From the moment I heard Friday On My Mind by the Easybeats, I was convinced Australians had a special knack for rock. Diligent subsequent listening to pioneering Aussie-60s anthologies such as Ugly Things and So You Want To Be A Rock'n'Roll Star series, plus energetic if largely ineffectual efforts to collect original artefacts from the period, has done nothing to shake that conviction.
Most previous comps concentrate on Australia's formidable garage-rock and psychedelic legacy, highlighted by such world-class nuggets as Undecided by the Masters Apprentices and The Real Thing by Russell Morris. Of Hopes And Dreams And Tombstones: Australia's Beat Years illuminates a less-exposed sub-genre in which Australian artists display the same uncanny mastery.
Beat music, imported from Britain both on record and in person by streams of immigrants, thrived in the Australian mid-60s at lofty levels of proficiency, originality and passion. This 31-track anthology provides a welcome introduction to the scene's diversity. It's got many of the big beat idols - Billy Thorpe And the Aztecs, the Purple Hearts, Normie Rowe And the Playboys, and the twin Tonys of Aussie beat renown, Barber and Worsley - and a host of less celebrated but equally adept compatriots. And the range of styles is remarkable.
Oh by the Rajahs sounds like the Beau Brummels imitating the Searchers. Jimmy Crockett And the Shanes' intense That Lovin' Touch reminds me a bit of the Blues Magoos. Tony Worsley's vocal on Ready Steady Let's Go is reminiscent of a less deranged Roky Erickson.
Thorpe's Blue Day and the Courtmen's I've Got To Let You Go are proto-garage stormers, while Steve And the Board's So Why Pretend and the Pogs' I'll Never Love Again display consummate command of the melodic moody-beat style.
I've always been fascinated by the obscure material antipodean acts unearthed (aided by active music publishers). This collection boasts some prime examples, none more obscure than the Purple Hearts' title track, ephemerally released in the U.S. as a public-service announcement with some copies of the 45 omitting the artist's name (Jimmy Fraser, if you're keeping score at home). Other obscurities include the Others' Dancing Girl, one of Bo Diddley's less-celebrated numbers but one of the better Bo covers in the pantheon-.-and Mike Furber And the Bowery Boys' version of the great Addrisi Brothers/Grains of Sand/Montanas stormer That's When Happiness Began.
I've been raving on for six paragraphs (and entering the seventh) and still haven't mentioned such faves on this anthology as the ultra-tough Don't Ask Me Why by Chris Hall And the Torquays or the rockabilly-flavored rasp of Toni McCann's My Baby or Tony Barber's weird and wondrous I Want Her To. But the best thing about Of Hopes, etc. is that, as comprehensive and eclectic a collection as it is, it merely scratches the surface of the Australian mid-1960s motherlode. Which means that future volumes must be a definite possibility. Which would make me very happy indeed.
by Ken Barnes
Artists - Tracks
1. The Purple Hearts - Of Hopes And Dreams And Tombstones (Joy Byers) - 2:26
2. The Rajahs - Oh! (Leon Isackson) - 2:35
3. Tony Worsley And The Blue Jays - Ready Steady Let's Go (Geoff Brown) - 2:00
4. Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Blue Day (Tony Barber) - 2:45
5. Chris Hall And The Torquays - Don't Ask Me Why (Chris Hall) - 2:02
6. Normie Rowe And The Playboys - She Used To Be Mine (Nat Kipner, Steve Kipner) - 2:35
7. Jimmy Crockett And The Shanes - That Lovin' Touch (Nat Kipner) - 2:05
8. Mike Furber And The Bowery Boys - That's When Happiness Began (Dick Addrisi, Don Addrisi) - 2:16
9. The Showmen - So Far Away (Baden Hutchins, Peter Ellison) - 2:24
10.The Sunsets - When I Found You (Lindsay Bjerre) - 2:16
11.Toni McCann - My Baby (Mal Clarke, Royce Nichols) - 2:01
12.Steve And The Board - So Why Pretend (Carl Keats) - 2:22
13.The Courtmen - I've Got To Let You Go (Barry Shepherd) - 2:26
14.Russ Kruger - Well, Ain't That Nice (Theo Penglis) - 2:22
15.Ray Brown And The Whispers - Too Late To Come Home (Christian Arnold, David Martin, Geoffrey Morrow) - 2:22
16.The Playboys - It's Awright (Rufus Thomas) - 2:37
17.The Morloch - Every Night (Noel Neates) - 2:26
18.The Pacifics - Slowly But Surely (Bobby Dean) - 2:57
19.Barrington Davis - Complicated Riddle (Nat Kipner, Ossie Byrne) - 1:31
20.Tony Worsley And The Blue Jays - If You See My Baby (Mal Clarke, Royce Nichols) - 2:33
21.The Five - There's Time (Ron Williams) - 2:17
22.Tony Barber - I Want Her Too (Tony Barber) - 2:29
23.Donnie Sutherland And The Titans - No Cheatin' (Donnie Sutherland, Robert Shean) - 2:09
24.The Others - Dancing Girl (Elias McDaniel) - 2:27
25.Graeme Chapman - Baby Let Your Hair Down (Bart Barberis, Bobby Hart) - 2:11
26.The Mystrys - Witch Girl (Bob Kinleside Crawford) - 2:03
27.The Pacifics - Lost My Baby (Jeffrey James Bean) - 2:16
28.The Pogs - I'll Never Love Again (Peter Best) - 2:38
29.The Librettos - She's A Go Go (Brian Peacock, Rod Stone) - 2:29
30.The Escorts - House On Soul Hill (Ray Eddlemon, Scott Turner) - 1:47
31.Mike Furber - You're Back Again (Lonnie Lee) - 2:18
1964-70 The Purple Hearts / The Coloured Balls - Benzedrine Beat!
1972 Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - Long Live Rock And Roll (2008 digipak release)
1972 Aztecs - Aztecs Live! At Sunbury
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