Rebel’s Yell

6th September, 2019

G’Day Riff Raffers,

The year was 1970 when Rebel, a little known Melbourne record label released two highly significant singles in Australian music history, both featuring the mouth harp of a young Matt Taylor. Rebel was owned by Peter Goodman (a former member of the band The Town Criers) and they would press eleven singles and one long play in a short two year span.

The labels fourth single was by Meating, ‘Bad Luck Feeling/Back Home’ (DG-270/04) a collaboration between old Brisbane mates Greg Sleepy Lawrie and Matt Taylor. Greg had recently formed Carson County Band with Ian Fingers Ferguson and included Tony Lunt on drums and John Capek on keyboards. Matt at this time was with the short lived, but popular ‘prog’ rock band Genesis.

Sleepy had some ideas for songs and met up with Matt to flesh them out. This would be Matt’s second record. His first in 1968 was with Bay City Union with covers on the Festival label of Mike Nesmith’s tune ‘Mary Mary’ (recorded by Paul Butterfield) and ‘Mo’reen’ a Paul Revere and the Raiders tune. Sleepy and Matt’s single involved members of both their bands-Yuk Harrison (bass), Laurie Pryor (drums) from Genesis and John Capek (keyboards) from Carson County Band. The vinyl received some positive reviews in particular from music journalist Ed Nimmervoll. Here’s Matt’s recall of events, “I was in Genesis at the time and Sleepy was in Carson. So different players from both bands recorded Bad Luck Feeling as Meating. That paved the way for both myself and Sleepy to be taken seriously as songwriters.”

Matt’s desire for the band (for want of a better term as they only formed to record the single) was to be called Meeting, but Sleepy wanted something with a bit more grunt and called it Meating-even though Matt was a vegetarian.

A short time later the Carson County Band would release their first single ‘On The Highway/Resting Place’ (DG-270/06), both Sleepy originals. ‘On The Highway’ had bass player Ian Fingers Ferguson singing all vocals, including his own harmonies. Originally I had thought Paul Lever may have blown the harp on the tune as Matt Taylor had informed me he hadn’t. Ian Fingers Ferguson now better known as just Ferg put me on the right path. He had caught up with his old mate Sleepy who confirmed it was Matt. I sent Matt a grab of the harp from the song and he conceded graciously, “Yep, that’s me”. He, like others were forgetting when they were young. He hadn’t remembered playing harmonica on Russell Morris’ 1971 album Bloodstone. Matt blew licks on ‘Jail Jonah’s Daughter’ which appears as the ‘B’ side of Russell’s successful single ‘Sweet Sweet Love’.

Carson County Band shortened their name to Carson to avoid confusion they were a country band. In this picture (courtesy of Ferg) Matt is seen sitting in on a Carson gig at Melbourne night club Sebastians with Ian. Carson included a fine version of Meating’s Bad Luck Feeling in their live sets without the instrument that fits in your pocket.

The band headed to the studio to master a second single ‘Travelling South’ (under their new abbreviated name) this time on the Havoc label. Ian Ferguson’s vocals were later removed from this session and Brod Smith’s layered in when the 45 was eventually released in August of 1971. Ferg’s brilliant bass line, however would be retained. The planned ‘B’ side, ‘Morning Train’ was deleted and replaced with the tune ‘Moonshine’. Carson was experiencing line up changes around the time of producing the single. John Capek departed to join King Harvest and Brod Smith and Ian Willy Winter joined the group. Ferg would abscond a month before the release of ‘Travelling South’ and his reason, “I was never a big fan of Broderick and the band was shifting from progressive blues to more mundane twelve bar blues Bumpa Bumpa’s everything was sounding too Elmore James.”

With a rebel yell here’s some of Matt’s harp from his first three recordings, Rebel.

Ch SD

Thanks to Ferg for his help in providing information for this article. Here is a list of musicians on the recordings that he kindly provided.

Carson County Band and Carson Singles

Carson County Band:

“On The Highway”

Ian Ferguson; Bass and Vocals

Greg Lawrie; Guitar

John Capek; Electric Piano

Tony Lunt; Drums

Matt Taylor; Harmonica

“Resting Place”

Ian Ferguson; Bass and Vocals

Greg Lawrie; Guitar

Tony Enery; Electric Piano

Tony Lunt; Drums

Ian Wallace; Sax Solo

Jeremy Noone; Sax

Simon Wettenhall; Trumpet

Barry Harvey; Congas

 

Carson:

“Travelling South”

Broderick Smith; Vocals

Greg Lawrie; Guitar

Ian Winter; Guitar

Ian Ferguson; Bass

Tony Lunt; Drums

“Moonshine”

Broderick Smith; Vocals and Harmonica

Greg Lawrie; Guitar

Ian Winter; Guitar

Barry Sullivan; Bass

Tony Lunt; Drums

Prince Pauper-NFSCD #6

1st June, 2019

Hi Riffers,

New month and another, ‘Now For Something Completely Different’ number six. Times were tough at Balmoral.

Sydney-Miss Sarah Gould (68) of Milton, on the Southern Coast, was upset last September when she read in a newspaper that Prince Charles only got 1/6 a week in pocket money. So Miss Gould went shopping. She bought a mouth organ for 8/7, and posted it to Buckingham Palace, addressed to Prince Charles. At the weekend the Milton postman bought her a reply by a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. “Dear Miss Gould,” it said “I am commanded by the Queen to thank you very much for your letter, and for so kindly sending the mouth organ to the Duke of Cornwall. Her Majesty has much pleasure in accepting this present on her son’s behalf and bids me express to you her sincere thanks.” (Broken Hill ‘Barrier Miner’, 24 March 1953)

Here’s another royalty related article from Melbourne’s ‘The Age’ earlier that year.

I sometimes wonder why the fascination? Not with the instrument, but with the royals. They do have an amazing publicity machine.

(The Age, 17 January 1953)

Ch SD

PS: ‘Hogan’s Heroes‘ published in a few days time. Picked up another amazing chromatic harp from Launceston, Tasmania. One of the first Chromatics anywhere in the world-presently dated 1901. Has a slide mechanism you’ve never seen before.

NFSCD #4-Biting A Chew Off A Plug…

1st April, 2019

Pinch & Punch Riff Raffers,

An interesting insight into how the mouth organ was perceived in the colonies during the late nineteenth century.

img_2045-1(Sydney Evening News, Thursday 9th August, 1894)

Here’s the full transcript with a ‘pic’ thrown in.

THE LYRICAL LARRIKIN

MADE MORAL BY MUSIC

THE MELODIOUS “MOUTH ORGAN”

After having decided either to go and hear the Premier propound his policy at the Protestant Hall last night, or to see his rival, Mr. Harry Foran, gentleman, egged and floured outside, we altered our mind, and decided to go and hear another kind of ‘MOUTH ORGAN CONTEST’ which we saw advertised in the Evening News. The scene of the contest was Howard’s Music Warehouse on Brickfield Hill, and thither we went, much marvelling what manner of instrument a ‘mouth organ’ could be, and the sort of music it would be likely to afford. Inquiry elicited that THIS ORGAN WAS A HARP and that this harp no more resembled a harp than it did Mons. Wiegand’s superb pet at the Centennial Hall, or the infernal Italian barrel organ. It proved to be nothing more than the simple little reed instrument into which the lyrical larrikin pours all the sentiment of his soul when wooing his ladylove either at Chowder or Bondi. The technical term for the instrument is ‘concert harp’ and it has of late become commoner in Sydney than the penny whistle or the concertina. The organiser of the contest, who surely must be a lineal descendant of HOWARD, THE PHILANTHROPIST, pointed out that it was the first of a series arranged, not so much to promote the sale of mouth organs among the musically illiterate male and female youth as to elevate their sentiments, refine their manners, and to make them worthy in every sense to hold a golden harp in the celestial choir where the moralising influences of the terrestrial mouth organ are neither known nor required. He frankly admitted that he got his SCHEME OF MUSICAL REDEMPTION from no less a personage Mr. Wm. M’Millan, who had once publicly declared that music alone could charm the larrikin out of the land. Pointing to a group of youths who were present the promoter enthusiastically referred to them as some of the most remarkable manipulators of the mouth organ he had ever heard, and promised that their performance would astonish us. And so it did. Apparently these contests are conducted on the CARRINGTON HANDICAP PRINCIPLE, being run off, or rather blown off, in heats or batches. The contest is judged by points in ‘effects, tempo, tone, and vamping,’ by a duly appointed adjudicator, who on this occasion proved to be none other than Mr. G. D. Simon, who acted as sole adjudicator at the last Wallsend Eisteddfod. The competitors drew lots as to the order in which they should compete, and that question once decided they went to work with a will. There was no conductor or accompanist, each performer being all in all to himself, even to composing his own selections, as was the case in one instance. Each competitor chose his own selections, of which he played two. These for the most part consisted of popular melodies or dance music, such as delight those whose souls find vent through a mouth organ, among them being ‘e dunno were ‘e are, the ‘Swanee River,’ ‘Blue Bells of Scotland,’ ‘Champagne Charlie,’ ‘Knocked ‘Em in the Old Kent-road,’ the ‘Emigrant’s Farewell,’ ‘Nancy Lee,’ and the ‘ Chowder Bay Waltz,’ the last-named being a composition of the performer himself, a youth of some 17 or 18 years of age. It is due to the composer to say that ‘ Chowder Bay’ sounded no better nor worse than ‘Blue Danube’ when played on the mouth organ. As musicians the competitors were truly clever, considering’ the instrument they played and the variety of sounds they managed to evoke was almost as much a matter of astonishment as the facial and physical contortions which accompanied their efforts. The favourite position of the players is A LOPSIDED AESTHETIC POSE, with the head thrown back sideways, and the eyes fixed on the ceiling with a steady, stolid stare. Nothing is seen of the organ, which is covered by both hands, so that the player looks very much as though he were gnawing a tough crust or biting a chew’ off a plug. Like all other devoted instrumentalists the mouth organist has his distinguishing marks. The pianist, violinist and harpist are said to be distinguished by the shape of their fingers and nails, and the cornet player by the ‘bugle lip.’ The inverate mouth organist is known by the shape of his mouth and the bulbous form of the lips which long continued exercise is said to induce. Be this as it may, it is certain that UGLY MOUTHS MAY MAKE MUSIC was proved by last night’s performance. Whether the performers are elevated and refined in the manner indicated by Mr. M’Millan is a matter of opinion. Certain it is, however, that the mouth organ is fast becoming the instrument of the people. Its cheapness and simplicity give music to those who neither have nor desire any other, and if, in the language of the promoter of last night’s unique contest- ‘the mouth organ is a moral agent, it makes the young men who play it at random by ear feel some sort of a love for the beautiful which – is in every human heart, because if they did not feel at heart they could not play so sweetly by ear’— then the mouth organ with all its comical concomitants must not be accounted a ‘nuisance. A thing of beauty is a joy, while it still remains in fashion. (Anon)

There you go.

 

Ch SD

PS: A couple of new additions to the Aussie Models Timeline since we last spoke. Also an upload to Soundcloud-a riff lesson to a well known tune from the nineties that peaked at number nine on the ARIA charts. Hear here ‘Helen‘.

The Journey Continues

August 14, 2018

Hi there Riff Raffers,

Harmonica Riff Raff started out on community radio 3MDR, Mountain District Radio (Emerald, Melbourne Australia) on Wednesday 24th April 2013 at 11pm and would conclude five years later after 256 episodes. HRR broadcast at various timeslots, primarily though from Wednesday 5pm to 7pm.

A show dedicated to the most owned instrument in the world, the first played in outer space and it just fits in your pocket. Articles appeared bi-monthly in local magazine ‘Signpost’. Popular segments of the show continue with regular uploads on Soundcloud and here we will keep you updated with the latest news on artists, music releases, gigs & products.

Ch SD