Friday, 30 March 2012

Sally/Dive - Andrew Richardson (1982)

I'm really into the flute these days. The presence of a flute on a record will pretty much tip me over into buying it if I'm otherwise unable to decide. This independent release by Andrew Richardson features a lovely picture of him playing the flute on the front and on the back has a disembodied arm defiantly grasping a flute - naturally I bought it and the Salvos made an easy $1. When deciding on a genre tag on this post, I wasn't quite sure what to call this instrumental record. Prog? Pop? 'Flute' seemed most appropriate. Sally is a slow, soundtrackesque piece with quite a simple melody that builds to a nice dramatic plateau which then gets washed over by some very eighties synth sounds. Dive is a strange, upbeat pop track with Richardsons doubled flute accompanied by synth bass and drums. Andrew is still actively playing, but now goes under the name Howlin' Wind.

Label: Private? Andrew Richardson Music, produced by Andrew Richardson.
Released: 1982
Players: Andrew Richardson - flute
Mike Toddhunter - keyboards

Para Ti/Warmer - Bryce Rohde (1963)

This is a single released in 1963 by Bryce Rohde, probably best known for his work in the Australian Jazz Quintet. I found this single at a second book shop in Leongatha with a bunch of other jazz 45s that were all from 1963. Both tracks on this 7" are great and have something of a cool, almost exotica, bossa feel - it reminds me of the sort of stuff they reissue on Trunk Records. This single was released by CBS during the reign of Sven Libaek who produced both tracks.

The Hobbit Suite - John Sangster (1973)

I love John Sangster. The fact that this man is not considered a national treasure may be one of the greatest injustices of Australian history. Anyway, here we find him doing what he does best: playing slightly weird, trad-ish jazz with his mates in an attempt to evoke the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (the man had vision). This record is similar to the later works that Sangster would do in this series, Lord Of The Rings Volume I (1975) and II (1976). Favourite titles are Gandalf The Whiz and Bilbo Baggins Takes A Trip. Favourite song is the awesome coolness of Beorn's Bear Dance. Just a straight-up great jazz record with a hell of a lot of personality and an incredible level of musicianship. If this album piques your interest, check out the totally brilliant Australia And All That Jazz.

Label: Swaggie, produced by Nevill L. Sherburn.
Released: 1973
Players: John Sangster - vibes, marimbaphone, celesete, percussions
Bob Barnard - trumpet, flugelhorn
John McCarthy - clarinet, soprano, tenor saxophone
Col Nolan - piano
George Thompson - bass
Len Barnard - drums, washboard
Ian Bloxsom - percussions

Here's Hawes - The John Hawes Jazz Band (1963)

There's something almost punk about this EP from 1963 - six young Melbourne lads (none of the band members were over 21) smashing out party music with this rebellious new 'jazz' sound. The first track, Dr. Jazz opens with a sample of a phone operator asking 'May I help you?' who is then greeted to John Hawes screaming over a frenetic jazz track. Although the sound of the EP is generally trad jazz, the sample and the screaming vocals give this track at least, quite a modern feel. The next track Shout 'Em Aunt Tilly (written by Duke Ellington) is my favourite, another ostensibly trad jazz piece but with slightly more edge than the rest of the record. The EP closes with another vocal track, I Want A Girl which hearkens back to an age when it was socially acceptable to sing a song about how you wanted to bang a girl who was just like your mum. In summary, it's a consistently entertaining EP from some very young, exuberant players who wanted to "achieve a 'different' sound" and to "[a]bove all 'to entertain' as this album so ably demonstrates."

Label: Crest
Released: 1963
Players: John Hawes - leader, cornet, vocals
Graeme Davies - trombone
Hamish Hughes - bass
Dave McCallum - drum-kit and interruptions
Jeff Thomas - standard banjo
Ray Rickerby - clarinet

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Murray Song/Riverbird Cries - Peter Harris (~1977)

I found this single in an op-shop in Brunswick for about a dollar. I bought it because the information on the sleeve indicated that this had been recorded in Mildura - a small town on the Murray in northern Victoria where surely very few records were ever produced. It's also where I grew up. Both tracks on this single are deceptively likeable and feature a sort of pretentious-free folk sound with the welcome addition of some fearsome sounding early synths. I found it hard to find out much about this record (the name Peter Harris isn't exactly distinctive) so I struck upon the bright idea of asking an old family friend from Mildura whose surname happens to be 'Harris', if Peter was a long lost cousin or something. Peter was no relation, but I still got a very informative reply. My friend had talked to a longtime community radio volunteer and obtained the following information:

Peter Harris was a school teacher within the NSW school system and was posted to the area around 1974. He wrote a song about the PS Ruby and recorded a full album back in Sydney which was released on Ritz records, a subsidiary of Festival. Ruby was the title track of the album (and we have a copy at HOT FM)

When I was on the tourist Board we had two goes to get a good song on Mildura. In 1975 we got the late Tex Williams to record locally a single "The Paddleboat Song" and "The Mildura Song". It was recorded at the Norco Studios in Mildura by the late Brian Norris and issued as NCP 208. Both sides were written by Tex and Paul Williams, who were living out at Ruby Hayles place at Trentham Cliffs.

Around 1977 we did a similar experiment with Peter Harris and he wrote and recorded "The Murray Song" and "The River Bird Cries" It was recorded at Nor-Co and issued with the catalogue number of NCP 243.

Soon after that Peter left the district and from memory went to the Casino area of NSW [...] Peter did a lot of work with school kids on both sides of the Murray River during his time here.

Harris's album Ruby is a very sought after record today and regularly sells for well over $100. Harris also recorded an album with one of his students Dave Madden, called Fool's Paradise which is equally revered by LP collectors (and priced accordingly) but is also available on iTunes in a slightly more affordable format.

Label: Private/NOR-CO
Released: ~1977
Players: Peter Harris - piano, guitars, synthesizers
Owen Zibbell - bass

Northern Territory/Theme From Black Orpheus -Andy Sundstrom (1963)

(EDIT: I have found the EP from which this single was taken. It contains an additional two tracks Free Fall and Theme From An Unwritten Movie. Check it out here.)

To follow on from the previous post, here is a version of Sven Libaek's song Northern Territory recorded by Andy Sundstrom in 1963. Libaek's version of this track can be found on The Music Of Sven Libaek and based on the liner notes of that LP, was presumably featured on some sort of documentary about the Northern Territory. I can find very little information on who Sundstrom actually is, but he recorded a couple of folk LPs with Leonard Teale back in 1969 and 1970. He's clearly a guitarist as these two instrumental, guitar-based tracks attest. Northern Territory is a jaunty, tremolo-number with a distinct western feel. The B-side, Theme From Black Orpheus is an exotica-tinged, melody driven Brazilian bossa nova taken from the soundtrack of the 1959 movie of the same name.

EDIT: Found some information on Mr. Sundstrom on the back of an LP he did with Leonard Teale. Here it is verbatim:

Andy Sundstrom was born in Denmark. He studied almost every string instrument imaginable, paying particular attention to the guitar and balalaika. Most of his early youth was spent playing in various bands. He decided he wanted to travel, and with a friend, two guitars, a balalaika and $60 in his pocket he left Hanover, Germany. After 10 days the money had been spent, then the boys ‘played’ their way to Italy, Marseilles, Spain. Andy continued the journey alone to the Canary Islands, and from there helped sail a 38-foot ketch to Australia where he settled for several years. Andy has now returned to his native Denmark, and recently travelled extensively throughout Europe furthering his musical career.

Label: CBS, produced by Sven Libaek.
Released: 1963
Players: Andy Sundstrom - guitar


Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Music Of Sven Libaek - Sven Libaek (1967)

This LP seems to be one of the lesser heard of Libaek's albums from his golden era in the sixties and seventies. I can't imagine why - it's a fantastic set of music as good as (or better than) his soundtrack work which has enjoyed such a resurgence in appreciation over the last few years. In any case, the majority of the pieces on this album are from film and television soundtracks composed 'in the last year or so' and then rearranged and rerecorded for this album. The liner notes don't mention which soundtracks, but the titles give clues: Gold Coast Fanfare, Lake Moondara, Northern Territory and so on.

EDIT: I've noticed from the liner notes of the Nature Walkabout soundtrack that some of these earlier works are mentioned. Man And A Mural was from the soundtrack to an 'award winning art documentary film' of the same name which was produced and edited by Nature Walkabout producer  Bill Copland. Done Away With was part of the music Sven wrote for a 'TV play' of the same name by Pat Flowers. Versions of Northern Territory and Theme From An Unwritten Movie were released on a 1963 EP by balalaika player Andy Sundstrom on CBS when Libaek was at the helm as A&R man. I recently tracked down this EP and wrote a post on it here.

The compositions are played by that great team of Sydney jazz players familiar from countless other Australian recordings of the era: Don Burrows, Errol Buddle, George Golla, John Sangster and Derek Fairbrass amongst others. This is a superb album which deserves to be placed in the same league as Libaek's best.

Postcript: The excellent ABC podcast RareCollections recently ran a two-part interview with Libaek containing a lot of great information from Sven. Check it out here.

Label: Festival
Released: 1967
Players: Sven Libaek - piano, guitar
Don Burrows - alto sax, alto flute, flute
Errol Buddle - tenor sax
Eric "Boff" Thompson - trumpet
Richard Brooks - harmonica
George Golla - guitar
John Sangster - vibes, glockenspiel, bongos
Ed Gaston - bass
Derek Fairbrass - drums

Friday, 2 March 2012

Urban Bowerbird

Hello internet. Urban Bowerbird is a site intended to share music that I have found out there in the urban wilderness of Australia which may not have been widely heard. I intend to focus mainly on Australian releases, particularly jazz, soundtrack, field recordings, Australiana etc. but will also include any other albums that have appealed to me. If you like any of the music or have some interesting information about any of the artists or albums, please leave a comment.

All of these rips are from my own collection and were transferred to mp3 with a Newmark PT-01 USB turntable. They have not been treated with any noise-reduction software or anything like that, so the sound quality can vary depending on the state of the original vinyl.

Obviously, I don't want to get sued, so if you feel that the sharing of any of the releases on this site is a violation of copyright (or are currently commercially available) please contact me at cambrianexplosion at