Redgum

The principal members of Redgum were drawn together via their involvement with Flinders University, in Adelaide, South Australia. They were John Schumann, on vocals and guitar; Verity Truman on flute, saxophone and vocals; Michael Atkinson, vocals and guitar; and Chris Timms, on violin. The group formed in 1975.

Redgum’s first album, ‘If You Don’t Fight You Lose’, was released in 1978. In total, the band released six albums, the most successful of which was ‘Caught In The Act’, in 1983.

In 1980, Redgum was signed to record on the label, Epic, a subsidiary of CBS. This fearlessly outspoken folk-rock group was fervently nationalistic and, by 1983, had become one of Australia’s favourite live bands. It campaigned inexorably to better the lot of Aborigines, veterans of the Vietnamese War, the unemployed, and for the preservation of the environment. Redgum also opposed the influence of America on Australia’s culture.

The single, “I Was Only 19 (A Walk In The Light Green)”, was released in 1983 and, in May, spent two weeks atop the Australian chart.

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I once heard an interview with John Schumann, who wrote the song, in which he stated that he had been approached with a lucrative offer from America for the rights to “I Was Only 19 (A Walk In The Light Green)” but he turned it down as to accept would have led to the Americanisation of its lyrics.

“I’ve Been To Bali, Too” followed, in 1984, and peaked at No.9. Those were the days when tourists to the Indonesian island mainly had to be wary of being caught out by the operators of dodgy tours. Some twenty years later the real concern was not to become the victim of terrorism and be killed en masse in an attack by bombers.

Redgum’s third and last entry into the Australian singles chart came in 1985 when “The Drover’s Dog”, a political commentary put to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan, reached No.5.

Chris Timms had left the group in 1982, when his replacement had been Hugh McDonald. John Schumann did likewise three years later, in order to embark upon a solo career. Verity Truman remained until the group, itself, disbanded in 1990.

Western Genre: Saturday, 28th May, 1977

Between ten o’clock and noon I watched the pop music programme, “Sounds Unlimited”, hosted by Donnie Sutherland. This was followed by “Sonny And Cher” and, from one o’clock, “Survival” in which this afternoon’s edition focuses on the fauna of the English county of Norfolk.

It is really teeming down outside and so I continued to watch Channel Seven, as Collingwood outclassed Hawthorn in the Australian Rules match telecast live from Melbourne.

The quiz programmes, “Jeopardy” and “It’s Academic”, were followed by a pretty disappointing ‘Special’ on British singer, Brian Ferry, from half past six. “Baa Baa Black Sheep” followed that, on Channel Nine, and, from half past eight, this evening’s serving of “Petrocelli” has as a guest star Rory “The Texan” Calhoun.

“The Texan” was a western series, made for television, which ran from 1958-1960. Other series of this genre included: “Rawhide”, “Gunsmoke”, “Wagon Train”, “The Roy Rogers Show”, “Maverick”, “Bonanza”, “Laramie”, “Cheyenne”, “Bat Masterson”, “The Lone Ranger”, “The Cisco Kid”, “Have Gun Will Travel”, “Tales Of The Texas Rangers”, “Bronco”, “The Rifleman”, “Lawman”, “Sugarfoot”, “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, “Johnny Ringo”, “Tales Of Wells Fargo”, “Trackdown” and “Tombstone Territory”.

‘Kangaroos’ Defeat ‘Kiwis’: Sunday, 29th May, 1977

The first World Series Rugby League game was played, from 12.30 p.m., in Auckland. Australia led New Zealand by twelve points to two at half-time and continued its dominance in the second half to win by 27-12. In doing so the victors scored five tries to the opposition’s two.

Later, I listened to Manly-Warringah being mauled by the Balmain ‘Tigers’. The score at half-time was 15-4, which was extended to 27-11 at the final whistle. Ray Branighan and Elwyn Walters, according to the commentary, were too pedestrian.

At four o’clock, I re-entered the house to watch the remainder of the match between Sydney and Auckland, at rugby union, from the T.G. Millner field, in Eastwood. Sydney led by thirteen points to nine, however, Auckland stormed home in the last twenty minutes to win by 26-13.

Meanwhile, the film, “The 500 Pound Jerk”, which stars James “The Naked City”/”The Investigators”/”Mr. Novak”/”Longstreet” Franciscus, is also screening. It is about an American weight-lifter, who competes in the division for heavyweights and attempts to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games, of 1972, which were held in Munich.

“Ask The Leyland Brothers” takes the viewer to the studios of artist, Pro Hart, in Broken Hill; and also visits Ayers Rock.

“Seven’s Big League” programme, from half past six, replays this afternoon’s spiteful match between Parramatta and Cronulla-Sutherland, which was played at Cumberland Oval. Three players –two from Cronulla-Sutherland — were sent off after an all-in brawl erupted. Parramatta won the match by twenty-two points to fifteen.

Channel Nine, from half past seven, replayed this afternoon’s international, which was held at Carlaw Park.

The Sweet

Unlike its British glam-rock counterpart, Slade, The Sweet was able to make significant inroads on the American charts. However, this was by no means the extent of the group’s popularity.

Whereas mainstream music in the United States had mellowed in the early 1970s, with country rock from bands such as The Eagles much in vogue, in Britain, music remained influenced by the rock of the 1960s.

Later groups of this ilk, such as Kiss, took inspiration from bands like The Sweet and Slade.

In 1968 vocalist, Brian Connolly, joined the group, Wainwright’s Gentlemen, as the replacement for Ian Gillan, who was destined to join Deep Purple. Drummer, Mick Tucker, was already within its membership. The Sweet evolved quite rapidly from that point, with the pair being joined by Steve Priest, on bass, and guitarist, Andy Scott.

The quartet wisely availed itself of the services of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, a duo that was to compose success after success for recording artists, in Britain, throughout the 1970s and ’80s. Mike Chapman had actually moved to London from Brisbane, Australia in search of success. Initially, The Sweet’s releases were based upon the American bubblegum sound of the late 1960s (I refer you to my post on the 1910 Fruitgum Co.), flavoured by the sounds of the Caribbean.

Nineteen seventy-one saw The Sweet issue its initial album, ‘How Funny Sweet Co-Co Can Be’. “Funny Funny” and “Co-Co” were taken off it and both entered the British charts as singles; peaking at No.13 and No.2 respectively.

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“Poppa Joe” (No.11), “Little Willy” (No.4) and “Wig Wam Bam” (No.4) did likewise in the following year. It was to be “Little Willy” (No.3, in 1973) that really took the group to prominence in the United States.

In fact, 1973 was to mark the pinnacle of The Sweet’s career! “Blockbuster” became the band’s only No.1, in its homeland, while “Hell Raiser” and “Ballroom Blitz” both ascended to No.2. Meanwhile, the group’s singles entered the Australian charts for the first time: “Wig Wam Bam” (No.6), “Blockbuster” (No.11) and “Ballroom Blitz” (No.8).

It was to take two years for “Ballroom Blitz” to cross the Atlantic, however, when it did, “Fox On The Run” followed suit and entered the Top Five, too.

Nineteen seventy-four witnessed two further major hits, in Britain: “Teenage Rampage” (No.2) and “The Six Teens” (No.9); while, in Australia, for some obscure reason the group’s cover of Joey Dee and The Starliters’ chart-topping “Peppermint Twist”, from 1961, took off and peaked at No.2, remaining in the Top Forty for twenty-one weeks.

In Britain, in 1975, The Sweet’s most notable successes were the self-penned “Fox On The Run” (N0.2) and “Action” (No.15); while, in Australia, they were “Fox On The Run” (No.1), “Action” (No.5), and, in 1976, “Lies In Your Eyes” peaked at No. 11.

Brian Connolly’s heavy drinking was beginning to weigh upon the band and British clubs began to ban The Sweet due to its behaviour on stage. The quartet had also parted company from the songwriting duo, which had really been the foundation to its level of success.

In 1978, The Sweet released the album, ‘Level Headed’, and from it came the band’s last single to enter the Top Ten: “Love Is Like Oxygen” (Britain, No.9; U.S., No.8; Australia, No.6).

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Brian Connolly, a Scot, left the band, in 1979, to pursue a career as a solo artist. His liver failed him, in February of 1997, at the age of fifty-one. Mick Tucker departed in 1991, due to ill health, and died in February of 2002, from leukaemia, at the age of fifty-four.

“Ballroom Blitz” can be found on my list of favourite recordings, which is located in the suggested playlists.

‘Grass Skiing’: Monday, 30th May, 1977

I could not sleep and so I arose at ten to four and switched on Channel Nine. The film, “The Woman Hunter”, from 1972, featuring Robert “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Vaughn, Barbara “I Dream Of Jeannie” Eden, Stuart Whitman and Michael “Broken Arrow” Ansara, was being screened. The break of dawn heralded a sunny morning and a temperature of just seven degrees Celsius.

This evening, after “Flashez”, I watched “The Big Match”: West Ham and Derby (pronounced as “Darby”) County drew two-all. Both teams are in danger of being relegated to Division 2.

“Willesee”, at seven o’clock, includes an item on a female rower who has been banned from competition because of her alleged loose morals. She used the word “shit” on the show. Another segment includes reporter Paul Makin’s coverage on the new sport of grass skiing.

After “The Dick Emery Show”, we turned to the ABC’s Channel Two to view “In The Wild”. In this evening’s edition adventurer, Harry Butler, the presenter of the series, traces the Canning Stock Route in Western Australia and walks on Lake Disappointment — a salt lake — in the process.

We returned to Channel Seven, at half past eight, for Episode 19 of “Rich Man, Poor Man: Book 2”.

‘What Is Cold To Some…!: Tuesday, 31st May, 1977

This is unofficially the last day of autumn. I defied the threatening storm clouds and walked to work. A cold wind blew strongly at lunchtime. In fact, it was so cold outside that it required an effort just to speak.

The maximum temperature of just fourteen degrees Celsius means that Sydney has experienced its coldest day in May since 1956. Melbourne’s maximum of just eight delivers that city its coldest day in May for eighty years.

The Australian music series ‘Flashez’, presented by singer, Ray Burgess, may be viewed from 5.30 p.m., on ABC television, and is followed by ‘Last Of The Wild’, a documentary narrated by actor and recording artist, Lorne Greene. This evening’s edition screens from six o’clock and is entitled ‘Animals Of The Forest’. Lorne, who was born in Canada, in 1915, played Ben, the patriarch of the Cartwright family, in the perennial western series, ‘Bonanza’, from 1959 until 1973. In 1964, his recording, ‘Ringo’, spent three weeks atop the American charts.

‘A Gathering Of Eagles’, a film from 1963, is centred around life on an airforce base and stars Rock Hudson, Rod ‘Hong Kong’ Taylor and the English actress, Mary Peach. It is introduced by Bill Collins, from half past eight, on Channel Seven.

Former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, survives a challenge to his leadership of the Federal Opposition when he receives thirty-two votes, from colleagues in the Labor Party, to Bill Hayden’s thirty.

Stan Freberg

Stanley Victor Freberg was born in August of 1926, in Los Angeles. He was the only son of a Reverend Victor Freberg, a minister in the Baptist Church.

As a young lad he worked for his uncle, a magician, however, as it was the golden age of radio the prospect of him working in that industry appealed to him more than the desire to follow in his uncle’s footsteps.

Stan became recognised as an outstanding debater, in California, while still in his teens. He turned his back on a scholarship in drama and, instead, went to Hollywood where he auditioned at Warner Bros. Cartoons. There, directors were sufficiently impressed as to put him to work alongside the legendary Mel Blanc whose voice provided those of a number of animated characters.

Before long Stan was impersonating celebrities on a popular local radio show, all of the while developing voices that would continue to stand him in good stead for his career in cartoon, radio and recording.

Nevertheless, Stan’s career was to be interrupted by his induction into the Army, in 1945. Upon his discharge, in 1947, Stan began working in the fledgling industry of television; helping to devise and produce what was to become an extremely popular children’s programme.

Circa 1950, Stan was signed to a recording contract by Capitol Records and, in early 1951, his release, “John And Marsha”, a satire on soap operas, became an instant hit.

Stan lampooned Johnnie Ray’s huge hit, “Cry”, when he released “Try”. However, his biggest hit, “St. George And The Dragonet”, came in 1953 when he parodied television’s police series, ‘Dragnet’. The track has Stan as Sergeant Joe Friday — played in the series by Jack Webb — and a young actor, Daws Butler, as his junior police partner, Frank. Daws was later to provide the voices of Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound in the cartoons of the late 1950s. “Little Blue Riding Hood” was on the reverse of the single, which was to spend four weeks at No.1. In all, it sold two million copies.

In 1957, Stan wrote and performed “Tele-Vee-Shun”, an early commentary on the quality of television and how it was affecting the populace.

Stan continued to send up successful records, throughout the decade. Fans of Jason Derulo’s “Don’t Wanna Go Home”, in 2011, will recognise his sampling of Harry Belafonte’s classic, “Banana Boat (Day-O)”, which was another parodied by Stan. In 1958, he received a Grammy for ‘The Stan Freberg Show’, a comical series of programmes on the radio.

In this same year, Stan released his most controversial work, “Green Chri$tma$”, an assault on the over-commercialisation of a time viewed to be of such religious significance.

Despite this, Stan Freberg turned his hand to producing humorous advertisements for radio and television. His campaigns, in terms of sales, were extremely successful and his talents, in this regard, became eagerly sought after. Stan steadfastly refused to have anything to with the promotion of products related to alcohol or tobacco.

Nineteen eighty-nine saw the publication of Stan’s autobiography, ‘It Only Hurts When I Laugh’.

My favourite recording of Stan Freberg’s is “The Lone Psychiatrist”, from 1955, in which he parodies ‘The Lone Ranger’, a popular western hero of the time.

“The Lone Psychiatrist” has been included in the list of my favourite recordings, which can be located in the suggested playlists.

 

“April Fool?”: Friday, 1st April, 1977

A work-mate has just paid a deposit on a Jaguar XJ 2.8 litre sedan. It is six years old and priced at seven thousand dollars.

“Sweet And Sour Lobster Cutlets!”: Saturday, 2nd April, 1977

“Mum” gave me a dessertspoonful of expectorant in the hope that it would ease the tight feeling in my chest. I have had this feeling for almost a week!

“It’s Academic”, a quiz series for children, and the young at heart, is on Channel Seven this evening from half past five. Later, Leslie Nielsen is a guest star on “Swiss Family Robinson”. The series includes among its cast Martin “Route 66″/”Adam-12” Milner, Cameron “The High Chaparral” Mitchell and Helen Hunt.

We dined at the Chinese restaurant, Fountain Inn, on Port Hacking Road, in Caringbah. Two pineapple juices, one serving of fried rice, lobster cutlets in sweet and sour sauce for main course at a cost of $7.50 each, with a serving each of lychees and ice-cream and two cups of Chinese tea, resulted in a bill which totalled $19.60.

The Centenary Of ‘Countdown’: Sunday, 3rd April, 1977

I was up from five past two until twenty-five past four this morning. In that time I drank a glass of lemonade to help relieve what felt like wind trapped in my chest.

After breakfast, Tiki painstakingly cut my hair, obviously stung by her mother’s criticism of the other day in which she stated that I should be getting it cut by an expert.

A friend of the family arrived today and plans to stay for one week. She is ninety years of age and confided in me that she once had a pain in her chest and drank a glass of beer in order to relieve her of wind. I am starting to believe that the culprit might be my heart.

Downstairs, I slept for an hour from half past three. When I ventured up to the lounge room, “Mum” informed me that I looked terrible.

Although it was quite warm and uncomfortable this morning, it has been another glorious day with a maximum temperature of twenty-seven degrees Celsius.

This evening between half past five and half past six, on ABC-TV’s Channel Two, we viewed the one hundredth edition of the pop music programme, “Countdown”, hosted by the bumbling Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum.

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