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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Toni McCann - 2008 - And The Fabulous Bluejays


My Baby/No/Saturday Date/If You Don't Come Back (Bonus)/Toni & Royce - Marble Breaks & Iron Bends (Bonus)



 Toni McCann, released her first single in 1965, when she was only fifteen years old. Born and raised in London, McCann’s world changed forever after seeing The Rolling Stones live. Inspired to play tough R&B, she was ready to sign a recording contract in the UK when her father announced that the family was immigrating to Brisbane. So McCann pursued a career as an entertainer in Australia instead, a challenging proposition given that she bucked then-current trends of what a female performer was and should be. In her own words, she wasn’t “girly-girly with pretty sounds and pretty dresses”. Instead McCann grew her hair long and wild, wore tight pants or bellbottoms, sang in a lower key than most of her peers with a rough blues-y voice, and played harmonica like Jagger himself (“It tended to mess up your lipstick”, she later laughed, “you could always spot my harps because they had pink stuff all over them”).

Discovered by producer Pat Aulton at a Brisbane talent quest, McCann was introduced to famed promoter Ivan Dayman, who began touring her across the country backed by Melbourne rockers, The Blue Jays (later to find their own fame with singer Tony Worsley). Aulton then took her and the band into the studio to record McCann’s debut 45 for the Sunshine label, a storming garage-rock double punch ‘My Baby’, backed by ‘No’ on the flipside.  Both songs were frenetic fast-paced originals, with the potent ‘My Baby’ still having the power to set dance floors alight, while the nihilistic sentiments and furious pace of ‘No’ are almost proto-punk.

 The single didn’t chart however, nor did her next release, the similarly stupendous ‘Saturday Date’ single, which was the theme song for the music television show of the same name, with its unforgettable refrain of ‘You’ve gotta go, go go go!” How could such catchy, original music fail to find an audience? In a later interview McCann said, “I think the songs weren’t really going to be accepted by the public. People expected women to do cute songs. What I did worked in a live context, but the image didn’t really have anywhere to go in Australia in those days”.

It would be a few more years before Australian audiences would accept such a tough, no-nonsense image from female singers like Wendy Saddington, Renee Geyer and later Chrissie Amphlett. But pioneers like Toni McCann deserve more recognition and respect nonetheless. It’s a shame that the four excellent songs McCann recorded with the Blue Jays on the Sunshine label have yet to be compiled altogether on one release, some thing I've done here while McCann herself – despite later finding further fame and touring the globe in a Sonny-and-Cher-styled duo with ex-Blue Jay (and later her husband), Royce Nicholls– doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page I've also added a live track by Tony and Royce.

4 comments:

  1. Her version of 'If You Don't Come Back' is fantastic but this song remains a mystery to me. Its stated its written by Clark and Davidson but I have never heard The Dave Clark Five original. I have searched to no avail

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  2. wow had never heard of her ..... I think your right.....ahead of her time

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  3. Toni released an album in the 70s under the name Toni McRae. It was titled 'Banjo Flat'. Released in 1975 on the Good Thyme label, the album includes some great backing players Kirk Lorange, Dough Bligh and John Griffin. Cover painting by Pro Hart. Toni played flute and harmonica as well

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  4. Thanks for the heads up on the Banjo Flat album.

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