I admit that neither Dickens nor Shakespeare were on my early reading menu, but instead Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven starring Peter- whom I’d now cheerfully describe as a wanker, along with Janet, Jack, Barbara, George, Pam and Colin. Truth be told, Scamper the English Cocker Spaniel remains the most likable of the lot.
But, I also came late to Revolver, Blood on the Tracks and Exile on Main St. Among the weighty vinyl of my childhood was Ripper ’76. It’s the greatest ever compilation.
Beyoncé: And the Grammy goes to…Ripper ’76!
(Kanye and his So Fresh: The Hits of Spring squad storm the stage.)
You Messed About I Caught You Out
Suitably, Sherbet’s “Howzat” opens the batting. Garth Porter’s lush and languid keyboards invest it with a distinct 1970’s feel: all Sandman and Chiko roll. It’s a celebrated song, nevertheless the band’s finest tune, I’d argue, is “Summer Love” and yet, across their discography the tail is exposed prematurely, as Phil Tufnell bats at six, all bewilderment and eyes-shut slogging.
Of course, Sherbet’s lead singer Daryl (in Molly’s world folks had only one name) is now mostly known to liquefied crowds both at and away from Flemington for “The Horses.” Initially recorded by Ricky Lee Jones, one-time partner of unorthodox, but lusty ball-striker Tom Waits, it was co-written by Steely Dan founder Walter Becker who passed away earlier this year.
For cricket-themed albums may I present quirky British ensemble The Duckworth Lewis Method? “Jiggery Pokery” remains the finest song I’ve heard chronicling the Edwardian spectacle of the Gatting Ball. Richie may even have approved of this.
My Favourite Noosha
At track 7 is “S-S-S-Single Bed” by Fox. An enigmatic outfit, another of their songs is “If You Don’t Want My Peaches Don’t Shake My Tree” possibly reminding you of the lyrics in Steve Miller’s “The Joker” which itself references The Clovers’ 1954 song “Lovey Dovey.”
As sexually-charged fruit images go, this peaches motif has endured for many a season. Indeed, it’s always ripe for a-pickin’. Fox vocalist Noosha Fox is seen by some as a prototypical Kate Bush, but I’m unsure. I do think she’s my favourite Noosha.
Britpop had Oasis versus Blur while in Countdown Era (CE) Australia we witnessed the Skyhooks and Sherbet war. Closing out Side A of Ripper ‘76 is “Million Dollar Riff” by Shirl and company. Another Greg Macainsh tune about song writing, it’s driven by their urgent guitar and prickly irreverence. The battle of the bands? For me, Skyhooks made bigger cultural and personal impacts.
Side B blasts forth with the record’s penultimate track (of four) beginning with “Love” in the title as Billy Ocean sunnily accuses, “You run around town like a fool and you think that it’s groovy.” Talk to any veteran vinyl album and it’ll tell you that it ain’t easy kicking off Side B, but “Love Really Hurts Without You” does it as easily as a Sunday night bowl of Rice-a-Riso®.
Happily, it includes expert use of a tambourine. Forget Polywaffles, where have all the tambourines gone? Did Josie and The Pussycats nick them all?
This Song is a Social Commentary
Ol ’55 provided Happy Days-like fun, and Ripper ‘76 showcases their first single, “On the Prowl,” Frankie J Holden’s rollicking recount of a burglary gone awry. Though I prefer “Lookin’ For an Echo’ perfect for six-beers-in and hand-over-an-ear-backing-vocal-stylings. Both are also compulsory karaoke songs in a Clare Valley motel with old friends, to the auditory risk of all within earshot, and without.
But you already knew this.
A Chartreuse Micra-Bus
“Convoy” is homage to interstate truck drivin’ by William Dale Fries, Jr. (born November 15, 1928), best known by his stage name C. W. McCall. It was my introduction to the idiosyncratic, oddly-mesmerising language of CB radio, and by extension, the marketing might of Radio Shack.
When you’re next in an outback truck stop it’s on the dusty K-Tel cassette you’ve idly picked up while waiting for your dim sims and, depending upon geography, potato cake/scallop/fritter.
The album does feature a few Jimmy Higgs ducks such as the Silver Studs and a flaccid Bee Gees track, but for sustained value, I give Ripper ’76 four and a half episodes of The Paul Hogan Show.
Or for the kids, a Pitchfork 9.2.
Sherbet – Howzat
Maxine Nightingale – Right Back Where We Started From
Elvin Bishop – Fooled Around and Fell in Love
Silver Studs – Happy Days
Billy Thorpe – It’s Almost Summer
Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back in Town
Fox – S-S-S-Single Bed
Roxy Music – Love Is the Drug
Nazareth – Love Hurts
Skyhooks – Million Dollar Riff
Billy Ocean – Love Really Hurts Without You
Donna Summer – Love to Love You Baby
Ol’ 55 – On The Prowl
Bee Gees – Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)
Supernaut – I Like It Both Ways
Jon English – Hollywood Seven
Split Enz – Late Last Night
C.W. McCall – Convoy
Daryl Braithwaite – Old Sid
10cc – I’m Not in Love