VANDA AND YOUNG 1965-1983

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Wedding Ring (H Vanda/G Young) and Sad and Lonely and Blue (S Wright/G Young) 1965 and Women (Make You Feel Alright) (S Wright/G Young) and Come and See Her (S Wright/G Young) – Easybeats 1966

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With two hits under their belt the band were confident about their creative output, and for their next release the Vanda /Young songwriting team emerged to deliver their first hit, Harry Vanda was already an accomplished performer when he arrived in Australia, and had been lead guitarist for his Dutch band the Starfighters, who were a competent Shadows covers band and had backed Cliff Richard at some local gigs there. Below- Harry Vanda

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His first language was Dutch, but as his English skills improved, so did his level of participation in the creative output within the band. The teaming of Vanda and George Young in the mid-60’s would not only produce hits for the Easybeats but also remain a potent songwriting force for many other artists some forty years later within the Alberts music business. Wedding Ring opens with a bass riff and quickly jumps into Beatles-esque yeah, yeahs in the vocal backing, Stevie’s lead vocals are impassioned, and the song does have those unmistakable riffs, harmonies, and interweaving guitars that would be perfected in the group’s power pop masterpiece, Friday On My Mind, one year later.

An appearance on Billy Thorpe’s It’s All Happening, Billy ratchets up the frenzy by introducing each band member in a run up to the stage, fans were clustered close to the band, streamers everywhere, a great live action clip.

Wedding Ring charted #7 and the band followed up with a slow ballad, Sad Lonely and Blue, written by Wright/Young that was performed as a Stevie Wright solo, with appropriately gloomy mood lighting, keening vocals, and even fake tears to trigger a frenzied response from their female fans, it charted #21 in November 1965.Their debut album Easy,was released in September ’65 and charted #4, it was recorded in two consecutive all-night recording sessions and was unprecedented as all fourteen songs were originals, this was the first time in Australia that a local band had written all the songs on an album, and there were plenty more to come.

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The group also made their presence felt on a visit to Melbourne when manager Vaughan invited the local media to a luncheon function at the famous Windsor Hotel in Spring Street. Whilst there some patrons in the public bar took offence at the boy’s long hair and foreign accents and an all-in-brawl ensued, the lads returned to the media gathering bloodied but unbowed to the unanimous approval of the DJs and reporters who thereafter played their records and wrote about them, with a new sense of respect and admiration.   

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Easyfever was a turbo-charged force of nature in 1966, It’s 2 Easy was the band’s second album, released only six months after their debut album, again all the tracks were original compositions, it produced four bona fide hits, Wedding Ring, Sad Lonely and Blue, Women, and Come and See Her, the album also charted an impressive #3 nationally. Wedding Ring and Sad, Lonely and Blue had maintained the band’s momentum on the singles charts but the next two singles lifted off the album would confirm the Easybeats as the unparalleled headliners of the beat music phenomena sweeping the country.

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In January 1966 the band opened the year by taking the slyly sexy and bluesy Women into the top 5,  Stevie Wright’s vocals were more mature and nuanced here than previous outings and the band was a tight impressive unit. At Stevie’s insistence – “Goee Snowy” – Fleet delivers one of his rare drum solos, which wins Stevie’s approval “Cor blimey Snow.” Back-to-basic guitar riffs and a sing-a-long chorus also connected with the fans, and the song ends with a Stevie coda which includes part of a quotation from a nursery rhyme “fee – fie – fo – fum”, although some thought the ending was too abrupt.

A Bandstand appearance, a bit too stagey, no live audience participation, the go-go dancers were lively though.

As the band’s departure to London was imminent, they wanted to release another record to keep their faithful fans satisfied during their absence, and it would be another Wright/Young composition entitled Come and See Her. With producer Ted Albert controlling the session and bassist Dick Diamond delivering the title lyric in a booming lugubrious voice, it was very similar to the Who’s bassist John Entwhistle’s effort on Boris the Spider. Diamonde was a typical stone face bass guitar player, very much in the tradition of John Entwhistle and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, whose onstage emotional expression ranged from occasional bemusement, blank disinterest, or a kind of apprehension about all the pandemonium erupting around them.

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The band went into the Alberts studio to put down this brooding, enigmatic song in April. Come and See Her featured a superb guitar solo by Harry and the brooding aforementioned vocal insert from bassist Dick Diamonde, as well as moaning, groaning harmonies from George and Harry, the song fairly bristled with unresolved sexual tension and the counter-harmonies and call-and-response between a doleful Dick and an ever-frantic Stevie were intriguing, it charted at #3 nationally. During live performances of this song young female fans often responded with a complicit chant of “gonorrhea, gonorrhea” to the chorus “come and see her, come and see her,” it was not a mondegreen, but a deliberate attempt to carnally engage with the band by their fans.

A mondegreen (misunderstood lyric) also attributed to this song was mishearing the title of the song as the name of a mysterious woman by the name of “Carmen Sia”, such misheard lyrics were attributable to many great songs – “Hello Douglas my old friend” (Sounds of Silence) and “scuse me while I kiss this guy’ (Purple Haze). Several other Vanda/Young songs would also inspire audience participation in the future- The Jack by AC/DC, and Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again by the Angels.


 

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