|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Record Labels|
Category: Australian independent label
Location: Perth, WA
Ownership: Martin Clarke, Keith McGowan
House labels: Clarion, Action
The Perth-based Clarion label, established ca. 1962, was co-owned by Martin Clarke and 6PR DJ Keith MacGowan. Like his Sydney namesake and contemporary Martin Erdman, Clarke developed a passion for music and sound recording as a youngster. His built his first recording studio in his mother's home as a teenager; he began his career working as a turntable-panel operator with Perth radio stations in the 1950s, while still at school. At the age of 21 he set up Western Australia's first purpose-built recording studio in North Fremantle; a few years later he sold that facility and purchased an old house at 272 Hay Street, East Perth, which he converted into the Martin Clarke Recording Studio.
Clarke installed the best recording equipment he could buy, including a top-of-the-line Neumann record cutting lathe imported from Germany. The ability to produce his own master discs was a crucial advantage, giving Clarke total control of the final sound -- it ensured that sub-standard masters were not being used for pressing Clarion's records, and avoiding the risks of damage or loss of master tapes in transit and production.
"No one in Australia did that, it hadn't
been done before and hasn't been done since."
Just like Erdman's Du Monde label in Sydney, Clarion was dedicated to local Perth acts and it did much to support the thriving local music scene there in the Sixties and Seventies, but it had a wider national impact thanks to the national breakthrough of several of its acts, notably Johnny Young. The first single issued on Clarion was "Jag Drag" b/w "Little White Star" (right) by Peter Piccini & His Orchestra, released in 1962. The A-side was an instrumental; the b-side was a song with monologue, about the recent space flight of John Glenn, which made reference to Glen having seen the lights of Perth from orbit. Piccini was a noted accordionist, keyboard player and composer-arranger, who later became musical director for the Nine Network. He did arrangements, conducted and played on many Clarion recordings.
Clarion evidently went into abeyance for several years until 1966, when it was revived, with Clarke acting as producer, engineer, A&R manager and (in the early days) distributor. Prior to reactivating Clarion, Clarke set up the shortlived Action label, but only three singles were released on this imprint.
The first group of releases from the mid-Sixties (personally distributed by Clarke) were mostly recordings by local Perth TV personalities, and these had only limited success. When Clarke began tapping into the booming Perth pop scene sales began to rise as he recorded and released local acts such as The Times, Russ Kennedy & The Little Wheels, Roy Hoff & The Off Beats, Glen Ingram, Clem Croft, The Times, the early singles by The Valentines, and Clarion's most successful artists, Johnny & The Strangers, who became nationally known under their later name, Johnny Young & Kompany.
A distribution deal with Festival Records deal led to a national release of some of the singles that had already been successful in Western Australia, like "The Skye Boat Song" by Glen Ingram, and songs by Robby Snowden, Johnny Young and others. Over the next few years sales were strong and the label earned three gold record awards, including a Gold Album award for the Johnny Young LP Young Happening.
Clarion was one of the most productive independent labels of the period, with 120 singles, 20 EPs and 20 LPs issued between 1962 and 1978. Clarke also released about fifty singles on the Martin Clarke Recording Studios label, as well as countless one-off specialty recordings. The label's biggest national hit was Johnny Young's double-sided hit "Cara-Lynn" / "Step Back" (May 1966), which went to #1 in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney and topped the new Go-Set national Top 10, shooting Johnny to national stardom. Young's recordings featured prominently on the Clarion catalogue until mid-1969 and releases include several tracks written by the Bee Gees, with whom Johnny became good friends.
Among other notable releases was Ray Hoff & The Offbeats' "Tossin' and Turnin'" -- which must rank as one of the wildest Australian pop singles of the Sixties -- Glen Ingram, Toni Lamond, Perth's "pop prince" Robbie Snowden, folk singer, Play School host and children's entertainer Don Spencer, Perth band Fatty Lumpkin (which included ex members of Bakery) and songwriter Bill Millar. Clarke and Millar also collaborated on one of Clarion's most remarkable singles, the outrageous pyschedelic confection "Even Stevens" / "Hypnotic Suggestion", which they released under the pseudonym 'The Vegetable Garden'. Clarion also recorded the first singles by The Valentines, which featured future AC/DC frontman Bon Scott and singer and music journo Vince Lovegrove as co-vocalists.
During 1970 Clarion released two singles by Perth band The Birds. According to Alec Palao's liner notes for the Clarion Call CD, this group was a trio that included a couple of English roadie-musicians who had previously worked with guitarist Ron Wood, who (with brother Art) had played in a UK band of the same name in the mid-60s. Apparently the Perth Birds simply appropriated the name and passed themselves off as the (emigrated) UK Birds in order to get a contract with Clarion, and they even recorded two tunes that the UK Birds had already covered.
Clarion's releases tapered off sharply after 1970, with only a handful of singles issued each year in 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1974. The label was briefly reactivated for one final single in February 1978, after which the label was wound up.
Martin Clarke left Perth in 1989 and moved to England, where he had family. In the early 2000s he licensed the rights to Clarion/Action catalogue to the British reissue label Cherry Red, who compiled the CD The Clarion Call. It's an excellent overview of the Clarion singles of the Sixties, mixing well-known hits with more obscure material, including the demo version of Johnny Young's breakthrough hit "Step Back", recorded in a Perth hotel room by Johnny, and accompanied by The Easybeats.Martin Clarke was inducted into the WAM Hall of Fame in 2005 for his contributions to Western Australian music. Sadly, he died in London from a heart attack on Tuesday 28 March, 2006. Later that year the Western Australian Museum's Light and Sound Discovery Centre mounted the Clarion Gold exhibition, co-ordinated by Richard Rennie, which commemorated Martin's work with Clarion, and was staged to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Clarion's first national hit. The exhibition displayed a number of significant items, including Martin Clarke's first record cutting lathe, ca. 1957, a gold record he was awarded in 1966, and many rare records, photographs and documents and some magnificent 1960's record players.
Clarion used its own cataloguing system (prefixed MCP-) for its first dozen releases, (some of which are yet to be identified) but in 1966 the manufacture and distribution of its recordings was taken on by Festival Records on a national basis and all subsequent Clarion recordings were issued using the standard Festival catalogue system. From the early 1960s until early 1973 all records released and/or distributed by Festival were issued using its "K-1000" series catalogue number, which is the reason that the catalogue numbers for labels like Clarion, Sunshine and Spin do not run in numerical sequence. Each label was identified by its own prefix -- Festival's own prefix was FK, and the other labels it distributed were identified with two- or three-letter prefixes -- in the case of Clarion, its prefix was "MCK". Several singles in 1966 were issued with dual catalogue numbers, after which all Clarion releases carried Festival catalogue numbers. The Sep. 1972 single by Tex Croft was the last single issued with the "MCK" prefix and Clarion's last few releases (like all other Festival-distributed labels) used the new K-prefix catalogue system introduced in early 1973.
|MCP-001||1962||Peter Piccini & His Orchestra||"Jag Drag" (inst.)
"Little White Star"
|MCP-005||1966||The Times||"Glad Not Sad"
|MCP-008||1966||The Times||"(That) It's Me"
"Valley Of Tears"
|1966||Russ Kennedy & The Little Wheels||"I've Got My Eyes On You" (Westlake-Shuman)
|1966||Russ Kennedy & The Little Wheels||"I've Been Watching You"
"Too Much Monkey Business" (Berry)
|1966||Ray Hoff & The Offbeats||"Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" (Hank Ballard)
|May 1966||Johnny Young & Kompany||"Cara-Lyn"
|MCK 1361||June 1966||Ray Hoff & The Offbeats||"Bama-Lama-Bama-Loo"
"Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go"
|MCK-1363||June 1966||Russ Kennedy & The LIttle Wheels||"I've Been Watching You"
"Too Much Monkey Business"
|MCK 1419||July 1966||Glen Ingram & The Hi-Five (A)
Terry Walker & The Hi-Five (B)
|"Skye Boat Song" (arr. Boulton-Lawson)
"Long Time Gone"
"Dizzy Miss Lizzy"
|MCK-1491||Sep. 1966||Robbie Snowden||"The Wanderer"
"Take Your Time"
|MCK-1520||Oct. 1966||Ray Hoff & The Offbeats||"Tossin' and Turnin' " (Rene-Adams)
"Looking For My Pigs"
|MCK-1546||Jan. 1967||Johnny Young & Kompany||"Kiss Me Now"
"When Will I Be Loved"
|MCK-1588||Dec. 1966||Maggie Hammond||"This Little Bird" (J.D.Loudermilk)
"Go Laddie" (arr. Birrell-Pridmore)
|MCK-1607||Jan. 1967||Toni Lamond||"Bye-bye love"
"Ain't misbehavin' "
|MCK-1627||Jan. 1967||Glen Ingram & The Clan||"That It's Me" (Terry Walker)
"Take This Hammer" (Leadbetter)
|MCK-1630||Jan. 1967||Colin Cook||"Pocketful of Rainbows" (Wise-Weismann)
"Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout A Thing Called Love" (Chris Andrews)
|MCK-1663||Feb. 1967||Robbie Snowden||"No One Really Loves A Clown"
|MCK-1679||Feb. 1967||Kompany||"I've Been Around"
"Tell Her No"
|MCK-1722||Feb. 1967||The Troupadors||"Near To Me"
|MCK-1734||Apr. 1967||Glen Ingram||"I'll Be Dog Gone" (Robinson-Moore-Taplin)
"You Don't Know (What You're Heading For) (Terry Malone)"
|MCK-1773||Aug. 1967||The Valentines||"I Can't Dance With You" (Marriott-Lane)
"Every Day I Have To Cry" (Arthur Alexander)
|MCK-1777||Aug. 1967||Maggie Hammond||"High Flying Bird" (Billie Ed Wheeler)
"You Won't Be Leaving" (Hazzard)
|MCK-1806||June 1967||The Kompany||"Little Joe The Boxer"
"The Family Way"
|MCK-1821||June 1967||Robbie Snowden||"Sheila"
"What Do You Want To Make Eyes At Me For"
|MCK-1857||June 1967||Johnny Young & Kompany||"Lady"
"Good Evening Girl"
|MCK-1914||Aug. 1967||Colin Cook||"Cry I Do"
|MCK-1954||Aug. 1967||Johnny Young||"Craise Finton Kirk" (B., M. & R. Gibb)
"I Am The World" (B., M. & R. Gibb)
|MCK-1975||Sep. 1967||The Valentines||"She Said" (Wright-Young)
"To Know You Is To Love You"
|MCK-2006||Oct. 1967||Robbie Snowden||"Sunshine Rides On A Trolley"
"Do You Want To Dance"
|MCK-2014||1967||Clem Croft & The Hi-Five||"I've Walked A Long Way"
"Mule Skinner Blues"
|MCK-2024||1967||Johnny Young||"Every Christian Lion Hearted Man"
"Epitaph To Mr. Simon Sir"
|MCK-2080||Aug. 1967||Johnny Young & Kompany||"Wonderful World"
"Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You"
|MCK-2101||Dec. 1967||Bill Millar||"The Three Bells"
"Everybody Knows (But Her)""
|MCK-2104||Jan. 1968||The Troupadors||"Come Home, Baby"
|MCK 2124||Nov. 1967||Johnny Young||"Unconcientious Objector"
"Epitaph To Mr Simon Sir"
|MCK-2167||1968||The Valentines||"I Can Hear The Raindrops" (Lovegrove-Ward)
"Why Me?" (Lovegrove-Ward)
|MCK-2168||Feb. 1968||Robbie Snowden||"Surrounded By A Ray Of Sunshine"
"Just A Little"
|MCK-2196||1968||Chris James||"I Will"
"Da Doo Ron Ron"
|MCK 2261||Apr. 1968||Colin Cook||"I've had my moments" (Orbison-Melson)
"Riot In Cell Block Number 9" (Lieber-Stoller)
|I"Remember Me If You Please"
|MCK-2411||July 1968||Johnny Young||"It's A Sunny Day"
|MCK-2431||July 1968||Robbie Snowden||"Freckles"
"I Can't Stop"
|MCK-2432||Aug. 1968||The Proclamation||"King Of The Mountain"
"Tea And Sympathy" / "Don't You Worry"
|MCK-2441||Aug. 1968||The Valentines||"Peculiar Hole In The Sky" (Vanda-Young)
"Love Makes Sweet Music"
|MCK-2443||Sep. 1968||The Clan||"Peeping Tom"
|MCK-2456||Aug. 1968||Soul Purpose
featuring Russ Kennedy and George Rhodes
|"Hip Huggin' Mini"
"Sitting In The Park"
|MCK-2461||Aug. 1968||Clem Croft||"The Man Who Robbed The Bank at Santa Fe"
"Just A Closer Walk With Thee"
|MCK-2510||Sep. 1968||Tex Croft||"I've Walked A Long Long Way"
"Round Hole Guitar"
|MCK-2576||Oct. 1968||Chris James||"Going Home For The Last Time"
|MCK-2579||Oct. 1968||Johnny Young||"Mrs Willoughby"
|MCK-2668||Nov. 1968||Clem Croft||"Jimmie's Song"
"Hey Little Star"
|MCK-2680||Nov. 1968||Tex Croft||"I Won't Go Hunting With You Jake"
"Long Gone Lonesome Blues"
|MCK-2763||Feb. 1969||Soul Purpose||"Boogaloo Down Broadway"
|MCK-2792||Feb. 1969||Tex Croft||"When It's Springtime In Alaska"
|MCK-2880||Mar. 1969||Jonne Sands||"Let The Sunshine In"
"Wish It were You"
|MCK-3069||Jun. 1969||Strawberry Fair||"Come Back and Shake Me"
"Things We Said Today"
|MCK-3113||1969||Johnny Young||"A Love Song"
|MCK-3148||July 1969||Johnny Young||"Milk and Honey Days"
"Half of a Man"
|MCK-3149||July 1969||Gemini||"Sunshine River"
|MCK-3232||Aug. 1969||Quentin Irving||"Conquering Hero"
"How Time Does Fly"
|MCK 3285||1969||The Vegetable Garden||"Even Stevens"
|MCK-3233||Aug. 1969||The Kandies||"Wait For Me"
"Rainbow on the River"
|MCK-3271||Sep. 1969||Wayne Pride||"It Takes All Kinds To Make A World"
"The Long Black Veil"
|MCK-3284||Oct. 1969||Les Meade||"What a fool you played me for"
|MCK-3285||Sep. 1969||The Vegatable Garden||"Even Stevens"
|MCK-3333||1969||The Birds||"I Can't Let Maggie Go"
"No Good Without You"
"Here, There And Everywhere"
|MCK-3398||Nov. 1969||Gemini||"Butterfly Wings"
"Nobody Knows When Youre Down And Out"
|MCK-3403||Nov. 1969||Quentin Irving||"Share"
"Who Can I Love"
|MCK-3433||Dec. 1969||Willpower||"Soul Finger"
|MCK-3451||Jan. 1970||Will Taylor||"Mr Farmer"
"The Ballad of Jack Solar's Son"
|MCK 3474||Jan. 1970||The Birds||"I See The Rain"
|MCK-3451||1970||The Birds||"I See The Rain"
|MCK 3475||Jan. 1970||Chris & John||"Sweeter than roses"
|MCK-3476||Jan. 1970||Terry Walker||"That It's Me"
"Long Time Gone"
|MCK-3477||Jan. 1970||Tex Croft||"Act Naturally"
"There Was A Time"
|MCK-3527||Feb. 1970||The Inner Circle||"Alladin"
"Moments of soft persuasion"
|MCK-3541||Feb. 1970||Lionel Lewis||"Amy"
"Yesterday When I Was Young"
|MCK-3542||Mar. 1970||The Birds||"Say Those Magic Words"
"Dust In My Pants"
|MCK-3612||Mar. 1970||Don Spencer||"Ode To War"
"My Silent Friend"
|MCK-4177||Apr. 1971||Terry Lawrence||"The Girl I Left Behind Me"
"Let Me Be Free"
|MCK-4269||June 1971||Terry Lawrence||"It Takes Minutes"
"I Want You Again"
|MCK-4437||Nov. 1971||Glen Ingram||"Let Me Be Free"
"I Want You Again"
|MCK-4653||May 1972||Clare Thomas||"Let Me Be Free"
"What Went Wrong"
|MCK-4654||May 1972||The Court Jesters||"Rangers Waltz"
"Day By Day"
|MCK-4775||May 1972||Bruce Culver||"My Kind of Music"
"Just a drop in the ocean"
|MCK-4812||Sep. 1972||Tex Croft||"A Thing Called Love"
"There never was a time"
|K-5271||Oct. 1973||Fatty Lumpkin||"Don't Knock My Boogie"
"Got to get back to Nellie"
|K-5452||July 1974||The Quarefellas||"Put a light in every country window"
"Bricks and Mortar"
|K 5478||1974||Chalice||"In My World"
"Mister Won't You Help Me"
|K-5566||Oct. 1973||Fatty Lumpkin||"Millionaire"
"Man Who Owns the Sea"
"After The Gold Rush"
|K-5653||1974||The Martin Clarke Orchestra||"Joey's Gone"
|K-5740||Nov. 1974||Chalice||"Nine To Five Girl"
|K-7013||Feb. 1978||Steve Thunder Band||"Lady"
"Stomp Your Feet"
|?||?||Lloyd Lawson||Lloyd Sings|
|MCPE-004||1967?||The Times||I'm Not The Marrying Kind|
|MCX 11205||1966||Johnny Young||Let It Be Me|
|MCX 11226||1966||Ray Hoff & The Offbeats||It's Ray Hoff & The Offbeats|
|MCX 11244||1966||Glen Ingram||Skye Boat Song|
|MCX 11246||1966||Johnny Young||Kiss Me Now|
|MCX 11251||1967||Johnny Young||All My Loving|
|MCX 11269||1967||Robbie Snowden||No-one really Loves A Clown|
|MCX 11379||1967||Johnny Young||Craise Finton Kirk|
|MCX-11472||1967||The Valentines||I Can Hear Raindrops|
|MCX 11725||1969||The Swingshift||Words|
|MCL-32116||1966||Ray Hoff & The Offbeats||Ray Hoff & The Offbeats
(also issued as Festival FL-19006)
|MCL-32124||1966||Johnny Young||Johnny Young's Golden LP|
|MCL-32234||1966||Johnny Young||It's A Wonderful World|
|MCL-32268||1967||Various Artists||The Clarion Set|
|L-25164||1974||Peter Piccini||Nostalgia Accordion|
References / Links
Thanks to Andy from globaldog productions for corrections and additional information.
Hank B. Facer
Museum of Indigenous Recording Labels
MIRL Discography No 27, June 1982
Fremantle Light and Sound Discovery Centre, Western Australian Museum
Encyclopedia of Australia Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Globaldog Productions - Clarion 45 Discography
Dreams, Fantasies & Nightmares - Australia (Borderline Books, 1999)
Cherry Red Records
Peter Piccini wesbite
- The Clarion Call
State Library of
- features several excellent photos of Martin Clarke at his Perth studio, taken in 1968