Monday, January 10, 2022

Daddy Cool - Daddy Who! Daddy Cool! (1971 australia, fabulous roots 'n' roll party, 2011 bonus tracks remaster)

Ross Wilson's previous group The Party Machine had split up in early 1969, after Ross received a call from the UK from his friend Brian Peacock, bassist with the expatriate Australian band Sons of The Vegetal Mother, was an "esoteric special occasion progressive band" with a floating lineup based around the nucleus of Wilson and Hannaford. It was conceived to perform on the Melbourne concert circuit, at events and 'happenings' in 'head' venues like the TF Much Ballroom. Wilson also began exploring the music of the rock'n'roll era in earnest, and he came up with the idea of creating an informal group to perform it. In this he was aided by Young and Duncan -- who shared his love for the music of that period and had large rock'n'roll record collections - as well as by friends like David "Dr Pepper" Pepperell, Keith Glass and Gulliver Smith (Company Caine). In fact Keith and Gully were originally pencilled in as alternative/additional lead singers for the group, and it was Keith who suggested the song "Daddy Cool" as an addition to the repertoire. Numerous originals from the classic rock'n'roll era 1950s became staples of the set list, and these were combined with Wilson's more progressively-oriented originals.

In the beginning, Daddy Cool though was not the "main event" -- it was originally intended as"light relief" during Vegetals gigs, performing a short, snappy set of '50s rock'n'roll songs between the lengthier progressive explorations of the main group. Their first (impromptu) appearance was at a Vegetals gig at Glenelg Town Hall in November 1970 ,when they filled in for a support band who failed to show up. A few weeks later they made their 'official' debut at theTF Much Ballroom in Melbourne.

They combined great musical strength, honed by years of experience playing around the traps, with an irreverent and ebullient stage presence. In Wilson they had both a strong songwriter and one of the great frontmen of Australian rock. Gangly and rather goofy looking, Ross Hannaford's appearance belied the fact that he was -- and is -- one of the true legends of the guitar, and the perfect foil for Wilson. Another memorable feature was their stage outfits -- the Mickey Mouse ears, the foxtail which Wilson attached to the back of his pants, and of course Hannaford's trademark helicopter cap. Daddy Cool stood out against the prevailing serious progressive mood of the time. They rocked, they were danceable, immediate, accessible and, above all,fun.

Audiences responded immediately, and over the next few months SOVTM/Daddy Cool became one of the most popular live acts on the Melbourne dance/disco circuit, with regular gigs at the Much More Ballroom, Garrison, the Myer Music Bowl and the Melbourne Town Hall, as well as festival appearances at Launching Place (Melbourne) and Odyssey (Wallacia, NSW). By the time of their rapturous reception at the Myponga Festival in early 1971 (where they totally eclipsed the Vegetals) it was clear that Daddy Cool were far more popular than their parent band, and Sons of the Vegetal Mother was soon shelved for good.

The major turning point came on 7 May 1971, and from there things moved very fast. Daddy Cool played a gig at the Melbourne Town Hall with Tully, where they were spotted by Robie Porter. A child guitar prodigy, Porter was a teenage pop performer turned producer who had his own unusual but quite successful musical career in the late 50s and early '60s, performing guitar instrumentals under his stage name "Rob E.G". After a spell in the USA, Robie had returned to Australia and had recently become half-owner of the small independent Melbourne label, Sparmac. When Robie saw DC that night he signed them virtually on the spot. Within days he had them in the studio and the first single was out before the end of the month.

Porter produced the tracks for the first LP, and he also contributed piano and steel guitar to various tracks, with the help of Wilson's old palJeremy Noone on saxophone. It's a testament to the band's strength as a performing unit that they were able to cut all the tracks in a marathon two-night, 22 hour session. The album included two Ross Wilson originals which became instant classics -- "Come Back Again" and their legendary debut single. "Eagle Rock" was influenced by Delta blues (evident in the classic opening riff). The title of the song had come from a newspaper article which Wilson read while he was in London -- a Sunday Times story describing the juke joints of the Deep South in the 1930s, which included a photo of dancers at a juke joint, captioned "Some negroes do the eagle rock and the pigeon wing".

Alongside Spectrum's "I'll Be Gone", Daddy Cool's debut single became one of the keystones of the 'new wave' of Australian rock in the early Seventies. Released in late May 1971, "Eagle Rock" entered the Melbourne charts at No 20; it was immediately picked up by pop stations around the country and was the national #1 within two weeks. It became one of the biggest hits of the year and its success shot the band into the national spotlight virtually overnight. They undertook a joint nationwide tour withSpectrum, and the song gained crucial TV exposure thanks to the famous promotional clip made by director Chris Lofven , a former member of Cam-Pact who also made the clip for "I'll Be Gone" only months before. The clip, which included intercut live footage of the band's performance at Myponga, is now regarded as a classic, and has been much imitated. Certainly, The Pretenders' breakthrough 1978 clip for "Brass In Pocket" bears a remarkable resemblance to it.

"Eagle Rock" rewrote the record books for Australian popular music - it was #1 nationally for 8 weeks, #1 in Melbourne for a record-breaking 17 weeks, it charted for 25 weeks in all, and became the best-selling Australian single of 1971. Daddy Cool were voted Best Group in the 1971 Go Set Pop Poll, and Best Group in the TV Week "King of Pop" awards. "Eagle Rock" has long since taken on a life of its own; it's become one of the best-known songs of the era, and a staple of commercial radio "classic rock" programming. The story goes that Elton John was so taken with the song when he heard it on his first Australian tour later that year that he immediately penned his own riposte, "Crocodile Rock", which was an massive international hit for him. Likewise, on his 1973 tour, Marc Bolan good-naturedly ribbed Wilson about "ripping off" "Eagle Rock"'s main riff from T-Rex's "Ride A White Swan"! When it was re-released as a 12" single in 1982 it was a Top 10 hit all over again.

The debut LP Daddy Who? ... Daddy Cool! was released in July 1971. It too went to #1 and smashed all previous sales records -- it went gold within the month, sold an unprecedented 60,000 copies from its initial release, and went on to become the first Australian LP to sell more than 100,000 copies locally. The album was originally issued in a textured cover, and the cover illustration -- a cartoon rendering of the band members by Melbourne artist (and Go-Set staffer) Ian McCausland -- effectively became the group's logo. McCausland created most of the band's graphics and was responsible for much of their visual image, on which he collaborated with Ross Hannaford.

The album is still as fresh and immediate as it was back in 1971, and Porter's clean, warm production has tremendous presence and fidelity, and still sounds terrific. The majority of the original songs were by Ross Wilson (except for Bom Bom, which was co-written by Hannaford) but they sit very comfortably next to the vintage R&B covers -- "Guided Missile", "Good Rockin' Daddy", "Cherry Pie", Slay & Crewe's "Daddy Cool" and Chuck Berry's "Schooldays".

As brilliant as the group was, it also has to be said that their success was partly due to good luck and good timing. A year earlier, in May 1970, Australian commercial radio had been through an unprecedented six-month period upheaval with the infamous 1970 Radio Ban, which saw commercial radio embroiled in a six-month standoff with the major record companies, who wanted to charge a new royalty payment for songs played on air. Not wanting to pony up for what they (rightly) claimed was free promotion for the majors, the commercial radio industry refused and when talks broke down the major labels placed an embargo on the supply of promotional records to radio stations, and in response radio refused to list major-label records on theor weekly Top 40 charts. Obviously though, radio still needed material, and this gave local independent labels like Fable and Sparmac a unique chance to get their foot in the door.
1. Daddy Cool (Frank Slay, Bob Crewe) - 2:34
2. School Days (Chuck Berry) - 3:06
3. Come Back Again - 4:54
4. At The Rockhouse - 3:45
5. Guided Missile (Alfred Gaitwood) - 3:09
6. Good Rockin' Daddy (Richard Berry, Joseph Bihari) - 2:26
7. Eagle Rock - 4:13
8. Zoop Bop Gold Cadillac - 3:55
9. Blind Date - 4:21
10.Bom Bom (Ross Wilson, Ross Hannaford) - 2:38
11.Cherry Pie (Joseph Bihari, Marvin Phillips) - 03:21
12.Flip - 02:26
13.Lollipop - 01:44
14.Just As Long As We're Together - 02:35
All songs written by Ross Wilson except where indicated
Bonus tracks 11-14

Daddy Cool 
*Wayne Duncan - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Ross Hannaford - Guitar, Vocals
*Ross Wilson - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Gary Young- Drums, Vocals
*Robie Porter - Piano, Steel Guitar
*Jeremy Noone - Saxophone
*Dave Brown - Tenor Saxophone, Flute