Friday, 3 January 2014

Australian Geographonic - tracks from Pat Aulton, Philip Merifield and Barry Hall At The Conn Organ.

The Place I Want To Be - Pat Aulton (1980). Pat Aulton is quite a celebrated musician and producer who was particularly successful in the sixties and seventies, producing hit records for people such as Normie Rowe. I was familiar with Aulton through a fantastic library track called Barrier Reef that he contributed to Standard Music Library ESL 126 alongside John Sangster and Sven Libaek. On The Place I Want To Be he is front of the microphone and singing this somewhat awkward paean to Great Eastland - a chunk of northern New South Wales and south Queensland. Aulton forges ahead with gusto, even (almost) selling artless lines like, ‘We’ve got people peanut picking up in Kingaroy’ or ‘All through the inland and right along the coast, when you look at people’s faces, you can almost see them boast’. I suspect this was the theme song for the regional television network Great Eastland Television as they commissioned the track and the term ‘Great Eastland’ isn’t widely used in a geographical sense. The B-side, Country Nights fares no better lyrically but has some lovely production touches.

It’s Another World - Phillip Merifield (198?). It’s Another World is actually the B-side of this single, but I like it better than the A, so here it is. This is another promotional single either for the Gippsland region in general, or a business called ‘Lakeland Wonderland’ in Lakes Entrance, that rare thing that has basically zero Google presence, so I haven’t the faintest idea. Anyway, the song itself is in the same ‘list as many towns as you can’ school of songwriting as The Place I Want To Be, but feels a little bit more natural. I haven’t found any information at all about Merifield, but the single was produced by John Wallis, a folk muso who has been active since the eighties and is still playing today. (And, to illustrate the incestuousness of the Australian music scene, on his 1984 LP A Singer Of The Bush he was joined on keyboards by Ian Eccles-Smith, whose progressive releases I have previously showcased on Urban Bowerbird.)

The Lights Of Adelaide - Barry Hall At The Conn Organ (1969). Barry Hall is a bit of a star organ player who released a number of LPs in the sixties and seventies and at 77 years old still has new CDs for sale on his website today. This track is off his Choose Your Own LP which was the name of Barry’s radio show on Adelaide’s 5DN. On this show, Barry would ‘spin records, give cheerio calls to listeners, handle competitions and play the organ’. Little wonder that Barry remained a ‘firm favourite with housewives over the years’. One competition that 5DN held in 1968 was an Australia wide songwriting contest for a song about Adelaide. The winner, The Lights Of Adelaide written by Mr. Cliff Johns of Belair, is given Barry’s organ-driven treatment with accompaniment from Kevin Roper on drums and Roy Wooding on guitar. Sure, it’s a daggy and antiquated tune (have you ever been to Adelaide?) but it’s pretty charming and the addition of live guitar lifts it above the general standard of op-shop organ music. All in all, it perfectly sums up Adelaide, or ‘Radelaide’ as it is regularly, sarcastically referred to by Melbournians and Sydneysiders alike.

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