Humpo Bompa (with a dadada da da over the top)

6th March, 2019

Hello Riff Raffers,

“Well I remember when I was young the world had just begun and I was happy. I used to wonder about the earth and how it moved around the sun so snappy.” (Matt Taylor)

Back when I was young you could venture down to the local milk bar and purchase sixteen aniseed balls for a cent. One of my first records bought from ‘Brashs’ in 1971 was the 45 rpm single ‘Judgement’ by Chain for ninety nine cents. I’d heard it on the bakelite ‘trannie’, station three eggs why (3XY). Singles were great as there was a bonus, a flip side. You would travel in expectation for another great tune from your favourite band. In this case it was the harmonica instrumental entitled, ‘Blow In D’.

It was around this time I picked up a vinyl album from my state school fete for ten cents. I’m not sure what the attraction was. It may simply have been the cover that displayed a large toothpaste dispenser with rainbow paste flowing, or was it because Blues Burger appeared on this long play record. Who was the Graham Bond Organization? I hadn’t heard them over the airwaves. The album included the Animals. I was aware of their song ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ and then there was someone named Sonny Boy Williamson. He played the breath harp as did Jack Bruce. Never heard of him either.

The only Sunny-boy on my horizon was a popular five cent treat from the schools tuck shop/canteen (depends on what school you went to) on a hot summer’s day. Far more popular than the warm bottle of milk with cream on top at playtime. A rush to be milk monitor was the opportunity to drink it cold on their arrival. Sunny-boys were orange flavoured ice, packaged in a pyramid shaped vessel. The best part was where the flavour had concentrated to a particular point of fracture that would flake off (and of course, the juice at the bottom). Don’t throw the pack away-look inside you may have a free one. Nothing better than one immediately after a game of Humpo Bumpo and not just for the reasons already outlined. The hard icy section that you couldn’t break with your teeth, but could break your teeth on could be applied as an ice pack on your bruises. A game of Humpo Bumpo begins by standing on the bench seats that lined the interior of the shelter shed. On the ground a school mate(s) waited for a cue word (probably go) ready to bump you out. When the command was released with exclamation off you hopped (and your cohorts who weren’t out) with arms crossed in a frantic endeavour to reach the other side without putting your hopping foot down. If your foot went down you were in the middle helping bump the others out. I don’t believe such an activity would be allowed in these heavily regulated and sanctioned days.

Now Sonny Boy Williamson had a tune on the album with a fascinating title, ‘Fattening Frogs For Killing Snakes’. What’s that all about? I believe it has something to do with you doing all the hard work and someone else benefiting. Well this blew a fuse for the black man’s blues as Matt Taylor had so eloquently written in his hit song of 1973. What happened to his band Chain? They were there one minute and gone the next. In fact when ‘Judgement‘ had been released the classic line up had vanished. They didn’t even last a year. Matt Taylor, vocalist and harp player, sold all his material possessions including all his expensive guitars (except one beaten up acoustic) to search for higher meaning and to live a commune life under the influence of Fred Robinson’s ‘Universal Brotherhood’. Matt and his wife Gillian moved to an acreage in Beechworth, which he and the other members of Chain had bought. Matt apparently had been introduced to Fred Robinson and his simpler way of living by Hans Poulson at a concert at the Myer Music Bowl where they appeared on the same bill.

It was here at the commune while contemplating his navel (remember it should always be your own) at his properties dam that the lyric of when I was young entered his thoughts. Matt sought out his beaten up guitar, tweaked the lyric from when I, to back when I, then finally to I remember when I was young. Matt put it to a bompa-bompa in the key of ‘G’ and that’s how an iconic Aussie hit was born.

Matt and Gillian moved away from the commune lifestyle and bought Kingston farm in Frankston. The song was recorded there in a paddock at the insistence of Matt with backing from his mates from Chain and slide guitarist Greg ‘Sleepy’ Lawrie. I believe it was Sleepy who originated the term bompa-bompa to describe a blues shuffle. Perhaps Matt added the dadada da da over the top? Over the journey Matt has produced many versions of this classic. Some with harp (cross in ‘C’) and some without.

img_1778My personal favourite is a live version he recorded with his Western Australian band, Western Flyer. Hear part thereof here ‘Remember‘. Even John Farnham recorded a cover. I love the harp intro Matt used on ‘Rockwiz’ an SBS music television program. He uses the whole harp, 8, 9 and 10 blow holes included and then a descending back and forth run from the eighth hole. You can see and hear on YouTube. I remember when I was young, I surely do, I hope you do so too.

“Sometimes I think  about it, it happens every day. I should think of the present ‘cause the presents now.” (Matt Taylor)

Ch SD

PS: More updates to last months post titled ‘Aussie Models’ including a new found model.

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