations, concussion and fractures to his head and face which required many operations. The accident led to Johnny becoming dependant on drugs and although his career continued at full pace he began to suffer depression and became reliant on medication.

 In 1961 Johnny O'Keefe attempted another tour of the United States, but it too was unsuccessful. By this time he was reaching the limits of his physical and mental endurance, and after the US tour, while in London, he collapsed at the Park Lane Hotel and woke up three days later in hospital where he had been admitted, suffering from a 'nervous collapse'. In 1961 Johnny moved to Channel 7 to compere the new 'The Johnny O'Keefe Show'. The show was a major success, but only added to his already hectic workload and increased the pressure on him. In August 1962 he suffered another breakdown and spent two months in the psychiatric ward in Sydney.

O'Keefe's last major hit of the Sixties came in April 1964 with 'She Wears My Ring' and later that same year he had another spell in a psychiatric hospital, which he came to jokingly refer to as his 'holiday camp'.

By the middle of 1965 his popularity continued to decline and sales of his records fell. His TV show, which by now had been changed to 'Sing, Sing, Sing' was eventually cancelled in October 1965.

From 1968 onwards Johnny devoted most of his time to performing on the burgeoning Australian club and cabaret circuit but in early 1974 he scored his last big hit with a version of the old song 'Mockingbird', recorded as a duet with vocalist Margaret McLaren.

 In August 1974 he put together a package tour called 'The Good Old Days of Rock'n'Roll' which featured many of his old friends. 

During his stellar career, J O'K had five number one records and ten other top ten hits. The recording for which he is best remembered, 'Shout!' was recorded and released as a single twice (in 1959 and in 1964) but interestingly never achieved better than number 11 on the To 40 charts.

Johnny O'Keefe died on 6th October 1978 from a heart attack induced by an accidental overdose of prescribed drugs. He was buried at Northern Suburbs Cemetery in Sydney.

He will always be remembered as the real pioneer of Rock 'n' Roll music in Australia

Axiom - 1971 - Axiom

Father Confessor/A Little Ray Of Sunshine/My Baby's Gone/Time & Time Again

Axiom's formation was a by-product of the annual Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds in which the top Australian bands of the day performed in front of judges for the prize of a paid return trip to London. In 1967 The Twilights were the first winners, the next year The Groop. Both found it difficult to settle back to the grind of the Australian pop scene after tasting the London big time. Neither band had made anything but the smallest dent in London (The Twilights being given a song by the Hollies, while The Groop's "When I Was Six Years Old" was recorded by Manfred Mann's Paul Jones), but it was enough to leave the lingering thought amongst band members, "What if..?"

 The Groop broke up in late 1969, by which time The Twilights had already split and singer Glenn Shorrock had moved into management. A plan was hatched to form a new group out of the two groups' frontline remnants; there was some controversy surrounding the break-up of The Groop, with Go-Set magazine hinting that Cadd and Mudie had split the band to join Axiom without telling the other members about the new group. Twilights' songwriter and guitarist Terry Britten was supposed to join Shorrock and The Groop's piano player and chief songwriter Brian Cadd in the new band, but when Britten chose to go to England instead, his place was taken by The Groop's Don Mudie, who in the latter stages of The Groop had formed a strong songwriting partnership with Cadd. The group was completed by Cam-Pact guitarist Chris Stockley, and Valentines drummer Doug Lavery. Immediately dubbed a supergroup, the band asked fans to suggest a name and settled on Axiom.

After signing with EMI's Parlophone label, Axiom buried themselves in the recording studio. In December 1969 the group released their first single, "Arkansas Grass", heavily influenced by The Band's "Music From Big Pink". Though the single's title superficially appealed to international markets, and its Civil War theme reflected Cadd's current obsession with the music of The Band, it was in fact a coded anti-Vietnam war song – and in that respect addressing a very Australian concern, since Australian men were at the time being drafted to fight in that war. "Arkansas Grass" reached No. 7 in December 1969.

Midway through the recording of the LP, which was released under the title Fool's Gold, drummer Don Lebler (The Avengers) replaced Doug Lavery. Axiom left Australia for the UK in April 1970 after signing a publishing deal from Leeds Music, with the local music press reporting that they had received record deal offers from both Apple Records and the Decca label. As a parting gift they left their second single, "A Little Ray of Sunshine", inspired by the birth of the child of a couple that the group knew – not by the birth of Cadd or Mudie's child, as has often been incorrectly reported. The single reached No. 5 in April 1970. "A Little Ray of Sunshine" has become one of the Australian songs most often still played on radio and was even celebrated with its own stamp in Australia Post's 1998 Australian Rock stamp series.

In their absence the band's debut album Fool's Gold was released, one of the first true "albums" in Australian music. Apart from the "Arkansas Grass" single it was also one of the first attempts in Australian pop to write songs about the Australian landscape, and using Australian place names. It is also notable as one of the first Australian albums on a major label to be self-produced by the recording artist/s and also featured one of the first uses of the didgeridoo in Australian popular music. The songs were all of high quality as were the production values. Fool's Gold reached No. 18 in June and still stands as one of the best albums of the period, however it never reached its full commercial potential because Axiom were not around to promote it. A third single failed to chart. In Australia Axiom were signed to Ron Tudor's independent production company. They left Australia with Tudor's approval to try to secure a worldwide recording contract: he would not stand in their way.

In England Axiom signed a three-year recording contract with Warners, cemented by a single "My Baby's Gone" produced by Shel Talmy of early Who, Kinks and Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" fame. The band completed a second album, If Only, recorded at the iconic Olympic Studios in London. Although some former members were later critical of what they felt was Talmy's overproduction of the record, in a 2000 interview with Richie Unterberger, Talmy still spoke highly of both group and LP:

    "Warner Brothers hired me to record them. Super-duper band. It was a super album. Two weeks before the album was to be released on Warner, they decided to break up. And they did, and Warners said, "Bye!! If you think we're promoting this album, you're out of your fucking minds!" I was real pleased with that album. It was fun to do, they were talented, the songs were great."

By the time the album was released the band had already broken up and as Talmy indicated, it effectively vanished without trace.


Monday, 24 October 2016

Lucky Starr - 1962 -Lucky's Been Everywhere

I've Been Everywhere (Great Britain)/ I've Been Everywhere (USA)/ I've Been Everywhere (New Zealand)/I've Been Everywhere (Australia)

 Born Leslie Morrison (in 1941), Lucky Starr presented an image as an `all-Australian' teenage idol. He dressed in sharp suits and played a trademark star-shaped guitar embossed with his initials on the scratch plate beneath the strings. One of Starr's major claims to fame was that he became the first Australian performer to headline his own show in Las Vegas, with three seasons at the Flamingo Hotel. Although he was one of Australia's early rock'n'roll stalwarts, by the late 1960s Starr had moved into the country music field.

Morrison began singing in 1957 using the stage name of Les Starr. He formed The Hepparays and the band issued one of the first Australian rock'n'roll instrumental singles when `Xmas Rock Medley'/`I Remember Xmas at Home' appeared in late 1959. After winning seven talent quests in quick succession, Les Starr became Lucky Starr. He signed to Festival and issued four singles during 1960, `Somebody Touched Me'/`When You Come Back to Me' (January), `The Big Hurt' (March), `Wrong'/`Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home' (#40 in Sydney during May) and `Yeah That's How (Rock'n'Roll was Born)' (#31 in September).

 With two minor hit singles under his belt, Starr supported US visitors The Mouseketeers on their 1960 Australian tour. The publicity that surrounded his romance with 17-year-old Mouseketeer Cheryl Holdridge certainly helped to boost Starr's career. For a brief period in 1960, Starr compered Six O'Clock Rock while Johnny O'Keefe was in America.

Starr issued his fifth single in March 1961, `Someone Else's Roses' (Sydney #37 in May). Starr scored his first and only major hit single with the novelty tongue twister `I've Been Everywhere', written by unsigned singer Geoff Mack. Three weeks after release, the single reached #1 in Sydney and #2 nationally (April 1962). It stayed in the charts for 15 weeks and went on to sell 45000 copies. The B-side was Starr's own `Cuddle Closer'. Starr issued two more singles during 1962, `June in Junee' and `Hot Rod', plus a couple in 1963, `Mule Skinner Blues' and `Come on in'.

While playing a club in Pitt Street, Sydney during early 1963, Starr met visiting jazz singer Billy Eckstine, who persuaded him to try his luck in the USA. Starr played the Nevada circuit, opening in mid-1963 at the Mapes Hotel Casino Room, Las Vegas. Although Starr signed a recording deal with local label Dot Records (one single: `Poor Little Jimmy Brown'), the proposed American movie roles and major record deals never happened. Dot Records also issued an American version of `I've Been Everywhere' as a single by Hank Snow. It reached #1 on the American country chart.

Starr returned to Australia in late 1963, and appeared in the Christmas `surfing musical' Once Upon a Surfie with a cast that included Dig Richards, Jackie Weaver, Bryan Davies, Jay Justin, Rob EG, Jan Green and The Delltones. He issued an album in 1964, The Silver Spade Digs Lucky, before turning his attention to international club dates around the world including the USA, New Zealand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and Italy. By the late 1960s, he had moved into the country music field and took his travelling show around the Australian bush. During the late 1980s, the Lucky Starr Band included his son Craig Morrison, who went on to minor success with his own band, De Mont. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Johnny O'Keefe - 1964 - My Heart Belongs to Only You

My Heart Belongs to Only You/Ecstasy/I Love You So Much It Hurts/Let True Love Begin

John Michael O’Keefe was born on January 19, 1935. His parents Ray and Thelma both sang and Thelma was also an accomplished pianist.  Ray was the leader of “Ray O’Keefe and The Club Royals” and in addition to operating his own furniture business was also Mayor of Waverley Council in the early 60’s

John was one of three children.  His sister Anne Rose lives in the NSW Southern Highlands these days and has a wonderful collection of J O’K memorabilia.  Their brother, Hon. Barry O’Keefe QC AM is a former head of ICAC and a former Mayor of Mosman Council.  Barry’s son Andrew (nephew of Anne and J O’K) has a flourishing television career which J O’K forecast when Andrew was 12 years of age.

Following a couple of years performing at local dances and live radio shows for free, John’s first paid engagement as a singer was for Bathurst (NSW) radio station 2BS for which he was paid 17 pounds.  2BS and its sister FM station B-Rock still broadcast successfully in 2008 and recently added the new Jet/Iggy Pop recording of “Wild One” to their FM playlist.

After hearing Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” in the film Blackboard Jungle in 1955. J O’K and sax player Dave Owen formed Australia’s first rock ‘n’ roll band in 1956, named Johnny O’Keefe and The Dee Jays.  Although there were a couple of early line up changes the mainstays of The Dee Jays were Dave Owen, Keith Williams, John Greenan, Lou Casch and of course drummer Johnny “Catfish” Purser.  I became mates with “Catfish “during my years at Festival in the early 1970’s.  Aside from still playing with The Dee Jays he was also our stationery representative and sold me a lot of pens and pencils.  It should be noted of course that Dave Owen, John Greenan, J O’K and Disc Jockey Tony Withers wrote “Wild One” and the rest is history. 

 By 1957 Johnny O’Keefe and The Dee Jays had signed with Festival Records, released their first single “Billygoat (you hit the wrong note)” and were installed as the featured support act for Lee Gordon’s “Big Show” concerts which were headlined by American greats including Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers.  The Dee Jays were often the backing band for these artists.

wild one Following the release and success of “Wild One” in 1958, J O’K toured New Zealand and in 1959 John and The Dee Jays were engaged as the resident band on the ABC’s “Six O’Clock Rock” TV show.  After six weeks John became host of the show and took all aspects of it under his wing.

During 1959/60 J O’K toured and recorded in the USA and signed with Liberty Records.  “She’s My Baby” sold over 100,000 copies in America and “It’s Too Late” attained No. 1 in New Orleans. 

 Following hit after hit in Australia JO’K finished with “Six O’Clock Rock” and in 1961 moved to Channel 7 as compere of “The Johnny O’Keefe Show” which was a major success.  In 1963 the 7 Network renamed John’s show “Sing, Sing, Sing” and the success continued.

Due mainly to a change in musical trends John’s chart success slowed to some extent in the latter half of the 60’s but following a national tour with Jack Benny, “She Wears My Ring” reached No. 2 on the charts.  In 1967 he compered a new TV show titled “Where The Action Is” on the 10 Network and charted with “The Sun’s Gonna Shine Tomorrow”, “Be Careful Of Stones That You Throw” and a re-release of “She’s My Baby”.

In the 1971 he released “(You’ve Got Me) Dangling On A String” and “Keep On Smiling” but unfortunately airplay was not forthcoming and the record did not chart.  John’s decision to record them was vindicated when in 1988 Glenn A. Baker included both titles in a Box Set he compiled for Festival and said in the liner notes that he had included “all the hits and recordings of merit”.  Of course during the 70’s John had two more smash hits with “So Tough” and “Mockingbird” so a couple of tracks that did not chart hardly fazed him.

    Johnny with Jack Benny and Lorrae Desmond
On St Valentine’s Day 1975 John married Maureen Maricic, John’s daughter, Vicky has enjoyed considerable success as a singer and composer and still performs regularly. John’s sons, John and Peter are very successful men - John as a lawyer in Canberra and Peter a classical pianist in Japan. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Dots - 1979 - The Dots UPGRADE TO FLAC

Recognition/I See Red/Lowdown/Faster Than Light

Paul Maurice Kelly (born 13 January 1955) is an Australian rock music singer-songwriter, guitarist, and harmonica player. He has performed solo, and has led numerous groups, including the Dots, the Coloured Girls, and the Messengers. He has worked with other artists and groups, including associated projects Professor Ratbaggy and Stardust Five. Kelly's music style has ranged from bluegrass to studio-oriented dub reggae, but his core output straddles folk, rock, and country. His lyrics capture the vastness of the culture and landscape of Australia by chronicling life about him for over 30 years

While travelling around Australia, Paul Kelly made his first public performance in 1974 in Hobart.His first published song, "It's the Falling Apart that Makes You", was written after listening to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks at the age of 19, although in an interview with Drum Media he recalled writing his first unpublished song: "It was an open-tuning and had four lines about catching trains. I have got a recording of it somewhere. It was called 'Catching a Train'. I wrote a lot of songs about trains early on, trains and fires, and then I moved on to water". In 1976, Kelly appeared on Debutantes, a compilation album featuring various Melbourne-based artists, and joined pub-rockers The High Rise Bombers from 1977 to 1978. The High Rise Bombers included Kelly (vocals, guitar, songwriter), Martin Armiger (guitar, vocals, songwriter), Lee Cass (bass guitar), Chris Dyson (guitar), Sally Ford (saxophone, songwriter), John Lloyd (drums), and Keith Shadwick (saxophone). Chris Langman (guitar, vocals) replaced Dyson in early 1978. In August, after Armiger left for The Sports and Ford for The Kevins, Kelly formed Paul Kelly and the Dots with Langman and Lloyd.[28] The High Rise Bombers recorded two tracks, "She's Got It" and "Domestic Criminal", which appeared on The Melbourne Club, a 1981 compilation by various artists on Missing Link Records.

Paul Kelly & the Dots' first charting single, "Billy Baxter", released in November 1980. Ahead of their debut 1981 album, Talk. It has a "delightful, ska-tinged" style.

Kelly had already established himself as a respected songwriter—other Melbourne musicians would go to see him on their nights off. Richard Guilliatt, writing for The Monthly, later described Kelly from a 1979 performance at Richmond's Kingston Hotel, the singer was "a skinny guy with a head of black curls framing a pale face and a bent nose... singing with his eyes closed, one arm outstretched and the other resting on the body of the Fender Telecaster". Kelly was introduced to Hilary Brown at one of the Dots' gigs and they later married – the relationship is described in "When I First Met Your Ma" (1992). Brown's father supplied Kelly with a gravy recipe – used on "How to Make Gravy" (1996). Their son, Declan, was born in 1980.

 The Dots included various line-ups from 1978 to 1982. The band released their debut single "Recognition" in 1979, which did not reach the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart top 50. Paul Kelly and the Dots signed to Mushroom Records and issued "Billy Baxter" in November 1980, which peaked at No. 38. Rock music historian, Ian McFarlane described it as a "delightful, ska-tinged" track. Kelly's first television performance was "Billy Baxter" on the national pop show Countdown. Their debut album, Talk, followed in March 1981, which reached No. 44 on the Kent Music Report Albums Chart. Late in 1981 Paul Kelly and the Dots recorded their second album, Manila, in the Philippines' capital. It was issued in August 1982, but had no chart success. Release was delayed by line-up changes and because Kelly was assaulted in Melbourne – he had his jaw broken.

In an October 1982 interview with The Australian Women's Weekly, Kelly indicated he was more pleased with Manila than Talk as "It has more unity ... with this one we didn't have people dropping into the studio to play." Years later Kelly disavowed both Dots albums: "I wish I could grab the other two and put 'em in a big hole". The 1982 film, Starstruck, was directed by Gillian Armstrong and starred Jo Kennedy. Paul Kelly and the Dots supplied "Rocking Institution" for its soundtrack and Kelly added to the score. Kennedy released "Body and Soul", a cover of Split Enz' "She Got Body, She Got Soul" as a shared single with "Rocking Institution". Acting in a minor role in Starstruck was Kaarin Fairfax, who later became Kelly's second wife. Kelly was without a recording contract after the Dots folded in 1982.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Aztecs and The Kinsmen - 1965 - 4 Big Instrumentals

The Aztecs - Smoke And Stack/The Aztecs - Board Boogie/The Kinsmen - The Sphinx Wont Tell/The Kinsmen - The Last Leaf

EP released in 1965 one side has 2 tracks by the Aztecs the other side has 2 by the Kinsmen contrary to the title of the EP  " The Sphinx Won't Tell" is a vocal track.

 The Aztecs originally a four-piece instrumental group who had put out one surfing instrumental, "Smoke & Stack", they formed in Sydney in 1963. With the advent of the Merseybeat sound, they added a lead singer, Billy Thorpe. His powerful voice and showmanship (which made him one of the most popular and respected rock performers in Australian music), completed the original line-up, which consisted of drummer Col Baigent, bassist John "Bluey" Watson and guitarists Valentine Jones and Vince Maloney (who later played with The Bee Gees). Valentine Jones left the band shortly after Billy Thorpe had joined and was later replaced by Tony Barber.

Not to much info on the Kinsmen a Melbourne band who released 2 singles "The Sphinx Wont Tell/ The Last Leaf"  charted at #15 in Melbourne in 1964 and "You Are My Destiny" in 1965. They toured the UK and Europe in 1966. Some of the members were John Lisle Vocals, Bob Gill Guitar, Ron Mizz Guitar, Peter Cohen Bass and Alex Zuere Bass.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

King Fox - 1971 - Unforgotten Dreams

Unforgotten Dreams/Will You Love Me Tomorrow/Timepiece/Alone So Alone

King Fox was an Australian pop band formed ca. 1967 by a group of schoolfriends from Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. After early changes, the band settled into the lineup of Paul Radcliffe -  guitar, vocals, flute David King - guitar, vocals Billy Field - bass,vocals  Peter Muller - organ, vocals  Andy Evans - drums

King Fox came to prominence in Sydney in mid-1969 after entering a talent competition run by Sydney radio station 2UW and independent producer Martin Erdman; the group's average age was 16 at the time. King Fox's entry was an original song called "Unforgotten Dreams", an atmospheric psych-pop original written by Radcliffe and King, featuring flute by Radcliffe. It was produced by Martin Erdman and recorded at his studio in just one hour.

The song generated a strong public reaction when played on air, and King Fox ended up being one of four groups out of more than 150 whose work was selected for release as a single on Erdman's Du Monde Records. "Unforgotten Dreams" became a Top 5 hit in Sydney, charting for over four months, a feat that was also remarkable because of the song's length—4 min 56 sec, almost double the average length of a pop single at that time.

In January 1970, during the summer vacation, King Fox recorded an album at Erdman's World of Sound Studios in Ramsgate, the first recordings to be made on Erdman's newly purchased 4-track recording gear.

Most accounts of King Fox mention the affluence of the members' home suburbs. It has often been claimed that the band broke up in 1970 when the boys' instruments, payrolled by their parents, were confiscated because they were neglecting their studies. This however is not true—in a recent interview on the ABC-TV current affairs show Stateline, Radcliffe and King revealed that the parents of the group members demanded an end to the band after Sydney tabloid the Sunday Mirror published an intrusive article about the band which named the private schools that several of the boys attended and mocked their supposedly affluent family backgrounds.

The group briefly reformed in 1972 and released one unsuccessful single on the Festival Records label, but broke up permanently soon after.

The tracks the band had recorded for their proposed LP were never mixed or released at the time, because the group broke up just days after the last track was recorded. Erdman long thought that the tapes had been lost after he moved his studio, but they were rediscovered a few years ago and in May 2007 Radcliffe and Erdman mixed the tracks and the 'lost' recordings, which were then compiled with the other existing King Fox tracks on the CD 70207: The (Un)Forgotten Album, which was released on the revived Du Monde imprint in May 2008.

Bassist Billy Field went on to establish the renowned Paradise Studios in Sydney in 1979, and he then launched a solo career as a piano playing singer-songwriter. He had two nationwide hits in 1981 with "Bad Habits" and "You Weren't In Love With Me" (a national #1), and his album Bad Habits was a best-seller.