Absolute Anthology
The Easybeats

1 For My Woman
2 Say That You're Mine
3 She's So Fine
4 Wedding Ring
5 Easy As Can Be
6 Sad & Lonely & Blue
7 You Said That
8 You Got It Off Me
9 You Can't Do That
10 Funny Feelin'
11 In My Book
12 Women
13 Come & See Her
14 I'll Make You Happy
15 Too Much
16 Sorry
17 Made My Bed (Gonna Lie In It)
18 Friday On My Mind
19 Pretty Girl
20 Remember Sam
21 Who'll Be The One?
22 Do You Have A Soul?
23 Heaven & Hell

1 Hello How Are You?
2 Come In You'll Get Pneumonia
3 Good Times
4 Bring A Little Lovin'
5 The Music Goes Round My Head (fast version)
6 Falling Of The Edge Of The World
7 The Shame Just Drained
8 What In The World
9 Land Of Make Believe
10 Peculiar Hole In Sky
11 Lisa
12 Saturday Night
13 Amanda Storey
14 Down To The Last 500
15 Lay Me Down And Die (Vocal Version)
16 Wait A Minute
17 I Love Marie
18 Rock & Roll Boogie
19 Can't Find Love
20 St Louis




I still vividly remember the thrill of playing this for the first time when I bought it back in 1982 -- the pleasure of hearing again all those classic hits like Wedding Ring and I’ll Make You Happy, which by then were being revived by ‘new wave’ bands like Divinyls and Sports, and the pure delight of discovering the British recordings I had never heard, like the superb Land Of Make Believe, Peculiar Hole In The Sky and the immortal Good Times, the song which famously caused Paul McCartney to pull his car over and ring the BBC to ask for a replay.

Originally issued as a double LP in 1980 and re-issued on CD in 1995, Absolute Anthology is a cornerstone of the OzMusic reissue industry and it was crucial not only for its role in cementing the reputation of the Easys as the premier Australian band of the Sixties but also for demonstrating unequivocally that there was a viable market for such reissue projects – it reached a very respectable #35 on the Aussie album charts that year. Still the definitive overview of The Easys’ short but entirely brilliant musical career, Absolute Anthology is a ‘must have’ record – in fact I reckon the government should issue it every school and public library in Australia!

Created by Glenn A. Baker, and doubtless a dream project of his for years, the release of Absolute Anthology was helped along by the tremendous interest in Glenn’s 1980 Easybeats special on his fondly-remembered Rock’n’Roll Trivia Show on radio station Two Double Jay in Sydney. This series was crucial in reviving interest in Australian pop and rock of the Fifites, Sixties and early Seventies, and his specials (such as the equally important Masters Apprentices feature) led to the creation of some of the best anthologies of Australian Sixties pop.

The original LP set was well-presented and was doubly valuable for Glenn’s exhaustive essay on the Easybeats history, which drew on the radio special and on his exhaustive 1976 Rolling Stone interview with George Young, and it also contained many rare photos. Regrettably this important essay has been condensed to a mere fraction of its original length for the CD issue and the omission of the full-length version is really the only ground for complaint about this otherwise unimpeachable product. The LP version can still be obtained second-hand and is invaluable for the hardcore Easys fan.

CD1 is almost pure gold from start to finish, opening with both sides of their brilliant but rarely heard debut single, For My Women/Say That You’re Mine and then ploughing headlong into the glorious madness of Easyfever and the string of Aussie hits that justifiably made them Australia’s most popular and successful band from 1965-67, with a couple of rarer tracks thrown in for good measure. Little else needs to be said about solid-gold classics like Sorry, Women and Come And See Her other than to note that they are among the greatest artifacts of Sixties beat pop, bar none, showcasing what a brilliant, dynamic inventive and thoroughly original group they were at their best. The last seven songs of the first disc capture the best (and ‘worst’) of the their early British recordings from 1967 – the timeless international smash hit Friday On My Mind and the gem that should have been its follow-up single, Pretty Girl. Also included are the various tracks they recorded with Shel Talmy as they recovered from the shock departure of drummer Snowy Fleet and tried vainly to create that elusive follow-up hit. George Young later bagged most of these tracks (famously dismissing Who’ll Be The One as “crap”) and its not hard to see why he felt that way in comparison to sterling tracks like Friday or its other shoulda-been successor, Good Times. CD1 closes with the superlative psychedelic rocker Heaven And Hell, the song that should have put them back into the charts, which sadly was scuttled by a radio ban over its supposedly questionable lyrical content.

CD2 highlights their British recordings from 1968-69 and is more varied and perhaps less compelling in its content, but it amply illustrates the extraordinary range and skill that Vanda & Young developed as songwriters, arrangers and producers over those difficult years as the magic faded and their career unravelled. It’s a tragedy that it was more than a decade before most of these extraordinary tracks were to see the light of day and hearing them now we can only wonder how The Easybeats story might have ended if they had been given proper support and guidance by their record company and management. Disc II opens with the epic power ballads Hello How Are You (which undoubtedly influenced ELO’s Telephone Line) and Come In You'll Get Pneumonia, which features vocal backing by fellow ex-pats Olivia Newton-John and Pat Carroll. Some of the best material comes from their ‘lost’ 1967 Glyn Johns-produced Good Times LP, including the brilliant Good Times (surely one of the greatest rock records ever made) Amanda Storey and the calypso-psych gem Land Of Make Believe. There are also some magnificent rarities -- the dramatic 1968 single Falling Off The Edge Of The World (reportedly a fave of Lou Reed’s) and 1967’s The Music Goes Round My Head, the superior fast version of which was inexplicably passed over by United Artists in favour of an inferior slower version. Equally breathtaking are the tantalizing samples of the group’s fabled Central Sound demos -- the soaring The Shame Just Drained (whose distinctive piano part was eventually recycled for Flash & The Pan’s Down Among The Dead Men), the superb soul groove of What In The World and their psych masterpiece Peculiar Hole In The Sky (covered almost note-for-note by The Valentines). The closing track, St Louis, is both brilliant and poignant – it could and should have been the start of a whole new phase of their career but by the time it was released the band was on its last legs. But it’s also an unmistakable signpost of the direction Vanda & Young would take a few years later with their greatest protégés, AC/DC.

There are of course many other terrific Easys tracks not included, although Alberts have since reissued most of their original Australian albums on CD and much more of their British output has since been anthologised by overseas labels. But in an era when so many of their contemporaries and friends – The Small Faces, The Move, Procol Harum – are commemorated with lavish boxed sets (as are many lesser acts who in my opinion have far less to offer) it is regrettable that Alberts have not yet seen fit to honour the band that put their company on the map, and assemble an Easybeats boxed set.

There is no question of the singular importance of The Easybeats and Vanda & Young to Australian music, and their continuing high profile would surely translate into respectable international sales. There can be few more worthy candidates for such a project and it is to be hoped that one day this will come to pass. But in the meantime, we can make do very nicely indeed with this truly magnificent collection.

— DK


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