• Cream of The Crate: CD's #5 - Sixties Down Under (A Compilation)

      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      "Disc One alone must rate as perhaps the best sampler of Australian '60s pop ever released" [Milesago]

      CD Cover

      This is number five in the series of albums I'm featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of CD's in my personal collection. The series is called, "Cream of The Crate (CD's)", and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

      This part of a set of four CD's put out by the Raven Label and consists of Volumes #1, to #4 and consists of singles released between 1964 and 1970, predominantly Australian groups, and with New Zealand to a lesser extent.

      I will probably review all four CD's in the fullness of time, but it makes perfect sense to start with #1 even though I believe there are better (and rarer) tracks on some of the other compilation CD's in this series. "
      Sixties Down Under" Volume 1 consists of what the cover describes as "27 Oz Rock Classics". It is released on the Raven Label (RVCD) in 1988. Raven are well known for reviving tracks of Australian groups that long lost if not for their compilations, although I do believe they also include tracks that have become perennial favorites of listeners and collectors alike.

      One of the bonuses associated with this series of four CD's, is that they are annotated by well known and respected "Music Head" and "Rock Guru", Glenn A Baker. Mind you having said that, in regard to the inserted booklet', it is a bit of a budget job. The accompanying 'booklets' in boxed sets generally fall into two categories. The first is the fantastic (like previous reviews on
      Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan and The Fugs), while the second is the pathetic such as last weeks effort with Robin Trower.
      The two pages of pictures from the 'booklet'.

      This one falls in between. It's only five single sheet sides (not including the cover) and two pages are photo's, but the depth and clarity of writing by Baker on the remaining 3 pages redeems the effort on the booklet.

      It is full of quality info and Baker 'witticism's'. Here is an example of his wit that caught my imagination.

      "If John Lennon had been amused by American fans in Bermuda shorts, horn-rimmed glasses and pink zinc noses, he probably convulsed over greasy, pointed shoe'd, kiss-curled Aussie larikins, bodgies and widgies, who suddenly became mods. We were caught off-by the onslaught of Mersy fashion but we learned fast."

      So what about the groups and tracks on this CD?

      Track Listing

      1. Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs - Poison Ivy
      2. Bobby & Laurie - I Belong With You
      3. Normie Rowe & The Playboys - It Ain't Necessarily So
      4. Ray Brown & The Whispers - Pride
      5. Mike Furber & The Bowery Boys - You Stole My Love
      6. Tony Worsley & The Blue Jays - Just A Little Bit
      7. The Pink Finks - Louie Louie
      8. The Easybeats - Sorry
      9. The Twilights - Needle In A Haystack
      10. Steve & The Board - Giggle Eyed Goo
      11. The Librettos - Kicks
      12. The Purple Hearts - Of Hopes and Dreams and Tombstones
      13. The Master's Apprentices - Buried & Dead
      14. The Black Diamonds - I Want, Need, Love You
      15. The Easybeats -Women
      16. Max Merritt & The Meteors - Fannie Mae
      17. The Bee Gees - Spicks & Specks
      18. The Groop - Woman You're Breaking Me
      19. The Loved Ones - Everlovin' Man
      20. The Wild Cherries - That's Life
      21. The Twilights - 9.50
      22. The Master's Apprentices - Living In A Child's Dream
      23. The Groove - Soothe Me
      24. Normie Rowe - It's Not Easy
      25. The Town Criers - Everlasting Love
      26. Lynne Randell - Ciao Baby
      27. Somebody's Image - Hush

      Now certainly it is a big enough list to have somebody that most people will really like, and it's big enough to represent a good cross-section of groups that were active between 1964 and 1969. For obvious commercial reasons the tracks chosen are generally the well known 'hits'.

      So how do I go about choosing tracks to feature? Well the first is "The Black Diamonds". I could remember the name but the music and history of the group eluded me, so I have to 'fess up to having to do some reading (which means you don't!).

      The first thing that stood out was the the Easybeats nominated them as the best support band they ever played with. I could see no reason why the "Easies" would bother to say such a thing if were not true. Great groups are generally sparring with their praise for support acts! Then I found out that the group, under the name "Love Machine", also released an album, albeit on a budget label, and it contained the track "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" which was also released on a single, becoming a moderate hit for them nationally.

      The track on this CD "I Want, Need, Love you": released by the Black Diamonds in December 1966. I can find no evidence it charted, but the video clip (in the Video section of this review) sure is 'groovy! so I won't play it here, you can listen as you watch!

      Two tracks on this CD we reviewed recently when I was retro-reviewing vinyl albums, in fact it was the final Cream of The Crate vinyl review - #50: The Raven EP LP Volume 1 where the tracks "Of Hopes and Dreams and Tombstones" (The Purple Hearts) and "That's Life" (Wild Cherries) were featured.

      But that still leaves 24 more tracks! Each one is a winner in it's own way, from a Billy Thorpe fantastic cover of "Poison Ivy", through our own 'Mersey Sound' of Ray Brown with "Pride", the early Ross Wilson/Ross Hannaford group, the Pink Finks and "Louie Louie", I mean there is a logic in naming every group on this CD. Maybe this alone makes the statement, this CD is a must!

      Yet I would still like to feature a few tracks and given I like them all, I am trying the rather novel approach of dealing with four tracks from four groups that I somehow had a connection with.

      The first will be Bobby & Laurie, the Rondells, and "I Belong With You". As most readers will know, Laurie is no longer with us while Bob has gone onto even better things with a recent CD release - Child of Rock and Roll. Bobby & Laurie were pacesetters, their own unique style was wonderfully supplemented by the backing of the Rondells and I distinctly remember my group (The Sound) sharing a stage at the Dandenong Town Hall with Bobby & Laurie not long after "I Belong With You" was released. Our guitarist, Mick Elliott (no slouch on guitar either) and I were both taken by Rondells guitarist, Bernie O'Brien's playing on this track, and we had covered it. Seeing they were on after us (of course) Mick said we should ask it was OK for us to play the track. How wonderfully naive we were), but Bernie just smiled and said, sure!

      Bobby & Laurie and The Rondells (Thanks to Susie Gamble for this rare picture)

      So how could I go past not featuring this track. It had it all in those days. Great vocals from Bobby Bright and Laurie Allen, foot-stomping, tight playing by the Rondells and a fantastic guitar solo. It's probable that Bernie won't read this retro-review but, thanks mate - for being so tolerant of a support act, and for a great piece of ever lasting guitar work.

      I Belong With You

      The next group wasn't going to be on my review listing about the old days and Bobby & Laurie, got me to thinking about another group on this CD, Steve and the Board. Yes I have story about them as well. Fronted by Steve Kipner it is likely that the group and the the track "Giggle Eyed Goo" would never have been recorded except for Steve's dad Nat Kipner. Steve and Nat co-wrote the track, but it was the fact that Nat had an A&R involvement at Spin Records, that led to the group recording it. most unlikely hit. Mind you, a follow up track was "I Call My Girl Hinges, Because She's Something To Adore"! The less said about that track the better.

      The group barely survived 12 months playing and in all honesty the track has a certain cuteness, and certainly a novelty factor about it which today, in fact makes it memorable. The group themselves were actually far better than the material they played, and had a great knowledge of Blues music. Steve eventually went to England and was one half of Tin Tin was a massive hit with "Toast and Marmalade For Tea". Today he is a very successful platinum songwriter and producer.

      But back to the story. I was close friends with a three sisters who also knew the group, and they were curious to find out whether I really knew as much about the Blues as I seemed to suggest, yet they could never work out why my feet were not stomping every time a blues track was being played.

      One day I went around to the sisters house to discover Alex and Carl (guitarists) were there. I was being 'tested'. We must have talked and talked for several hours about blues players and blues masters. I passed the test (so I learned later), much to the girls delight.

      So, Steve and The Board, even though you might play and record "Giggle Eyed Goo", it is not a reflection of your playing and certainly your knowledge of good music. Oh yes, you passed my test!

      Giggled Eyed Goo

      My next 'experience' leads me to the Pink Finks track, because they too fill today's requirement of me having a personal story about the group. In short my group (the Sound and another ("brother") group The Roadrunners (whom we were very good friends with), used to visit Ross W and Ross H at the Wilson home and sit out in their garage, where the Pink Finks rehearsed, to just talk, talk and talk more music, and drink a bit of beer. It wasn't a weekly thing but it happened enough times to have an early releationship before the two Ross' started hitting the big time and we all went our separate ways. That was the great thing about those early days, we were all just young kids with stars in our eyes.

      I was quite taken with a little phrase that used to pop up on walls behind the stage at a number of venues where we were playing, and where the "Finks" had played. It said, "If you think pink, think Pink Fink"! I don't know, pretty corny now - but I thought it was very clever back then.

      The Pink Finks (I leave it to you to pick the two Ross')

      Anyway the track "Louie Louie", written by Richard Berry in 1955 and made famous by the Kingsmen in 1963, was literally covered by hundreds of groups world wide. It was the first release by the Pink Finks, being released in 1965, and charted as far as #16 in Melbourne. It really was the beginning for Ross W especially, but for all the guys with Daddy Cool waiting just around the corner.

      Louie Louie

      So, the last group and track (with story) is the magnificient and wonderful, Loved One's and their track "Ever Lovin' Man". The Loved One's were, in my opinion, one of the most unique and talented groups to have never to have fully realised their potential. Oh! they were spectacularly popular in Melbourne but .......

      Fronted by Gerry Humphrys (originally from London) on vocals and harmonica, Kim Lynch on bass guitar and Ian Clyne on organ and piano. They were all ex-members of the trad jazz group, the Red Onions Jazz Band, and the certainly paid their musical dues in that group and then they sucessfully transferred that experience into the Loved Ones quite beautifully.

      When Clyne left he was replaced in 1966 by keyboardist Trevor Courtney whose admission to the group was a great piece of 'headhunting', as the groups sound and musical skill didn't suffer one iota. In 1966 their debut recording, "The Loved One", was a fantastic hit. They had the looks (espe
      cially Humphrey's) and they had THE sound, largely due to the electric piano sound and Gerry's utterly unique vocal renditions.

      The Loved Ones with Trevor bottom left & gerry top right

      Late 1965 I had been kicked out of my own group The Sound (by now known as the Moppa Blues) so that (THE) Rick Springfield could join. The Moppa Blues didn't last long after that, with Mick Elliott, Mark Barnes and Snowy Townshend all going onto better things. I was helping out the Roadrunners (the group my band hung out with during those visits to the home of the Pink Finks) who by then were known as the Delta Set, with Chris Stockley on guitar, Chris Kinman on bass, a good vocalist whose name escapes me, Robert Lloyd on drums and Trevor Courtney on piano, the group was about to go big.

      Trevor had only been with the group for a matter of months, and we had done a few rehearsals at his home in Mount Waverley, when the Loved One's struck, and Trevor was headhunted. This was a blow to the group, and it never really recovered, although not long after Chris and Robert were in the first incarnation of Campact.

      As for Trevor, he never looked back, and although the Loved Ones only survived through to 1967, their legacy is amazing and far more lasting than many contemporaries that lasted far more years.

      Ever Lovin' Man

      So we come to the conclusion of this review. I started off by declaring that there was better and rarer material on the three other CD's in this set. Having got this far through the review I would like to alter that statement to, there are tracks as good and also some very rare tracks on the other three CD's. Sometimes we have to go back through our memories and relive the times and the music to recall how great the music really was and the music on this CD, whether simple in construction, or complex in its richness, is fan-bloody-tastic and is a joyous ride through some of the halcyon years of Australian music.

      So it's a compilation CD? So what! It represents 27 wonderful tracks covering novelty through to high energy 'rock' and many styles in between. By today's standards much of it might seem simple, if not down right basic. We are talking about music composed, played and recorded between some 43 years and 50 years ago. That helps establish the longevity of our industry and it also provides us with a wonderful musical almanac.

      Currently there are copies on Ebay for as $20.00Au, up to $200.00!!! Beats me why you would ask $200.00. I don't think I have ever done a review without saying that this is a CD (or vinyl LP) worth having. The explanation is simple. I am retro-reviewing "Cream" Cd's (and LP's) that are worthy of having because of their rarity or they represent the best of a style, styles or an artist.

      This CD is certainly sitting well inside the category of best in a style.

      VIDEOS - There is an eclectic collection of video's not only from the period this CD covers, but wonderfully, the music on this CD, so here are the one's that grabbed my fancy as being among the best tracks on this CD, and, they might help transform you back into that day, age and music.

      The Black Diamonds – I Need, Want, Love you

      Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs - Poison Ivy

      Ray Brown and The Whispers - Pride

      Max Merritt and The Meteors - Fanny Mae

      Normie Rowe - It's Not Easy

      Previous Cream of the Crate Albums

      If you are interested in checking out the first fifty vinyl albums reviewed, just click HERE

      Cream of The Crate CD Reviews

      #1 - The Fugs: The Fugs First Album

      #2 - Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings

      #3 - Bob Dylan: Biograph

      #4 - Robin Trower: Essential

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