Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Real Thing-Russell Morris (1969)

Originally a bit-too-close facsmile of Status Quo's 'Pictures Of Matchstick Men' written by Johnny Young, it was transformed Midas-like by eccentric producer Ian "Molly" Meldrum, the kind of chap who went into a studio and asked the guitarist to "play cold stars on a black night sky" and could get a record company to hand over $2000, the amount it cost to make a whole LP back then, to get the results.
Meldrum stretched the play-time to an unfeasable 6.20 minutes with a delightfully self-indulgent 3-minute Walrus of an ending with some Lennon-ish Goon voice declaring somesuch about 'usability of the product' (in fact Organist Brian Cadd reading the back of the box of the master tape reel) mixed with a recording of the Hitler Youth singing "Die Jugend Marschiert" (Youth on the March) across splats of phased drums & electric string swirls.

On completion, 'The Real Thing' was the most expensive record production ever made in Australia. When the record execs flew into Melbourne to hear a studio playback of the completed golden egg, a ragingly drunk Meldrum panicked, stole the master tape and ran into a neighbouring golf course in the night with a bottle of bourbon to consider his next move. He knew there was no way they would get it. He was right. They thought it the biggest load of wasteful crap they had ever heard, and only distributed enough copies locally in the hopes of breaking even.

The times being what they were, the company couldn't bury it so easily. Morris himself drove copies up to Sydney, visited DJ's, and handed the platter over, asking them to play it. You could do crazy things like play what you liked on the radio in that time, so they did, and it became number one for 4 weeks in Australia in 1969, and became a decent international hit. Boss man knows best.

'TheReal Thing'-Russell Morris(Decca, 1969)

Above: The hateful record execs hand over the platimun disc to Russel Morris at the tail end of 1969.

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