Paul Langford Lever

August 5th, 2019

Hey there Riff Raffers,

Floating on a cloud with a cosmic shroud. Play your music loud Chetarca.

“He was one of the pioneers.” (Matt Taylor)

“Paul was the best harmonica player I had heard and a lovely man with a beautiful soulful voice and a great sense of humour.” (Andy Vance)

“Paul Lever was a great blues harp player.” (Kerryn Tolhurst)

“He was a good harp player, actually a very good harp player for the time.” (Brod Smith)

“I knew Paul Lever well and considered him to be an outstanding blues/rock harmonica player.” (Billy Pinnell)

“He was a great guy, funny, engaging and a great storyteller.” (Bruce Bryan)

(Is there another band member in the flying saucer. Perhaps it’s a light fitting for you sceptics)

Paul had his own band performing around the Melbourne nightclubs under the name Langford Lever (Langford was Paul’s middle name) and would later be named the Langford Lever Blues Band. When Kerryn Tolhurst returned from National Service duties in 1969 he recruited Paul for the reformation of the Adderley Smith Blues Band. All was not rosy and Paul would leave the band due to personal issues and would be replaced by Joe Camilleri. Paul, who had developed quite a sizeable fan base was involved in an unfortunate incident which occurred at the Dallas Brooks Hall on May 14, 1970 during a blues show with Dutch Tilders. With Joe as their new frontman he strutted the stage like Mick Jagger wearing a garish outfit consisting of a green shirt and pink strides, much to the band’s dismay and Adderley’s fans. Paul was in the audience and on the fans insistence Paul mounted the stage grabbing the microphone and professed “this is not the blues” and then took over the show. That was Joe’s last stand and Kerryn’s last encounter with Paul. Kerryn reflecting on this, commented, “He was a troubled and beautiful soul and certainly needed support, but I loved his passion and it’s so sad that he couldn’t get help.”

Briefly in 1970 Paul joined the Carson County Band formed by Greg ‘Sleepy’ Lawrie. Bass player and vocalist Ian ‘Fingers’ Ferguson for the band said that, Paul was a nice guy, but was nervous and unsure of himself constantly asking is that okay, when it was fine. It just got too much for Greg.”

In 1971 Paul had Langford Lever gigging again. They competed in Hoadley’s Battle Of The Sounds of that year finishing unplaced behind Fraternity. They appeared on GTK and Sunbury ’72 and ’73. Langford Lever would morph into Chetarca a progressive rock band that were way ahead of their time. Chetarca was a phonetic word first put forward by band member Ian Miller believing it reflected the band’s sound. It did, however cop some flack as a Shitaki mushroom. Paul, along with drummer Geoff Gallent and the amazing guitarist Ian Miller (who would later be with John Paul Young’s All Stars) were joined in Chetarca by keyboardist Andy Vance, his friend bass guitarist John Rees (who was a key member of Men At Work) and Bruce Bryan on synthesisers (and album producer). They released a seminal self titled album in 1975 along with the single ‘Another Day’. The album is highly sought after today by avid vinyl collectors paying between $200 and $300 and their music is extremely popular today in Eastern Bloc countries including Russia. The single peaked at number 75 on the hit parade.

On the album’s liner notes Billy Pinnell is credited for his help. Andy Vance explains, “Billy managed us for awhile to get us going and he encouraged us incredibly, but he was really like a wonderful mentor and friend to us all who introduced us to all sorts of nice people in the music industry.”

Billy was glowing of Paul’s involvement in Chetarca, “While out of his comfort zone in ‘Chetarca’, whose influences included classical music, ‘Emerson Lake and Palmer’ and ‘Frank Zappa’ he adapted extremely well to a band with no other soloists (apart from Andrew Vance’s keyboards) offering subtle harmonica solos on quieter songs, exciting flurries on other. Paul was also a versatile singer and a great front man.” Andy Vance reflected, “We were a progressive rock band and Paul’s vocals and versatility on the harmonica gave the band a style of music that was very appealing to a wider audience. I still get enquiries about the music and particularly Paul’s contribution.” Bruce Bryan has fond memories of his time with the band and Paul. He remembered Daryl Braithwaite being asked in an interview who he thought was Australia’s best singer and replying with Paul Lever. Bruce agreed, “He was right. Paul had great range and could put so much emotion into each song.”

Chetarca would go on to support international acts Electric Light Orchestra and Frank Zappa. They were on stage at Sunbury ’75 and were the backing band for Gerry Humphries. The band’s breakup was a bit of a mystery to some of the band members as Bruce Bryan suggests, “Okay, yeah the breakup was kind of a coup, most of us did not see it coming, but Ian Miller did not want to continue and had some artistic differences with some of us. Also he was in Sydney most of the time. Andy also had some marital and health issues, as did Paul, which probably influenced the whole scenario. It wasn’t exactly unfriendly, but a couple of us did feel like we were kept out of the loop and were quite dismayed at the outcome.”

It appears the musical talents of Paul were lost then and there. Paul had issues that were compounded when medicating with alcohol. Bruce felt Paul may have been dyslexic as he had learning difficulties which resulted in a troubled childhood. Bruce stated that, He struggled to express himself in general conversation, but could write lyrics or sing a song that could be almost erudite.” Paul was a printer by trade and moved to Western Australia where he spent three years primarily sober.

Paul returned to Melbourne and in the late nighties was tragically killed crossing the road from a Collingwood Hotel where he had just bought some takeaways. The driver failed to stop.

In finishing I would like to relate this anecdote and insight on Paul provided by Kerryn Tolhurst.

“I remember he was in tears after seeing the movie ‘Midnight Cowboy’. He really related to the Dustin Hoffman character, Ratso Ricco.”

Hear some of Paul’s harp work with Chetarca‘.

Ch SD

PS: Thanks to everyone who went back in time to recall and contribute to Paul’s story.

 

 

 

Kiss This!

5th July, 2019

G’day Riff Raffers,

Revisiting a tune with a catchy harp riff that’s having its thirtieth anniversary and is as good today as it ever was. It continues to mature like a single malt scotch whisky in an old oak barrel.

When Scottish group Del Amitri released their single ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ for the first time the tune lived up to its title barely reaching the Top 60 charts in the United Kingdom. With the successful release of their second album, Waking Hours in 1989 (first self titled came out in 1985 to very little fanfare), the singles re-release went gangbusters and it was hello down under-here we are boys. The song would break the Top 30 in Australia and tours would follow.

‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ wasn’t atypical of the Del Amitri ambience, but instead had all the hallmarks of the American Country Rock genre (perhaps alternative as well, but I’m not sure on my genre classification regulations). The band had travelled the United States in 1986 driving around for twelve weeks with little money, busking and living with fan’s parents. It would be here that the new sounding Del Amitri would have it’s roots. Just on the name Del Amitri, Justin Currie the driving force behind the outfit claims it was meant to be meaningless and just a corruption of the Greek name Demetrius.

‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ is one of Justin’s all time favourites. He attributed this to the recording process handled by Mark Freegard and although it had been arduous the final product was just right. Harmonica Riff Raff has been fortunate in recent times to be in contact with Mark and also the man who blew the signature riff on the song, Julian Dawson. Here are their recollections.

SD: The album Waking Hours was a long time in the making. How did you end up producing this ripper tune?

MF: ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ had previously been produced by David Kershenbaum on album sessions for the Waking Hours album and scrapped (as were all the songs he produced for the album, with the exception of a ‘b’ side ‘Maggie Brown’). I’d been working with producer Hugh Jones as an engineer on re-recordings of ‘Nothing Ever Happens’, ‘Empty’ and ‘Your Gone’ when I received the call to come in as producer-I think due to Hugh’s commitment to other projects at the time.

SD: How did the recording session come together? Were there any issues?

MF: ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’, ‘Stone Cold Sober’ and ‘Opposite View’ were the first songs I attempted to record with Del Amitri at Great Linford Manor. I don’t think the sessions started well. We struggled with electric guitar sounds and nothing seemed to gel. I think out of desperation more than anything we took a more acoustic approach with ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’. We had painstakingly created a backing track of just drums and bass and had tried various electric guitar overdubs to bring the song into focus, but without much success. I think it was when Iain (Harvie) put down some dobro playing the slide riff you hear from the off, that the track started to come to life. From there on in things became much easier and the arrangement took shape relatively swiftly.

SD: Where did the idea for mouth harp on the tune arise?

MF: I’m not sure how Julian came to the session, but we had the idea that a harmonica bouncing off the guitar arrangement with a sort of call and response around the vocal might be a good thing. I remember Julian walking in as this impressive and towering figure (well I am pretty vertically challenged!) and opening an equally impressive suitcase that seemed full of every sort of harmonica possible known to man. We would have briefed him on the sort of approach we envisioned and then just let him do his own thing-probably over five to six takes. I would have comped/edited the best bits together as you can hear on the final version. One of his harmonicas was this incredible bass or baritone (?) enormous thing that produced a fat gorgeous sound. He plays this on the middle eight break (starts 2:47) and it really sounds to me like a baritone saxophone here. Such a wonderful texture.

SD: Is there anything else you’d like to add, perhaps looking back in retrospect, Mark?

MF: Just a few years later (when I worked in America for the first time) I picked up a hire car at San Francisco airport and on the journey across one of the bridges I fiddled with the fm radio, ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye‘ came on and sounded brilliant! This seemed a good omen for the recording I was about to undertake-The Breeders EP ‘Last Splash’ and their single ‘Cannonball’, which did pretty well for them (and me). ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ was a perfect album opener and Julian’s wailing harmonica on the intro sets things up beautifully, I think. This song is right up there on my list of successful production collaborations-a track I’m really proud of having some involvement.

Julian Dawson plays the Blues Burger on the tune. He uses a harmonica in the key of ‘C’ playing in second position. The song has nice step down modulation (key change-down) to ‘F’ from ‘G’ and Julian changes to a ‘Bb’ harp to continue blowing in second position. Here’s Julian’s take on the recording session.

SD: Del Amitri’s ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ was really popular here in Oz, Julian. How did you happen to blow harp on the tune?

JD: I got the gig with Del Amitri via Will Mowatt who did some keyboard work on the album and was a friend of mine in the London session world.

SD: Where did the recording take place?

JD: They were working with Mark Freegard in a residential studio somewhere in the countryside in England. It remains one of my favourite sessions.

SD: How did harp end up on the tune and how did the riff evolve?

JD: I played on a couple of tracks, but only ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ made the album. It was pretty well left up to me what I played and they took my first take, which was gratifying. It all went fairly quickly. I changed the key for the solo and played a rhythm part on the outro nicked from a Jackson Browne album, played by Jimmie Fadden from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band-they faded that bit.

SD: On the songs video clip Justin is miming the harmonica part on a Hohner Super Chromonica. What’s the story there?

JD: When Justin mimed to my performance in the video it caused a bit of a stir with the Musician’s Union and I received a pretty substantial second fee for doing nothing…obviously I’d have preferred to have appeared in the video.

SD: What was your initial reaction to the finished product and do you still see Justin?

JD: It was great to hear it on the radio when it came out and I was amazed that it wasn’t a big fat hit. I really love the song (and the album it’s on), but have only seen Justin once or twice since. I played ‘Kiss This Thing Goodbye’ live with him when he played a gig near where I live a couple of years back. It was an excellent show and I really like him and his music.

SD: What are you up to these days Julian?

JD: If you want to check out my own music you can have a look at my website. I’ve played harp for Gerry Rafferty, Little Feat, Plainsong, Iain Matthews, Charlie Louvin and lots of others, quite apart from my main job as a singer songwriter.

 

“Now I’m watching the fumes foul up the sunrise.

I’m watching the light fade away

and I’m hoping tonight that I’ll open the door

and you’ll stand here and say.

So come on Babe, let’s kiss this thing goodbye.”

 

 

Ch SD

PS: Thanks to Julian and Mark for their time and information. Check out Mark’s webpage here Kyoto.

 

Hogan’s Heroes

5th June, 2019

Hello Riffers,

Here’s a story about a man named Hogan who was busy with five boys of his own, six men all living together, but they were not alone (bit of a mish mash of old TV sitcoms).

Just prior to the turn of the twentieth century a young lad raised in the country town of Naracoorte cherished dreams of future successes. In the beginning life was simple for Keith Macdonald Hogan, the town had all the necessary ingredients for nurture-family, footy, mates and a mouth organ. Naracoorte in South Australia lies midway between Adelaide and Melbourne and the town flourished as an important stopover when gold was discovered in Ballarat. An early association with Dugald Caldwell, journalist with the Narracoorte Herald (the spelling is correct) and a fine musician to boot, provided Keith with the impetus to learn the intricacies of this new instrument in the colonies called the mouth harmonicon (mouth organ). Master Keith conducted and played in a mouth organ band of fifteen local boys under the tutelage of ‘Captain’ Caldwell and performed at various musical events including the town’s Christmas Eve soirée of 1904.

Keith left school for employment at the Caldwell’s newspaper as a compositor. These weren’t his only passions as he also exhibited exceptional talent on the park as an Australian Rules footballer. He even created his own team in 1907, the Warrior Football Club, who would compete in classic and brutal showdowns with the other local Naracoorte team. At their inaugural meeting of the Warrior Football Club Keith was duly elected captain of the team. In 1912 the Warrior Football Club was dissolved (they were back in 1914) and a three team Naracoorte Football Association was formed. Keith captained the Centrals to the first ever premiership and played a blinder. In the same year he packed his kit bag and headed to Border Town, the Narracoorte Herald reported, “….the club had lost the services of Keith Hogan, one of the founders of the club and one of the most brilliant footballers in the South-East.” (Tuesday, 16 April, 1912)

Eventually Keith would settle down and raise a family. He found employment at the Islington Railway Workshops (pictured) near his family abode-a timber cottage at three Kintore Avenue, Chicago (suburb of Adelaide). Here he and Mrs Hogan would raise five boys, Keith the oldest born on the 24th September 1917, Gordon next on the 5th of December 1918, Stephen born on the 28th October 1920, Ray on the 15th December 1922 and James the youngest in 1924. Gordon John Macdonald Hogan would be the first baptism held at the Hogan’s new Methodist Church just up the road in Kintore Avenue in a hall purchased from the Free Gardeners Lodge. The sacrament of baptism was provided by the residing minister, the Reverend E. Ingamells. Music would be at the forefront of their upbringing and what better instrument of choice for a large family that was both economical and easily transportable, but the humble mouth organ. All the boys participated in the Methodist Junior Endeavour program where they entertained at services with solos on their pocket harps.

img_2832In the year of 1925 Keith senior ventured to the Coliseum in South Street Ballarat to compete in the Boomerang sponsored National Mouth Organ Championship. Percival Spouse would be crowned the winner by adjudicator Gustav Slapoffski (love the name). Keith (arrowed with his Boomerang De Luxe) would win the ‘Best Imitation’ section scoring maximum points. Gustav’s critique on his performance read, “K M Hogan’s imitation of brass band, church organ and mandolin, great dexterity, organ quite good, tremolo good (a comedian).”

Keith Senior was way ahead of his times in 1927 when he performed a chromatic mouth organ selection on Adelaide radio 5KA, probably on the Hohner model (pictured). More expensive than their diatonic counterparts, they were available for purchase from around 1925 (maybe earlier) and this model featured the new and improved leaf styled slide that was mounted on the outside. Hohner’s Chromonica their next improved model, with an internal spring system arrived a little later. Noted Australian harmonica author and historian Ray Grieve supported my presumption that Keith must have been one of the first chromatic exponents in the land with, “Would have to be Shep. Hohner’s Chromatic Harmonica came out in the mid 1920s. Kurt (Jacob) said that they weren’t all that popular but there must have been a few sold of course. Hogan definitely one of the earliest.” Chromatic harmonicas didn’t really take off in Australia until Larry Adler’s visit to our shores in 1938-39, although momentum had been created with release of his recordings in 1935. The Barrier Miner reported in 1927 on Keith’s outstanding skills with, “He demonstrated how to play a trio or duet on the instrument and showed the possibilities of playing in octaves on a single reed instrument. He also rendered a tune in three different keys on a natural key instrument without anyway marring it.” (Barrier Miner 17 September, 1927) Just six letters gollygeewowee!

Keith formed a family mouth organ band with his sons and one ring-in a friend of the the boys, Gordon Thomas (an early version of the Partridge Family). They were in constant demand gaining considerable concert experience on their journey. James, the youngest refused to take the stage in one contest. He had been severely traumatised by a previous meeting with a black and white minstrels act (I won’t print the actual name of the minstrels) and he didn’t want to cross their paths again (clowns were fine). Ray was a serious performer who refused to play at a local music store because, in his words, “I only perform at contests!” At a competition in Mt. Gambier an elderly Irish gentleman offered Steve money to perform a solo. Displaying business acumen way beyond his years, as first cab off the rank he blew, ‘The Wearing Of The Green’ (always a good tune for the repertoire). At the conclusion, a voice rich in Irish brogue from the auditorium exclaimed, rather ungenerously for the other contestants, “the rest of you need not play, Steve has won!”

In 1929 Keith senior was bestowed with the honour of State Mouth Organ champion winning with a score of 86/100 and beating a red hot field, A Merrett was second with 82 and H Colmer third with 81. The adjudicator from Victoria was Mr. Virginius Lorimer. Keith’s prize £5/5 and a gold medal was presented by Albert’s representatives.

The following year the Hogan’s suburb of Chicago would be renamed. Post had been a problem with local mail ending up in Illinois and not at the local Post Office agency in Kintore Avenue. The other major issue for constituents was the names association with gangsters and death. Many replacement names were put forward, Makinville, Suburbia, Killarney, Hollywood, Northview, Homeville, Fiveville, Islington Park, Baroka, Wurrook, Braeville and Mapleton. The vote was counted and Chicago became Kilburn, the name derived from the adjoining subdivision. There was some fallout with one resident outlining that the gangsters of Chicago would kill their victims and then burn them so they could not be identified.

Keith (Junior), Gordon, Ray and Stephen would enlist and serve the country in WWII. Both Stephen and Ray in the RAAF. Stephen rose to the rank of Flight Sergeant and Ray, Leading Air-Craftsman. Ray was a member of the local RSL sub-branch in Kilburn. He would perform duties in his roles as Secretary and then President and received life membership after fifteen years of active involvement. Ray lived a short dash away from the RSL with his wife Dorothy (née Bolton) at 19 Kintore Avenue.

Young Keith married local girl Lita Jones and relocated to his Dad’s old stomping ground, Naracoorte. He had graduated in carriage building at the local technical school in Kilburn and would use his newfound skills at the railway workshops in Naracoorte. Keith was more than an accomplished musician playing multiple instruments, including the baritone that he’s pictured holding here with the Naracoorte Municipal Band. He was a popular attendee at local dances tickling the ivories and showcasing his band and orchestra. Each and every Christmas Keith’s father would visit his son and former town, especially doting on his granddaughter Judith Ann (perfectly understandable having raised five boys).

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in regards to athletic prowess either. Gordon inherited his father’s football endowments. He joined the local club in Kilburn known as the Chics an abbreviation from their Chicago football club origins. Gordon was an integral member of the Premiership team of 1937.

So talented was he that that South Australian National Football League (SANFL) club North Adelaide (Roosters) drafted him the following year. Kilburn premiership teammate John Summersides would follow Gordon to the Roosters not long after. In an interrupted career Gordon would play fifty nine official senior games and kick fifteen goals over a period of ten years. In his first season he was voted Best Backman. In the Annual report of that year it stated, “Gordon Hogan showed that he is a backman of real class; his displays at full back were characterised with steadiness and purpose.” In 1939 he was awarded Best Utility and in 1941 Best Backman once more even though he didn’t play in all games. During WWII the SANFL was disbanded, however combined teams were formed and Gordon who had been discharged early from the forces was a significant member of the Norwood-North Adelaide combine teams of 1942, 1943 and 1944-playing in twenty seven games and drifting forward kicking two sneaky goals (these games and goals weren’t included in his North Adelaide official totals). In the Grand Final of ’44 Gordon was right in the thick of it, which was highlighted in this report, “Once again we were destined to meet the Port-Torrens combination to decide the premiership, and with players of the calibre of Oatey, Lush, Schmelzhopf and Cearns out of action, our prospects did not appear too rosy, however, our losses were, to some extent, counter-balanced by the return of Gordon Hogan and Stan Hancock, and how they rose to the occasion is now history.” The combine were Premiers in the latter two years and in 1944 having finished on the bottom of the ladder (only four combined teams) after the minor rounds their rise to take the flag was meteoric. Gordon’s work as a painter resulted in a shift to the panoramic fishing town of Port Lincoln in the following year. In 1946 newly formed Lincoln South (Eagles) appointed Gordon as Captain Coach. He left mid season as North Adelaide were desperate to regain his experience and with work granting him extended leave he returned to the big smoke and the best competition in the State. In 1949 North Adelaide football club honoured Gordon with life membership in recognition of long and meritorious service. Gordon’s love and indebtedness to North Adelaide FC was ongoing. He was a founding member and honorary treasurer of the Port Lincoln branch of the Roosters organising many a riotous function for club members situated in the Eyre Peninsula. Gordon also contributed to the local community by umpiring in the local league and painting the name of the racecourse on a sign at the track (Ravendale Park). His interests in racing didn’t end there, at the local the Hotel Boston he was the SP Bookie-that was until he was caught by the local constabulary. In the 1962 North Adelaide Annual Report there were several mentions of Gordon’s sudden passing (aged 43), “The tragic passing of ‘Goog’ Hogan”, “Shock and sadness attended the notification at the sudden passing” and “A tragedy overcame the Club in the passing of ‘Goog’ Hogan-a great chap and a great player, and his untimely passing is a blow we could ill afford to have.”

Then there’s Ray Macdonald Hogan (apologies to Stephen and James as I couldn’t resource your grand deeds on this mortal coil). Ray could run like the wind. A late-comer to competive athletics. He joined local amateur athletic club Western Districts at the age of nineteen. The club embraced Ray and on his wedding day provided a unique arch of spiked running shoes for the bride and groom as they left the Pirie Street Methodist church on December 23 1944. Within a short stretch of time Ray had strung a number of consecutive victories that would have made Winx (Australian Racehorse Champion) envious and in 1941 he broke the club record for the mile running a 52.2. He was selected to represent South Australia in the Australian National Championships in 1947 held at the Leederville oval in Perth. In the 100 yards he ran a solid fourth in his heat clocking 10.2 narrowly missing the final. In the 220 yards he finished fifth in his heat recording a time of 22.8. The following year he missed State selection, but fellow club members funded his trip to Melbourne (held at the St. Kilda Cricket Ground), where to his credit he made the final of the 220 yards.

A young boy’s dreams can come to fruition as can a father’s desire for his son(s) to fulfil their God given talents too. They do make you proud!

Ch SD

PS: Here’s Keith Hogan’s tip for beginners, “….beginners must exercise patience in learning to produce a clear note. ….it is essential that the tongue be placed on the front of the instrument to smother all the holes except the one from which the sound is to be emitted. It is most difficult to play an air which requires a clean note, but if the tongue is correctly employed the result is satisfactory. ….also desist from playing vamp like sounds between each note in soft passages.”

roostersThanks to Barry Dolman from the North Adelaide Football Club for his efforts in providing extra information on Gordon and in particular the access to the Annual Reports. It was really appreciated. Go Roosters!

Goanna Man Of Mystery

7th April, 2019

Hi Riff Raffers,

Within my substantial vinyl record collection there is a twelve inch extended play by ‘The Goanna Band’ titled, ‘Living On The Razor’s Edge’. Released in 1979 there was a limited print of 500 (maybe 1000?). It was produced by Broderick Smith on the Custom Press label a subsidiary of EMI. Two of the four tunes were reworked on Goanna’s (band name was shortened to Goanna) highly successful debut long play release of 1982, ‘Spirit Of Place’ and another appeared later on their follow up album of 1985, ‘Oceania’. The tune that has never seen light of day again is ‘Sometimes’ which has harmonica blown by first named band member, Ian Morrison. Ian also sings lead on this song. Who is this mystery Goanna man? His name pops up again on the liner notes as co-writing ‘Living On The Razor’s Edge’.

The Goanna Band evolved from humble beginnings back in ‘sleepy hollow’, the country town of Geelong in 1977. They had emerged from a folk trio named The Ecto-Plasmic Manifestation Concert Band whose three members were students of Deakin University and included Shane Howard from Dennington. The Goanna Band had an ongoing residency at the ‘Argyle’ hotel where they would play Shane’s originals, but also cover a couple of Dingoes classics, the Kerryn Tolhurst penned ‘Singing Your Song’ (a personal favourite) and ‘Goin Down Again’. Kerryn had a strong connection with the band over the journey. Playing the ‘band in the hand’ on the Dingoes tunes was Ian ‘Morrie’ Morrison perhaps emulating his idol Broderick Smith. Brod even provides backing vocals on the EP’s title track. The band was managed by Ian ‘King Of The Coast’ Lovell who owned the Eureka hotel in Geelong. Later, at the Eureka, a fledgling Goanna would support Cold Chisel who were on a National tour promoting the 1979 ‘Breakfast At Sweethearts’ album.

In May 1981, Shane on Doctors advice took time off and ventured to Uluru (Ayres Rock). Here, close to ancestral spirits, an awakening occurred which later would manifest itself into the writing of an Australian classic. A significant event occurred around this time which raised their stocks, they supported James Taylor on his national tour in 1981. From there they signed to the WEA (Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) record label and an album was in the making. ‘Spirit Of Place’ was chock full of top tunes from the anthemic hit single ‘Solid Rock’ (which WEA were reluctant to release as the lead single), the melodic follow up single ‘Razors’s Edge’ right to the rocking finale ‘Children Of The Southern Land’. The reworked ‘Razor’s Edge’ (also with a shortened title) featured Ross Hannaford on lead guitar and Ross Wilson on backing vocals. Goanna reached the lofty heights within the fickle music industry quickly, maybe too quickly, however a band with a message about our nation and it’s heritage was just what the doctor ordered. I met Shane briefly in 1982 at ‘Goanna Manor’ a two story building in St. Kilda just opposite the ‘Junction’ oval-the home of the mighty lions (Fitzroy Football Club). He was shy, friendly, very humble and gracious. Recently I asked Shane about the writing of ‘Razor’s Edge’ and the mystery Goanna man Ian Morrison. Shane responded,“Living On The Razor’s Edge is an old song. I wrote it when I was hitchhiking up the East Coast of Australia back in 1975. Many years later, Ian Morrison, who was in Goanna, added the lyrics for the the third verse, Lulu’s too tired of living down beside Torquay. She’s getting herself together, financially. She says, One of these days I’m just goin’ to lie in the Sun, But right now I’m wondering if that day ever comes. Ian lives in Geelong and works in Melbourne.” In 1979 the last part of the third verse was sung as, ‘She’s gonna have a holiday and lie down in the sun. Well I don’t really know (yeah), but I’d say she’s on the run.’

It was interesting to look back at old footage for the mystery Goanna man. Couldn’t see him at ‘The Venue’ in September 1982 when Solid Rock was belted out, but hang on there he is singing, front and square on the Kerryn Tolhurst penned ‘Underfoot, Underground’ (features on the remastered deluxe version of ‘Spirit Of Place’). Viewing Countdown in 1983 there he is strumming an acoustic guitar (was it plugged in?) on ‘Razor’s Edge’. Was Ian at the Myer Music Bowl for the ‘Stop The Drop’ concert? Yep. There he was stage left dancing and providing backing vocals on ‘That Day Is Coming Sooner’ (sooner than you think). Hanna’s there too.

Shane and Ian must have been close buddies. In 1984 they travelled overseas together visiting Europe and the United States. The ‘Goanna’ boys searched LA for Billy Payne, former keyboard player for ‘Little Feat’ (in the early days they covered some of their tunes) to produce their follow up album. They had met Billy earlier on the James Taylor tour. Initially Mark Knopfler was tendered for the position, however he became unavailable due to commitments with his band ‘Dire Straits’. With Billy on board ‘Oceania’ was in the making. The album was considered by many as a failure. It never had a chance, it could never measure up to the debut album. Shane reflected later, we tried to change and stop being too commercial, but we changed too much and it failed.” (Canberra Times, 8th December, 1988). Not sure if Shane was referring to the first album being commercial (I wouldn’t have thought so) or the tunes that followed, but it was a shame that ‘That Day Is Coming Sooner’ a single they recorded in 1983 wasn’t represented on the new album. The band toured intensively promoting the album spending enormous energy and money. They would never recover. By 1985 Shane suffered a breakdown leaving his wife and four children and the band. He eventually would reside in a caravan at the Gulf Of Carpentaria sorting out his thoughts and place in the cosmos. His return to mainstream existence would not be for another three years.

Shane on his comeback trail released a warts and all solo album ‘Back To The Track’. The title track was a cracker, an up tempo tune featuring Steve Gilbert on the mouth harp. This would be the first tune since ‘Sometimes’ that we would see Shane combine again with the most owned instrument in the world. A few more solo albums would see Shane pair with some of Australia’s harmonica royalty. Jim Conway in his own inimitable style blows harp on ‘Without You’ from the 1990 ‘River’ album and Chris Wilson wails away on the cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Silvio’ on the 1993 album ‘Time Will Tell’. Shane even has a crack in a rack, Bob Dylan style on tunes throughout his solo catalogue. Okay! I hear you ask what about ‘Morrie’. Not sure he was involved in any of Shane’s solo projects, however he returns on Goanna’s 1998 album, ‘Spirit Returns’ (Kerryn Tolhurst produced) singing backing vocals. ‘What Else Is A Life’ is a ripper tune from this hard to obtain release. The last we knew of Ian Morrison was as a ‘Lobby Ambassador’ for ‘The Westin’ Hotel (part of the ‘Marriot’ group) in Melbourne.

Ch SD

Postscript: You may notice the plane identification on the wing of the ‘Razors Edge’ single (seen above) is FRE-DDY. This relates to the unusual disappearance of twenty year old pilot Frederick Valentich in October of 1978 in the Bass Strait ‘Triangle’. Goanna believed he had been living on the razors edge. The story held some significance for me as the airport he flew from was only minutes from my family residence and Frederick was only a year older than myself. If it was a hoax, as many maintained at the time, it’s strange that to this day there is still no sight of the plane or Freddy. Funny sort of hoax!

Here’s the final part of Fred’s radio transcript with flight service.

9:11:52 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet – The engine is, is rough idling. —I’ve got it set at twenty three—twenty four… and the thing is—coughing.

9:12:04 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet—Roger. What are your intentions?

9:12:09 DSJ FS My intentions are—ah… to go to King Island—Ah, Melbourne, that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again //open microphone for two seconds// it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft. 9:12:22 FS DSJ Delta Sierra Juliet.

9:12:28 DSJ FS Delta Sierra Juliet—Melbourne //open microphone for 17 seconds// [A very strange pulsed noise is also audible during this transmission.]

Over & Out!

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.

Ah! Fosters-He’s Got The Flavour

6th February, 2019

Hi Riff Raffers,

Greg Foster is more than an accomplished harmonica exponent and yet for some reason he goes under the radar when we discuss the best Australian harp players.

His extensive body of work with Jazz super group ‘Galapagos Duck’ alone is testimony enough to his proficiency as a musician, songwriter, performer and particularly as a master harp man.

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Greg first came to the author’s attention with the eleven piece band, SCRA (Southern Contemporary Rock Assembly) and with their Sunbury Festival anthem, ‘Roly Poly’, which featured Greg on his other main instrument, the trombone (he also plays the didgeridoo and flute). A later single, ‘Sydney Born Man’ witnessed Greg blowin’ the mouth harp.

Greg’s fascination with the instrument that fits in your waistcoat pocket began as an eight year old lad listening to his older brother’s Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee records. His forlorn attempts at replicating Sonny’s riffs finally came to fruition with the knowledge that Sonny was playing in cross position (second position-where the key of the harmonica is a perfect fourth above the key of the tune). From that insight Greg went on and tutored himself on the most owned instrument in the world.

Greg for as long as he could remember wanted to play the trombone and to play jazz. An inheritance from his Dad spinning Fats Waller LP’s on the family’s gramophone. At high school Greg joined the cadet band and completed six years under the new Wyndham scheme in New South Wales. He studied music as his elective and successfully finished his sixth and seventh grade practicals from scratch. Greg graduated with a diploma of music at the esteemed Sydney Conservatorium and would perform in their orchestra (in 1993 Greg was a featured soloist with The Sydney Symphony Orchestra).

In the 1960’s he would sit in on Bob Barnard’s band in George street Sydney where he began developing his craft. Greg’s first tilt as a member of a band was with the ‘Harbour City Jazz Band’. His next jaunt was with rock’n’roll group, ‘Heart ‘n’ Soul’ another eleven piece outfit, who would try anything. They have the honour of being the first rock band with a brass section in Australia. In the 1980’s, ‘Hunters and Collectors’ kept this tradition in the forefront of popular music. ‘Heart ‘n’ Soul’ recorded an album in 1971 and their single, ‘Hot Boogie Band’ penned by Greg and featuring his harp work was promoted by their record label ‘Infinity’ alongside ‘Chain’s’, Black & Blue. Then, after his sojourn with ‘SCRA’, in 1976 Greg joined the prestigious, ‘Galapagos Duck’. The band had formed in 1969 and were loosely known as ‘Robbers Dog’ when performing at their residency at Charlottes Pass, a chalet in Kosciusko.img_1336

The derivation of the band’s name, ‘Galapagos Duck’ traces back to ‘Goon’, Spike Milligan. Spike, a trumpet player and lover of jazz became friends of the band when they played at ‘The Rocks Push’ in Sydney. The band would follow owner, Bruce Viles across the road to ‘The Basement’ as their resident band. Spike often sat in with the band when on one of his frequent trips to Australia. When asked by a punter the name of the band, he replied, sounds like a Galapagos Duck”. A quirky response, but that’s Spike being Spike and he had just written a script for the Goon Show that included an auction of a Giant Galapagos Turtle on wheels. It was around this time the last Giant turtle named ‘Lonely George’ had been discovered. It is also said that one of the many props at The Basement’ was a large chocolate wheel and when spun the clapper sounded like a duck quacking. Spike’s regard for the group is proclaimed in this quote, Galapagos Duck are the sort of group which play the sort of musicwhich if you haven’t heard them for four years, and hear them again, they’re still ahead. They play the music, man. And they play it great.”

Greg’s percussive technique on the ten hole tin can by using tongue articulation was a distinct feature of his and probably evolved from his trombone playing. When I enquired about the difference between blues and Jazz harp Greg stated, there is no distinct jazz harp, it’s blues harp played in a jazz setting”. He continued emphasising that, I wouldn’t use the harmonica unless the tune had a blues influencebut there would be an interpretive differenceI would use the whole harpblow bends at the top end and sucking draw notes at the other end.” Greg’s harmonica of choice was Hohner’s top of the diatonic range the ‘Meisterklasse’. I’ve posted a taste of Greg’s harp work here, ‘Fosters .

Greg’s harp featured on Digby Richards’ 1972 album, ‘Harlequin’ you can hear one of the tunes, here, ‘Ashton. He also blew three notes on Paul O’Gorman’s 1977 song of the year and best song at the Tokyo International Song Festival of the same year, ‘Ride Ride America’. When I asked why just three notes half way through the tune, Paul responded with,  I’m not really sure why harmonica was added. It just felt right at the point where it came in. It always felt a nice touch that briefly changed the colour of the track and was symbolic of the early days in the USA.” I’ll post a grab of this soon. Here tis ‘Ride

Ah Foster’s harmonica he’s got the flavour. That makes life worth living.

Ch SD

PS: International festivals the ‘Duck’ have performed in: Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Jazz Yatra Festival in Bombay (Mumbai), Musexpo in U.S.A, Manilla Jazz Festival in the Phillipines,Singapore International Jazz Festival, Queenstown Jazz Festival in New Zealand, Norfolk Island Jazz Festival, Lord Howe Island, Vanuatu Jazz Festival.

Albums: 1974-Ebony Quill, 1974-The Removalist, 1976-St. James, 1976-Moomba Jazz (Live recording of various artists), 1977-Magnum, 1978-Right On Cue, 1979-In Flight, 1981-This Time, 1983-Voyage of The Beagle, 1985-Endangered Species, 1989-Habitat, 1997-Lonely George, 2006-Out Of The Blue, 2015-The Other Side Of The Mirror

By Dingoes

January 17, 2019

Hello there Riff Raffers,

 My mother said I was an animal for my wild and wicked ways. My father said I was an animal cos I would not wash for days. My girlfriend said I was a dog and I guess she oughta know. A man’s best friend in human form I’m a D-I-N-G-O.” (Ross Wilson)

If you were unsure of the spelling of Canis lupus dingo, Australia’s wild canine, Ross Wilson penned a tune for Aussie seminal band, ‘The Dingoes’ to help you. For the record Dingo is spelt D,I,N,G,O, Ross is correct. Nomenclature spelling can be difficult at the best of times, so Ross’ efforts are appreciated. Even the President of America has issues and also with the linguistic process of correct writing with the necessary letters and diacritics present in a comprehensible, standardised order. He spelt forest with two r’s not once, but twice in the same tweet a week or so ago. The etymology of the name Dingo emanates from the now extinct language of indigenous Australians located near Port Jackson and was recorded by Watkin Tench as the name for the wild Australian dog in his 1789 narrative. A dingo bitch was known by the locals as a Tingo. That’s spelt T,I,N,G,O.

Dingo band member, Kerryn Tolhurst, recently explained to me the origins of the tune: “I ran into Ross (Wilson) one day and he told me he had a song for us. So I went around to his house with my mandolin and we worked on it together, although it was his song. It was suggested we include it on the first album, but we thought it was a bit obvious. We did, however perform it live on stage.” Indeed they did! At the third Sunbury Rock Festival In 1974 Brod wentoff his chopsor as Kerryn proclaimed, “Brod really made a meal of the harp on the recording.” And we are all the better for it and so say all of us. Grab two bob out of the till and get yourself a cigar Brod.

A $3.99 album purchased from ‘Brashs’ entitled, ‘ Highlights Of Sunbury ’74 Part 1’ documents this energetic performance and is, as far as I can tell, the only recording of the song. Brod is blowing an ‘F’ tuned harp in cross position. I have posted the intro with a wee bonus on YouTube hear here, ‘Dingo’. The article pictured above (part thereof from the ‘Tharunka’ Tuesday 4th 0ctober, 1977) of the Dingo pack was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors (see how many you can find). Ross obviously didn’t edit the piece. We can be a little forgiving as it is a student publication of the University of New South Wales.

Ch SD

Postscript: Enjoy Geoff Pryor’s 1981 ‘Dingo’ cartoon below – they had a bad name there for a while. 

R.I.P Chris Wilson, Australia’s Blues Harmonica Legend. A tribute here CW.

A Man Called Uncle

9th January 2019

Hi Riff Raffers,

Legendary axeman Kevin Borich only knew him as Uncle. When the ‘Kevin Borich Express’ played gigs in Adelaide, Kev would invite Uncle on stage to jam, such were the skills of this long haired, bearded man with wild eyes, on the most owned instrument in the world. In 1977 the stars aligned when the ‘Express’ were recording their debut album, ‘Celebration’ in Melbourne, Uncle was also in town. Just over half way into the seven minute title track he blew a second position harp solo in the key of ‘A flat’. KB always has his guitar tuned down a half step. Kevin on re-listening to the tune some forty odd years later suggested, We could have had him a bit louder. He did some serious wailing up there in the high register where I hadn’t heard anyone go before.” Hear the harp solo here, ‘Celebration’. I’ve cranked it up a wee bit. Kevin went on to say that, “he was a loveable character pioneering the amp/harp equation.” Who was this man called Uncle and where was he from?

Lets travel back in time, to the year 1968 maybe before he was known as Uncle. The man in question resided in North Shore Sydney. He regularly frequented the Sydney night club scene and in particular the ‘Whisky a Go Go’ in the ‘Cross’. He would arrive with the a case full of harps ready for the opportunity of a late night jam with resident band the ‘Levi Smith Clefs’. He would simply introduce himself to the band as Uncle. Uncle eventually joined Sydney based blues band ‘Copperwine’, but after their jaunt in Adelaide he would abscond and remain behind seeking asylum in the city of churches.

It didn’t take long before an invitation arrived to blow with the band ‘Fraternity’, due to his connection with the ‘Levi Smith Clefs’ as former members had relocated to their home town. The band resided in the Adelaide hills at the prestigious Hemmings Farm owned by entrepreneurial millionaire and promoter, Hamish Henry. The band had already achieved a hit in Adelaide with their version of John Robinson’s (‘Blackfeather’s’ guitarist who had often jammed with the ‘Clefs’), ‘Seasons Of Change’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An iconic recording as it features singer Bon Scott (later to be ‘AC/DC’s’ vocalist), playing recorder. The single didn’t achieve the same lofty heights in the nation’s other states – ‘Blackfeather’s’ label (Infinity) reneged on their promise of not releasing the song after witnessing ‘Fraternity’s’ success. With Uncle now on board (how did he receive this moniker) they entered and won the Hoadley’s ‘Battle Of The Sounds’ and with it a trip to England. Bon and Uncle got on like a house on fire, partly because of their common desire to go ‘upstairs’ (‘Fraternity’ speak for being out of it, on acid and other hallucinatorys, to go ‘downstairs’ was to get pissed on cheap South Australian brandy). Uncle’s harmonica rig at this time consisted of a shell of an old radiogram with a ‘JBL’ inside. It had a dry sound with little bottom or reverb, but golly gee wowee did it look cool. Uncle would get close to the speaker and use the feedback to augment the tune (and in key).

With the release of their second LP entitled ‘Flaming Galah’, Uncles’ identity was revealed inside the gatefold cover with a mugshot as John Eyers (it’s often spelt as Ayers). ‘Fraternity’ recorded a three track single in Melbourne with the ‘A’ side, ‘If You Got It’ featuring a nice Uncle riff. Hear a quick riff lesson by yours truly here, ‘Uncle’ (Harp key ‘A’). The song had been penned under the influence by John Bisset (song however is credited to the band). Their first rehearsal and shaping of the tune was when they were all ‘upstairs’ on magic mushrooms. Uncle had modelled his harp style on Magic Dick from the ‘J Geils Band’, especially his jazz phrasing. Uncle also performed a live version of their 1971 tune ‘Whammer Jammer’ a harmonica instrumental credited to Juke Joint Jimmy. This was another pseudonym for Magic Dick whose real name happens to be Richard Salwitz. After two albums, three singles and an unsuccessful stint in the UK, which may have been detrimental to their longevity, ‘Fraternity’ was no longer.

Remnants of Fraternity re-emerged in 1980 as a blues/rock outfit named ‘Mickey Finn’ with Uncle leading on vocals and harp. It was here Uncle would pioneer the use of a ‘Delta Lab Effectron Unit’ with a twenty decibel gain and a doubling effect called ‘Slap’.

Mickey Finn recorded a self titled album and lifted two singles, however it was somewhat of a disappointment as it failed to capture their live brilliance. Uncle disappeared from the music scene, but at some point he returned recording live gigs for bands. Swanee (John Swan) recalled that at one time he was driving Taxis.

The man they called Uncle was one of the finest blues/rock harmonica players this country has ever produced. God bless you John Eyers wherever you are.

Ch SD

Auditory Perception

14th December, 2018

Hello Riff Raffers,

The singer’s song will not be heard if the applause is much too loud.” (Glenn Shorrock)

Some tunes are never destined for greatness if the measure is by chart success or record sales. Without airplay what chance does it have to be a ‘chart buster’? I’m always bemused by the critics’ label of ‘one hit wonders’. When you look at their body of work they can have many fine intricate, structured tunes pleasurable to the aural senses. What is the essence of making a hit? I would suggest having the disc spun on the radio is integral. Then it’s over to the punters. They say music is in the lug hole of the listener. The lyrics penned above were by songwriter and ‘Little River Band’ frontman, Glenn Shorrock and he’s suggesting that creativity is more important than celebrity. The lyrics are taken from ‘Will You Stand With Me’, a most underrated song from Glenn’s 1982 solo album, ‘Villain Of The Peace’.

I find some irony in that this song wasn’t the lead single to push the album. Rock ‘n’ Roll Soldier’ was the first single lifted off the album and it climbed to number 39 in the ‘Top 40’. The second single was a Brian Cadd tune, ‘Angry Words’ with ‘Will You Stand By Me’ relegated to the ‘B’ side. It had no chance of making it big and yet Glenn had the power and influence he didn’t have in ‘LRB’ to lead off with it. The esteemed Australian Rock Historian, Glenn A Baker when reviewing the album for ‘Countdown’ magazine suggested that, ‘Will You Stand With Me’ was, easily the best cutand that’s after praising the album as a masterpiece. Even ‘Sharky’ (Glenn Shorrock) rates it up there with the best he’s ever written.

The album’s title is a play on words that represent where Glenn had pictured his standing in the ‘Little River Band’. His acrimonious exit from the band appears to be a result of three excellent songwriters endeavouring to have their tunes feature on the latest album. The artists standing with Glenn on the album are the whose who of American Country Rock. There are representatives from, ‘The Band’, ‘Little Feat’, ‘The Eagles’ and from the ‘Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’, Jimmie Fadden, who provides the mouth harp (key of ‘C’) on, ‘Will You Stand With Me’. David Lindley plays Dobro on the tune. You can hear here, ‘Sharky’.

Sharky himself has been known on occasion (well at least once) to remove the ‘Mississippi Saxophone’ from his waistcoat pocket. On ‘Little River Band’s’ inaugural album in 1975 it sees him blowing a few notes (primarily draw five and draw two on a ‘D’ harp) on his tune, ‘Statue Of Liberty’. The song had it’s beginnings in 1968 after Glenn had viewed, ‘Planet Of The Apes’ in the cinema. So inspired by the ending he wrote, Statue Of Liberty Standing in the Harbour. This is America we try a Little Harder. The song matured like a fine wine and an early version was played in 1971 by ‘Axiom’, with Brian Cadd tickling the ivories on the ABC’s television show, ‘GTK’. It has been posted recently on YouTube. When Glenn was a member of ‘Esperanto’ in 1973 they recorded a version on their album, ‘Esperanto Rock Orchestra’. Both these versions were inferior to ‘LRB’s’ as there was an absence of harmonica. Of course I would say that. In summation, the true worth of a song is in its intrinsic, artistic qualities and should never be measured on chart position or other adventitious properties.

Keep On Chooglin’ SD

Postscript: Look out for Glenn’s new album in 2019, ‘Glenn Shorrock Sings Little River Band’ live in studio and keep an eye and an ear out for a wee ‘Chrissy’ present on Soundcloud in the next few days. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2019.

The Gene Genius

27th November, 2018

Hi Riff Raffers,

 “The Jean Genie lives on his back. The Jean Genie laughs in his daks.”

Another mondegreen, a misheard lyric by yours truly on David Bowie’s 1972 hit, ‘Jean Genie’, that features David blowing a bit of sixties style harp. Now that I have your attention I’d like to pass on a story about a young lad of Australian heritage, who was a wizard on the harmonica back in the fifties. His name is Gene Jimae.

img_0617From the age of five till his twelfth birthday Gene traveled the world, had numerous appearances on television and stage shows, played with some of the biggest bands in the world, wrote several compositions, recorded an album and owned a record label. However his teenage years are somewhat of a mystery with no mention of Gene again until his tragic death in 1961. A paragraph in the ‘Fort Pierce News Tribune’ reported the accident: Gene N Jimae, 18 of OpaLocka was killed early Sunday when his car went out of control at high speed and overturned.” His late model convertible, driven by Gene was travelling at one hundred miles per hour and flipped over four times on State Road Nine.

Gene Walter Nelson Jimae was born to parents George Walter Nelson Jimae, an American magician and Australian mother Joan Mary Jimae (née Haskell) in 1943. It may have been in Detroit, Michigan, but I couldn’t retrieve any documentation to support this. There was a fair bit going on in Detroit during that year with the infamous ‘Race Riots’.

George Jimae went under his stage name of Jim Jimae (sometimes James). He was the son of a wealthy businessman who was Vice President of the ‘Timken Roller Bearing Company Of America’. He ran away from home at the age of twelve frustrated with what was reported as “parental control”. Jim eventually ended up in Broadway at Schubert’s theatre as a ‘call boy’ (stagehand). Here he learned adagio dancing (partner acrobatics), but he gave this away and joined the US Navy Academy in Annapolis. In 1925 he would visit the shores of Australia with an American fleet. At some point Jim suffered multiple injuries from a failed parachute drop from 44,000 feet. He would spend twelve months recuperating in hospital where he taught himself sleight of hand magic tricks, using cards, cigarettes and other articles. A life in vaudeville awaited.

In 1938 Jim returned to Australia this time as part of the Tivoli circuit. He became acquainted with dancer, Joan Mary Haskell from Matraville, Sydney. It was love at first sight and within five weeks they were married at St. Stephen’s Church (just down the road from the theatre where they were required for a matinee show immediately after the ceremony). Joan was barely eighteen, Jim slightly older by twelve years. Joan had been dancing on the Sydney Professional stage since she was six. Best man was Australian baritone singer, Albert Chappelle and in the congregation were world professional wrestlers, Sammy Stein, ‘Rowdy’ Rudy La Ditzi, Ray Steele and Paul Jones all friends of the groom. An interesting sidelight to the wedding was the bride and groom’s reference to Jim’s Dad. Jim cracked, the old man performed when I went on the stage, but I didn’t take much notice.” Joan referenced, I always wanted to marry an actor and I’m not afraid of my Father-in- Law.”

The newlyweds would leave that Christmas to live in America. Five years later their only son Gene was born. As soon as he could walk he was blowing a toy harmonica. By four he was playing popular tunes of the day. He could do a pretty handy rendition of Cole Porter’s, ‘Begin the Beguine’. His parents bought his first professional harmonica for his fifth birthday and five months later he appeared on American Television. Bandsman, Paul Whiteman was so taken with him that he nominated Gene for a nationwide television competition. Gene duly won and was anointed with the title, ‘Worlds Youngest Harmonica Soloist’. He featured on several television shows including Ed Sullivan’s, ‘Toast Of The Town’ and performed on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on multiple occasions. Gene became the youngest member of the ‘American Society Of Composers’ at the age of nine and by the age of twelve had thirty compositions registered. Gene had been backed by some of the biggest bands going round, Paul Whiteman, Johnny Long, Ray Bloch, David Rose, the Dorsey Brothers, Enoch Light, the Philadelphia Philharmonic and Louis Prima. He traveled the world performing in Europe, South Africa, New Zealand and in 1953 he ventured down under. Gene arrived as part of the Tivoli circuit and was high on the bill for David Martin’s show, ‘Take It From Me’. His set ranged from Gershwin’s, ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ to Jerry Murad’s Harmonicat’s, ‘Peg o’ my Heart’. His Fathers act which followed thrilled audiences by producing lit cigarettes and pipes from thin air and finding them in unusual places. While in Sydney Gene cut eight tracks at Columbia Records studio in Homebush under direction of Bob Gibson with orchestra and Jim Jimae on chordal harps.

img_0626Returning to the States in 1955 Gene acquired his own record label, ‘Genie’ from the proceeds of his European tour. He recorded ‘Song Of India’ with the flip, ‘Riders In The Sky’. A Billboard review at the time wrote, Gene Jimae a talented young harmonica virtuoso, makes a potent debut on the Genie label with some tricky mouth work on an upbeat version of an oldie. The ten year old kid is gonna go places. Multi track recording is exciting.” Other acts signed to his label include Chuck Berry (not the one your thinking of, but Charles Clifford Shepard Berry), who performed with Henry Williams as the hillbilly duo, “Lone Jack Boys’ and they record a single, ‘That Ugly Girl Of Mine’ a tune composed by Gene. Gail Sunday records one of Gene’s songs, ‘I’ll Dust The Stars’ with Gene backing on harmonica and ‘The Nomads’ (not with Gus’) did a garage version of Popeye’s theme. In 1956 for some obscure reason the Australian Colombian recordings appear on Randle Wood’s Tennessee label, ‘Dot’ and not the ‘Genie’ label. The album’s entitled, ‘Harmonica Magic’. The same year Gene’s Dad forms a label with a couple of his Vaudeville mates under the moniker, ‘Flair-X’. They sign ‘Doo Wop’ group the ‘Hi Fives’, who record, ‘Throwing Pebbles in a Pond’. Genie records originally operated out of a sixteen story office building between West 77th Street and West 78th Street in New York. The company was moved to Michigan, Indiana prior to 1959.

It is at this point the Gene Jimae story goes cold. Perhaps he had some of his fathers rebelliousness and bedevilment. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Gene’s next mention is in 1961 when his death and funeral notice is reported. His name does appear on a memoriam page for Miami Senior High School, but not in the graduated. A bugbear of mine is that his recordings often appear under the banner of ‘novelty’, but if you listen to his recordings you would appreciate why this is a misnomer and why he was touted as the next Larry Adler. For me he might have been the equivalent to Eivets Rednow (Stevie Wonder) who recorded an amazing version of ‘Alfie’ with an unbelievable tonguing technique in 1968, at the raw age of eighteen.

For your aural pleasure I offer this abbreviated recording of ‘Song of India’ by Gene (His life’s breath eternalised) in which he plays four harmonicas on seven different parts. Hear here ‘India’. Gene’s album is available for download on iTunes and streaming on Spotify.

Forever young, Gene Jimae.

Ch SD

Postscript: A different version of how Jim learnt his conjuring tricks appeared in another newspaper article. A fall while adagio dancing left him in hospital for fourteen weeks and it was here he developed his craft. Robert Ripley called ‘Jimae the Mystifier’ the fastest hands on stage.

Special mention to Ray Grieve and his wonderful historical book, ‘A Band In A Waistcoat Pocket’ (The Story Of The Harmonica In Australia) that introduced me to the name Gene Jimae.

8th April, 2019– I recently came across these two quotes worthy of addition. The first, 10 year old Gene’s comment to his Mum after signing the contract with HMV four his four sided disc. “What do you know Mum? I’ve got a wonderful contract, good royalties and all the records I can eat. And regarding the royalties I don’t want to be a millionaire I just want live like one.” (Sydney Sun, 6 October, 1953)

The second is how the sound of hoof-beats was made on Gene’s version of ‘Riders in The Sky’. “…… Jimmy waved aside the involved box of tricks which the sound effects department produced, made a few passes with the plastic box which houses his son’s harmonicas, and brought to light the most authentic sounding hoofbeats this side of Randwick racecourse.” (Sydney Sun, 22 October 1953).