Sunday, 29 September 2013

Qantas's marketing team get hip: The Kangaroo Hop - Qantas Air Cargo (1971)

How you going to swing down there on the ground? This is the question posed by the hip young man who sings The Kangaroo Hop - a groovy new sound which incongruously extolls the virtues of the usually prosaic business of air cargo. The Kangaroo Hop is featured on a transparent red flexi-disc that I found at last year's Kew Record Fair

The A side has The Kangaroo Hop 'single', a rockin' piece of seventies pop with an exciting male vocal punctuated by a horn section and accompanied by some funky drumming. I've no idea who the players are, as the information on the disc indicates that the song was 'invented, arranged and performed by Qantas Air Cargo'. The B side has a few snippets of the aforementioned song but is mainly taken up by a typical old-style Australian announcer - a man, of course, this is business sweetheart - describing the benefits of using Qantas air cargo for your company. (The best part is the very beginning where he awkwardly repeats the first couple of the lines to the song, vaguely in time with the music.) The Kangaroo Hop was featured in Australian newspaper advertisements in 1971 with pretty much the same sort of copy that appears on the record. 

I often wonder how these sorts of promotional vinyl releases were meant to be received. Some are obviously intended to be played on radio, but based on the presentation of the disc and the nature of the information on the sleeve and B side, I suspect this one was intended to be played by the businessmen themselves. The language positively screams that using Qantas air cargo is modern, groovy and in tune with the times. Although, this does seem at odds with the graphics they chose for the disc of old fashioned ballroom dancers - perhaps they were just stock pictures from a library. 

I love hearing promotional releases from the sixties and seventies of Australia. There's a sort of unintentional honesty to this music which evokes the time they come from with a sincerity and veracity that pop music simply doesn't have. So come on, grab a jet and go with the groovy new sound - it's the Kangaroo Hop! It's the Kangaroo hop!

Label: Private Qantas label.
Released: 1971 (based on newspaper advertisements)
Players: None identified. 


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Viva Elec. Guitar - The Spacemen (1965)

Apparently, back in the sixties there was quite a big wave of Japanese bands inspired by the surf guitar bands of the United States. They called this music 'eleki' and there were many bands playing in this style, until the Beatles and the British Invasion kind of wiped them out. The Spacemen seem to be a pretty obscure proponent of this sound, but hot damn are they good! 

My brother found this LP in a tip shop in Canberra and it's a great listen -  inventive arrangements, ancient keyboard tones and loads of baritone guitar. There's also a kind of 'outsider' feeling to the overall sound of the album, presumably due to the amplified isolation of Japanese musicians in the early sixties who were miles away from the California surf sound to which they were paying tribute. Even standards like Tequila and Caravan, tracks that I thought I might be skipping past, are given exceptional interpretations by The Spacemen and the LP is a great listen from start to finish.

Label: Victor
Released: 1965
Players: Unknown. There are extensive liner notes, but they are in Japanese.