You’ve Got the Gun (Porter/Shakespeare)1972 and Cassandra (Porter/Shakespeare) 1973 and Slipstream (Porter/Shakespeare) and Silvery Moon (Porter/Shakespeare) – Sherbet 1974
Sydney band Sherbet were the Kings of Pop throughout most of the 1970’s and the object of intense teenybopper adulation, they were good-looking, talented, and a hard-working live act who specialized in soft rock songs penned by lead guitarist Clive Shakespeare and keyboard player Garth Porter who took their musical cues from Traffic, Small Faces, and the Jackson Five. Below L-R Clive Shakespeare, Daryl Braithwaite, Alan Sandow, Garth Porter, and Tony Mitchell.
Tony Mitchell (bass), Alan Sandow (drums) and charismatic front- man Daryl Braithwaite completed the first classic Sherbet lineup who had honed their skills initially as regulars at Jonathon’s Disco (Sydney), 20- year-old university student Roger Davies (below), became their manager and they signed up with Festival Records in 1971. The band were rampant in 1972 – support band to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s national tour, winner of Hoadley’s National Battle of the Sounds, as well as Go!!-Set’s Top Australian Group award.
They had early success with three minor hits in 1971-72 – Can You Feel It, Baby (#16), Free the People (#18) and You’re All Woman (#19), and followed up with You’ve Got the Gun, a moody haunting song which contrasted a heavy bass and drums with Braithwaite’s surprisingly sustained and effective falsetto vocals. The band used a capella style inserts for dramatic effect and then switched to what would become their more familiar sound palette of organ, guitars and percussion rhythmically cascading via a Garth Porter organ flourish at the outro. It wasn’t their biggest hit at #27 but it displayed their musical and arranging skills, and by this time Porter and Shakespeare had penned three of their four top 30 hits.
In September 1973 they scored their first top 10 hit when the soft rock ballad Cassandra made #9, it was inspired by Cassandra, a figure in Greek mythology, who had been cursed by Apollo to speak true prophecies that no one believed. She was a Princess of Troy, who was beautiful, enigmatic, spellbinding and obviously cursed, and this was the image of the woman projected in the song, Garth Porter used a mellotron keyboard on this one, most famously heard on the Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever.
Cassandra was lifted from the band’s second album On With The Show (#13 in ’73) and was not one of the group’s best, Garth Porter has admitted that lyrically it was weak “I started writing the song, the main melody parts, and then there was a collaboration with Clive (Shakespeare) and his wife. I was a shocking lyric writer. Passable at best, shocking at worst.” (Glad all Over -The Countdown Years 1974-1987- Peter Wilmoth 1993).
The promo video was confusing and has dated badly, the lush orchestration on the track was reminiscent of what we could expect to hear from Air Supply in the future, but the strings were put through a phasing machine and were muddy and distorted, Braithwaite’s vocals were also strained at times, but the song had its fans and was on the charts for 24 weeks.
Slipstream became their first top five hit in 1974, it was another Porter/Shakespeare composition and Richard Batchens production and featured a crescendo of guitars, organ, and drums at the intro with deft use of electronic effects on the organ to simulate a rocket lift-off into the hyperspace or slipstream of ecstasy, countdowns are used several times to heighten the drama and take the listener to the outro, in an earlier decade there would have been suggestions that the song was trippy and drug-influenced, but the Sherbs played it pretty straight and weren’t about to disillusion their teenybopper fans.
Silvery Moon repeated their previous top five success in September of 1974, bass guitar and funky organ riffs open the song and Shakespeare delivers several lead guitar solos throughout, a competent addition to their soft rock ouvre, but they would have their first #1 hit early in the new year with the shimmering, sun-drenched pop-rock of Summer Love.