THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN RECORD BAN 1970 – SPECIAL FEATURE

 

                                                                        LIv Maessen 3

 

Knock, Knock, Who’s There (G Stephens/J Carter) and Snowbird (G MacLellan) – Liv Maessen 1970

 

Statuesque, deep-voiced, Danish-descended Liv Maessen’s career began in 1969 when she was runner-up in TV’s talent show New Faces and secured a recording contract with Fable Records. Her first single was The Love Moth, an English language version of the Italian song La Pioggia (The Rain) a San Remo Song Contest entry in 1969 by Gigliotta Cinquetti which Maessen took to #30 locally.

She followed up in May 1970 with her cover of the Mary Hopkins song Knock, Knock Who’s There which Hopkins had taken to second place in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970.

Liv’s resonant contralto voice ensured a poignant rendering of a song about unrequited love, John Farrar provided a fine arrangement and the Strangers delivered the musical backing, it was her biggest hit and climbed to #2 nationally, becoming the first record by an Australian female singer to achieve Gold status, for sales of more than 50,000 copies.

 

The song was written by Brits John Carter and Geoff Stephens who were not only prolific songwriters creating hits for Manfred Mann, Herman’s Hermits, the Applejacks, Dave Berry and others but they were also performance chameleons, recording studio hits as the New Vaudeville Band (Winchester Cathedral), The Flower Pot Men (Let’s Go To San Francisco), First Class (Beach Baby), Kincade (Ten A Penny) and White Plains (My Baby Loves Lovin’), often with lead singer Tony Burrows, the most popular unknown singer in the world at the time.

Maessen’s last major hit was a cover of the Anne Murray country-pop song Snowbird, which had been a huge success for Murray in her native Canada and the US, where it hit #1 in 1969, and became the first record by a Canadian female solo artist to be awarded an American Gold record.

Snowbird was written by Canadian Gene MacLellan who had met Anne Murray when they both appeared on the CBC TV series Singalong Jubilee, Gene has admitted that he wrote Snowbird In about twenty minutes while walking on the beach in the tiny Canadian province of Prince Edward Island.

The narrative of Snowbird was similar to Knock, Knock, as the lyrics use a bird as a metaphor for escaping a failed love affair, and flying away, this was not the only time that MacLellan had used this avian metaphor for escaping a doomed love affair or unhappy relationship, he also wrote Message to Michael (aka Kentucky Bluebird) a hit for Dionne Warwick as well as Yellow Bird which was a hit for the Mills Brothers in 1959.

 

Snowbird charted #13 nationally and Liv won a Logie Award for Best New Talent in 1971, her debut album Live For Life charted at #31 that year, but her fourth single Hurry On Down failed to impress. After 1972 Liv pursued a career in club and cabaret work, until the mother of two ultimately disappeared from the scene, but after three consecutive hits in 1970, she is remembered as one of the brightest stars of the Record/Radio Ban era in Australian popular music.

 

Liv Maessen 4

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s