We may have been late but we caught up quick
Moseley Square is the end of the line for Adelaide’s only tram, with the ocean and St Vincent’s Gulf to the west and surrounded by cafes, shops, a Maccas, the old town hall and a hotel that’s had more incarnations than Labor’s asylum seeker policy.
It was also the place I really discovered Australian rock’n’blues. In the late 1960s a sunny, summer Saturday afternoon concert in the square, featured the Masters Apprentices, Chain, Lobby Lloyd and the Coloured Balls and Wendy Saddington. I remember catching the bus home thinking my life had changed just a little. In fact, it had changed a lot.
A few months later I went to my first “pop festival” at Myponga, south of Adelaide, where the headliner was Black Sabbath but for me the highlight was a new Melbourne band, Daddy Cool, featuring singer Ross Wilson, with a fox’s tail on the back of his coat, leaping across the stage as the guitarist Ross Hannaford, wearing a propeller cap, punched out licks that had the whole crowd buck jumpin’, as they say in John Boutte’s Treme Song.
These memories were sparked by a rocking collection of Australian blues and rock tunes from the late 60s and 70s. Boogie! is a 44 track compilation put together by Warner Music’s David Laing and released as a double CD.
It’s the kind of music that will bring smiles to those who were around to hear the music first time and will quickly educate younger folk who might want to explore our music heritage.
The CD itself is a cultural artifact with cover art by Ian McCausland who was a staff artist at great publications like Go-Set and The Digger, graphic designer for Mushroom Records and illustrated plenty of famous LPs and tour posters for the Rolling Stones and everyone else.
The liner notes are the work of Jen Jewel Brown - known back in the day as Jenny Brown and Jenny Hunter Brown, a prolific rock music journo who still writes great pieces. As she says about Australia’s discovery of the blues at the beginning of these notes: “We may have been a year or two late but we caught up quick…”
Everyone is here, kicking off with the chain gang blues of Matt Taylor’s unvarnished band, Chain, singing their signature tune, Black and Blue. Relentless and hot like a lava flow, the song is anchored with the bass and drums of Barry Sullivan and Barry Harvey and whipped along by Phil Manning’s classic blues guitar.
It’s hard to imagine now that a driving blues number with a dirty vocal and a chain hitting a rock in the intro could make it to number one but this song did. Chain’s other appearance is with their song Gertrude Street Blues, a hark back to the darker days of the Fitzroy avenue that’s now a foodie mecca and home to Andrew McConnell’s fine diner Cutler & Co.
Chain’s song remembers it as a place where the less than careful could pick a dose of the clap.
Billy Thorpe’s sensational rock vocal is fully extended on Ma Rainey’s C.C. Rider, Lobby Lloyd sings Mama Loves To, Wendy Saddington and the Copperwine belt out Backlash Blues and the La De Das contribute Gonna See My Baby Tonight and Too Pooped To Pop - all showcasing the deep blues roots in the Australian music scene. Big vocals, chugging rhythms and some wicked guitar demonstrate a devotion to the heart of rock’n’blues.
Among the sweet pickings are some of the artists that developed an Australian sound including Spectrum (I’ll Be Gone), Friends (Bird On A Wire - live), Dingoes (Come On Down), Madder Lake (Booze Blues), The Angels (Am I Ever Going To See Your face Again), Skyhooks (Saturday Night), The Sports (You Ain’t Home Yet), Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons (Ain’t Got No Money) Max Merrett & The Meteors (Fannie Mae) and Daddy Cool (Hi Honey Hom and Daddy Rocks Off).
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