Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Johnny O'keefe - 1962 - Twistin' With JOK

The Twist/The Hoochie Coochie Coo/Twistin' Australia Way/Let's Twist Again

 John Michael O'Keefe, known as Johnny O'Keefe (19 January 1935 – 6 October 1978), was an Australian rock and roll singer whose career began in the 1950s. Some of his hits include "Wild One" (1958), "Shout!" and "She's My Baby". In his twenty-year career, O'Keefe released over fifty singles, 50 EPs and 100 albums. O'Keefe was also a radio and television entertainer and presenter

Often referred to by his initials "J.O.K." or by his nickname "The Wild One", O'Keefe was the first Australian rock 'n' roll performer to tour the United States, and the first Australian artist to make the local Top 40 charts and he had twenty-nine Top 40 hits in Australia between 1958 and 1973.

Johnny O'Keefe was the younger brother of Australian jurist Barry O'Keefe (a former head of the New South Wales ICAC). His father, Alderman Ray O'Keefe, was Mayor of Waverley Council in the early 1960s. Through Barry, Johnny O'Keefe is the uncle of Australian TV personality Andrew O'Keefe

"She's My Baby" was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry in 2007.

Johnny O'keefe - 1958 - Shakin' At The Stadium

The Wild One (Live)/Ain't That A Shame (Live)/ Silhouette (Live)/Litty Bitty Pretty One (Live)

 "Wild One" or "Real Wild Child" is an Australian rock and roll song written by Johnny Greenan, Johnny O'Keefe, and Dave Owens. While most sources state that O'Keefe was directly involved in composing the song, this has been questioned by others. Sydney disc jockey Tony Withers was credited with helping to get radio airplay for the song but writer credits on subsequent versions often omit Withers, who later worked in the United Kingdom on pirate stations Radio Atlanta and, as Tony Windsor, on Radio London.

According to O'Keefe's guitarist, Lou Casch, the song was inspired by an incident at a gig in Newtown, Sydney, in about 1957. According to Casch, as O'Keefe and the Dee Jays played at an upstairs venue, an "Italian wedding" reception was taking place downstairs. Some of the dance patrons came to blows with wedding guests in the men's toilets, and within minutes the brawl had become a full-scale riot that spilled out into the street, with police eventually calling in the Navy Shore Patrol to help restore order.

The release date of the single, 5 July 1958, is considered the birth of Australian rock and roll. The band Jet and Iggy Pop cover was released to mark the 50th anniversary of the original release. The Living End performed the song at the 2008 APRA Awards to mark the anniversary.

O'Keefe was the first artist to record it, on his debut EP Shakin' at the Stadium, released on the Festival label. This version, ostensibly recorded live at the Sydney Stadium, was in fact a studio recording, overdubbed with the sound of a real audience.

An alternate version was recorded and released outside Australia: in the USA (as "Real Wild Child") on Brunswick and in the UK on Coral. "Festival liner notes have always put forward that the crowd overdub was the only difference... Ignoring the crowd overdub at the start, both versions have a different intro and JOK's vocal on the foreign versions is noticeably wilder than on the EP version issued here… As far as I know, the US/UK single version which, IMHO, is markedly superior to our version, was never issued in Australia... at the time, [but] it did finally appear on a local compilation LP in the 70's and is now commonly available on various JOK CDs."

The song was the first Australian rock recording to reach the national charts, peaking at #20.

Col Joye - The Big Four

Rockin' Rollin' Clementine/Bye, Bye Baby Goodbye/Oh Yeah Uh Huh/Teenage Baby

Colin Jacobsen, born 13 April 1937, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Joye began his career in 1957 singing with his brothers at suburban dances which they organized themselves, becoming popular with teenagers who were anxious to be involved with the ‘new’ rock ‘n’ roll emanating from the USA and UK. After recording successfully as Col Joye And The Joy Boys, his success as a solo artist was guaranteed once he had gained recognition on national television. His good looks and easy-going manner captured the hearts of many teenage girls, even though his vocal talent was not exceptional. From his first record release in 1958 through to 1965 Joye released over 50 singles including ‘Oh Yeah, Uh Huh’ (1959), ‘Bad Man’ (1960), ‘Goin’ Steady’ (1961), Sweet Dreams Of You’ (1962), ‘Whispering Pines’ (1964) and ‘Can Your Monkey Do The Dog’ (1965). Throughout this time, Joye vied with Johnny O’Keefe for the title of the most popular teen idol of the rock ‘n’ roll era in Australia. His material basically consisted of covers of international hits, but later he wrote his own material, or was provided with songs by his backing band the Joy Boys, who also had a successful recording career in their own right. After the initial rock ‘n’ roll boom died, Joye continued his success with ballads and later resurfaced as a country and MOR artist, recording consistently during the 70s. Joye also became involved in management (having Andy Gibb on his books at one time), music publishing, a talent agency and with his brothers Kevin and Keith ran the ATA label. Joye still performs and records today and is popular on the 50s’ and 60s’ revival circuit.

Friday, 25 November 2016

G. Wayne Thomas - 1972 - Open Up Your Heart

Take It Easy/You're Not Alone/Open Up Your Heart/Morning Of The Earth/Day Comes

 G. Wayne Thomas was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and spent his early years from a very young age boarding at Timaru Boys High in the South Island. Due to his mother’s poor health, the family later moved to Christchurch, where he attended Cashmere High. Here he joined the school band and played First 15 rugby, subsequently being selected to play for Canterbury in several divisions up to under 19s, and for the schoolboy side that toured Fiji.

His first job was as a Production Assistant with CHTV 3, and he later moved to Australia on a scholarship to study Theatre Production at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). During this time he worked as Stage Manager for Frank Strain’s Theatre Restaurants at night, before taking a full time position with the then Elizabethan Theatre Trust Company, now Opera Australia.

Subsequently he accepted a position at Channel 7 in Sydney, as Stage Manager of a new TV series starring Tony Hancock, the British Comedian. Before production commenced, however, Mr. Hancock took his own life, leaving G. Wayne and many of the crew at a loose end. Following this, a chance a meeting with Bryce Courtney, Creative Director of advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson at the time, resulted in a position as Film Cameraman with that company, and although he was totally unqualified for this role, he managed to pull it off.

Wayne’s recording career as an artist began after being offered several writing and recording contracts. He asked a lawyer friend, Peter Steigrad, to assess them and his conclusion was that they were all rubbish. They decided to work together so that they would own the recordings and lease the finished product to a record company. The first recording session was scheduled with his backing band to include Rod Coe, an old friend of Wayne from New Zealand, who later became Slim Dusty’s Producer, Murray Grindley who became New Zealand’s most successful jingle writer and producer, and Allison McCallum who also became a successful recording artist in her own right.

The first four songs recorded under the new arrangement were “Take it Easy”, “You’re Not Alone”, “You Can’t Have Sunshine Everyday” and “Hello Sunshine” which was released by Allison McCallum, the tracks were all produced by G. Wayne Thomas. Before the release of the first single, Warner Bros realized that there was a drummer by the name of Wayne Thomas, playing in a fairly successful band at the time. G. Wayne was asked to add the ‘G’ in front of his name to differentiate between the two musicians, and he was happy to oblige. His first name was actually Graham although he had never been called that.

Early recordings were reasonably successful, getting good airplay. “Take it Easy” reached around No. 2 on the 2SM chart in Sydney and about 33 nationally, while Allison’s recording reached the top 10.
After the success of the first two singles, Turner and Greenop asked G. Wayne to produce an album for the band Autumn, and following the success of this album, he was offered the position of Head of A&R and General Manager at Warner Bros. Early into that role two guys came into his office looking to get in touch with him to produce a soundtrack for a movie they were making, later to be called “Morning of the Earth”.

 When music production was about to begin on the soundtrack, Albe explained the idea for the movie but there was no script or story board. All they had was a series of surfing clips from various locations around Australia, and from a trip to the magical, undiscovered island of Bali. Albe liked the idea that there would be no dialogue and that the music should “speak” the story. G. Wayne talked to a number of songwriters and decided to commission Terry Hannagan, Brian Cadd and Tamun Shud, obtained under license from the producers John J. Francis and a New Zealand band Ticket . He also had to include a relatively unknown kid from the South Coast named Peter Howe, who won a Tracks magazine competition for a chance to have a song included in the soundtrack. His song “I’m Alive” became one of a number of cult classics from the album.

The soundtrack was mostly recorded at TCS Studios in Melbourne at TCS, which at the time was one of only two studios in Australia that could provide 16 track recording. Recording was fairly chaotic due to player and band availability, and much is owed to the players who backed up the performers: Duncan McGuire, Billy Green, Mark Kennedy, Phil Manning and Broderick Smith, who sang the Tamun Shud song “First Things First” due to Tim Gaze not being well. John French did an outstanding job as Recording Engineer and Peter Jones was responsible for string and orchestral arrangements.

As there was no SMPTE code or picture lock in those days, timed sequences had to be counted in bars after watching the clips, which were not formatted in any coherent sequence. Consequently Elfick asked G. Wayne to write and record one extra track in case it was needed. This lead to the recording of “Open Up Your Heart”.

Albe and G. Wayne then set about editing and compiling the movie, which was done over about four days and nights, and “Open Up Your Heart” was not needed in the film after all. A master copy of the album, including the extra song, was sent to John Brennan at 2SM, and he was to select a track for airplay to promote the film. He selected the last song on the tape, “Open up your Heart”, and suggested that it should be added over the end titles.

“Open Up Your Heart” was released, with “Morning of the Earth” as the B side, by Warners in 1972. It reached No. 1 in Sydney and would have made No.1 in Australia wide but for the leading DJ in Melbourne refusing to play the track due to a personal argument he had had with Thomas some months before.

“Morning of the Earth”, the Original Soundtrack Album, was released around May 1972, containing only 12 songs. The song order was selected by Phil Greenop to best fit the vinyl format, and the album went on to become Australia’s first Gold Soundtrack album. According to Albe Toms it is the highest selling Australian film soundtrack album of all time.

The following year, at Warner’s request, G. Wayne produced the album “Laid” with a band called Duck, which included members of various bands that had either disbanded or were on extended hiatus. It was essentially a studio band that included John Robinson (ex Blackfeather), Jon English (Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar), Bobbi Marchini, Teddy Toi (ex Billy Thorpe and Max Merrit and the Meteors). Their album was widely acclaimed by critics and fans alike as a great album but only achieved moderate success.

At the same time he was continuously writing, producing and sometimes singing numerous television and radio commercials for Australia’s leading adverting agencies. One of these assignments required him to be overseas for an extended period of time and this eventually lead to him leaving Warner Bros.

On return to Australia he formed his own record label along with Jon English, called Warm and Genuine, the name being an antithesis of the reality of the music/recording business. He produced Jon’s first No. 1 record “Turn the Page” and became the Executive Producer of Jon’s first album “Wine Dark Sea”. These were released through Polygram, on which he also released his first solo album “G. Wayne Thomas” which included his third single “Everything in You” / “Call My Name”, as well as “Come Tomorrow Morning” and a version of Kris Kristofferson’s song “I’ve Got To Have You” made world famous shortly after by Carly Simon.

At this time Thomas was asked by David Elfick to write and produce the soundtrack for Albe and David’s new film “Crystal Voyager”. To do this Thomas formed a studio band, funnily enough, called the “The Crystal Voyager Band” whose members comprised Bobby Gibbert (keyboards), Mick Lieber (ex Python Lee Jackson, Ashton, Gardner and Dyke, guitars) Rod Coe (bass) and John Proud (drums), with Thomas on acoustic guitars and vocals.

G. Wayne’s last single on Warm and Genuine was “Mercy for the Innocent” / “Junkyard” (1975) but then he released “Just to Love You”/ How Can I Tell You” on Polydor in 1976.

Thomas continued to write and produce music for commercials, including “Spirit of Australia” for Qantas Airlines, the words now written on all of Qantas’ aircraft. He also adapted Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” from the “Grand Canyon Suite” for United Airlines in America, and all the music, theme and incidental for Malaysian Airlines.

G. Wayne has won many International and Australian awards for his commercials, such as a Penguin for “Spirit of Australia” for Qantas, a Gold Lion in Venice for “Can’t Say No” for CCs, Clio’s in New York for “Coke Teardrop” and Levi’s “Leaving” also “Get Your Body” for Reebok and International Radio Awards for “Eveready Red” and numerous awards for clients as “Toyota”, Fosters Beer, KFC, St George Bank, Marantz, etc

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, working with pianist and performer Peter Bailey, G. Wayne released four singles on Polydor, including “The Last Laugh” / “Its Alright” 1979, “Missing Persons”/ “Loving You” 1979, I Don’t Want To Spoil Your Party” / “Halfway Home” 1980 and “Tobacco Road” / “They Loved Their Lives Away” 1980, from the 1979 Polydor album “Missing Persons”.

In the late ‘80s, with David Perryman, he produced the original Ray Henwood authored play, “No Good Boyo”, which proved to be one of the hits of the Sydney Festival under Stephen Hall, an old associate from his Opera Company days. The idea of the play is an imagination of what may have happened in the last three missing hours of Dylan Thomas’s life, and it reunited all surviving members of Dylan Thomas’s family from around the world in Sydney for the premier.

G. Wayne was also co-inventor, co- international patent holder and founding director of Pinranger Australia, which introduced differential GPS distance measuring to the sport of golf in the early nineties. The system is now in use on over 10,000 golf courses worldwide and was sold to American interests in the early 2000s. He is currently involved in another innovative “real time” GPS project for specialized sport / recreational performance measurement and display.

He is still undertakes some music projects: he is currently music supervisor for an upcoming film and recently composed and produced the music for six hour long television specials for the “History of the Davis Cup”.

The “Morning of the Earth” album is now in it’s 42nd year on continuous release through Warner Bros, and G. Wayne only occasionally performs in shows around Australia, one of those being as recent as 2014. He has two daughters from his marriage to Dawn: the youngest, Melissa was a successful Australian actress before delivering four grandchildren, and the oldest daughter Olivia is a TV and film executive based in Los Angles.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

John J. Francis - 1974 - Play Mumma

Play Mumma, Sing Me A Song/City Lights, Saturday Night, 1959/Simple Ben/Embarrasing Situations

  John J Francis rose to national prominence with the vanguard of contemporary Australian singer/songwriters who came to the fore in the early 70's. Between 1972 and 1974 he released four highly respected studio albums through Warner Brothers and penned the iconic surf anthem, 'Simple Ben' as well as scoring an Australian top 10 hit with the single 'Play Mumma, Sing Me a Song'.

John J Francis' career began in Newcastle, Australia where he fronted a popular local R n' B band, The Sorrows who became one of the better known Newcastle bands of that era and in 1965 supported the legendary Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, playing to a packed Newcastle Stadium. This performance won the band several gigs at the legendary Sydney dance venue 'Surf City' in Kings Cross, and the following year they were asked to support the Easybeats at a frenetic show in the Newcastle Town Hall.

 John J. Francis - Rock n' Roll Refugee1972 saw the release of John's first solo album 'Rock n' Roll Refugee', featuring the first triple-gate fold out LP cover, through Warner Brothers. The album was recorded "live" in the studio in two three-hour sessions at Copperfield Studios and was produced by the then A&R head of Pye Records in England, Alan A. Freeman. 'Rock n' Roll Refugee' contained many of the songs John was playing live at the time and, although it received very little airplay or publicity, managed to generate sales well into the mid-thousands.

John J. Francis - Breaks, Works & Thoughts John's second album, 'Breaks, Works & Thoughts', was released in 1973 and included the iconic 'Simple Ben', which is featured on the 'Morning of the Earth' movie soundtrack, the hit single 'Play Mumma, Sing Me a Song', as well as the driving 'Bop Right Over You' and the strikingly powerful and distinctively original 'Steel Man'. 'Breaks, Works & Thoughts' is undoubtedly a landmark in Australian music history and was the most nominated album at the 1973 Australasian Radio Awards (the precursor to today's ARIA Awards) winning the coveted Best Song/Composer of the Year Award for 'Play Mumma, Sing Me a Song'.

John J. Francis - Open Fist 'Open Fist' was released in early 1974 and showed a harder hitting side to John J Francis. Right from the opening track, 'Living in Sydney', it was obvious that his music had moved into a tougher, rougher, electric rock sound although links to his earlier acoustic-based style remained in several tracks such as the poignant ballad 'Things are Never Quite the Same' and the beautiful 'Countryside Angelus'. The blues flavoured rocker, 'City Lights, Saturday Night 1959' was released as a single and the album sold in its thousands and has since become the most sought after of the four John J Francis albums.

It was around this time that John became the musical director for the popular ABC-TV series, 'Sit Yourself Down, Take a Look Around' which featured many emerging artists from the alternative music scene. Hosted by folk/jazz/blues legend Marion Henderson, the show musically covered everything from folk to jazz and blues and even the Aunty Jack crew on one occasion.

 John J. Francis - Wassa Matta The final album, 'Wassa Matta', was released in late 1974 and was again a mix of electric and acoustic tracks including the beautiful ballad 'Sit Beside Me' and a unique cover version of the R 'n' B classic 'Mess o' Blues'. The other standout tracks were 'A Christian Woman Came', 'Sometimes (In the Night)', 'Waterson' and 'To the End'. Warners chose to release the country-flavoured 'Lucky Star', featuring vocal backing by the singing group Family, as the single with a tough version of another R 'n' B gem, 'Money Honey', on the flip-side. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sandy Scott - Red Roses For A Blue Lady

Red Roses For A Blue Lady/Temptation/I Left My Heart In San Francisco/Cara Mia

Sandy Scott was the only son of English parents. In his teens, he took a day job at a bank in Sydney and at night he was singing with local bands. He was making studio recordings in the early 1960s. His big break came with national exposure on Brian Henderson's television show, Bandstand. Sandy was very popular and signed a 10-year contract to appear exclusively on the program. His biggest selling hit song came with Wallpaper Roses in 1966 #4 Sydney #10 Melbourne and at that time he was rated the country's #1 vocal star.

In 1971 his album Great Scott - It's Sandy went gold. His big hit single in 1972 was “Now” a sweeping waltz ideal for weddings. “Now” reached #38 and was his last major hit on the top 40 before he concentrated more on stage work. He played lead roles in stage shows such as Hello Dolly, Mame and The Desert Song. His career highlights include performances in front of Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles in 1988, a Command Performance for The Queen Mother in Adelaide and touring America as a representative of the Australia Music Industry. He also worked as a television compare, hosting shows such as Family Feud, Sound of Music and $10,000 Winner Circle. He married Carol Jacobsen (Col Joye's sister) and they had two boys.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Lana Cantrell - 1967 - Australia's Great Talent FLAC

In The Still Of The Night/I Don't Know Why/It's Been A Long Long Time/I've Never Left Your Arms

 Lana Eleanor Cantrell AM (born 7 August 1943) is an Australian-American singer and entertainment lawyer. She was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in the Grammy Awards of 1968.

Cantrell recorded for RCA Victor Records, releasing seven albums. Her preferred style of music was pop standards, but she later made contemporary pop rock a significant part of her performances. Cantrell commented in a 1994 profile, "Think of how few people can still make their careers by singing standards.... There's Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand, and I don't know anyone else."

Cantrell was a frequent guest on television shows including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and The Mike Douglas Show. However, she never had a top 40 hit in the Billboard Hot 100.

Cantrell eventually decided to make a transition out of music in the 1980s due to a decline in the number of venues where she could sing in her preferred style, the size of her audiences, and her working conditions. Although she had once been able to tour at supper clubs that would furnish a 20-piece orchestra for her and her conductor, in later years she toured with only a five-piece band that she had to pay herself. She decided to pursue a law career in part because a former manager had spent much of her earnings over the years and she wanted to protect other performers from similar experiences.

In 1986, Cantrell enrolled at Marymount Manhattan College, where she majored in history. After receiving her bachelor's degree, she attended Fordham University School of Law. After graduation, she began practicing law with the firm of Ballon Stoll Bader & Nadler in New York City. 

 In 1966, Cantrell won the Amber Nightingale award for singing at a festival in Sopot, Poland. In 2003, Cantrell was named a member of the Order of Australia. The honour was conferred for "service to the entertainment industry, and for assistance to the Australian community in New York."
Personal life

It was reported in 1973 that Cantrell was engaged to Australian television personality Graham Kennedy. This turned out to be a hoax—Kennedy was homosexual, although this did not become public knowledge until late in his life. Kennedy later claimed that his romance with Cantrell was purely an invention of the Sunday Observer, although at the time Kennedy himself had publicly portrayed the relationship as real. Judy Carne, Laugh-In's Sock-it-to-Me girl, claimed she had a love affair with Cantrell.

Friday, 4 November 2016

TMG - 1976 - Live On Tour

I'm Free/Goodbye/Crazy/Darktown Strutters Ball

After getting tired of being backed by different backing bands as a solo artist, in 1972 Ted switched from acoustic guitar to bass and formed his own band, Ted Mulry Gang, with guitarist Les Hall & drummer Herman Kovac. The band signed a recording deal with Albert Productions in 1974 and released their first album Here We Are. When that album didn't do as well as expected, the record company wanted Mulry to go back to singing solo. Ronnie Clayton told them to stick to it and brought in second guitarist Gary Dixon to complete the foursome. With his own band behind him he adopted a more hard rocking style.

  Their first major hit, and the biggest of their career was the 1975 single "Jump in My Car" which spent 6 weeks at number one on the Australian singles charts in 1976. It was the second single released from the Here We Are album produced by John L Sayers at Trafalgar Studios. Over the next few years they achieved a string of hit singles including a rocked up version of the old jazz song, "Darktown Strutters' Ball", "Crazy", "Jamaica Rum" and "My Little Girl". Many of TMG's songs, including "Jump in My Car", were co-written with guitarist Les Hall. By late 1980 their chart success had ended but they remained popular performers on the Australian pub circuit. In 1989, after some time apart, the Ted Mulry gang reformed, releasing the album "Re-Union" for Albert, on Sony. This release also marked the first release of the Ted Mulry Gang on compact disc. Other CD reissues would follow in the early 90's.

  In 1998 Ted released a solo CD called This Time featuring songs co-written by himself and his brother Steve Mulry. In early 2001 Ted Mulry announced that he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Gimme Ted, a series of tribute concerts organised shortly before his death, brought together an assortment of Australian rock acts of his era to pay tribute to him. These included a reunion of his band Ted Mulry Gang with his brother Steve Mulry standing in for him as lead vocalist.

Delltones - Hangin' Five

 Hangin' Five/Surf City/We're Goin' Surfin'/Surfin' Hootenanny

The Delltones, a popular Australian rock 'n roll band, originally formed in 1958. They started out as a vocal harmony group with members: Brian Perkins, Noel Widerberg, Ian 'Peewee' Wilson and Warren Lucas. In 1962, their single "Get a Little Dirt on Your Hands" was in the top five on the Australian charts. The lead vocalist Noel Weiderberg died in a motor vehicle accident. His position was later filled by Col Loughnan from Sydney band The Cresents.

The Delltones have been entertaining Australian audiences for over five decades with their most successful recording years in the 1960s. Ian 'Peewee' Wilson is the only current member from the original lineup. In the mid-1980s he transformed the group from a vocal quartet, to a five-piece vocal band. This along with other stylistic changes led to the band's resurgence and the chart topping, rock ‘n roll revival album, Bop Til Ya Drop. The band remains as one of the most consistent live entertainers in Australia, with arguably the longest performing and recording history for a vocal harmony band with an original member.

By the latter part of 1963 surf music dominated the Australian Charts, particularly in Sydney and Brisbane. The Delltones were quick to release the tongue in cheek composition, “Hangin’ Five”, written by Ben Acton. This release was almost as successful as “Come A Little Bit Closer” – reaching number 3. “Hangin’ Five” became a cult classic in California along with The Atlantics instrumental “Bombora”. “Hangin’ Five” also featured in Mel Gibson’s first movie, Summer City, released in 1977. That year The Delltones picked up four radio awards including “Gold and Silver Baton Awards,” “Golden Microphone Award” and “The Best Australian Record Award”.