Split Enz true colours

Why would anyone want eight copies of the same LP, even if it is one the greatest Australian albums of all time?

Well if you are a mad fan and collector of Split Enz, you may want to own all of the variants of True Colours. (Not to be confused with the Cyndi Lauper thing.)Yes, yes,yes  I know Split Enz are New Zealanders, but the record was recorded and published here in OZ so I’m calling it an Aussie record by a Kiwi band. In a year where the album charts were dominated by Michael Jackson and the Village People, this one reached #1 in both Australia and New Zealand. It was top 10 in Canada, and top 40 in both America and Britain.

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A Side of Madder Lake

A fresh faced young lad brought in some records to sell the other day. Some were good, some not so, but we came to an equitable agreement. Among them were the two Madder Lake studio albums in pretty good condition. “Ahh”, I said to him, “sadly Mick Fettes died yesterday.” He looked at me blankly.  “Mick Fettes was the singer of that band…”, I said, “Madder Lake… He was like an Australian Joe Cocker.” I know it’s not fair to make these sort of comparisons but my young customer got the idea. Mick Fettes was a unique performer with an amazing voice.

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In Search of the Mysterious Mandingo

In the early 70’s Mandingo’s Primeval Rhythm of life was one of those albums that everyone had to have in their record collection. At the time we had no idea who Mandingo was, nor did we care. We just loved the primitive energy that pounded out of the speakers – all four of them if you had the quadraphonic version. I had never heard the term Jazz/Funk fusion or anything similar. The natural assumption was that Mandingo was some kind of ‘African’ band similar to Osibisa who were also pretty popular in the 70’s. The naked black woman astride the big bongo drum on the cover would support that assumption. The name Mandingo probably refers to the tribal peoples from Sierra Leone who, as it turns out, are well known for their percussive ritual music. Confirmed African then?

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Hooked on Compilation LPs

Mr K-tel is dead. Canadian marketing genius, Philip Kives passed away on April 27 at the age of 87. In 1962 he founded the K-tel company in Winnipeg selling iconic products like the Miracle Brush, the Veg-o-matic, the Pattie Stacker and, my favourite, the K-tel Record Selector. He coined the catchphrase, ‘As seen on TV’ and essentially invented the infomercial. Legend has it that, on a whim, he travelled to Australia with a tape of his TV commercial and 720 Feather Touch Knives. He arrived in August 1963 and by December he had sold one million knives.

One of his most significant innovations was the compilation album, you know the sort of thing: 20 Original Hits, 20 Original Stars. We cannot claim them to be great quality albums with so much music crammed and condensed to fit on two sides of an LP – but great value nonetheless.

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How Not to Write a Classic

There were lot of unworthy hits in the 80s. I’ve always felt that a contender for the world’s worst-written song was a 1982 ballad called Classic by Adrian Gurvitz. It was somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophesy that this plodding mournful love song became, if not a classic, certainly a worldwide hit.

The amazing thing that I discovered recently was that Adrian’s first top 10 hit was actually in 1968, a ball-tearing guitar driven rocker called Race with the Devil. At this time he went by the name Adrian Curtis and with his brother formed a band in London called Gun.  Their LP came into my possession recently and I could not believe it was the same guy who wrote Classic.

So what was going through Adrian Gurvitz’s head fourteen years later, obviously desperate to write another big hit? Well his starting point was obvious.

Got to write a classic

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Australians at Eurovision

You may be surprised to learn that Guy Sebastian is not the first Australian to compete at Eurovision. Yes, Jessica Mauboy did sing during the interval last year, but no less than eight Aussies have actually competed over the years – and quite successfully I might add. Olivia Newton-John was one obviously, but some other names will surprise. Three Melbourne boys have been runners-up and a Frankston-born singer-songwriter went all the way and won it… three times!

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AC/DC 12″ Singles

A crate of records came in the other day and sadly many of them had suffered some water damage. Two of them were AC/DC 12″ singles. I cleaned them up the best I could and then played them. There was something very odd about the 1983 Albert’s reissue of ‘You shook Me all night Long” which is supposed to have on the B-side ‘She’s Got Balls’ and a live version of the title song. Imagine my surprise when I played the B-side after cleaning it to find an 80s electronic dance mix song!

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