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Summer of ’81 (E McCusker) 1981 and Come Said the Boy (E McCusker) – Mondo Rock 1983

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Mondo Rock were well-known for writing and performing mature, craftily-professional adult pop- rock, and their most successful phase as a group coincided with their second studio album Chemistry, which became their first top 5 hit. The classic Mondo Rock line up comprised, above left to right – Top: Ross Wilson (guitar/vocals), James Black (guitar/keyboard), Bottom: Paul Christie (bass), Gil Mathews ( drums and drum programming ), and Eric McCusker (guitar).

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Chemistry had yielded the hits Cool World and the title track Chemistry, and the Summer of ‘81 was also a hit when it became the fourth single to be lifted off the album. It was a feisty, enduring pop composition by Eric McCusker which was inspired by people coming to terms with either the end of a relationship or even more dramatically the end of the world – “…waiting for the countdown, “…no time for a letter ..sign up or go underground…”. In a selfless act of charity all royalties from the sale of this record, which charted at #31 in November, were donated to Amnesty International.

Cool, Cocky, and Composed – wardrobe courtesy of Miami Vice.

The band went into the Fast Forward recording studios in Montreal, Quebec with producer John Sayers to cut their fourth studio album, The Modern Bop, which would be mixed at Sayers Music Farm Studio at Byron Bay (NSW), Come Said the Boy was the lead single, released three months before the album in November 1983.

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The song is based on a synth groove of considerable subtlety and restraint, given the narrative is about adolescent sexual initiation; synth-inflected guitars, keyboards and a barely-there drum pattern smoothly segued to the opening lyrics which quickly become a provocative tale of juvenile lust and lost virginity. It was a voyeuristic and highly evocative Eric McCusker composition, which recalled an earlier Ross Wilson song Cool World, sung with great passion and drive by Ross Wilson, even the song title itself invited speculation and created anticipation before it began. When McCusker first demoed the song to the band, Ross Wilson remarked “Oh teen sex – that’ll work.”

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The Catholic Church-owned Sydney radio station 2SM banned the song on the basis that it implied teenage promiscuity, which was not completely accurate, as the song does not imply but rather explicitly describes teenagers having sex and the lyrics make no attempt to lay the message between the lines ”Oh, but come said the boy, let’s go down on the sand/ Let’s do what we want to do, let me be a man for you/ Just say come with me boy, just take my hand/ I’ll let you see what you wanna see, come on be a man for me.” The song charts the rites -of- passage of teenage lovers at the end of the school year, intriguingly the seventeen-year-old girl is confident, experienced, even powerful, and this appealed to fans generally “She seemed much older then/She had turned 17/And she knew some older men — first time”

… first time.

Eric McCusker has said that he understands that many people many have lost their virginity to this song, which was partly inspired by a true story of a young man who told Eric about his efforts to be relieved of his virginity at an end-of-school-year party on Bronte Beach (Syd). The boy’s aunt with whom he was staying, interrupted the pair before consummation, dragging the boy home by the scruff of the neck with these words “Your mother would never have forgiven me if I let you stay out,” Auntie would probably never know how cruelly prophetic her words were, for the young man who remained both chaste and chastened.

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The song became a classic summer hit and remains a unique example of the genre, the promo video was shot at Maroubra beach (Syd) and the song charted at #2 nationally and was the band’s most-played single. In 2021 Eric McCusker returned to this song and composed a sequel entitled Bumping Into Memories, with the former lovers returning to the beach setting of the original song, and asking if there’s a chance to revisit their past romance, some 30 or 40 years later. The song features on McCusker’s  most recent album, What the Moon Believes, by his new group The Dreamroom

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