The Easybeats came together in the austere Villawood Migrant Hostel in the major Australian city of Sydney during 1964. Englishman Stevie Wright, already residing in the country for some years, was singing as Chris Langdon with a group called The Langdells. The other four members of The Easybeats were new arrivals: Scotsman George Young (whose brother Alexander played in Tony Sheridan's Big Six, Liverpudlian Gordon 'Snowy' Fleet (formerly with the Mojos), Dutchmen Harry Vanda (guitarist with crack instrumental outfit The Starfighters) and Dick Diamonde.
By the beginning of 1965, The band had a manager, regular work in Sydney beat clubs and a recording contract with Albert Productions. Allowed creative freedom by sympathetic producer / mentor Ted Albert, the group developed a brash, fresh and exciting sound which quickly set them apart from the then current crop of 'cover/copy' acts around them. George and Stevie became amazingly prolific young songwriters: Stevie developing a knack for knocking out quick succinct lyrics and George having an exceptional capacity for melody and musical structure.
After impressing with their first bluesy single, 'For My Women', The Easybeats stormed to the top of the Australian charts in May 1965 with their second single, the dynamic 'She's So Fine'. This begun the ferocious phenomena of 'Easyfever'. It is not naA?ve to say that no incident of Beatlemania or Rolling Stone Fever anywhere in the world surpassed the absolute peak of Easyfever. Airports, television studios, theatres and hire cars were reduced to rubble, fans were hospitalised and general mayhem reigned whenever the band allowed themselves to be seen.
When a young fan magazine foolishly revealed the Young family's address, over three hundred girls from four local high schools descended upon the house that same afternoon. Twenty of them forced their way into the house, whereupon they ran amok, trampling a young Angus and, until stopped by police, seizing anything they could lay their hands on (including George).
Within less than eighteen months The Easybeats had racked up no less than 8 smash hits, some double a-sides. The killers included 'Sorry', 'Wedding Ring' and 'Women'. The overwhelming popularity of the band proved to Australian music that is was viable to write and perform original songs in an original style. It gave other artists a confidence in their own abilities.
By the end of 1966 The Easybeats saga was taking on almost fairytale proportions and the best was yet to come. Bravely they set off to conquer England and by November that year they had cracked the international top twenty with the sublime working class anthem 'Friday On My Mind' (since recorded by David Bowie, Peter Frampton and dozens of others). The band toured Europe with The Rolling Stones before returning to Australia in triumph for a national tour commencing in May 1967. George Young recalls, 'it was the highpoint of the group's career. We didn't come back with the standard excuses for failure. Australia had never any acts that had done it like that before. There was no bull, it was real'.
After being hailed as conquering warriors by their adopted countrymen (including the Lord Mayor of Sydney, who gave then a civic reception), The Easybeats headed back to England, this time without Snowy. He had decided to jump off the treadmill and yield his drummer's stool to Tony Cahill, from the ferocious Purple Hearts. Back in England George Young began to emerge as a creative genius on the level of a Ray Davies, Pete Townsend, Ron Wood or even a John Lennon. He began collaborating with Harry Vanda on vast, ambitious and often sumptuous studio works that are now recognised as staggering achievements (some featuring back up vocals by a young Olivia Newtown-John and Small Face Stevie Marriott). Unfortunately, a sad combination of events, including the banning of the visionary track 'Heaven & Hell', inconsistent musical style and lack of proper career direction rendered the group and their songs the best kept secret in London. By 1969 it was all over, crumbled in a stoned, confused haze.
The only other British top twenty hit had been 'Hello, How Are You?' and only loyal Australians gave chart success to the likes of 'Good Times', 'Land Of Make Believe', 'The Music Goes Round My Head' and 'Do You Have A Soul?'. In 1969, just as they disbanded, The Easybeats enjoyed a final American hit with St. Louis.
The split of The Easybeats allowed Vanda & Young to commence their production / songwriting / recording career in earnest. After releasing material under such bizarre names as The Marcus Hook Roll Band, Band Of Hope, Tramp, Moondance, Haffey's Whiskey Sour and Paintbox, the pair achieved international success as Flash & The Pan, scoring numerous British and European chart hits including 'Waiting For A Train'.
Apart from having their songs recorded by the likes of Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Grace Jones, Suzi Quatro, the Bay City Rollers, John Paul Young and hundreds of others, they produced the first six albums for AC/DC.
The 2001 Australian Performing Rights Association awards saw Friday On My Mind named as the most influential Australian song of the past 75 years.
Describing the music of The Easybeats can convey only a glimmer of the magic it radiates, Not only is it the finest rock ever recorded in Australia but among the finest ever recorded anywhere. Throughout the world, Easybeat devotees are legion and all those who hear are instantly converted.
by Glenn A. Baker
1. River Deep, Mountain High (Barry, Greenwich, Spector) - 3:59
2. Do You Have a Soul (Edited Album Version) - 2:39
3. Saturday Night (Mono Single Mix) - 3:26
4. You Me, We Love (Different Mix) - 3:23
5. Pretty Girl (Mono Single Mix) - 2:17
6. Friday on My Mind (Mono Single Mix) - 2:42
7. Happy Is the Man - 2:42
8. Hound Dog (Leiber, Stoller) - 3:19
9. Who'll Be the One (Mono Single Mix) - 2:38
10.Made My Bed Gonna Lie in It (George Young) - 2:08
11.Remember Sam - 2:34
12.See Line Woman (Traditional) - 3:15
13.Woman (Make You Feel Alright) (Stevie Wright, George Young) - 2:36
14.Do You Have a Soul (Long Version) - 2:59
15.You Me, We Love (Different Mix) - 3:24
16.Lisa (Different Mix) - 3:13
17.All Gone Boy (Different Mix) - 2:32
18.Friday on My Mind (Mono Single Mix) - 2:42
19.Made My Bed Gonna Lie in It (Mono Single Mix) - 2:08
20.Who'll Be the One (Mono Single Mix) - 2:38
21.Saturday Night (Mono Single Mix) - 3:26
22.Heaven and Hell (Mono Single Mix) - 2:43
23.Pretty Girl (Mono Single Mix) - 2:17
24.Heaven and Hell - 2:42
All songs composed by Harry Vanda. George Young except where indicated.
*Dick Diamonde - Bass Guitar
*Gordon "Snowy" Fleet - Drums
*Harry Vanda - Lead Guitar
*Stevie Wright - Lead Vocals
*George Young - Rhythm Guitar