Cream of The Crate: The Easybeats – Record #24

EB 1
EB 1
“Up until that time, songs you heard on the radio came from somewhere mysterious. So we gave it a crack and started doing it ourselves.” [Harry Vanda]

This was retro-review number twenty four in the series of albums that I was featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection. The series is called, “Cream of The Crate”, and they represent vinyl albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

This review originally appeared in the Toorak Times on the 15th March 2013.

We were blessed in the 1960’s by having so many ‘home-grown’ groups, that were very talented.

Album review number 24 is by the Easybeats and is titled “Absolute Anthology (1965 – 1969)”. Immediately we look at the album track listing it becomes obvious that this IS the album to have. It was released on the Albert Promotions Label [ APM-1] in 1980.

Although Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs were the first to record on the Albert Label (in 1964), the label was very, very pleased to sign up
The Easybeats not long after 
this time.

The history of the Easybeats is told many times elsewhere, and on-line at both Wikipedia

and at Milesago

However, it would be remiss in doing an album review not mention that although they formed at what was then called the Villawood Migrant Center (Sydney), in 1964, all of the five members were from post World War 2 migrant families. Yet they turned out to be possibly Australia’s greatest commercial band in the 1960’s. In fact, they only survived a of around five years, but, they were five magnificent years!
This album is in fact a true compilation of their hits and notable tracks. It is a ‘gate-fold’ album with two LP records inside containing a total of 43 tracks including all their Top Ten hits and notable tracks.

Inside gate-fold Covers

Now unless you are ‘young and foolish’ and believe that nothing pre-1990 is worthwhile (Yes Virginia, these people actually exist), there are probably few Easybeat tracks you have never heard and I almost feel silly talking about the ‘best’ or even ‘favourite tracks.

Unlike many albums I have done a ‘retro-review‘ on in this “Crate” Series, there are a multitude of videos on Youtube, so I will pick out three of the best known and place them at the end of this review
and pick out four tracks (one from each side) two that may not be so well known and, two better known tracks.
The track ‘Peculiar Hole in the Sky’ was actually released in September 1969 against the bands wishes. It had been put together by the band as a demo for the Valentines, who actually did record it. It is certainly quite different to most of the Easybeats compositions and had a hard psychedelic edge to it.
Peculiar Hole in the Sky
There are over 12 brilliant tracks on this set, but Friday On My Mind must surely be there most well known, well played track.
Friday On My Mind (VIDEO BELOW)
(Harry Vanda – George Young)
The track was recorded in UK in 1966
It reached the following heights in these nine countries.
#6 UK #16 USA #1 Sydney #3 Melbourne #1 Brisbane #2 Adelaide #2 Perth #2 NZ #1 Netherlands #10 West Germany #13 Ireland #16 Belgium #39 Canada
In 1966 they charted at number 4 in Australia with Women (Make Me Feel Alright)  
It was a catchy tune and emphasised the sound that they were developing and which would become uniquely theirs.
It became a “calling card” that opened doors overseas.

If you aren’t familiar with the track St Louis, do have a listen. Not their most popular track, it is a great example of their overall style of vocal delivery and musicianship.

Released in 1968, it reached number 21 in Australia and really it heralded the end of the group, as successive singles flopped more and more. Yet when we listen back now it is fair to conclude – it rocks!
St Louis
There is one final track I would like to share, and let’s face it on balance, there are many that could be shared.  But track 10 on side 2 of Lp 1 is among the most unusual, and certainly one of the lesser known tracks – Do You Have A Soul. 
It was 1967 and things weren’t going well even though this was probably their peak period! having had a monster hit with “Friday”, they just couldn’t come up with a satisfactory follow up and the inane antics their management were putting them through were wearing thin on the group.
They had been put into a working relationship with Shel Talmy and while Talmy had worked extensively with groups like The Kinks and The Who, the chemistry just wasn’t there.  This track is ostensibly written about him and was a Vanda/Young composition.  
With all my friends we hang around
The back streets here in my home town
Because I got no money and I look real poor
It doesn’t mean to say that you can close your doors

(Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay ay ay)
Anybody here please tell me, what to do?
(Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay ay ay)
I see the world and my mind don’t like the view

Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul?
Do you have a love that never grows old?
Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul?
Do you have a love that never grows old?

(Doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo)

You look real good in your white Rolls Royce
And you have a million pounds worth of playing toys
You’re usin’ all those people like you use the phone
The figures of your brother like a thing you own

(Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay ay ay)
Anybody here please tell me, what to do?
(Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay ay ay)
I see the world but my mind don’t like the view

Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul?
Do you have a love that never grows old?
Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul?
Do you have a love that never grows old?

(Doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo doodododo)

Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul?
Do you have a love that never grows old?
Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul?
Do you have a love that never grows old?

 Do You Have A Soul

Tony Cahill (drums) 1967-69
Dick Diamonde (bs, vcls)
Gordon “Snowy” Fleet (dr) 1964-67
Harry Vanda (gtr/vcls)
Stevie Wright (vcls/perc)
George Young (gtr/vcls/kybds)

Album Tracks

  For My Woman
  Say That You’re Mine
  She’s So Fine
  Wedding Ring
  Easy As Can Be
  Sad & Lonely & Blue
  You Said That
  You Got It Off Me
  You Can’t Do That
  Funny Feelin’
  In My Book
  Come & See Her
  I’ll Make You Happy
  Too Much
  Made My Bed, Gonna Lie In It
  Friday On My Mind
  Pretty Girl
  Remember Sam
  Who’ll Be The One
  Do You Have A Soul?
  Heaven & Hell
  Hello How Are You
  Come In You’ll Get Pneumonia
  Good Times
  Bring A Little Lovin’
  The Music Goes Round My Head (Fast)
  Falling Off The Edge Of The World
  The Shame Just Drained
  What In The World?
  Land Of Make Believe
  Peculiar Hole In The Sky
  Saturday Night
  Amanda Storey
  Down To The Last 500
  Lay Me Down & Die (Vocal Version)
  Wait A Minute
  I Love Marie
  Rock & Roll Boogie
  Can’t Find Love
  St Louis
In addition to the 43 very fine tracks, this album has an inserted booklet of 10 pages of densely packed information and photo’s. The quality is satisfactory but the paper isn’t terrific and they used sepia tones and so as the years go on it isn’t as sharp as it may have been had they used gloss paper and even black ink. However, the quality of the information is very high with the well known rock historian Glenn A Baker being responsible for writing the material.
The pressing itself is surprisingly good with Australian pressings on vinyl traditionally not as good as the UK or USA pressings. However, when I listened back to it (and allowing for the fact that it is 33 years old), I was pleased when I listened through cans to how good it sounded.
Release date Label AUS Chart
September 1965 Parlaphone
It’s 2 easy
March 1966 Parlophone 3
Volume 3
November 1966 Parlophone 7
The Best of The Easybeats
January 1967
Parlophone 3
October 1968 Parlophone
January 1969 Polydor
Best of the Easybeats – Vol 2
October 1969 Albert
Easy Ridin’
August 1970 Rare Earth
The Shame Just Drained
October 1977 Albert
Absolute Anthology
November 1980 Albert 35
The Easybeats (compilation) September 1981 Hammard 76
The Definitive Series
September 1992 Albert
So what became of the Easybeats? Sadly the story of the rise and fall of Stevie Wright is a story all to well known. After the group folded Stevie became a permanent member of the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar, but the damage done by the ravages of drugs had already taken its toll. Releasing Evie in 1974 did make it seem like he might have been back, and, he may very well have. However, he was admitted to the (now known) notorious Chelmsford Private Hospital for ‘Deep Sleep Therapy’. Based upon the use of drugs and electro-shock therapy, Stevie along with many patients, suffered some brain damage, adding to his woes. During the 80’s and 90’s further drug use just exacerbated his poor health and he nearly died on two occasions.
With professional help and a will to be cured, Stevie clawed his way back and greatly improved his health and in 2002 was a hit at the ‘Long way to the Top’ National Tour. More recently he closed the 2009 Legends of Rock Festival at Byron Bay.
Sadly Stevie dies two years after this review was originally published. He died on 27 December 2015
Yet notwithstanding the energy and cheekiness of Stevie, The “Heart & Soul” of the Easybeats was (in my mind) Harry Vanda and George Young. Having worked in the UK after theEasybeats split (to pay off debts incurred by the Easybeats), Harry and George returned to Oz in 1974 and have been responsible for some great hits including, “Love is in the Air”, and “Yesterday’s Hero”. They have also released tracks under their pseudonym name of ‘Flash and Pan’.
Snowy Fleet, Dick Diamonde and Tony Cahill took a quieter path. Original drummer, Snowy Fleet, became a successful builder in Perth and now runs a recording studio in Jandacot, WA. His replacement, Tony Cahill, remained in the UK for a time, eventually joining the final studio lineup of ‘Python Lee Jackson’, as a bassist before moving to the United States. Bassist, Dick Diamonde, moved to the north coast of NSW and retired from performing, after some years of performing in pubs.
It would not be overstating the case to say, that for a period in Australian music, the Easybeats absolutely rules both the airwaves and the stage.  We cannot under estimate the effect they had on the audiences and buying public and they certainly did their bit in establishing the quality of Australian music in both the musical outcomes from brilliant writing.
This is indeed a fine album as it pretty much covers all their music, the good and the not so good, but one thing is for certain, their are no indifferent tracks on this album. 

If you are interested in adding the album to your collection, at the time of writing this review there were five copies on ebay, retailing for between $40.00 and $60.00 including postage. There is a CD version floating around for about $35.00.

There are no shortage of video clips of the Easybeats, here are three that caught my attention.

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