Thursday, 20 December 2012

Making It Happen - Eric Jupp And His Music (1969?)

Although they show up with some regularity, I’ve stopped buying Eric Jupp albums when I find them in op-shops these days. I’ve listened to a few, and Jupp’s LPs are typically schmaltzy lounge-room jazz firmly ensconced in an old-school, conservative musical mindset. It's pleasant enough stuff and features some great players, but not really my thing. I bought Making It Happen from the Salvos because it features an original composition by John Sangster, and due to the presence of some of my favourite sixties/seventies Oz jazz players (John Sangster, Don Burrows, George Golla, Derek Fairbrass, Warren Daly). 

This feels like an album where the young turks have dragged old fart Jupp into a more hip, modern set of songs. It’s not that hip though; there are still a number of soundtrack numbers and standards that are ever-present on these sorts of LPs - Theme From Exodus, Tara’s Theme from Gone With The Wind, Live For Life theme, Nino Rota’s A Time For Us from Romeo & Juliet and Hava Nagila. Most of these are pretty nice, if forgettable. 

The bulk of the set however is made up of instrumental arrangements of contemporary pop songs such as Puppet On A String (Sandie Shaw, 1967), Sounds of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel, 1966), The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener (Petula Clark, 1967), When I’m 64 (The Beatles, 1967), Help Yourself (Tom Jones, 1968) and Spinning Wheel (Blood, Sweat and Tears, 1969). A lot of these tracks are pretty great and the playing is always top-notch - for example, check out Burrow's echoey clarinet solo in the impossibly jaunty rendition of When I’m 64

The highlight is unquestionably Kaffir Song written by John Sangster. Most people would be familiar with this song from The Jazz Sound of The Don Burrows Quartet. In my opinion, the version on Making It Happen is superior. It’s a more fast-paced, less conspicuously ‘jazzy’ version and the interplay between the percussion and the bass is far more complex and interesting. (As amazing as the bass work is, the bassist is not credited in the liner notes - I’m guessing it’s Ed Gaston, but who knows?) It’s a looping, hypnotic trip into faux-exotica highlighted by Burrows high-pitched Bb school flute.

The other track which I really like is the Live For Life theme. From what I can tell, the original recording of this theme was a slow waltz - here Jupp reimagines the piece as a frantic whirlwind of exotic strings and horns, with the same picked bass tone as featured on Kaffir Song. It sounds like the kind of song that would played in a sixties movie over a montage of people doing important things very quickly. 

Label: Columbia
Released: 1969? (There is no date listed, but the latest of the cover songs was released in 1969). 
Players: Eric Jupp - piano, arrangements and musical direction.
Don Burrows - flutes, clarinet
Billy Burton - trumpet
George Golla - guitar
John Sangster - percussion, vibraphone
Derek Fairbrass - drums
Warren Daly - drums

Monday, 3 December 2012

Hymn For Holy Year - Kim and Leanne (1974)

This is a lovely religious/psychedelic pop tune attributed to two singers known only as “Kim and Leanne”. Did they go on to achieve musical success? Did they go on to achieve ecclesiastical success? This, like the holy trinity, is a mystery that will probably never really be known by mankind. The label says that the track was written by Julie Atton and produced by Peter Martin - an online record shop I found says that this is “jazz heavyweight” Peter Martin (and such a man does exist) but I’m unsure as to how they would have distinguished between that Peter Martin and some random Peter Martin from the congregation of Kim and Leanne’s church. 

The single was released by Sydney’s 2SM radio station which was enormously popular in the seventies and eighties and pretty much molded the Top 40 radio format as we know it in Australia. However, despite their populist appeal, until 1992 2SM was in fact owned by the Catholic Broadcasting Company which in turn was controlled by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney. (The ‘SM’ apparently refers to Sydney’s St. Mark’s Church) I won’t go into it in depth here, but yes, running a popular radio station that was controlled by the Catholic Church did have it’s challenges; various songs couldn’t be played, such as obvious examples like Skyhooks’ sleazy seventies stuff but also songs like The Ballad Of John and Yoko due to its conspicuous use of the word ‘Christ’. (All information on 2SM stolen from the excellent Australian vintage pop site, Milesago.)

Anyway, the song itself is great, Kim and Leanne are sweet, unpretentious singers, the phrasing of the melody kind of reminds me of Radiohead’s Optimistic and you literally won’t believe their use of primitive synths. The lyrics are rubbish and are in reference to the Catholic holy or jubilee year of 1974 - now this weird: the B-side features Father John Murphy talking about the Holy Year of 1974, but all the media I can find on the web says that the year in question was in fact 1975. Another Biblical mystery, on par with the resurrection, no doubt. So, enjoy this unique gem and give thanks to reader Rex who sent me this single. Amen.

Label: 2SM
Released: 1974
Players: Kim and Leanne - vocals
Peter Martin - production
No other musicians credited.