Friday, 23 January 2015

The Mixtures - The Mixtures (1971)

Between May and October 1970 a disagreement over a rise in royalties between the six largest Australian record labels and commercial Australian radio resulted in their refusal to play major label records from the UK and Australia. Struggling Melbourne pop band The Mixtures took advantage of the ban by releasing a cover of the current UK number one record, Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime", which when released on the small label, Fable in July 1970, went straight to number one in the Australian pop charts.

The Mixtures' follow up single was an original tune, penned by vocalist Idris Jones and his brother Evan (not a band member). "The Pushbike Song" which, whilst being a bit novelty and totally derivative of "In The Summertime", is so catchy that it's impossible not to be sing along to and it comes to no surprise that it reached the number one spot in the Oz chart and number two in the UK, only to be beaten by George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord".

An album, "In The Summertime" was released in Australia on the Fable label shortly after the success of The Pushbike Song. It's a patchy affair with only a few good tracks, mostly orchestrated pop with strained vocals with the exception of "Never Be Untrue" which goes down the Crosby, Stills & Nash route, with it's slight country twang and three part harmony vocals.

The self titled, UK only album is much better. Released the following year when the band had relocated to the UK to record at IBC and Morgan Studios in London. It was produced by David Mackay (Nilsson, Twilights, Blue Mink, New Seekers) and Keith Potger and engineered by Robin Black, Mike Claydon, Andy Knight, Roger Savage and the legendary John Pantry. The band up at this point was Mick Flinn (bass), Don Lebler (drums), Idris Jones (vocals), Peter Williams (vocals,guitar).

"The Pushbike Song" and "Never Be Untrue" are both included on this album and the other tracks appear to be new compositions. "Travelling Song" written by Sulsh & Leathwood (aka Gary & Stu) sounds remarkably like a Pete Ham composition. "Daddy Brings Home The Bacon" bounces along much like the bands two big hits. A cool cover of Ron Davies' "It Ain't Easy" surpasses the original and would appeal to fans of Paul McCartney's first solo LP. "Oh, Mr. Jones" is a Manfred Mann-esque killer, written by Richard Hewson and Gordon Gray, whose only other song-writing credits I can find are "Colour Sergeant Lilywhite" by West Coast Consortium and "Holly Golightly" by Fluff (Mr Gray, why didn't you write more? You clearly had the knack!). Also included are the two other songs released as a-sides "Henry Ford" and "Captain Zero" which sounds like it should be a 1970's children's television theme.

So, definitely an album to keep your eye out for at the charity shops, car boots and bargain bins. Cheap, cheerful and unashamedly pop. Diggg...

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