On my top 100 45rpm singles posting I placed the Easybeats' Friday on My Mind in the top ten. Written by Easybeats pair of lead guitarist Harry Vanda and rhythm guitarist George Young, the song became a worldwide hit in late 1966, with a delayed USA release in May '67. The advanced songwriting and frenetic musical technical requirements were well beyond most bands on the charts at the time. Clearly this was a band with the ability to break into the upper ranks of the current scene. Other than the Beatles I would say that they could have challenged just about anyone else around.
But of course they were not a "new" band. From their start in 1965 in Australia they became local legends and accumulated a significant number of hit records before they burst onto the international scene. In late '66 they moved to London and signed with United Artists (NY) for their international releases. What ensued would make a great comedy if it were not for the tragedy that resulted to their career. I have neither the knowledge nor the time to relate everything that happened from this point forward, but I can sketch the overall arc for you. Attorneys became involved, entire LPs were recorded and discarded, singles were prepared then withdrawn, and the records that were released were done so in a haphazard fashion. While a new LP of heavily orchestrated psychedelic tunes sat in the vault, tastes changed and hit bands were moving in a new direction. And worst of all, the record companies involved seemed to lose interest and did not aggressively market the music that was released.
Hence today's post. The follow up single to FOMM was Heaven and Hell, released in mid '67. First of all the title scared off the radio stations, then one line of lyric resulted in a hastily edited US version to prevent panic in the streets. Of course the end result is that it received little to no airplay and completely tanked on the UK and US charts. It performed slightly better in their home country of Australia, but the die was already cast. Though they continued to record and release some spectacular music over the next couple of years, they managed only a few scattered chart placements and by the end of 1969 it was pretty much over for them.
This track bursts forth with a guitar and harpsichord introduction, then the verse kicks in and Stevie Wright lays down the opening verse. Clearly this guy is going through a major girl problem. Alternating between verse and chorus, the song suddenly takes a 180 into a softer middle eight, all the while maintaining a high energy level. By the final chorus the band is harmonizing like choir boys while Stevie spills his guts. This is amazing songwriting, musical production, and performance. Methinks I must go back and reappraise my top 100 single list.
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