Sunday, October 5, 2014

The peculiar existence of The Marcus Hook Roll Band

I'm fairly sure that we have all heard of Vanda and Young, and probably heard of their  "Flash n The Pan" project who had the classic hit, "Down among the dead men"...but I got to admit to only vaguely hearing about their "Marcus Hook Roll Band"project at the time

I'm fairly certain that someone in the family actually had the album, cause I can remember the original blue cover with the grumpy old bloke on it around the house...ANYWAY

 The project released EXACTLY one record, Tales of Old Grand Daddy (1973), which was issued only in Australia (EMI), although a variation would later be released in the U.S. on Capitol's "green label" budget series,  in the wake of Vanda and Young's Flash And The Pan album. They also released three singles, the first being "Natural Man"/"Boogalooing Is For Wooing", followed by "Louisiana Lady"/"Hoochie Coochie Har Kau (Lee Ho's Blues)", and "Can't Stand the Heat"/"Moonshine Blues".

The Marcus Hook Rock and Roll Band,was definately an obscure but significant persona of the legendary partnership of Harry Vanda & George Young (The Easybeats/Flash and the Pan) only ever existed in the studio, releasing three singles and their album Tales of Old Grand-Daddy in the early ’70s. These rare songs, composed and performed by Vanda and Young, fetch great amounts on internet auctions, not only for the musical brilliance, but band members include 4 members of the Young family; brothers George, Angus, Malcolm and Alex.

Following The Easybeats split in 1969, Harry and George remained in London where they released a string of very good singles under a number of odd pseudonyms: Eddie Avana, Moondance, Paintbox, Tramp, Grapefruit, and Haffey’s Whiskey Sour. In 1972 Alan ‘Wally’ Waller (aka Wally Allen) who was working as a house producer for EMI Records heard a Harry and George demo and brought them into Abbey Road studios to record.Even though the the song ‘Natural Man’ was not a great seller it caught the attention of the right people. A second single, ‘Louisiana Lady’, was recorded in November. When considering what to call the project they somehow settled on Marcus Hook Roll Band.

Tales of Old Grand-Daddy was not made until the following year, and on the other side of the globe. Vanda and Young had returned to Australia after accepting an offer from Ted Albert, record producer and founder of Albert Productions that had launched The Easybeats, to return to Australia to kick start the solo career of their Easybeats band-mate Stevie Wright. The plan was to build a new studio in Sydney but a frantic call came from Waller announcing that Capitol Records in the USA was interested in the single ‘Natural Man’ plus an album.

Harry and George had just resettled in Sydney and had no intention of returning to London. So Waller made the trip to Australia, and was delighted to find engineer Richard Lush working at EMI’s Castlereagh Street studios. A fun time ensued in studio A over July/August 1973. A key ingredient was the duty free booze supplied by Waller—Jim Beam Old Grand-dad bourbon whiskey — hence the album name.

It was decided not to use any of the London tracks but to start again with a new batch of songs and a new line-up. 

In a rare interview for Bomp magazine in 1978, George Young explained the philosophy behind the Marcus Hook Rock and Roll Band, “We thought it was hilarious, it had just been a joke to us… We had Harry, myself and my kid brothers, Malcolm and Angus. We all got rotten, except for Angus, who was too young, and we spent a month in there boozing it up every night. That was the first thing Malcolm and Angus did before AC/DC. We didn’t take it very seriously so we thought we’d include them to give them an idea of what recording was all about.”

Apparently, he sessions were great fun, fuelled with plenty of Old Grand-Dad bourbon. Angus Young drank milk

Marcus Hook Roll Band members

Vocal: Harry Vanda, George Young
Backing vocals: Harry Vanda, George Young, Wally Waller
Guitar: Harry Vanda, George Young, Malcolm Young, Angus Young
Bass Guitar: George Young, Ian Campbell, Wally Waller
Piano: George Young, Wally Waller
Drums: John Proud, Freddie Smith
Saxophone: Alex Young, Howie Casey


Can't Stand The Heat
Goodbye Jane
Quick Reaction
Silver Shoes & Strawberry Wine
Watch Her Do it Now
People and the Power
Red Revolution
Shot in the Head
Ape Man

Cry For Me
One Of These Days
Natural Man
Louisiana Lady
Ride Baby Ride

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