Southern Sons evolved from the Melbourne band State, whose members were Phil Buckle (guitar/vocals), Virgil Donati (drums/keyboards), Peter Bowman (guitar/vocals), and Geoff Cain (bass), and to this solid unit was added the guitar proficiency, photogenic good looks, and soulful voice of front-man Jack Jones (real name Irwin Thomas).L-R below Caine, Donati, Jones, Buckle, Bowman
After supporting a tour by the Eurhythmics; Jones and Buckle accompanied John Farnham on his Chain Reaction Tour and then the band released their eponymous first album, from which the soaring, Phil Buckle-composed ballad Hold Me in Your Arms was lifted. The album was recorded in the Metropolis studios (Melb) and produced by Ross Fraser ( below) who had just burst onto the scene after his debut production of the all-conquering Whispering Jack and Chain Reaction albums. Phil Buckle was a songwriter of growing stature, he had already written six of the songs on Farnham’s Chain Reaction album, and had written or co-written, all of the eleven songs on the Southern Sons debut album.
The first single lifted from the album was Heart in Danger an up tempo guitar-driven track that rocked, which charted #4 in August 1990, quickly followed by the power pop ballad Always & Ever, #16 in November of that year. Below Phil Buckle.
Buckle knew that Jack Jones was a Farnham-sound-a-like and he pitched the beautiful Hold Me In Your Arms right in the groove for the front-man with the impressive tenor baritone voice, this became the third single lifted off the album. The song is musically sparse, acoustic guitars, subtle percussion and keyboards, Jones vocals are moving and enveloping, the whole arrangement and performance of the song puts Jack Jones front and centre, and he delivered.
The song charted #7 and the album #6 and stayed on the charts for 38 weeks, most recently Jack Jones and Dami Im released a duet of Hold Me in Your Arms in 2017. In 1992 Jack Jones would marry the NZ-born Australian- based actress Rebecca Gibney, who had starring roles in such TV series as Flying Doctors, Come In Spinner, and All Together Now, but this much-trumpeted celebrity wedding, breathlessly chronicled in successive issues of TV Week magazine, would end in divorce in 1993.
Nothing but The Truth was the band’s second studio album, recorded in the Quad Studios (Syd) with American producer (William) Louis Shelton who had previously worked with Seals and Croft, Art Garfunkel, England Dan and John Ford Coley and locally with Noiseworks.
Early single releases from the album fared poorly until the obvious choice was made to lift the euphoric You Were There as a single, which took the group back into the top ten (#5 in ’93).
The song has apparently been erroneously credited to the British duo Mike Powell and Martin Green, in several publications, Powell and Green had worked together on songs for the visionary folk trio Lau but were relatively unknown in this country. Further research has confirmed that You Were There was a Phil Buckle composition, its melody and lyrics are very characteristic of his style, and it was another sensitive ballad pitched right in the slot for Jack Jones tenor voice.
The song intros with acoustic guitars and keyboards and lush strings arranged by former LRB keyboardist David Hirschfelder, Jones is the only band member visible in the promo video which is based on a Beauty and the Beast theme. The song was to be included in the score of a Sydney Dance Company production of Beauty and the Beast and the video depicted these characters in costume and special effects makeup (the Beast), creating one of the more elaborate video productions for the band.
The song rises in tempo and volume as the tender chorus begins “But you were there/ You were everything/I’d never seen/ You woke me up from this long / And empty sleep/ I was alone/ I opened my eyes/ And you were there.”
This was the band’s last top forty hit, they broke up in 1996 and Jack Jones has performed in stage musical productions, and more recently formed a duo with Rick Price, to record an album of covers of US West Coast hits from the 1960’s and 70’s entitled California Dreaming.