What’s Wrong with The Way I Live? (G Nash/A Clarke/A Hicks) and 9.50 (T Britten) – The Twilights 1967
The band made the obligatory pilgrimage to the UK in September 1966 after winning the national final of Hoadleys Battle of the Sounds and headed for the UK on board the SS Castel Felice, performing for their fellow passengers en route, arriving in Swinging London six weeks later, and moving into a basement flat in Nevern Square, Earl’s Court, where they would reside for the next six months.Like many Australia bands before them they were staggered at the quality and breadth of the talent on display, but they did get an early gig at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club and then headed for EMI’s Abbey Road Studios on Jan 6 1967, to work with legendary producer-engineer Norman “Hurricane” Smith (above). Smith had worked on all the Beatles records in the period 1962-66 as well as Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn and the Pretty Things psychedelic epic S.F. Sorrow, on the day they arrived at the Abbey Road Studio (below) to record in Studio 1, they were gobsmacked to learn that the Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper in Studio 2 next door to them.George Harrison walked by their studio with guitars and sitar in hand, Glenn snuck down the corridor to hear Paul McCartney recording Penny Lane, George Martin popped in and wished them well, and for a bunch of Beatles tragics, who were best known back in Australia for reproducing note-perfect live versions of the hits of the Fab Four, this was edge-of-reality stuff, but they were too awestruck and intimidated to actually approach their idols.
“Hurricane” Smith revealed a new Hollies song written by Alan Clarke, Graham Nash, and Tony Hicks called What’s Wrong With the Way I Live, the Hollies from Manchester were very much a pop group who didn’t let their somewhat more sober and introspective compositions stand in the way of their glittering harmonies and jangling guitars. What’s Wrong was such a song, it hit back at the naysayers and critics who try to erode one’s independence, and impose conformity, banjo, bells, and vibrating piano embellished their basic instrumentation of this track, which the Twilights faithfully replicated. Echoes of Carrie Anne, Stop, Stop, Stop and On A Carousel are evident in the song, and the Twilights carried off the three-part vocal harmonies beautifully, the banjo insert was also effective, (although no one is playing a banjo in the film clip), and the record was the most sophisticated sound yet heard from the Twilights. Once the Hollies heard the Twilights version of their song, they realized that it was superior to their own, and quickly released their own version in the UK, so breaking a promise not to release it as a single in the UK, if the Twilights recorded it, What’s Wrong was a solid hit for the band locally and charted at #7 nationally.In 1967 the band would record their second album, One Upon A Twilight at Armstrong’s Studio (Melb) with producer/engineer Roger Savage and Ernie Rose, the album was an attempt at replicating Sgt Pepper’s-style exotica, released in 1968, it went largely unnoticed at the time, but it was a dramatic change from their previous pop oriented first album and their big hit Needle In A Haystack. Peter Brideoake’s plaintive, cello and horn-embellished Tomorrow Is Today was impressive, but the album was essentially songwriter/guitarist Terry Britten’s magnum opus, and as Glenn Shorrock remarked “Terry was writing songs in the psychedelic style, he’d taken LSD and had a personal “epiphany” (Now Where Was I – Glenn Shorrock 2018).
Britten’s melodies provided lush settings for Glenn’s vocals on the title track, Found To Be Thrown Away, and the psychedelic gem Paternoster Row, and delicate arrangements for Paddy’s lilting tenor on Bessemae. Terry also made his own mark with lead vocals and mostly solo instrumentation on Mr Nice and the Eastern-flavoured Devendra, the latter featuring an arrangement of Indian string and percussive sounds similar to George Harrison’s Within You Without You. Embellished by brass, strings, wah-wah pedal guitar effects, Keith Moon-inspired percussion, and the latest studio trickery –feedback, reverse-tape effects, stereo panning and Leslie speaker vocal effects — the album presented a suite of spirited and captivating psychedelic pop-rock songs that hinted at brilliance, but by the time it was released, critics regarded it as past its -use-by-date, however today it is a collector’s item from the period.
A TV production company offered the group a “Monkeesesque” TV show, called Once Upon A Twilight, also starring comedian Mary Hardy and singer Ronnie Burns, but the sponsorship from Ford Motor Corp. failed to materialize, and it was scrapped. The footage remaining from that show, is a clip of the band performing Terry Britten’s catchy psychedelic mod rock song 9.50, the B-side to What’s Wrong, as the band travel in a vintage sports car through the countryside near Sunbury (Melb). Instead of arriving at their planned destination, they turn up at “Gumnut Gully”, after dancing with girls in a paddock along the way, it was cheap and cheerful. Harry Vanda confirmed that 9.50 influenced his writing of the seminal Easybeats hit Friday On My Mind, and with What’s Wrong, it became a double A-side hit record for the Twilights, and was distinctively covered by the Divinyls in 1997.