|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 venues were full of stoned hippies. Id sort of had my fill of the latter, which meant avoiding the others. Id 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 hadnt 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 50s 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 wasnt 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 60s discos 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 Id been importing a lot of albums from the US I couldnt
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 70s. 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
We decided to call
the shop Archie & Jugheads 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. Wed 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
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
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
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
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
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 Ernies
Other songs we wrote
then Im 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
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 wouldnt warp them.
Apart from inferior
mastering, the other grouch was censorship. For example, the local press
of John Lennons 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
Early in the piece one of our biggest sellers was Zappas 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.