My Aim Is to Please You (K Young) and Sit Down I Think I Love You (S Stills) – The Executives 1967

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Sophisticated Sydney pop sextet, The Executives, were formed around the husband- and- wife team of Carole and Brian King in 1966, they traded in crystalline, counter-harmony sounds with a fine pop sensibility, not unlike those of the US groups the Mamas and Papas, the Fifth Dimension, and Spanky and Our Gang. The original lineup included Brian (banjo/keyboards) and Carole King (vocals), Keith Leslie (sax/vocals), Gary King (bass), Ryhs Clark (drums), and Dudley Hood (guitar). Their debut single, Wander Boy was a moody wistful cover of an original  Adrissi Brothers song which featured Leslie on lead vocals, backed with an original song You’re Bad with Carole King singing lead, both were produced here by Pat Aulton, but neither side really resonated on the charts.    

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Musically they were a multi-talented ensemble capable of playing many instruments ranging from violin to harpsichord and they were equally adept at producing their own records, a unique skill for a band in the mid-60’s. Based in Sydney they were the most sophisticated pop group of their era, who had several top 5 hits in Sydney, but struggled to impress in Melbourne, where twin-city rivalries at the time tended to polarize markets and influence radio playlists.

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Between 1967-69 the definitive Executives lineup was as above Carole King (co-lead vocals) Rhys Clark (drums), Brian King (banjo,keyboards), Gary King (bass), Ray Burton (guitar), Gino Cunnico (co-lead vocals), and to establish a fanbase in Melbourne they made numerous appearances at the hip discos there, including Sebastians, Berties, Catcher, Opus, Thumpin’ Tum, and Q-Club.

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My Aim Is to Please You, was notable for its unusual androgynous lyrics with lead singer Carole King singing the “male” lead “you got to meet me half-way girl…”, and it took the Executives into the top 20 (#18) for the first time. The song was a haunting mid-tempo ballad, beautifully arranged and produced that cleverly used multi-layering of the twin vocals of Carole King and Gino Cunnico, all underscored with deft, stately electric piano flourishes by Brian King, while wife Carole’s come-hither contralto tones glided seductively above the mix.

Classy pop from the Executives.

The original version of this song was by US singer/songwriter Kenny Young (1966) who with Art Resnick also wrote Under the Boardwalk (Drifters/Rolling Stones) and When Will the Good Apples Fall (The Seekers). Young would later form the band Fox which featured expatriate Aussie singer Susan Traynor (aka by her more exotic stage name of Noosha Fox) who would have an international hit with the slyly sexy S-S-S-Single Bed.

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The Executives followed up with the Stephen Stills-penned Sit Down I Think I Love You, which was originally an album track for Still’s band Buffalo Springfield, the Executives version was lush and drew quite heavily on the arrangement of the song by the Mojo Men who had covered it in 1967, Brian King featured on banjo and the group continued its androgynous approach to songs with lead singer Carole King again taking the male part with such lyrics as “baby can’t you see I am a desperate man I get high….”, it charted solidly for a #20 hit in September 1967.

Their music vids were pretty restrained recordings of TV performances, but Carole did get playful at the outro here.

During 1968 the band released a trio of self-produced singles, the first was the brisk, catchy, Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, Brill Building song It’s A Happening World, a minor hit for the Tokens in 1967, and #42 locally for the Execs, followed by the engaging folk-pop of Windy Day, a cover of the Lewis and Clark Expedition release which climbed to #24 locally. They rounded out the 60’s with two whimsical psych-pop creations, Summerhill Road/Christopher Robin, a double-sided local composition by Ray Burton and Gary Paige, which charted #55 and should have done better

Ultimately the band would make several forays into the US market, land a recording contract with Buddha Records, change their name to the more cosmically catchy Inner Sense, and begin work on an album. But musical tastes were moving towards hard rock, so they returned to Sydney where they continued to be a popular group, occupying a more MOR position on the musical spectrum, ultimately disbanding in 1978.  Upon his return to Australia Brian King (below) wrote and produced music for jingles, feature films, and several documentary scores, and he still works as a solo performer in Sydney, but he and Carole King are no longer together.

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The Executives singer/songwriter/ guitarist Ray Burton (below), would subsequently have a huge hit as co-composer of I Am Woman with Helen Reddy, a multi-platinum selling US #1 record, and he also had several minor hits with the group Ayers Rock, and was an in-demand session player on many recordings. 


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