To further celebrate the life and work of the great George Young, ILYOS presents some of the great Vanda & Young (or Wright & Young – George’s first songwriting partner was Stevie, not Harry) covers that have been recorded over the years.
The Sports – "Wedding Ring"
Melbourne’s Sports formed in 1976, the same year that the Saints appeared out of Brisbane with “(I’m) Stranded”. With similar influences in ‘60s rock and R&B they covered a similar array of artists, and the Easys’ “Wedding Ring” was part of their live set from early on. They ended up recording it when they hit the UK for the first time, and it was released on the ripper OK UK EP in 1979.
Divinyls – "I’ll Make You Happy"
Another band that took the songs of the Easybeats to the Aussie pub rock scene in the early 80s, the Divinyls opened their debut album with this great Easybeats’ cover.
The Plimsouls – "Women"
Around the same time the Aussie pub rock scene was peaking at the end of the ‘70s, the new wave and power pop scenes in the US were bringing strongly ‘60s influenced bands to the fore. No doubt the likes of the Knack and the Romantics would’ve been Easybeats fans, but it was LA’s Plimsouls who really championed them. They featured “Women” on their debut album and played “Sorry” live around the same time.
Tom Jones - "Love Is In the Air"
It’s one of the most covered songs of all time, and its perfect blend of MOR and disco rhythms provided a perfect entry into disco for a range of artists. Tom made it his own in ’79, but of course, it’s JPY’s version that endures.
Grace Jones – "Walking in the Rain"
One of the most famous and influential Vanda & Young covers is Grace’s stunning hit version of the Flash & The Pan track “Walking in the Rain”, which vindicated – along with the international success of “Love Is In the Air” - Vanda & Young’s fascination with austere European dance music.
Rose Tattoo – "Black Eyed Bruiser"
Vanda & Young were obviously a massive influence on the Tatts; they signed them to Alberts and produced their classic material. But it wasn’t till decades later, and long past any official involvement with Vanda &Young that the Tatts’ covered this great tune originally written for Stevie Wright. It more than suited Rose Tattoo’s pugnacious approach of course.
Celibate Rifles – "Where the Action Is"
The ‘80s saw an explosion of guitar bands come out of the Australian indie scene, from more ‘60s- influenced bands like the Lime Spiders and the Stems to gritty streetwise rockers the Celibate Rifles. One suspects this JPY cover was done with tongue fairly-well planted in cheek, but the Rifles always knew a good song when they heard one and this version is an absolute corker.
Hindu Love Gods (w/Warren Zevon) – "Gonna Have A Good Time Tonight"
The Hindu Love Gods (who may or may not have been named after the song “Hindu Gods of Love” by Sydney’s Lipstick Killers – another fine song that the Celibate Rifles have covered actually) were a one of collaboration between Warren Zevon and R.E.M, at a time when R.E.M where becoming massive. It’s actually a disappointing version – and it certainly doesn’t sound like Zevon singing – but it’s worth a listen. R.E.M.’s Peter Buck is a massive fan of the Easybeats and Aussie pop in particular – Glenn A Baker can tell you about that.
and last but certainly not least…
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – "Friday On My Mind"
The Boss and the band worked this up for their Australian tour in 2014 and absolutely nailed it. A long time Easybeats fan, Bruce had previously been on record saying “Friday On My Mind” was a song that proved very difficult to figure out in his teenage garage band days, and he quoted the song in his own working-class anthem “Out On The Street” on The River album.
- Dave Laing