Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Unique Sound of Andy Sundstrom - Andy Sundstrom/Sven Libaek (1963)

Earlier this year I wrote a post about a single by Andy Sundstrom from 1963 playing a couple of songs composed and produced by Sven Libaek. I have now come across the EP from which this single was taken thanks to Urban Bowerbird reader Rex. The Unique Sound of Andy Sundstrom features the two songs from the single - Northern Territory and Theme From Black Orpheus - and two more Libaek-penned tunes; Free Fall and Theme From An Unwritten Movie. Although I didn’t realise this after hearing the single, Sundstrom plays these songs not on a guitar, but on a balalaika. This has added a whole new layer to the music for me and makes Andy a bit of a pop oddity. Whoever thought that balalaika surf-pop from the early sixties Australian music scene even existed? Two of the tracks, Northern Territory and Theme From An Unwritten Movie would be recorded by Sven with his usual jazz ensemble of the time and included on The Music Of Sven Libaek released four years later. The third track, Free Fall, was written by Libaek and performed by Australian surf group The Atlantics on their Bombora LP from 1963. (I’m not sure who played it first - both recordings came out in 1963).

Back cover liner notes: Three years ago ANDY SUNDSTROM came to Australia as a crew member on the 38 foot ketch “Sarong”. He had a guitar under one arm and a balalaika under the other. He wasn’t planning to stay too long, as all his family live in Denmark, his country of birth. However, he fell in love, with Australia, as do so many other visitors and migrants - and he’s still here! He hasn’t wasted his three years here either, on the contrary, he has established himself as one of Australia’s leading entertainers. 

ANDY’S speciality is the balalaika and in playing it he has been referred to as the “fastest man on strings”. However, his first CBS disc was far from a fast one. It was a haunting melody simply entitled “THEME FROM AN UNWRITTEN MOVIE” and although it was not a hit for ANDY it certainly made a stir among the public as well as disc jockeys and show business personalities. It was NORTHERN TERRITORY that really established Andy as a top pop artist with his balalaika. His beautiful rendition of THEME FROM BLACK ORPHEUS also became extremely popular with the public. All these tracks you will find on this E.P. and in addition, his latest entitled FREE FALL, a virtuoso surfin’ number.

This collection could easily have been entitled - “The Best of Andy Sundstrom”, but THE UNIQUE SOUND OF ANDY SUNDSTROM seemed more appropriate. It is indeed a unique sound - this strange haunting and brilliant way of playing that rather unusual instrument the balalaika, with a pop flavor. ANDY has created a new branch of Australian entertainment business. A branch that is growing in popularity every day.

Label: CBS, produced and composed by Sven Libaek
Released: 1963
Players: Andy Sundstrom - balalaika, guitar (no other musicians credited)

EDIT: Urban Bowerbird reader "randbasic" emailed me a reconstructed version of the artwork for this record. It looks great.

EDIT 25/09/2016: Here's a short article talking about Andy's work on this EP from Australian Womens Weekly in 1962. 

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Hayman Island Promo Single - Jimmy Parkinson (1957)

Sandy Scott was glad he lost his heart in Sydney - and Jimmy Parkinson lost his heart on Hayman Island. Presumably in the fifties and sixties you couldn’t walk around a popular Australian tourist spot without tripping over some pop-star's lost, dismembered heart. This recording is a nice little Oz exotica single from the late fifties featuring crooner Jimmy Parkinson singing a couple of tunes about Hayman Island.

From Wikipedia: Hayman Island is the most northerly of the Whitsunday Islands, part of the Cumberland Islands, which are located off the coast of Central Queensland, Australia at 20°03′S 148°53′E. Hayman is a private island open to the public, most famous for its luxury resort which was built in the 1950s by millionaire Reg Ansett, who also founded Ansett Australia. The island is a significant drawing point for tourism in Queensland.

Jimmy Parkinson was an Australian born singer who had a significant hit in the UK with ‘The Great Pretender’, released a few singles and one LP. This single features two tunes about the tropical wonders of Hayman Island with backing by Bob Gibson, His Orchestra and Chorus. It was a promotional single produced by the Royal Hayman Hotel. The two tracks are (Pack Up A Dream) And Head For Hayman Island and I Lost My Heart On Hayman Island - both done in a late fifties exotica style; Queensland via Honolulu.

My copy has no picture sleeve, but apparently one exists (picture above borrowed from popsike.com who borrowed it from eBay).

Label: EMI Custom
Released: 1957
Players: Jimmy Parkinson - vocals
Bob Gibson - Orchestra