Monday, 25 February 2019
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.
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.