Friday, November 27, 2015

Jackie Dennis The Kilted Cowboy



Jackie Dennis was born in Leith, Edinburgh in 1943. He grow up in Canonmills and loved to sing. He started performing aged 14 and became popular with US Servicemen regularly appearing at an American Air Force base in Prestwick. The spiky haired teenager covered pop tunes dressed in a kilt and his likable cheeky persona earned him the title, “The Kilted Choirboy". Mike and Bernie Winters (a comedy duo) spotted him and made the introduction to their show.



Business agent Eve Taylor signed him and he recorded for Decca. There under the watchful eye of Harry Robinson (Lord Rockingham’s XI) he recorded a cover version of Billy and Lillie’s US hit “La Dee Dah.” The single went to #4 in the UK Charts in 1958.



Meantime Eve Talyor secured him a spot on the Six-Five Special (BBC), television program and subsequent movie spin off. The tartan teenager proved a popular novelty act.



When Jerry Lee Lewis controversially withdrew from his British tour Jackie Dennis replaced him.



He also toured the US and appeared on the Perry Como Show billed as 'Britain's Ricky Nelson.’



On his return he continued to perform and released several singles. Despite his initial success his subsequent works were less commercial. A cover of Sheb Wooley's "Purple People Eater” did make it to the UK Top Thirty which would prove Jackie’s last chart success.



Musical tastes were changing and Jackie found it difficult to break free of the cocky Scotty image. After he was dropped by Decca he retired from show business in the early 60s.







Worth a listen La Dee Dah / You're the Greatest (1958)
My Dream /Miss Valerie (1958)
The Purple People Eater / You-oo (1958)
More Than Ever / Linton Addie (1958)
Lucky Ladybug / Gingerbread (1959)
Summer Snow/ Night Bird (1959)
The Wee Cooper O' Fife / Come Along (1959)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bert Jansch (1943 – 2011) (Pentangle)




Herbert Jansch was born in 1943 in Glasgow. He grew up in Edinburgh and learned to play the guitar as a teenager. His first guitar was made from a kit but he later got a "Lonnie Donegan guitar" (Zenith). Influenced by the blossoming folk music boom he hung around the Edinburgh folk clubs. Bert’s early influences were Anne Briggs, Clive Palmer, and Davey Graham.











He started playing one-night stands around the UK during which times he was exposed to a range of influences including Brownie McGhee and Big Bill Broonzy.







Between 1963 and 1965, he hitched around Europe earning a living by busking and casual musical performances in bars and cafes. When he came back to London in the mid 60s he had developed his own guitar style. This included a claw hammer style of right-hand playing combined with distinguished chord voicings. Another characteristic was his ability to hold a chord in the lower strings whilst bending an upper string.



In his songs he also fitted the accompaniment to the natural rhythm of the words of his songs, rather than playing a consistent rhythm throughout. Bert signed for Transatlantic Records, and had his first album released in 1965.



It sold 150,000 copies and included Jansch's "Do You Hear Me Now." Later Donovan included his version of the song on his Universal Soldier EP, which reached No. 1 in the UK EP chart.



In quick succession Bert brought out another two albums: It Don't Bother Me and Jack Orion.







The latter contained his first recording of "Blackwaterside."



Bert mixed with many gifted musicians and played at the main folk club venues in London. There he rubbed shoulders with Paul Simon, Davey Graham and John Renbourn. Renbourn and Jansch frequently played together and developed a style of intricate interplay which became known as the 'Folk baroque'. They recorded the Bert and John album in 1966 and became the resident musicians at The Horseshoe pub, 264-267 Tottenham Court Road.



This was a popular haunt for folkies in the UK and many would jam with the duo on stage. Eventually in 1968 the nucleus became Pentangle. The line up consisted of Jacqui McShee (singer), John Renbourn (guitar), Bert Jansch (guitar), Danny Thompson (string bass) and Terry Cox (drums). The group played jazz folk fusion and signed to Transatlantic Records.



The album, Basket of Light (1969) was a huge commercial success with Light Flight released as a single. The song was made popular after it was used as theme music for a TV drama series Take Three Girls (BBC). A year later, at the peak of their popularity, they recorded a soundtrack for the film Tam Lin, but their fourth album, Cruel Sister, was a commercial disaster and their popularity began dwindle.







Tired from touring and of working together the band fell out with Transatlantic, in a bitter dispute regarding royalties. They moved to Warner Brothers/Reprise for their final album, Solomon's Seal.



Pentangle broke up in 1972 after which Bert took a few years' break from music before returning in the late 1970s to work on a series of projects with other musicians.



He toured Australia, Japan and the US with a band called The Bert Jansch Conundrum and after the group broke up he recorded Heartbreak album with Albert Lee.



He also toured Scandinavia with Martin Jenkins before opening his own guitar shop in Fulham. Pentangle reformed in the early 1980s and Bert Jansch remained with them until 1995. The original band again reformed in 2008 and in 2011 to play concerts.



Bert continued as a solo artist until his death from cancer in 2011. Bert remains one of the more influential UK musicians who inspired many, many others including Donovan, Paul Simon and Neil Young.



Worth a listen
Do You Hear Me Now (1965)
Needle of Death (1965)
Angie (1965)
Blackwaterside (1966)
Birthday blues (1969)
Reynardine (1971)
Magdalina’s dance (2006)
Blues run the game

Pentangle
Sweet Child (1969)
Haitian Flight Song (1968)
Basket of light (1969)

Acoustic Routes


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Karl Denver (1932 - 1998)




Angus Murdo Mckenzie was born in Springburn, Glasgow, in 1932. When he left school at 15, he joined the Norwegian Mercantile Marine as a deckhand. There he practiced the guitar and entertained his shipmates. After leaving the merchant navy in 1951 he joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and served in the Korean War. He was wounded then discharged and during his recuperation developed a liking for country music. Once recovered he went back to the sea before jumping ship in the US when he was 21. Angus made a living playing country music in clubs in Nashville. During this time, he took the stage name Karl Denver and became friends with Faron Young and Lefty Frizzell. Karl Denver was the first British performer to play on the Grand Ole Opry radio show.



In 1959 the US immigration department caught up with him and he was deported back in Britain. He settled in Manchester and formed the Karl Denver Trio with Gerry Cottrell (bass) and Kevin Neill (guitarist). They became popular and toured the Northern working men’s clubs until they were seen by impresario Jack Good. He featured them on his television series Wham!



Jack Good also negotiated a record deal with Decca and acted as producer on the series of their hit singles. A popular song performed by the group on stage was the Zulu chant, "Wimoweh." The trio recorded it but the record company felt it too bizarre to release as a single. Instead "Marcheta" was their first single and became a minor hit in the UK in 1961.



This was followed by "Mexicali Rose" which also sold well.



Karl Denver Denver had a distinctive voice with a multi-octave range, and falsetto yodelling register. Many of his growing fans enjoyed the songs of Slim Whitman and when the US group the Tokens released ‘The lion sleeps tonight’ (a vocal version of "Wimoweh") and it began to rise in the UK charts they organized a petition for Decca to release his version of "Wimoweh.” The company relinquished and the single shot to #4 in the UK in 1962.



In the same year "Never Goodbye", was an entry in A Song for Europe.



The Karl Denver Trio toured the UK extensively and was regulars on public variety radio. In 1962 the Trio was given their own BBC Light Programme show, Side by Side.



Inevitably the popularity of the Mersey Beat over took popular demand and the Karl Denver Trio lost hold in the charts. They did continue for several years to perform in cabaret at home and overseas. Karl Denver was declared bankrupt in 1966, then again in 1973 and in 1978. About the same time Gerry Cottrell left the trio but they continued to perform in cabaret although were never able to recapture their salad days.



Karl did enjoy a brief return in 1989 after guesting on the Happy Monday’s single "Lazyitis (One-Armed Boxer)".



In 1993 he released his final album which was a frail effort from an aging and ill performer. Karl Denver died in 1998 from complications from a brain tumour.


Worth a listen
Marcheta (1961)
Mexicali Rose/Bonny Scotland (1961)
Wimoweh (1962)
Can You Forgive Me (1963) Indian Love Call (1963) Still (1963)

Happy Mondays
Lazyitis - One Armed Boxer (1990)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Scottish Australian Rockers



The Young Brothers
Alexander Young was born in Cranhill, in the east end of Glasgow, in 1938. His parents William and Margaret had eight children and four boys became musicians Alexander (Grapefruit), and younger brothers George (Easybeats), Malcolm and Angus (ACDC). The family immigrated to Australia in 1963 and settled in Sydney but Alexander (aka George Alexander) stayed in the UK and continue his career as a professional musician. He played with The Bobby Patrick Six before forming (The) Grapefruit with three former members of Tony Rivers and the Castaways, (John Perry, Geoff Swettenham, and Pete Swettenham). He had been signed as songwriter with Apple Music Publishing Ltd and Grapefruit became a pet project of the Beatles after Lennon named the band. They released two albums and several singles on the Apple label. Despite Beatle patronage the band had little commercial success and split in 1969. George Alexander continued to work as a session musician and later collaborated with brother George Young and Harry Vanda (The Easybeats) as Paintbox and Tramp.



George Young



George Redburn Young was born in 1946 when the family moved to Australia they stayed in Villawood Migrant Hostel, Sydney. There he made friends with Johannes Hendricus Jacob van den Berg (aka Harry Vanda) a fellow immigrant (from the Netherlands). Inspired by the "British Invasion" George and Harry formed the Easybeats in 1964. The line-up was Stevie Wright (lead singer); Gordon Henry "Snowy" Fleet (drummer) and Dick Diamonde Bass) with George (rhythm guitar) and Harry (lead guitar). They soon became a popular Sydney group and were signed to Albert Productions. By the end of 1965 the Easybeats were the most popular pop band in Australia with a string of hit singles co-written by Young and Wright. In 1966 the group signed to United Artists Records and relocated to London. The Easybeats released "Friday on My Mind" which rocketed up the charts in the UK and US. Due to a combination of factors the Easybeats failed to make much headway after their initial success and returned to Australia. The band began to drift apart and by1970 the Easybeats were no more. To pay off debts Vanda & Young stayed in London and concentrated on writing and producing pop and rock songs for other recording artists. One of the bands was 'Marcus Hook Roll Band', which was made up of Malcolm and Angus Young and Harry Vanda. In 1973 they returned to Australia and with Ted Albert became the house producers for Albert Productions. They wrote and produced several major hits for John Paul Young including "Love Is in the Air" and "Yesterday's Hero." As Flash and the Pan, they had Australian hits with "Hey St. Peter" and "Down Among the Dead Men". In the70s "Waiting for a Train", "Midnight Man", "Early Morning Wake Up Call", and "Ayla", all sold well and charted in Europe. Meantime when Angus and Malcolm Young formed AC/DC in 1973 Vanda and Young recognized AC/DC had potential and co-produced their early successful albums.



Malcolm and Angus Young



Malcolm Mitchell Young was born in 1953 and is younger sibling, Angus McKinnon Young two years later. Growing up the Young brothers were all influenced by 50s rock and roll, and blues-based rock guitarists of the 1960s. Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Freddie King, loomed large with John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix, and Keith Richards all seminal to their playing style. Encouraged by Alexander and George, Malcolm learned to play rhythm guitar Angus first played banjo but re-strung them with six strings. The teenage brothers were soon playing with local bands and in 1973 when Malcolm founded AC/DC he invited Angus to join the line-up. The original group was Angus on lead guitar, Malcolm on rhythm guitar, Colin Burgess on drums, Larry Van Kriedt on bass guitar and Dave Evans on vocals. After building a loyal following in Sydney as a glam band they started touring Australia in 1974. Keen to stamp originality on their live performances Angus dressed as a schoolboy on stage wearing an Ashfield Boys High School (Sydney) cap and uniform. His guitar antics on stage became a focal point for the band. Later in the same year Bon Scott replaced Dave Evans as lead singer. The band had several successful albums before relocating to the UK and embarking on a European tour in 1976. The bands popularity grew internationally and their 1979 album Highway to Hell reached the top twenty in the United States. In February 1980 Bon Scott suddenly died and AC/DC briefly considered disbanding. However they recruited Brian Johnson (Geordie) and completed the album Back in Black, as a tribute to Bon Scott. It went on to become the second best-selling album in history. The band continues to record and perform.




Bon Scott (1946 – 1980)



Ronald Belford Scott was born in Forfar, Scotland. His family immigrated from Kirriemuir to Melbourne in 1952. Ronald attended the Sunshine Primary School and the kids called him Bon because he had recently arrived from ‘Bonnie’ Scotland.’ The name stuck. In 1956, the family relocated to Fremantle, Western Australia and Bon joined the associated Fremantle Scots Pipe Band where he learned to play the drums. Bon was a rebel and dropped out of school and soon got into trouble with the police. In 1964 he formed his first band The Spektors who eventually became The Winstons. Bon shared the lead vocals with Vince Lovegrove when he joined The Valentines. Before disbanding the band had a couple of hits with "Every Day I Have to Cry" and "Juliette." In 1970 Scott moved to Adelaide to become the singer with Fraternity and soon after the group changed their name to "Fang". The band continued to work in Australia and had a UK tour but when they returned in 1973 Scott began singing with the Mount Lofty Rangers. Scott liked to drink and after a boozy session at the Old Lion Hotel in North Adelaide, in 1974 had a motorcycle accident and suffered head injuries. Whilst recovering he was introduced to ACDC and joined the band replacing Dave Evans as the lead singer of AC/DC. In 1980 he passed out after a night of heavy drinking in a London club. Left to sleep it off in a friend’s car Bon Scott died from inhaling his own vomit. Five months after Scott's death, AC/DC finished the work they began with Scott and released Back in Black as a tribute to him with two tracks from the album, "Hells Bells" and "Back in Black", dedicated to his memory.



John Paul Young



John Paul Young was in Bridgeton, Glasgow, in 1950. His family immigrated to Australia in 1962 and settled in Sydney. He left school when he was 15 to work as an apprentice sheet metal worker. He and some school mates formed a band called Elm Tree in 1967. The group consisted of Robert (Slim) Barnett (bass), Ollie Chojnacki (guitar), Phillip Edwards and Andy Imlah (co-lead vocals), Dave Kaentek, Ron Mazurkiewicz (keyboards) and Geoff Watts (drums). The made one record, a cover version of “Rainbow” (Marmalade) in 1970 but it failed to make an impact. Simon Napier-Bell, heard them in a pub in Newcastle and persuaded John Paul Young to sign as a solo artist to Albert Productions. His first single "Pasadena," under the name John Young was a hit in Australia and was co-written by George Young and Harry Vanda (The Easybeats) and UK actor, David Hemmings (Blow Up). In 1972 he joined the Sydney cast of Jesus Christ Superstar and played Annas until 1974. Keen to rekindle his solo career he signed for Albert Productions and liked up again with Vanda & Young. "Yesterday's Hero" was released in 1975, and gave him another Australian single and album chart topper. The single sold strongly in the United States, and reached No. 44 in 1976. John Paul Young became a popular fixture on Countdown in Australia and regularly featured as a performer or guest. Presenter Molly Meldrum christened the singer “Squeak,” and he toured as John Paul Young and The All Stars. Other chart success came with "Love Game", "I Hate the Music", "I Wanna Do It with You," and "Standing in the Rain". John Paul Young had already proven himself to be popular outside Australia with several European and South African hits. Standing in the rain was a disco hit which led the way for his biggest international success, “Love is in the Air." By 1989 JPY had stopped recording to concentrate on a career as a DJ with New Fm (Newcastle) but when the film Strictly Ballroom was released in 1992 with a new version of “Love is in the air” it catapulted the singer back into recording and performing. He was a featured performer at the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. He continues to perform and remains active participant in children’s charities



John ‘Swanee.’ Swann



John Archibold Dixon Swan was born in 1952 and his younger sibling James Dixon Swan four years later, both in Glasgow. The family immigrated to Australia in 1961and settled in Elizabeth, Adelaide. Jim and Dorothy Swan divorced soon after and their mother remarried to Reg Barnes. Dorothy encouraged her children to change their surname to Barnes. All of them did except for John who kept his natural father’s name, Swan. He became know as ‘Swanee.’ Initially Jim (Barnes) had little interest in music but John learned to play drums and joined his first band, Happiness when he was 14. After serving time in the army he took up his musical career by playing in a few bands until he joined Fraternity and for a short while Jim sang with the group. The previous singer was Bon Scott (ACDC), but . Jim left to front Cold Chisel and Swanee took over as lead vocalist. He later left to sing with Feather in 1977 and recorded one single, "Girl Trouble." A year later Swanee decided to break with the band and go solo. He had a minor Australian hit with his version of "If I Were a Carpenter." Then in 1982 he released the album This Time is Different which gave him two hit singles, "Temporary Heartache" and "Lady What's Your Name." Whilst John did not achieve the same success as brother he did earn the respect of the Australian rock music industry. Swann continues to perform.



Jimmy Barnes



Jim Barnes left Fraternity to front Orange, The group consisted of organist and songwriter Don Walker, guitarist Ian Moss, drummer Steve Prestwich and bass player Les Kaczmarek. The group quickly changed name to Cold Chisel and build up a loyal fan base before moving to Melbourne in 1976 and then three months later shifted base to Sydney. The group had an on- off attitude but eventually live performances convinced them to stay together. Cold Chisel signed to WEA and by 1980 became the biggest band in Australia. They were the perfect pub rock outfit but try as they might to crack the US market they failed to make an impact. After a disastrous tour in 1981 Cold Chisel returned to Australia ready to break up. A second chart topping Australian album followed and by the next year the band were touring Germany. Constant touring caused many arguments and Jim was drinking heavily. They decided to call it a day on return to Australia and The Last Stand farewell tour became the highest-grossing concert series by an Australian band. The group's final performance was in Sydney in December 1983. Jimmy Barnes launched his solo career and signed to Mushroom Records. Each of his first six solo albums debuted in the Number One position in Australia, a record unsurpassed by any other act. Determined to break into the US market he signed to Geffen Records and his second album, "Working Class Man," sold well. The song featured in Ron Howard’s film Gung Ho. Jimmy toured Canada and US with ZZ Top. More and more he worked with US artists producing highly commercial rock albums. Depite his successes he continued to battle drug and alcohol addiction which led to artistic differences causing him to switch labels. In 1990 he was signed to Atlantic for worldwide release. Jimmy’s love for soul music saw him release Soul Deep, an album of soul covers which became his most successful album. He returned to his hard rock roots with subsequent albums and continued to sell well in Australia and New Zealand. In 1993, Jimmy Barnes did a duet version of (Simply) The Best with Tina Turner. By the mid 90s Jimmy faced financial ruin in Australia and relocated to Europe. He toured with the Rolling Stones and continued to record. His albums sold well in Australia and eventually Jimmy Barnes returned to the country to pursue his career. He underwent heart surgery in 2007, made a full recovery and continues to work and record both as a solo artist as well as with a reformed Cold Chisel. Jimmy Barnes remains the most popular and best-selling Australian music artists of all time.



Colin Hay



Colin James Hay was born in 1953 in Kilwinning, Scotland. The family moved to Australia when Colin was 14. He met Ron Strykert and formed a duo in 1978 then later they expanded to become Men at Work. The group line up was complete with Jerry Speiser (drums), Greg Sneddon (keyboards) who was quickly replaced by and Greg Ham (flautist/saxophonist), and John Rees (bassist). The group released their debut album Business as Usual in 1981 on the Columbian Records. It topped the Australian and New Zealand charts. The album was eventually released in the USA and the UK. Men at Work toured the USA to promote the album, supporting Fleetwood Mac."Who Can It Be Now?"and “Downunder” topped the American charts in 1982. Their second album “Cargo” produced three chart singles in the USA: "Overkill“, "It's a Mistake", and "Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive". In 1983 the band toured the world extensively. By 1984 Jerry Speiser and John Rees left the band and Hay, Ham and Strykert) recorded a third album “Two Hearts.” The single from the album "Everything I Need", was a minor hit in the US. Line-up changes followed with Hay and Ham to only remaining original members. Eventually Ham left the group and Men at Work folded in 1986. Following the breakup Hay followed a solo career as singer and actor. In 2002 Hay appeared as the Troubadour in the Scrubs episode, "My Overkill," and made a cameo in the season 8 finale of Scrubs, "My Finale. . His music is a feature of the series. Back in Australia Hay established his own record label, Lazy Eye Records, inspired from his own strabismus (lazy eye) condition. Men at work did reform briefly in 1996 to tour South America, and they continued to play until 2000. Men at Work performed "Down Under" at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Colin Hay continues to perform and record as a solo artist and has played with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.



Eric Boogle



Eric Bogle was born in Peebles, Scotland in 1944. His father was a woodcutter and played the bagpipes. He started writing poetry when he was eight-years-old and as a teenager taught himself to play guitar and started a skiffle group called Eric and the Informers. After leaving school at 16 he odd jobbed until he immigrated to Australia in 1969. By day he worked as an accountant and joined the local folk music scene. Many of his most successful songs have political connotations and have been recorded by other international artists. He continues to perform and record and has established myself as an international folk musician.



Worth a listen

AC/DC

High Voltage (1974)

TNT (1975)

It’s a long way to the top (If you want to rock and roll) (1975)

Dirty Deeds (1975)

Jailbreak (1975)

The Jack (1975)

Let there be rock (1977)

Highway to Hell (1979)



Jimmy Barnes

No second prize (1984)

Working class man (1985)

Many rivers to cross (1991)

Simply the best (1992) with Tina Turner

Cold Chisel

Khe Sanh (1978)

My Baby ( 1980)

You Got Nothing I Want (1981)

Flame Trees (1984)


Easybeats

She's So Fine (1965)

Friday on My Mind (1966)



Colin Hay

Waiting for my life to begin (1994)

Are you lookin’ at me (2007)

Men at Work

Who can it be now (1981)

Downunder (1981)

Be Good Johnnie (1982)

Overkill (1983)


John ‘Swannee’ Swan

Temporary Heartache (1982)

Lady What's Your Name (1982)


John Paul Young

Pasadena (1972)

Yesterday’s Hero (1975)

I hate the music (1976)

Where the action is (1977)

Love is in the air (1978)

Eric Bogle
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda (1971)
No mans land (1976)