Spin Dried: a complete annotated discography
of Australia's SPIN Record label
1966 - 1974
by Bill Casey
Moonlight Publications, 2008)


Spin Dried by Australian historian Bill Casey is a complete annotated discography of the Aussie '60s independent label Spin Records, covering all the label's single, Ep and LP releases between 1966 and 1974. The book recently featured in a segment on the ABC's 7.30 Report, which included interviews with Bill, former Spin artist Marty Rhone, producer Pat Aulton and label co-founder Harry M. Miller.

Spin was one of the most  successful Australian  independent imprints of the 1960s, and alongside the Leedon, Sunshine and Clarion labels it was crucial to the ongoing success of its distributor, Festival Records. It was set up in 1966 by Clyde Packer and a group of partners that included promoter Harry M. Miller. Former Sunshine label A&R manager Nat Kipner was hired to manage the label, and he produced and wrote many of its early records. Festival's house producer Pat Aulton produced many other successful recordings on Spin in the late 1960s including the Dave Miller Set's "Mr Guy Fawkes", which was named 'Record of the Year' for 1969 by Go-Set magazine.

The label started life as Everybody's, which was --  not coincidentally-- the name of the popular teen magazine published by the Packer family's Consolidated Press. When the label was launched, radio stations reportedly balked at the blatant cross-promotion, so Packer and his partners hastily rebadged it as "Spin", and they scored a hit with the re-release of the label's debut single, "Someday", by former Aztec Tony Barber.

Spin's biggest signing was a young Sydney-based vocal trio called The Bee Gees. In early 1966 Festival were on the verge of dropping the then hit-less group from the Leedon label, but they were transferred to Spin at Kipner's request. The Gibbs'  gratitude for Kipner's assistance and support enabled Spin to retain the local distribution rights for The Bee Gees' recordings after the group returned to the UK and singed with the Robert Stigwood Organisation and the Polydor label. Following their Australian breakthrough with "Spicks and Specks" and their huge international success in 1967, Spin scored hit after hit with The Bee Gees -- the label's biggest-seeling album was Best of The Bee Gees Vol 1, which earned three gold records, and its biggest single was their 1967 hit "Words". 

Spin's diverse pop roster included Toni McCann, Steve & The Board, Ronnie Burns, Jeff St. John & The Id, The Dave Miller Set, Marty Rhone, Don Lane and Homicide's Mike Preston. Spin's landmark double LP cast recording of the original 1969 stage production of the rock musical Hair became first Australia cast album to earn a gold record (despite being banned in Queensland). Spin was eventually taken over by its distributor, Festival, after Clyde Packer fell out with his tyrranical father Frank in 1972, which effectively cut off the label's funding. Festival closed the label down in 1974, although it was briefly revived ca. 2002 as part of Festival's 50th anniversary celebrations. 

Bill Casey has spent five years on the book. It grew out of  the superb local history project he created for the Hurstville City Council,  which documented Ossie Byrne's St Clair Studio in Hurstville, where numerous Spin artists including The Bee Gees made recordings during 1966.

Bill has commented that Spin was "a very important label in that it stressed Australian songwriters and musicians" and he noted that (unusually for a Packer subsidiary) Spin's various A&R managers (including Nat Kipner and Gus McNeil) were given a free hand in running the label. Yet, for all its achievements, Spin made several  miscalculations --  it was reluctant to bankroll overseas ventures by by its artists (e.g. Ronnie Burns), thus limiting its market almost entirely to Australia, it gave little support to female performers, and support for artists on its roster was often lacking. 

Bill's book celebrates the work of the many musicians, writers and producers who worked on Spin releases, including The Bee Gees, and it's an important addition to the growing body of literature on the Australasian music industry. It's a subject that's often talked about, but there is still a lack of hard data about who set up, ran and distributed the many independent labels that appeared in the 60s and 70s. It also helps to fill a major gap in the discographies of these labels, a situation that has been caused in part by the puzzling habits of 60s/70s collectors and music aficionados, who seem to concentrate almost exclusively on single releases.

At only $20 this is a no-brainer -- it's a "must-have" for anyone interested in Australian popular music, an informative and eminently readable account of an important chapter in Australian popular music history.

References / Links

Spin Dried is published by:
Moonlight Publications
P.O. Box 234, Castlemaine, Vic. 3450
Orders & enquiries by email:
Phone (03) 5472-3759

ABC-TV - 7.30 Report
"Spin Doctors of Pop"