JOHN FARNHAM 1967-1997 PART 2.

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Hearts on Fire – (Kimmel/Lynch) 1996 and Have A Little Faith (In Us) (DeSalvo/Roman) 1996 and Every Time You Cry (Peiken/Sutton)- John Farnham 1997

 John Farnham reigned supreme throughout the 80’s and 90’s with successive #1 albums – Whispering Jack, Age of Reason,and Chain Reaction – he starred in the revived version of Jesus Christ Superstar with Kate Ceberano and Jon Stevens and scored duet hits with Kate Ceberano, Jimmy Barnes, and Human Nature.farnham81Hearts on Fire is very representative of the high quality MOR-oriented contemporary rock that had become the recognizable style of Farnham in the mid-nineties, it undeservedly only charted at #55. Lyrically it was one of the stronger tracks on the album, and the chorus was very catchy ” Last rites first blood/ Maybe a dream but then it’s clear enough/ Can’t hide can’t sleep/ Is it the vision or the body heat/ True love’s when your heart’s on fire/ I’m the paper you’re the sparking wire/ True love when your heart’s on fire.” The album from which it was lifted, Romeo’s Heart, did better, climbing to #2 and selling over 300,000 copies.farnham78The band behind Farnham were his trusted backup over many successful albums, Brett Garsed and Stuart Fraser on guitars and vocals, Angus Burchall drums and percussion, harmony backing vocals Lindsey Field and Lisa Edwards, Joe Creighton on bass and vocals, but Chong Lim had replaced David Hirschfelder on keyboards.

The songwriters were Tom Kimmel who also wrote Angels for Farnham (which appeared on his album Then Again) and Stan Lynch the former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer, who had successfully segued to songwriting and production. Have A Little Faith (In Us) was a #3 hit when lifted from the Romeo’s Heart album in March ’96. The songwriters were Americans Russ DeSalvo – guitarist/producer/arranger who had provided songs for Celine Dion, Lionel Richie, and written many scores for Disney productions, and songwriter Arnie Roman who composed for the Pointer Sisters, Al Green, Celine Dion and Mark Anthony. The familiar Farnham “family” continued to provide peerless backup on what was a great pop song.

Everytime You Cry was written by Americans Greg Sutton, bassist/songwriter/singer who wrote Stop! for Sam Brown, Tonight for Joe Cocker and other hits for Human League, Billy Ray Cyrus, Curtis Stigers, and Tom Jones, while co-writer Shelly Peiken had written US #1 hits for Christina Aguilera What A Girl Wants, and Come On Over Baby, a US #2 Bitch for Meredith Brooks, Hook Me Up for the Veronicas a #1 in Aust, and had also written songs for Britney Spears, Natasha Bedingfield, Keith Urban and Celine Dion.

Produced by Farnham and Ross Fraser at Gotham Studios (Melb), Human Nature recorded their vocals in the UK at Master Rock studios and were produced by Andrew Klippel. The song has a Motown meets revivalist hall feel to it with a call and response chorus between Farnham and Human Nature, a classy arrangement and orchestration which included brass via trumpet flourishes from Tibor Gyapjas and trombone from Lex Tier, soaring vocal support from  Lindsey Field and Lisa Edwards, soulful harmonica inserts by Steve Williams and the rhythm section of Angus Burchall (drums) and Joe Creighton (bass) who lay down a chugging back beat.

The promo video had a retro feel to it as Farnham and Human Nature perform in classic Motown lead singer/ backup vocals formation with appropriate choreography, while two ageing Melbourne radio identities, Bruce Mansield and Phillip Brady, ham it up on the sidelines.human nature 19This was another popular single lifted off a hit album by Farnham which went to #3 in October ’97, and Human Nature would accompany Farnham on his I Can’t Believe That He’s Fifty national tour in 1999, but it proved to be the last hit single for John Farnham after an amazing return to chart success which dated back to the release of the Whispering Jack album in 1986.farnham82However, his popularity would prove to be remarkably durable, he became the face of Telstra for two years when he teamed with his manager in a series of blokey, good-humored advertisements about John getting lost on the way to perform at a concert, while plugging the dates and venues of the shows at the same time. Greatest Hits albums Anthology 1,2 and 3, collectively sold over 300,000 copies and charted strongly into the 2000’s, he performed live in concert with Tom Jones and Olivia Newton-John, although Kiri Te Kanawa pulled out of a planned concert tour when she found out that women threw underwear onto the stage during performances, and a tour with pop diva Stevie Nicks, was strained and lacked chemistry between the two stars, who did not perform together on stage.farnham 83Farnham also became famous for his “farewell tours’, the Last Time album charted #2 and sold 210,000 copies,  and his One Voice- The Greatest Hits and The 33 and a Third albums collectively sold over 500,000 copies, charted #2 and #1 respectively, further compilations were released and consistently charted in the national top ten, Farnham was definitely leaving the stage on his terms and in his own time.

John Farnham is one of his country’s best-known and most popular performers and he is the only Australian artist to have a number-one record in five consecutive decades (echoing the achievement of Sir Cliff Richard in the UK). As of 2019 he has released nineteen studio albums, three EPs, nineteen compilation albums, six live albums, seventeen video albums, seventy-four singles, twenty-five music videos, and twelve soundtracks, he was awarded the Order of Australia in 1987 and was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2003. He is quite simply considered to be a national treasure of the Australian recording industry.farnham84His manager Glenn Wheatley publicly fell from grace in 2007 when he was convicted of tax avoidance and sentenced to 30 months gaol, with a minimum of 15 months  to be served at the Beechworth Correctional Centre, his mate John visited him there and stood by him throughout what was a traumatic time for the Wheatley family. In 2010 Wheatley was convicted of drink driving, fined and had his licence suspended for 6 months.

 

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