Sunday, 20 April 2014

Joshua - The Automatic Camel (1971)

My friend Stuart gave me this single a couple of weeks ago, "Here, you'll like this" he said. Not only do I love it, but its been on my wants list for a little while now. I'm a sucker for children's television theme tunes from the 1970's and this piano instrumental song ,"The Automatic Camel" by Joshua (aka Joe Griffiths) was used as the backing tack for the music on the UK animated kids show, "Chorlton and the Wheelies", which ran for 40 episodes between 1976 and 1979. This type of music always reminds me of the more playful side of the Beatles, much like the whole Popsike genre. The b-side "Mr Cuffling's Cake-Walk" is equally as enjoyable as the flip.

From the 7" promo sleeve - Joe Griffiths?
I cant find a lot of information about Joe Griffiths, but the connection with producer Harold Franz links them to at least two more single releases under different names.

Independant Operator b/w Share My Caravan as Joe Griffiths (Philips 1970)
Love Is Love, Is Love b/w All You Have To Do Is Say Hello as Umbrella (RCA 1972)

...anyone heard these?

So, a bit of a fun tune for this Easter holiday. I hope you enjoy...

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Chris White - Mouth Music (1976)

For years people (including yours truly) have thought that this is the Chris White from the Zombies. It makes sense that the man who wrote a good half of "Odessey & Oracle" would be back in the 1970's with his own album of summery, Beach Boys inspired pop, but the Chris White in question is totally unrelated.

So as I mentioned before, Mr White takes his cue from the Beach Boys with this LP which would fit in their discography quite comfortably between the "M.I.U" and "L.A album" and if I'm honest, I'd probably rank "Mouth Music" a little higher than both of these. Released on the Famous Charisma Label and produced by Shel Talmy (Who, Kinks, Creation) with arrangements by Tom Parker and backed by the same band who played on the Velvet Glove album, namely Clem Cattini (drums), Zed Jenkins (guitar) and Dave Olney (bass).

"The name's White, Chris White...
err, not that Chris White!"
The opinions on this album appear to be mixed with most of the complaints being the production, but lets not forget this is 1976 not 1967 so expect plenty of synth, layers of harmony vocals, disco funk (not as bad as you think) and even cod reggae on "Zombee Jamboree", I personally, don't have an issue with this! "Don't Look Down" is such a killer album opener and "Natural Rhythm" has a very Wings vibe to it. If I've got any beef with this record it would be the unnecessary cover versions, "Surfin' USA" and "Dancing In The Street" but I'm guessing this was a record company decision. Thanks to some push from Kenny Everett, the Chris Rainbow-alike single "Spanish Wine", taken from the album, enjoyed a bit of chart action thus making it an easy record to find and for cheap too.

So maybe "Mouth Music" is what some may call a guilty pleasure, but not me, I just call it great lost pop that deserves more ears, although I won't be playing it in the car with the windows down! Fans of 10CC and Alan Parsons Project will definitely dig this record. The was a CD reissue a few years back with a heap of bonus tracks including a fab unreleased tune called "Frisbee" which is bordering on power pop.

If you're out there reading this Chris White, please get in touch. I'd love to hear your story...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Ted Mulry - Julia (1970)

Ted Mulry was born Martin Albert Mulry in 1949 in Lancashire, UK. He emigrated to Australia in 1969 where he got a job operating a bulldozer. Mulry was already a bit of an amateur musician and his work colleagues, impressed by his compositions encouraged him send some demos to J. Albert Publishing. These songs were good enough to secure him a recording deal with EMI and his first single "Julia" b/w "So Much In Love" was released in February 1970 and was a minor hit. "Julia" is a perfect Beatlesque pop ballad, reminiscent of Paul McCartney circa 65/66, with lush orchestration (not overdone) and ace production by Tony Geary. "So Much In Love" is just as good albeit a little twee with Mulry harmonising with himself in a Everly Brothers style. No surprise then, that both sides of the single were included on Fading Yellow Vol.12, where they fit in most comfortably!

The next single, "Falling In Love Again" was written by Easybeats' Harry Vanda and George Young and would stay in the Australian charts for 25 weeks peaking at #11. A nice song, but I prefer the Mulry penned b-side "Louisa". Four more singles were released on the Parlophone label in Australia, but none were as successful a "Falling In Love Again". The most collectable of these singles is the stone cold classic, "Remember Me" which was also released in the UK under the name Steve Ryder on the Blue Mountain record label. There's a cool promo video on YouTube which you can watch here. There is also a couple of highly collectable LP's from 1971 and 1973 which I'm still looking for and will update this post when I hear them.

By 1974, Mulry had ditched the sensitive songwriter image for a more ballsy, rocking image, switching from acoustic guitar to bass forming the Ted Mulry Gang whose second single "Jump In My Car" would top the Aussie chart in 1975. There's plenty of YouTube footage from this period available and most of it is pretty good. Check out "Darktown Strutters Ball" for some Status Quo-esque!!

The Ted Mulry Gang would not repeat the success of "Jump In My Car" but would continue on a popular live act until 1980 when they called it a day. Mulry continued to work in the music business as a producer, sporadically releasing the odd single and even reunited the TMG in 1990. Ted Mulry passed away in 2001 of brain cancer. A series of tribute concerts were held shortly before his death with many notable Australian rock acts performing including a reformed TMG fronted by his brother Steve Mulry.