Sorry (J Byers) and Woman Your Breakin’ Me (R Wright/B Cadd) 1967 and Such A Lovely Way (B Cadd/D Mudie) 1969- The Groop
The Groop were originally a folk group The Wesley Trio, all former students of Wesley College (Melb), and included L-R above Peter McKeddie (vocals), Max Ross (bass), Richard Wright (drums) and English-born Peter Bruce (guitar). They were signed to CBS in 1966, and released three novelty songs with dubiously double entendre themes, Ol’ Hound Dog (#30), Best In Africa (#32) and I’m Satisfied (#53), which were followed by the abrupt departure of all but two of the original members. Richard Wright (drums) and Max Ross (bass), then set about rebuilding the band, Don Mudie (guitar) was recruited, followed quickly by lead singer Ronnie Charles (Boromeo) and keyboardist Brian Cadd both from the Jackson Kings. The newly-minted Groop set about heading in a more adventurous direction and focused on rhythm and blues, and the British beat group style and appearance, a la Manfred Mann, the Who, and the Small Faces. Below L-R – Ronnie Charles, Don Mudie, Max Ross, Brian Cadd, Richard Wright.
Molly Meldrum was their roadie before he became a reporter for the weekly pop magazine Go-Set, but once he ditched his university studies and took up music journalism, the Groop received favorable coverage in the pages of Go-Set magazine thereafter.
The band was moving towards a heavier R&B vibe, and this reflected in the beat treatment of their debut single, the Joy Byers composition Sorry. Byers was a US journeywoman songwriter who had originally written this song for Solomon Burke in 1962, but the Groop were taking their cues from such UK beat sensations as the Rolling Stones, Who, Kinks and Small Faces, and their “beat” credibility soon became evident, Ronnie Charles raspy R&B vocals were favorably compared to Paul Jones (Manfred Mann) and Chris Farlowe.
Sorry charted top thirty for the band, and Cadd’s ebullient keyboards and Ronnie Charles gritty, soulful, vocals were exemplary, the band were now starting to write their own songs, and Cadd and Mudie would emerge as a formidable songwriting team in the future. But it would be Brian Cadd and drummer Richard Wright who would create a mod rock gem for their next single, after Wright started noodling with beats on his high-hat cymbals and Cadd joined him with several repeating organ riffs, and their first major hit song evolved from there. Below – Ronnie Charles
In May 1967 the soul-inflected, reverb-drenched Woman Your Breakin’ Me was released, unsurprisingly co-composer Wright’s drums featured prominentlyly, along with Max Ross’s undulating bass lines and Cadd’s insistent organ riffs, while Ronnie Charles vocal attack was also convincing. The production team of Roger Savage and Sven Liebeck ensured that a driving full-bodied rhythm propelled the beat, and it was favorably compared to the Who’s recent hits Substitute and I’m A Boy.
The single was followed by an album of the same name and comprised a strong collection of originals mostly by Cadd and Ross, and several well-chosen covers including Baby Blue and I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, and it was one of the first local albums to be recorded in stereo. The Groop peaked in July of 1967 when they took out the grand prize of the Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds competition ahead of such worthy candidates as the Loved Ones, James Taylor Move, and Doug Parkinson In Focus, and boarded a Sitmar cruise ship to London, to attack the UK market.
The band would record and perform in the UK and Europe for 11 months, and although they did generate interest there with such original songs as Lovin’ Tree/Night Life, and the acid-pop double A-side single Seems Important to Me/Annabelle Lee, which was recorded by former Manfred Mann front man Paul Jones, chart success eluded them there. However, the Ross/Cadd psychedelic-tinged composition Silver People, later re-titled Elevator Driver, became a hit for the Masters Apprentices back in Australia in 1968
The band returned to Australia in October 1968 without Max Ross who had departed due to illness, so Don Mudie picked up the bass guitar and they continued as a four-piece, with Cadd and Mudie gelling as a song writing duo of some considerable flair and creativity, which was confirmed when the new Groop single, Such A Lovely Way was released in early 1969.
It would become their last top 20 hit, and featured great keyboards by Cadd, and a driving rhythm section in support of Ronnie Charles lead vocals, the tempo shifts to reflect the subject matter of the lyrics which were about convincing a girl to stay the night, were right on the money “such a lovely way to say goodnight… such a lovely way to say all right…”
The Groop were a talented ensemble who were major contributors to some of the most important recording sessions in the decade, their own discography although brief was highly innovative, and their session work on The Real Thing, Part Three Into Paper Walls, and other Russell Morris recordings was memorable, while the brilliant vocals of Ronnie Charles would also grace the Pastoral Symphony’s #11 hit Love Machine.
There was little doubt that Cadd and Mudie had conspired for some time to leave the band and form the supergroup Axiom with Glenn Shorrock and others, leaving Ronnie Charles and Richard Wright to form Captain Australia and the Honky Tonk, but with the departure of their key songwriters they struggled to re-invent themselves and create a Mark 3 version of The Groop.