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The cover of Volume One of The Festival File — Noeleen

Batley.

MUSIC

New release a festival of Australian memories  

STUART COUPE

FESTIVAL Records were established in Octo-

ber 1952 and for more than three decades they have been synonymous with Australian music. Released last week were the first 10 volumes in a series aimed at highlighting the diversity and spirit of music released by Festival.

The Festival File, as the series is called, was compiled and annotated by Glenn A. Baker, Austra- lia's foremost rock 'n' roll historian and remember- er of things that most other people have forgotten.

Not included on this series is Festival's very first release, Meet Mr Callaghan, a record by Sydney

bandleader Les Welch.

As Baker writes, "Since that time, every conceiv- able style and direction of popular (and often tradi- tional) music in this country has been captured for posterity by Festival. Always a sympathetic outlet for smaller independent domestic labels and pro- ducers, Festival was responsible for or assisted in the rise of Johnny O'Keefe, the Bee Gees, Billy Thorpe, Normie Rowe, Sherbet, Skyhooks and Split Enz, to name but a few."

Baker sees the first 10 volumes of The Festival File as part of "Australia's recorded cultural heri- tage, much of which has been unavailable for de-

cades".

Here's a look at the artists featured on the first 10 volumes which, incidentally, retail for the ex- tremely reasonable price of $9.99 each.

NOELEEN BATLEY: Batley was discovered at Sydney's Ling Nam restaurant in the late '50s by a Festival talent scout. Her debut single, Starry Eyed,

(1960) was very definitely a flop, but the follow up, Barefoot Boy, was a Top 5 hit. Batley was the first Australian female pop performer to get a record in the charts. She became a star on Bandstand where, as Baker points out, she was viewed as the perfect teenage girl — polite, conservative and modest. Over the course of her career Batley recorded 19 singles, three albums and nine EP's.

DIG RICHARDS: When Dig Richards died from cancer in 1982, Kevin Jacobsen observed that "He gave rock 'n' roll the best years of his life. He also gave it some of its nicest moments." Richards had started recording for Festival in 1959, having a hit with I Wanna Love You — the first of a steady stream of hits. One of Australia's best looking pop stars he prompted one girl to comment,"He's quiet- ly masterful, yet you want to mother him."

ROB E.G: In Baker's words Rob E.G was "a curious sensation. He made his presence felt in the midst of Australia's frantic rock'n'roll boom and stood out like a pork chop at a bar mitzvah. Shy, pale Robert George Porter with his twee lap steel guitar and odd stage name was the antithesis of the greasy rock wildmen of the day and, as such, a pcrmissable idol for the 'protected' young girls of

the community." This album concentrates on the material he recorded before Beatlemania dominated

Australia.

WARREN WILLIAMS: Writer Charles High- man, who later accused Errol Flynn of being a Nazi spy, wrote of Warren Williams that "along with Lonnie Lee, he is next to the twin thrones occupied by Col Joye and Johnny O'Keefe. It's quite com- mon for him to enter a record bar to sign covers, only to find girls ready to bring him down with a flying tackle, filch his trousers and swarm all over him looking for items they can make off with. Staid townships' quiet atmospheres are frequently shat- tered as hundreds of girls swarm outside the dances where Warren is appearing, screaming at the tops of their voices, and then swoop as he emerges into the street." This album partly explains why that

happened!

THE DEKROO BROTHERS: These two Dutch brothers came to Australia with their families after World War II, eventually settling in Sydney where they hoped to imitate the success of their idols, the Everly Brothers. They didn't, but still work occa- sionally in clubs, largely on the strength of their song Scarlet which, as Bakers says, is "a song even a deaf mute could hum under the shower".

RAY HOFF AND THE OFFBEATS: "I always liked my music rugged rather than sweet," says Ray Hoff, a man who was influenced by Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles and Hank Ballard. This collects all Hoffs hits with the Offbeats from the days when the places to go had names like the

Beach House, Surf City, and Beatle Village.

RAY BROWN AND THE WHISPERS: One of Australia's more legendary "60s groups, who used to attract more than 2000 fans to their shows at Surf City and the Beach House during the early to mid '60s. This album has the songs that every kid my age grew up listening to on the radio - 20 Miles, Pride, Fool, Fool, Fool, In the Midnight Hour, Go To Him, etc. It's enough to make you feel young again, and very old at the same time.

JOHNNY YOUNG & KOMPANY: Forget the wimp you see these days on Young Talent Time, in his heyday Johnny Young made some truly great pop records - Step Back, Cara-Lyn and Kiss Me Now, for starters. Along with Harry Vanda and George Young, Johnny Young was one of the few Australian artists writing their own material during the later part of the '60s. Every time Voung Talent Time comes on TV, switch it off and put this album

on instead!

MARTY RHONE AND THE SOUL AGENTS: Never a big pop star, Marty Rhone will be remem- bered for a number of outstanding singles, a number of which were very advanced in style and produc- tion. He still records and performs although his '70s hits were of the level of Denim And Lace and Mean Pair of Jeans.

ROSS D WYLLIE: Star of Uptight, Wyllie's run of hits ended in the early '70s. This is probably the least interesting of the albums in this series, but at

worst is a curio item.

Digitisation generously supported by
Questacon - The National Science and Technology Centre
Digitisation generously supported by

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