Friday, 31 March 2017

Purple Hearts - 1966 - The Sound of The Purple Hearts

0f Hopes & Dreams & Tombstones/Here T'is/ I'm Gonna Try/Long Legged Baby

The Purple Hearts were an Australian R&B, rock group, formed in Brisbane as the Impacts in 1964. The band included lead vocalist Mick Hadley, lead guitarist Barry Lyde (later known as Lobby Loyde), rhythm guitarists Paul Steffen (1964–65) and Fred Pickard (1965-66), bassist Bob Dames, and drummers Adrian "Red" Redmond (1964–66) and Tony Cahill (1966-67). The group issued an extended play, The Sound of the Purple Hearts (1966), and several singles, including "Long-legged Baby" (1965) and "Early in the Morning" (1966). They disbanded early in 1967.

Purple Hearts were formed in Brisbane in 1964 with the original line-up of Bob Dames on bass guitar (ex-Impacts), Mick Hadley on lead vocals (ex-Impacts), Barry Lyde on lead guitar (ex-Stilettos), Fred Pickard on rhythm guitar and Adrian "Red" Redmond on drums. Dames and Hadley had both migrated from London in the previous year or so and formed the Impacts, an R&B group, with Scotish-born Pickard and two locals, Lyde and Redmond. Lyde had joined the Stilletos in 1963 to play the Shadows-styled instrumentals and left near the end of the following year to join the Impacts.

Brisbane, traditionally the most conservative of Australia's state capitals, has fostered some of this country's most anarchistic rock bands from the Purple Hearts to the Saints. The Purple Hearts were tough, arrogant and pioneering and Lyde, as Lobby Loyde, is acknowledged as Australia's first true rock guitar hero – busy blowing up speaker boxes before high volume and feed-back became rock staples. When the Impacts performed in Melbourne, they found another band of the same name, so Dames provided their new name – Purple Hearts – for the illicit amphetamine pills favoured by the mod subculture. The group's debut single, "Long-legged Baby", was a cover version of Graham Bond's track. It was "a rough recording made at a radio station studio" and issued "on the obscure, independent label Soundtrack" in 1965.

They signed with Sunshine Records (home to Normie Rowe) and reissued "Long-legged Baby" in October 1965, which reached the top 10 in Brisbane. The group were uncompromising in their attitude toward recording; consequently, their handful of singles are enduring artefacts of their style, which blended blues, R&B and prototype psychedelic rock, a style made even tougher by the regional influences. The group relocated to Sydney where Redmond was replaced by Tony Cahill on drums.

Early in 1966 they moved base to Melbourne, where they "ruled over the city's discotheque circuit." According to music journalist, Ed Nimmervoll, "they were making an impression in their own right, not because their music was the latest thing. The Purple Hearts' Mick Hadley was an amazing frontman, riveting audiences with his wild-eyed performances. The rest of the band were quickly considered the best in their field, especially guitarist Barry Lyde." In February of that year they issued their second single, "Of Hopes and Dreams and Tombstones". It was a cover version of the United States singer, Jimmy Fraser's 1965 single.

 They enjoyed minor chart success with their next single "Early in the Morning" (August 1966) – a cover of a 1947 field recording of a traditional prison song by Alan Lomax, released in 1959 – which peaked at No. 9 in Melbourne and No. 13 in Brisbane. Soon after they compiled their earlier singles, "Long-legged Baby" and "Of Hopes and Dreams and Tombstones" on a four-track extended play, The Sound of the Purple Hearts, on the Sunshine label. They made several appearances on a pop TV series, The Go!! Show. On 23 January 1967 the group issued a press release stating "they had ceased to progress musically, were becoming stagnant and, therefore, had decided to split." Lyde, under the name Lobby Loyde, had already joined Wild Cherries in that month, alongside Keith Barber on drums, Peter Eddey on bass guitar, Les Gilbert on organ and Danny Robinson on vocals. The other four members of Purple Hearts continued for another month and released two more singles, "You Can't Sit Down" (January 1967) and "Chicago" (posthumously in April). Cahill travelled to the United Kingdom where he joined the Easybeats on drums.

 Following the split of the Purple Hearts, Hadley spent several months in the UK. There he was contacted by Go-Set journalist Lily Brett, who invited him to join Rob Lovett (ex-The Loved Ones, her then-domestic partner) and Malcolm McGee (ex-Python Lee Jackson) in the Virgil Brothers, a male soul vocal trio, modelled on the Walker Brothers. Hadley was only involved for a brief period and dropped out of the group after a few rehearsals, before the group made its live debut in mid-1967. He was replaced in the group by 18-year-old vocalist, Peter Doyle, who subsequently became a member of the New Seekers.

Following his departure from the Virgil Brothers, Hadley reunited with Dames and kept the Purple Hearts tradition alive by forming the Coloured Balls. Besides Dames and Hadley the R&B group included Sam Shannon on lead vocals, Robbie Van Delft on guitar (ex-Mike Furber and the Bowery Boys) and Peter Miles on drums (ex-Bay City Union). Loyde revitalised the traditional jazz band, the Wild Cherries, into a psychedelic rock group. He played a pivotal role in Billy Thorpe's transformation from clean-cut 1960s pop idol into an archetypal long-haired, guitar-wielding 1970s hard rocker. In 1972 Loyde led a reformed version of the Coloured Balls as a progressive rock group, with Andrew Fordham on guitar and vocals; Janis Miglans on bass guitar; and Trevor Young on drums.[ Loyde was also a record producer. In 1970 Dames and Miles were members of Bulldog, a progressive blues trio, with UK-born Mick Rogers.

Easybeats - 1882 - Son Of Son Of Easyfever

All Gone Boy/Hound Dog/Coke Ads 2 & 3/ Interview/Watch Me Burn/Where Did You Go Last Night/Little Red Bucket

 "All Gone Boy" This was recorded for the UK "Good Friday" LP but only ever surfaced on a Frnch and an Australia EP prior to appearing on the "Albert Archives" LP in 1979.
"Hound Dog" One of a handful of non original Easybeats UK tracks passed over for Australian release issued on the UK "Good Friday" LP.
"Watch Me Burn" second haly of a two song suite (with "I'm On Fire") penned for Mike Furber. A Central Sound recording. Vocal by Stevie.
"Where Did You Go Last Night" from the 1967 Olympic Studios session for the scapped second UK LP. Vocal by George piano by Nicky Hopkins drums Freddy Smith. "Little Red Bucket" another 1968 Central Sound demo track, previously recorded by UK group Bubblegum.

Easybeats - 1979 - Mean Old Lovin' (Raven)

Mean Old Lovin'/I'm Happy/Hey Babe/I Don't Agree/Keep Your Hands Off My Babe/No One Knows

The six tracks on this EP represent the cream of the 40 or so unreleased tracks from the Easybeats first recording sessions in 1965.
When Ted Albert took the totally inexperienced group into the 2UW radio theater  in Sydney, he was determined to catch on tape absolutely everything in their repertoire, lest he miss a possible hit.
Although their first single "For My Woman" came from those early sessions, virtually all of the material was left in the can. he six songs contained here in are by no means as polished and revolutionary as the more familiar Easybeats Australian material. But they are solid inventive rock ditties which adequately evidence the degree of original class which the group possessed, from it's very beginnings at the Villawood Migrant Hostel in 1964.

Easybeats - Son Of Easyfever (Raven)

Find My Way Back Home/Coke Ad/Mandy/I'm Just Trying/Look Out I'm On the Way Down

 "Find My Way Back Home" is a Nashville Teens song recorded for a 1965 TV spot on the Johnny O'Keefe show promoting "For My Woman" the result of an odd rule allowing only one original song to be telecast. This never made it to air being replaced by "I Who Have Nothing". Recorded EMI Sydney.
 Coke Jingle sung to the tune of "Come And See Her" Vocals by Stevie and Dick. "Mandy" from the unreleased first UK sessions with Ted Albert at Abbey Road shortly after arrival from Australia. " I'm Just Trying" A fine soul/rock track from the Central Sound Studio demo tapes vocals by George. "Look Out I'm On The Way Down" another Central Sound demo with a commercial pop sound vocal by Harry.

Easybeats - 1986 - Historeasy

Historeasy/She's So Fine (Live)/Hello, How Are You

 There were abortive plans for an Easybeats reunion in 1979, but happily there was a grand 'last hurrah' for the Easybeats in 1986. The classic lineup, with Snowy Fleet, got back together for a national tour and in spite of Snowy literally not having touched the drums since his departure in 1967, the old magic was still there. They performed to sell-out houses around the country and treated fans old and new to the magic that had made the them legends. Stevie was, at least for that time, back in good health, as vital and exciting as ever, even performing his famous leaps and backflips. The final Sydney concert was filmed and recorded and several tracks were later released by Raven. The Easybeats    released the EP HistorEasy - Tour '86 Souvenir Medley in November 1986

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Johnny Devlin - 1959 - Sings Ballads

 I'm Counting On You/Love Me/Susie Darlin'/When My Mother Prayed For Me

 Johnny Devlin was New Zealand's first major rock'n'roll star. He had a major effect on the domestic scene. He was the first musician that parents loved to hate. He was the first performer to be awarded with a gold record. Also the first to go on an extended national tour and the first successful artist to leave the local shores for Australia. Mad hysteria had taken New Zealand by storm in proportions they had never seen before. Johnny Devlin was New Zealand's original king of rock'n'roll.

John Lockett Devlin was born on May 11, 1938, the son of a railway ganger stationed in the small mid-North Island town of Raetihi. The family soon shifted to near-by Ohakune and then Marton before eventually settling in Wanganui, where John spent his formative years. He received a guitar for his eleventh birthday and it never left his side. His parents and three other brothers were all musically minded and when in his early teens, they formed a group called the Devlin Family. They performed country songs at Wanganui talent quests. The family used to listen to the Lever Hit Parade to get new songs to perform. One night they heard "Rock Around The Clock" and were blown away. But the song that really influenced Johnny the most, was Elvis's "Heartbreak Hotel". 

 The Devlin Family had been performing regularly until 1955, when the parents retired from the entertainment game. The four brothers, plus the odd friend or cousin, continued to perform as the River City Ramblers, playing country and western, skiffle, and later Bill Haley style rock'n'roll. Throughout 1956, enthusiasm began to ebb, and one by one the brothers dropped out, and more frequently weekends would see Johnny performing as a soloist. By the end of the year, the River City Ramblers were no more. It was then that he heard "Heartbreak Hotel" and his life was changed forever.

Devlin entered every amateur talent quest he could find and chasing up every Elvis Presley recording he could lay his hands on, for the next eighteen months he would perform nothing but Presley material. On weekends, Devlin would often go to Palmerston North and whenever he had the chance he would sing his Elvis songs in talent contests run at the youth club there by pioneering New Zealand rock'n'roller Johnny Cooper. The first to recognise a certain something in Devlin, Johnny Cooper took him under his wing, coached him in the art of stagecraft and persuaded him to practice his moves in front of a mirror. He said to Devlin, with a bit of work, you could become New Zealand's Elvis Presley.

So in February 1957, an 18 year old bank clerk from Wanganui, won his first talent quest as a rock'n'roll performer. Over the next four months, he gyrated, jumped, grimaced and growled at quests in the towns near by. He didn't win them all, but the younger members of the audience knew who the night's star was. One weekend in Palmerston North he met Dennis Tristram, a rock'n'roll dancer, who tried to persuade Devlin to move to Auckland. Devlin was happy to stay where he was, but did run into Tristram again, a month or so later, when he was in Auckland. Dennis persuaded Johnny to come down to the Jive Centre and sing with the resident band. The owner, Dave Dunningham, gave him an audition and agreed to let him do a set that night. Johnny Devlin's debut at the Jive Centre featured an all-Presley repertoire and although there was a general buzz in the audience before he commenced, no-one was prepared for what was to follow. By the time he completed his set, girls were screaming and everyone else was in awe and disbelief. Dave Dunningham was impressed and offered him a regular spot. Back in Wanganui he thought it over and a month later, March 1958, he returned to Auckland.

Dave Dunningham became his manager and within a month he had made Johnny Devlin the talk of the town With Auckland conquered, Dunningham realised that the quickest way to break Devlin nationally was with a record release, but all the record companies in the country gave the thumbs down. They were very nervous about this type of music.

Phil Warren, a part-time drummer, began working at Begg's Music Store in 1955, and later formed Prestige Records, primarily to distribute overseas releases from independent labels. Dunningham pressured Warren into recording Devlin, so they came to an agreement and selected a poor-selling Presley release, "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" for the debut single. It was recorded at the Jive Centre one Sunday afternoon in May 1958, using the Dixielanders as the backing group, and given the primitive circumstances of the session and surroundings, the quality was awful, but "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" launched Johnny Devlin as New Zealand's first superstar when it was released in June 1958 on the Prestige label. Recorded at the same session was the flipside, "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again". A romping sax break replaces the guitar on Elvis's version.

Although the single got very little airplay, the broadcast panel thought it was not of sufficient quality, it was snapped up by Auckland's teens in an unprecedented frenzy. Once sales had topped the 2000 mark, the radio stations could no longer ignore it, and within a few weeks the disc was at the top of the Lever Hit Parade. By now the Dixielanders were out of the picture and Johnny was working with the Bob Paris Combo as his back-up band.

Devlin was now in great demand and by August, his record sales had passed the 10,000 mark. Time to record more records. With this he entered Bruce Barton's Wellesley Street studio for his second recording session. Between August and October Devlin recorded a dozen tracks, to be released as Phil Warren saw fit. The Bob Paris Combo were used as backing on all of these tracks. Warren was receiving little-known records from American artists for distribution by his record company, but selected a few to give to Devlin to record.

His second single was a cover of both sides of a Jimmy Lloyd record, "I Got A Rocket In My Pocket"/"You're Gone Baby". An excellent recording, it unfortunately received little airplay and sold only moderately well, but within a fortnight Devlin's third single appeared. "Slipping Around"/"Straight Skirt" sold a lot better and without the Presley influence, it demonstrated that New Zealand could produce credible rock'n'roll.

By November 1958, his three singles had sold 50,000 copies. Between November 1958 and May 1959, Prestige released eight further singles, plus three EP's and an album, amassing total sales in excess of 200,000.

 Graham Dent was an employee of the Kerridge Organisation which operated a string of theatres and cinemas throughout the country. Dent had been responsible for making the "Rock Around The Clock" movie successful in the cinemas. He was promoted to manage a new cinema in the Auckland suburb of Point Chevalier. On Sunday afternoons he ran concerts for the local youth club and talent quests. Recognising Devlin's potential, he organised a concert there. With its success he approached his boss, Robert Kerridge, about the possibility of using their theatre chain to promote a national tour. After some initial doubt, his boss agreed to a two-week tour with extensions if successful.

Dave Dunningham left the management to Phil Warren, so Phil and Graham put together a schedule. Bob Paris and his band weren't keen on going on the road, so a new backing band had to be put together. Dent asked multi-instrumentalist Claude Papesch if he could put a band together. Claude was a sixteen year old blind musician, who was a regular at the Point Chevalier youth club. Papesch recruited guitarist Peter Bazely, bassist Keith Graham and drummer Tony Hopkins. Together they became the Devils, one of New Zealand's first truly rock'n'roll bands. 

The tour kicked of at Wellington on November 21, 1958. Over the next two weeks he performed for close to 20,000 ecstatic fans in Wellington, Palmerston North, Masterton, Napier, Gisbourne and Tauranga. The press raved and chaos broke out at every performance. The shows exceeded everyone's expectations, with New Zealand having never seen anything remotely like it.

Back in Auckland, another two-week tour was being organised, but before setting out, Devlin was rushed back into the studio, where in one night he recorded sixteen more tracks. In late November his fourth single, recorded earlier in the year, was released. It was "6.5 Hand Jive"/"Play Rough". In December, five more records were released, three singles and two EP's. The singles were "Wild One"/"The Watch", "Crazy Baby Crazy"/"My True Love", and "Bony Moronie"/"Leroy". The first EP was a freebie called "Hit Tunes" put out by Coca-Cola, who had been part sponsoring his tour. It contained the tracks "Cast Iron Arm", "Nervous", "Say Yeah", "Matador Baby", "Believe Me" and "Rave On". The other EP was called "How Would Ya Be?" and contained "Straight Skirt", "How Would Ya Be", "Slipping Around" and "I'm Grateful".   

Devlin set off on the second leg of his tour and the media followed him wherever he went. He was constantly making headlines. After his shows he was mobbed by screaming girls and on one occasion lost sleeves from his shirt. This was big news with headlines claiming "Girls Fight Over Singer's Shirt" and from then on a piece of his shirt was every girls aim.

By the end of 1958, Devlin had conquered the North Island, but was still relatively unknown in the South Island. A tour down there was going to be a challenge as there was a local lad in Christchurch who was also attracting attention. He was Max Merritt and the Meteors. His fans were fiercely loyal and the bookings for the Christchurch show were light. Dent was going to cancel the show, but came up with an idea. He invited MP and Cabinet Minister Mabel Howard to a champagne party followed by the Devlin show, and after the pair would be driven off to meet up with Max Merritt. A pink convertible was used and of course the press were there, along with the usual mob of screaming fans. A stroke of genius and from there on the South Island was bedlam.

By February 1959, Johnny Devlin's record sales had reached astronomical proportions. A new single was released, "20 Flight Rock"/"Move It" and another EP called "Johnny Sings Ballads". Its tracks were "Love Me", "I'm Counting On You", "Susie Darling" and "When My Mother Prayed For Me". Devlin's original recording of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" had sold steadily since its mid-1958 release. With sales in excess of 30,000 and orders for another 10,000 after his South Island tour, it was decided to re-record the song under better conditions. The new version was released in February 1959 and well and truly out sold the original version, two to one, with combined sales exceeding 100,000. "Susie Darling" was placed on the flipside of the new version.

In the next two months, two more singles and another EP were released. The first was "Nervous Wreck"/"Queen Of The Hop" and the second a tribute to his backing band "Rock With The Devils" backed with "Devil's Rock", an instrumental by the Devils. The EP was just called "Johnny Devlin" and contained "High Heeled Shoes", "Hard To Get", "Big Green Car" and "Your Cheatin' Heart".

In March 1959, Devlin left on what was to be his final tour of the country. He took in the smaller centres that hadn't experienced the Devlin hysteria and madness. It was same old story wherever he went, but inside the show, things were starting to fall apart. There was internal bickering, and being mobbed and screamed at was no longer a novelty. The whole touring thing was becoming a bore. The only remaining highlight came when in Wellington, he met the touring evangelist Billy Graham and the Prime Minister Walter Nash. A picture of the three of them appeared in the following days newspaper. A week later, having had enough of the goings-on, Robert Kerridge pulled the plug on the tour.

With his career in temporary limbo, Devlin returned home to Wanganui to celebrate his 21st birthday. Meanwhile, Phil Warren received a phone call from Sydney-based American promoter, Lee Gordon, who was in the process of organising an Australasian tour for the Everley Brothers. He wanted to know if Phil could handle the New Zealand leg. Phil agreed on the condition that Johnny Devlin be placed on the bill for the Australian concerts. They agreed and with no fuss, fanfare or farewell concert, Johnny Devlin and the Devils slipped out of New Zealand in the last week of May 1959. Although he was moderately successful in Australia, his reign as a social phenomenon was over. It had lasted a mere twelve months.

                                Johnny Devlin with the Beatles on their New Zealand tour.

Another EP, also called "Johnny Devlin" was released, containing "Flat 13", "Queen Of The Hop", "I Was Robbed" and "Patty". The last two Prestige singles also came out. They were "White Lightening"/"Doreen" and "I Was The One"/"Pointed Toe Shoes". Prestige also released an album called "Johnny" in 1959.   

Devlin continued to record while in Australia. Between 1959 and 1981, while using at least 14 different record labels, he released a further 40 singles, ten EP's and three albums. Music World released a an album called "24 Original Golden Greats" in 1980 that contained all of his New Zealand singles.  

Johnny Devlin still continues to perform on the club level in Australia. Of the original Devils, only Claude Papesch dedicated his life to music. Widely traveled around Australasia, he eventually settled in NSW, working more in the jazz field than the rock'n'roll which launched him. Battling cancer during the last years of his life, he served time on the Lithgow City Council and was elected Mayor of Lithgow in 1984 but due to ill health was unable to complete his term. Claude died, aged 45, in February 1987. Keith Graham went on to play with the Embers.

Festival released two great CDs that cover pretty much all of Johnny's work. The first in 1998 covers his Australian years, while the second, released in 2001, was a compilation of his New Zealand 
Prestige years.


Johnny Devlin - 1961 - Twistin' At The Peppermint Lounge

Kangaroo Tail Twist/Multiplication Twist/The Twister/Twistin' Little Girl

Johnny Devlin - 1958 - How Would Ya Be

Straight Skirt/How Would Ya Be/Slippin' Around/I'm Grateful

Johnny Devlin - 1957 - Hit Tunes

Cast Iron Arm/Nervous/Say Yeah/Matador Baby/Believe Me/Rave On

A promo E.P. given away at his concerts at the time by Coca-Cola who were the sponsors for his tour during this period..

Johnny Devlin - 1962 - Big 4

Charlie Mopps/Got A Zack In The Back Of Me Pocket/Hey Little Angel/Please Teacher Let Me Have My Apple Back'