Two Houses, Better Than One: Sunday, 20th March, 1977

We selected five of the thirteen ‘score draws’, the most we have predicted on “The Pools”.

On a gloriously sunny, mild morning we paid fifty cents each to enter Elizabeth Bay House, at Elizabeth Bay, and eighty cents each to enter Vaucluse House, in the expensive suburb of Vaucluse. The latter, with its turrets resembling those on a castle, was once the home of the early explorer, William Charles Wentworth. The party of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth was the first to find a way across the Blue Mountains, in 1813. They chose to keep to the ridges whereas previous attempts had not. Wentworth was also a barrister, author, landowner and statesman.

At the inviting cafe-restaurant, Father’s Moustache, in Rose Bay, we shared a nice slice of pavlova ($1.10), a slice of cheesecake ($1.00) and had a cappuccino, at a cost of fifty cents each.

Slade

The ‘N Betweens formed in 1966, and managed to earn a living by performing live. It was not until the group met Chas Chandler, a producer of records, that it was advised to change its name and write its own material.

From 1969 until 1991, Slade, England’s most successful glam-rock band of the 1970s, was comprised of vocalist, Noddy Holder; leading guitarist, Dave Hill; drummer, Don Powell and bass guitarist, Jim Lea. Noddy and Jim were the band’s principal songwriters and it was they who penned all six of Slade’s singles that were to top the British charts.

These singles were: “Coz I Luv You” (in 1971), “Take Me Bak ‘Ome” (1972), “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (1972), “Cum On Feel The Noize” (1973), “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me” (1973) and “Merry Xmas Everybody” (1973). Teachers, and the BBC, were highly displeased by the style of spelling employed by the group in the naming of its songs.

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In addition to these six singles, Slade posted ten Top 10 hits between 1972 and 1984. These were: “Look Wot You Dun” (1972), “Gudbuy T’Jane” (1972), “My Friend Stan” (1973), “Everyday” (1974), “Bangin’ Man” (1974), “Far Far Away” (1974), “Thanks For The Memory (Wham Bam Thank You Mam)” (1975), “We’ll Bring The House Down” (1981), “My Oh My” (1983) and “Run Run Away” (1984).

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Releases from Slade entered the charts thirty-nine times, in total. Twenty-three of these entered the Top Thirty.

Although Slade failed to really impact upon the American charts — “Run Run Away” did peak at No.20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 — its style of music and its performance when on stage did influence a number of American bands, most notably Kiss.

In the mid-1980s the American outfit, Quiet Riot, had hits when it released covers of “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. In 1996, Oasis also covered “Cum On Feel The Noize”.

Death of Carlos Pace: Monday, 21st March, 1977

Carlos Pace, a Brazilian racing driver in Formula One, was killed at the weekend, in the crash of a light plane. The crash occurred near Sao Paulo. Carlos was thirty-two years of age.

Unhappy Birthday: Tuesday, 22nd March, 1977

A lady, at my place of work, told me about her friend who mistook ‘Ajax’ cleaning powder for flour and used it to make rissoles and a birthday cake.

At 7.30 p.m., on Channel Seven, the “Dick Emery Show”, and at 8.00, on ABC-TV’s Channel Two, tonight’s edition of Bill Peach’s “Holiday” series looks at Cape York, Hong Kong, and a guest house at Wyong, as possible destinations for one’s holiday.

Wood Replaced By Steel: Wednesday, 23rd March, 1977

“Mannix”, a series which stars Mike “Tightrope” Connors as the private investigator after whom the series is named, is screened between 3.00 and 4.00 p.m., on Channel Seven.

At half past seven, on Channel Nine, we watched a ‘Special’ on Abba and Silver Convention. The latter is comprised of Romana Wulff, Penny McLean and Lynda G. Thompson. From half past eight, “Barbarella”, a film that bears the copyright of 1968 and which stars Jane Fonda in the title role, is being screened.

A woman I met told me that she and her husband are having to replace most of the wooden framework in their old house with steel because the problem with white ants beside the Woronora River is such a significant one.

Jackie Wilson

Thirty years after it had firstly entered the charts, Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petite” was brought to the listening pleasure of a new generation, in countries such as Great Britain and Australia, in 1986. As it was, indeed, a posthumous hit, the video clip featured rubbery figures ‘singing’ to Jackie’s original recording.

Jack Leroy Wilson was born, in Detroit, in June of 1934. His father, an alcoholic, introduced him to alcohol when he was still a boy. “Jackie” was to spend two periods in juvenile detention and it was during his second stint that he was introduced to the sport of boxing.

Nonetheless, his first love was singing. Jackie, although he was not particularly religious, began attending church for it gave him the opportunity to sing gospel. He became a member in a succession of groups before, in 1953, Billy Ward sought to recruit him into The Dominoes. This group had already spent fourteen weeks atop the rhythm and blues charts, in 1951, with what was to prove to be by far its largest and most controversial success, “Sixty Minute Man”, and so Jackie viewed the opportunity to join it with relish.

This vacancy had been created because Clyde McPhatter was leaving the group to form his own: The Drifters. Prior to his departure, Clyde schooled Jackie on becoming the vocalist that Billy wanted him to be.

Jackie Wilson was blessed with one of the most versatile voices in popular music and, therefore, it came as no surprise when, in 1957, he embarked upon a career as a solo performer. It is almost unbelievable that this same person is singing “Reet Petite” and “Lonely Teardrops”, as is also singing “Night”. “Night”, is a quasi-operatic ballad based upon a classical piece by the French composer and pianist, Saint-Saens.

His dynamism and athleticism on stage endeared his performances to many of those who were fortunate enough to witness them and it was little wonder when these led him to be dubbed ‘Mr. Excitement’. Jackie enjoyed a long association with Brunswick Records and was equally at home singing a wide variety of material, at varying tempos.

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In 1959, he appeared in the film, ‘Go Johnny, Go’. Jackie was cast alongside a plethora of musical stars of rock and roll. These included Chuck Berry, Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran, Jimmy Clanton, and The Cadillacs.

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During 1966, Jackie moved from New York to record in Chicago. It was here that he became exposed to some refreshingly different songwriters. Pop hits, such as “Whispers (Gettin’ Louder)”, “I Get The Sweetest Feeling” and “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher”, emanated from this move.

In September of 1975, Jackie suffered a heart attack whilst performing on stage in Camden, New Jersey. As he collapsed, he struck his head so severely that he was to remain in a virtual coma until his by then merciful death, at the age of just forty-nine, in January of 1984.

In 1977, Rita Coolidge released a cover, titled “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher” and although it recorded sales in excess of Jackie’s original, music by then had mellowed and , to me, it lacks the vitality expected from one describing the ecstasy of another’s love. Therefore, it is Jackie’s original that is named in the list of my favourite recordings, located in the suggested playlists.

Australian rocker, Jimmy Barnes, also revived “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher”. It is contained on his album, ‘Soul Deep’, which was released in 1991.

Welsh rocker, Shakin’ Stevens, a performer who built a career upon his revival of hits, took “I’ll Be Satisfied” into the British Top Ten, in 1982.

Jacki Weaver: Thursday, 24th March, 1977

By 8.30 a.m. the temperature was already an extremely warm twenty-six degrees; the equivalent of yesterday’s maximum. This meant that the thermometer was to climb into the thirties.

On tonight’s edition of the current affairs programme, “Willesee”, the Australian actress, Jacki Weaver, interviews the famed American actor, Burt Lancaster.

The temperature is still twenty-five degrees Celsius at 9.00 p.m.

“Our Engagement” Seat: Saturday, 26th March, 1977

A large jar of mayonnaise, ‘Praise’, cost $1.17, a large container of the pills, ‘Ford’, $1.24 and a copy of ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ newspaper, twelve cents.

The old Pacific Hotel, which faces the ocean at Manly, is being demolished. Only about three floors remain. We walked the length of the promenade to Queenscliff and sat on “our” green “engagement” seat, in front of the modern block of units across the road, where I had gotten down on my knees — one knee was deemed to be insufficient, after I had lost so much money on the punt — and successfully proposed to Tiki, on the 4th of November in 1975, the day of the Melbourne Cup. I had to also solemnly swear to never place another bet.

Just as we had done on the evening of our engagement, we dined at K’s Snapper Inn on South Steyne: calamari entree cost $2.50 each; sand crab (two) $6.60, a whole lobster mornay $8.00; wine trifle $1.00, banana fritters with ice-cream, cream caramel sauce and crushed nuts $1.00; cappuccino fifty cents each.

Later, we walked around the shops and Strata Centre, at Cremorne, and stopped for a cup of coffee, at a cost of thirty cents each, at McDonald’s, in San Souci, during the drive home. Sydney’s maximum temperature was twenty-nine degrees Celsius.

Conway Twitty

Harold Lloyd Jenkins was born in September of 1933, in Mississippi. His father, Floyd, a labourer, taught his son how to play the guitar.

When Harold was ten years of age, the Jenkins family moved across the Mississippi River and into Arkansas. Floyd obtained a job as the captain of a ferry. Harold became enamoured of country music and began singing it to passengers aboard the ferries.

Two years later Harold became a member of the Phillips County Ramblers. The group was deemed to be good enough to appear on the local radio station.

Harold was drafted into the army, in 1954, and was to spend much of the next two years in Japan. He and other soldiers formed a band called The Cimarrons.

Listening to Elvis Presley’s first national and, indeed, international hit, “Heartbreak Hotel”, in early 1956, convinced Harold that he could sing in that same vein. However, trying his hand at recording in the same studio as Elvis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, at Sun Records, in Memphis, came to nought.

Not to be deterred, Harold formed a new band, The Rockhousers, and created the distinctive stage name of ‘Conway Twitty’, for himself, by combining the names of two towns, namely Conway, in Arkansas, and Twitty, in Texas. One minor hit on the label, Mercury, was enough to draw interest from MGM Records and it was under this livery that Conway recorded “It’s Only Make Believe”, in Nashville, in 1958.

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Conway’s treatment of this powerful ballad, which he had co-written with the drummer from The Rockhousers, Jack Nance, gave him his first No.1 hit on the pop charts and propelled him to international stardom.

In 1959, Conway released a boogie version of “Mona Lisa”, a song that had been sung so splendidly by Nat ‘King’ Cole, in 1950. This was followed by an almost sacrilegious rock version of the standard, “Danny Boy”. Finally, to round off the year nicely for him, came the single, “Lonely Blue Boy”, in which one does not have to look far to detect the influence Elvis Presley was having upon his early career.

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Before the British groups, most notably The Beatles, heralded a new direction in popular music, Conway had reverted to his first musical love, country,and this led him to be signed to Decca Records, in Nashville. His career in this genre was to span decades.

In 1973, his lyrically explicit No.1 hit, “You’ve Never Been This Far Before”, created controversy and some country stations refused to play it.

Conway also vocally delved into blues and rhythm and blues, with “After All The Good Is Gone”, in 1976, reflecting this. In the 1980s he recorded for Electra and thence Warner, before returning to Decca, which by then was known as MCA.

Like Buck Owens, on the opposite side of the country, Conway was a shrewd businessman. One example of this was the fact that he owned ‘Twitty City’, a huge theme park, near Nashville.

In June of 1993, Conway collapsed on his bus towards the end of a tour. He was rushed to hospital in Springfield, Missouri, where a ruptured abdominal aneurysm claimed his life.

At the time of his death Conway had amassed thirty-five No.1 country hits. These exclude the five he had shared, in duet, with Loretta Lynn (I have a post on her too!). Conway’s most popular country hit was “Hello Darlin'”, in 1970.

Perhaps, my favourite country hit of Conway’s comes from 1969 in the form of “To See An Angel Cry”.

Although Glen Campbell successfully revived “It’s Only Make Believe”, in 1970, I much prefer Conway Twitty’s original and for that reason it his recording that is recommended to you in my list of favourites, which is located in the suggested playlists.

‘Forget About The Snakes!’: Sunday, 27th March, 1977

It was a lovely morning when we left to drive to the Thirlmere Lakes, near Picton, however, upon our arrival it was cloudy and cool. En route, a hub-cap from “Mum’s” Rover 3,500cc sedan had become dislodged and disappeared into long grass. “Dad” told us that it was worth fifty dollars and to get out and find it. Fortunately, it hadn’t penetrated the grass far for all we could think of was the very real presence of snakes. We arrived home by 5.30 p.m., via the Camden Airport Museum which houses old aeroplanes, and watched the last half an hour of “Harem Scarem”, a film which bears the copyright of 1965 and stars Elvis Presley.

In rugby league, Manly-Warringah defeated Western Suburbs by fourteen points to seven. Australia defeated New Zealand by three goals to one, at soccer, in an match designed to eliminate one country from next year’s World Cup. The game was played at the Showground, in Sydney.

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