20 September 2010

5KA Adelaide: 1968 airchecks

Below are five audio clips from 5KA in 1968. They give you a good idea of how Australian commercial Top 40 radio sounded at the time.

5KA was an AM station in Adelaide (population then around 800,000), the capital city of South Australia. It eventually went to FM as KAFM, now Triple M Adelaide.

The mp3s were available for a while at the now defunct 5KA Reunion site (2001), along with dozens of other 5KA sound files from the 1950s to the 1990s.1

An archived version of 5KA Reunion can be seen at Pandora, the Australian web archive. If you go here you will be redirected to the exact page. Fortunately, the audio files are still accessible: it's a treasure trove!

It's a shame that we have no thriving aircheck2 sites in Australia. For the US there are many such sites, notably ReelRadio's Top 40 Depository where you can listen to hundreds of historic audio clips from all over the country (paid sub required). For the UK, for example, the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has numerous airchecks from the pirate stations (including the voices of a surprising number of Australian deejays)

[Update: The Radio Antenna blog has a growing collection of Australian airchecks from several decades, See also their Facebook page.]

My tattered copy of the Australian Radio Almanac (c.1968), lists only Stuart Jay under 5KA. (The 5DN entry has details of eight announcers: maybe they paid up.) Mike Fewster, heard below on Breakfast at 5KA, is listed under 5KA's country affiliate 5RM in Renmark.

The 5KA Reunion site also had a page packed with jingles, including some from the 1960s created in the US by the PAMS organisation. Listeners to other stations around the world might recognise them, with the callsign of their local station substituted. I have posted one example from 5KA.

5KA 1968 - Mike Fewster [Breakfast].mp3
5KA 1968 - Jim Slade [Drive].mp3
5KA 1968 - Ian Sells [Night].mp3
5KA 1968 - Stuart Jay [Late Night].mp3
5KA 1968 - Lawrie Bruce [Midnight-Dawn].mp3

5KA jingle 1960s.mp3

1. At this YouTube page, Jim Slade recalls that the 1968 set of 5KA airchecks was prepared as a showcase for prospective advertisers. This explains the announcer who introduces each clip, but apart from that they do seem to be genuine recordings of on-air programs.

2. Aircheck: a recording of a radio broadcast (as opposed to a recording made for a broadcast). It can be, for example, a showcase for a professional broadcaster, or an unofficial recording made by a listener. Many CDs of artists of the past are taken from airchecks of live broadcasts. See, for example, the Wikipedia entry.

17 September 2010

"The Music Goes Round my Head"

Melbourne researcher, writer and musician David Johnston has just just published his book The Music Goes Round My Head, a history and commentary about Australian pop music 1964-1969.

Those dates pretty much coincide with my teenage years, so I guess I'm part of the core target audience, those who will easily spot the Easybeats reference in the title. David is also a friend of my site, PopArchives.com.au, and he has given me some nice leads from time to time.

(It was David who finally solved the mystery of The Bowery Boys' original song Just A Poor Boy, long misattributed to Graham Gouldman. I speculated about its writer credits for years; David just went ahead and contacted Kevin Godley, who checked with Gouldman. No more mystery: the story is here.)

Accustomed to having my research - even my words - circulated online without credit, I am full of admiration for David's scholarly approach. His work is properly footnoted, he sources his quotes, and he has cited me and my site in several places, something I find refreshing in this era of cut-and-paste.

So, having declared my slight connection with the author, I can go ahead and recommend this work, which covers just about every artist, famous or obscure, that you'll want to look up in the comprehensive index. (Blimey, even Horsham's Sonamatics get a guernsey!)

It's not all dry facts, as David has managed to get eyewitness accounts from many participants themselves. Quoting Garry Spry, David calls these first-hand sources "the horse's mouth", by contrast with the "the horse's arse". (I am mentioned amongst the latter, but I am in some distinguished company!)

David's commentary is also enriched by his own knowledge of music, a pay-off from his years as a musician. As a non-musician, I often struggle to find the right words to conjure up a song, but he doesn't seem to have this problem. We have both written about The Black Diamonds' See The Way
, for example, but David's insights go beyond those of a mere fan like myself.

David has published The Music Goes Round My Head independently, in a limited edition of 1000, with half the proceeds going to Support Act, the charitable foundation for Australian musicians.

I hope, though, that it will eventually attract mainstream distribution, as it will become an indispensable source for this era in Australian pop music. If that happens, no redesign will be needed, as this is a professionally presented work, generously illustrated on every page.

In the meantime, you can order through RoundMyHead.com, 394 pages, $40:00 + handling. Highly recommended, obviously.

Listen to Red Symons and David Johnston chatting about "The Music Goes Round My Head" on 774 ABC Melbourne this week: link.

15 June 2010

Barbara Lynn - It's Better To Have It

This live performance of Barbara Lynn's 1964 single It's Better To Have It is from only a couple of years later, in February 1966, but it shows.

Barbara Lynn's vocal styling and the instrumental groove are pretty much as they were in '64, but the live version has added a soulful brass section in place of the poppier backing vocals of the single. The fresh influence of the Stax-Volt sound, by this time familiar on records by the likes of Otis Redding, is evident in this fine performance.

I don't know whether Barbara Lynn recorded the song again in this style, but she should have, because it fits the song like a glove, and a stylish glove at that.

Enjoy this clip while you can: last time around it was removed from YouTube, where it was coupled with a very cool version of Ray Charles's What'd I Say from the same TV soul show, THE!!!! BEAT, hosted by Nashville disc jockey Bill "Hoss" Allen (aka "Hossman"). See my earlier post.

Further reading:
THE!!!! BEAT appearances listed at The Video Beat! (Vols. 1 & 2: links to further volumes).
THE!!!! BEAT at Wikipedia.
Bill "Hoss" Allen at Wikipedia.
Mick Patrick's definitive account of Barbara Lynn at Cha Cha Charming.
Red Kelly's post on Barbara Lynn at The B Side.