MILESAGO - Features
Keith Glass - A Life In Music
Part 5: 1971-72 - Sundown and 'Archie & Jughead's'

The music scene had changed a lot during the near two years I was in HAIR. Big outdoor festivals had become a major focus, bands were heavier and spacier and venue’s were full of stoned hippies. I’d sort of had my fill of the latter, which meant avoiding the others. I’d lasted about four hours at Ourimbah, one hour by road north of Sydney and touted as the first big outdoor festival in Australia, before being bored out of my brain. Post Hair I hardly touched any form of drug, I was almost vegetarian and hadn’t even had a cup of coffee for about two years.

Arriving back in Melbourne to find places like the T.F Much Ballroom where people were permanently horizontal was a little depressing. Prior to my arrival I had some correspondence back and forth with Ross Wilson who said he had this idea for a fun 50’s band called Daddy Cool . I wrote back and said "as in the old R&B song?" (Which admittedly I only knew from The Diamonds cover version) He wasn’t aware of it, or maybe subconsciously was (from years of listening to DJ Stan Rofe) so I told him I had a copy and would get it to him on my return. At that stage Ross was toying with the idea of having a three vocalist frontline, suggesting Gully Smith and I join him. Of course, one or two gigs in at the T.F Much and Daddy Cool were the hottest thing in town and that idea was dropped! Daddy Cool the song, even became a Chipmunk type hit for Drummond on the strength of the incredible popularity achieved so quickly by DC, who were for a while our own fab four and a perfect tonic to the stoned out, ten minute solo type bands they were billed with.

I almost immediately fell into a band already in rehearsal anyway with Broderick Smith, who had just finished his national service, Kerryn Tolhurst, Mark Barnes on bass and drummer Barry Windley. I had a few gigs lined up on the strength of the Hair claim to fame and the band tagged along on those, Brod and I sharing the vocals. It was always meant to be loose and pretty much remained that way even when we scored a residency a few nights a week at the Garrison in Prahran, one of the few remaining 60’s ‘disco’s’ now struggling to stay alive past their heyday. We (I think Brod actually) dubbed the group ‘Sundown’, it was my intention to play country music having followed the Gram Parsons route tracing back to actual real country. This first Sundown never really got there but existed in a country/rock netherworld that I guess had some relevance to Country Radio, where Kerryn went; none at all to Carson, where Brod went and a lot to me when I took the band to in its next version as an all out country combo playing George Jones/Merle Haggard and originals while blundering our way towards something of our own.

Eventually Brod & Kerryn would join up again in The Dingoes,the best country/rock band ever to come out of Australia (IMO). The few months playing at The Garrison were pretty funny and a great settling down experience back in the old hometown. Somewhere in there I started thinking I needed a day job. During my time in Hair I’d been importing a lot of albums from the US I couldn’t obtain in Sydney and became aware of the far better graphics/print and pressing quality they had over the local copies. In Melbourne we were rather better served by shops such as Thomas’ for classics/jazz and blues, Discurio for the same, (plus folk) and The Disc Shop and Playback for rock/soul/etc. The latter, ran by John MacDonald and staffed (in one or the other) by the often incredibly snide Mick Kinnear seemed to be flagging by the early 70’s. I could sense an opening for a more youth oriented shop without the iconic Kinnear who despite his small stature, scared a lot of people off. Dave Pepperell had the same idea so we teamed up. Unfortunately my money saved from two years as a professional hippie was our only funding, matched by a bank loan he obtained, maybe warning bells should have sounded right there!

In any event we scouted locations and Pat Wilson (AKA Mummy Cool and later The Bop Girl) told us about the Metropole Arcade where she and some-one else had set up a little clothes design business on the balcony level for very a low rental. As we had no line of supply yet, just the idea, we took a room for $5 a week(!), to work out the details. This became our first shop. The Arcade was in Bourke St, up the hill from Elizabeth and right beside the big hardware dealer McEwans. It was a pretty convenient location for young office workers who were nearby in droves but a real sleepy hollow itself. The main attractions were a Communist bookshop, where some little old ladies (why is that?) sold lots of copies of ‘the little red book’ and beautiful full colour glossy
posters of Chairman Mao. Also in the arcade was the interesting antique/tat shop Paraphernalia. We were located straight up the stairs and rigged up some signs ready for the opening, as soon as we worked out how to get some stock!

We decided to call the shop ‘Archie & Jughead’s’ just as an irreverent/different/familiar, non-actual record related thing ? no other reason. I built some counters and shelves, brought in my home stereo and we were almost in business, Pepperell still holding down a day job. We’d found a supplier and placed and paid for our first order. The idea was to bring in stuff we liked and operate outside of the top 40, just go for a gut feeling on what the local companies were out of touch with
and/or had short changed the consumer on in terms of packaging/pressing. At that time, apart from specialist stores, bigger retailers still had the record racks next to the toasters/small electrical goods and there was virtually no idea of catering for the youth market. We had some
feeling we were doing something new relating to people our own age but little idea of the forces we were about to unleash.

My next door neighbor was a journalist for the daily newspaper The Sun. When he heard what I was up to he volunteered to write it up for the paper. The article appeared the very day the bulk of our stock arrived. We virtually sold out that same day. In the next week we were visited by
representatives of all the major record companies, all shaking their fists and telling us they’d put us out of business. Within a few weeks we were turning over everything we could lay our hands on, the cash flow was big, the profit less so because we were still learning the ropes in terms of freight costs and possible copyright problems. The good thing was our rental overheads were so low as to be virtually non-existent. Pretty soon other like-minded businesses were moving in to the arcade such as a next door bookstore run by Alec Morton who was previously partner in The Source on Bourke St and downstairs a carved leather goods business run by muso Mike Edwards. We were approached by some people who had been importing records from the UK to sell at the universities to do a swap on our US product with theirs. Pretty soon we had a cartel and a lot of product was being shifted. I should point out that very little of the stuff we sold was even being touched by the local major labels.

There once again was a revolution in public taste they were not part of, album sales just took off at this point of time and people wanted artists the local labels passed on or took far to long to make available locally. The room in The Metropole was our home for approximately nine months
when word came down this old arcade was going to be demolished. By then Archie ‘N Jugheads was firmly established and our opening day in new premises in Manchester Lane, off Collins St brought a line of people waiting on opening right up the street. Heady times indeed and ones that
would soon go to at least one of our heads!

Meanwhile I’d formed a new version of Sundown with the aforementioned Mike Edwards also on guitar/vocals, his brother Steve on bass, David Redapple on lead guitar and Barry Windley back on drums (having previously played with the Edwards brothers in Quinn). Our aim was to
play ‘real’ country to the ‘real’ people so we scored a gig at The Whitehorse Hotel in Bulleen, the HQ of the Country Music Guild. We were treated with some suspicion on arrival, long haired boys that we were but the set seemed to go alright, no chicken wire required. Post performance, the dressing room door burst open and in walked a small wiry man dressed in a western cut suit, with an entourage following behind him. He was smoking a big cigar (I kid not). He said in a southern drawl "son, I’m Dalton Henderson. I’m gonna take you to Nashville and buy you a Nudie* suit." Not being as naive as the rag tag bunch with him I just thought "wow! What a cliché, but I’m glad it
happened to me", even if nothing came of it, which of course it never did! Dalton was a character however, he and his brother Tommy grew up as best childhood friends of George Jones in ‘the big thicket’ area outside of Beaumont, Texas. That’s a fact, you can see a photo of Dalton with George as kids on Jones’ 1999 album Cold Hard Truth. The Henderson brothers were oil pipe fitters making big money out in Bass Straight and have now both passed away. Alcohol was a factor and I’d like to think I helped Tommy in his final days two decades later when he became so delirious he thought at times he was George Jones.

[* Nudie suit - the garish fancy embroidered western suits made famous by The Flying Burrito Brothers]

The Hawking Brothers were a huge draw as a country group at this time and they also were gracious to us young upstarts, at one stage giving us a gig or two a week at their residency. Sundown would go from playing the Broadmeadows Hotel in the wild west of outer Melbourne to playing the trendy Regent in South Yarra in tandem with the psychedelic Mackenzie Theory. Weird times indeed. We also often played at a venue run by Carl & Janie Myriad in a loft off Flinders St called The Maze which was very alternative and performed the first Saturday afternoon
ever in the ‘Ladies Lounge’ at the Station Hotel, Prahran when the famous or infamous place had no stage just an alcove lined with bench seats against the far back wall. Mark Barnes had been working on the publican to put some bands on, we were the guinea pigs and in a bit of tit for tat, (because he never let me forget I’d kicked him out of two bands), once it proved successful, Sundown never got a return booking! The Station however did become a major hangout for about the next six years and many adventures/stories could be told. Some will in future chapters.

Mike Edwards and I were writing songs. I came up with a Merle Haggard inspired anti foreign ownership anthem relevant to the Australian situation called This Country Of Mine, we recorded it and I played it to John MacDonald at Image and he decided to put it out. A few weeks later we did a big show supporting Slim Dusty and I gave him a copy, he wanted it to be his next single. EMI were a little concerned about the fairly gentle political stance the lyric took and made it the title track of an EP instead but nevertheless it has been in print until today and made a tidy sum, even bringing on a few more versions, including one from Aboriginal politician/singer Ernie Bridge he used during a West Australian campaign for his seat. Never seen a cent from Ernie’s
version, which remains in print too, chalk that one up as my contribution to reconciliation!

Other songs we wrote then I’m still trawling through to this day, a few are on my recent album Australian Soul as they were ahem, maybe ‘ahead of their time.’ The band sort of ran out of steam because there was no-where to take it. We were still city boys and unless we bit the
bullet and toured the actual country and were prepared to play cover versions then the future would be an endless round of small-time pubs and on into the clubs, I wasn’t quite of that mind-set and besides the retail business was booming. With a baby on the way and maybe the thought that at the ripe old age of 26 I should be looking beyond playing music(!) I looked to consolidating our business against opposition that was beginning to spring up. First Euphoria Records just
off Flinders St, Gaslight in a nearby arcade and numerous others, including suburban shops such as Liberation down in Greville St Prahran run by a young Michael Gudinski (recently seen on the ABC series railing against 70’s import shops vs supporting local talent forgetting he once ran one.)

The record companies worst fears were taking root, Anthem started up in Sydney and import shops in every capital city were not far away. As more people realised how short changed they were with local pressings the more demand there was. The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers is a packaging case in point, the famous real zipper on the cover was NOT a feature of the local and people felt cheated without that tactile experience, which by the way was a devil to ship because the albums need filler between each copy so the metal zipper catch wouldn’t warp them.

Apart from inferior mastering, the other grouch was censorship. For example, the local press of John Lennon’s first solo album actually had the expletives removed on the song Working Class Hero - hard to believe but true. Even quite a few years later Festival was still doing this to
Marianne Faithful’s version on Broken English, and often, right on up to the time they had the rights on The Sex Pistols and Derek & Clive refused to release the albums at all.

Early in the piece one of our biggest sellers was Zappa’s Live At The Filmore, lots of smutty humour on there and not to be released locally for years. We sold hundreds. Any arty or prog-rock album was almost guaranteed to be a much delayed release. The companies stupidity played right into our hands but they were ready to strike and give us our come-uppence.

Next month ? We get busted, form our own record company and I travel to the holy land.