Iconic 60s Aussie Label Go!! Records With Music Legend Mike Brady

Iconic 60s Aussie Label Go!! Records With Music Legend Mike Brady

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M.P.D. Ltd (Photo courtesy of Aztec Records)

Esteemed Australian reissue label Aztec Records – run by former Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs drummer Gil Matthews – has been releasing high-quality reissues and single-artist compilations since 2005. Aztec’s name has become synonymous with great sound, deluxe packaging, and deep archival digs, but the label has truly outdone itself with its latest release; a 4CD collection – indeed a complete collection – of material released by legendary mid-60s Melbourne label Go!! Records.

An offshoot of the popular teen TV show of the time, Go!! Records served the Melbourne beat scene well in its brief run, from 1965 to 1967. Picking up on a vibrant local scene that had been spurred on by the success of Normie Rowe and of course, the game-changing impact of the Beatles, Go!! had a wealth of artists to work with and a strong platform to promote them. The label ended up releasing a total of 54 singles, 6 albums, 7 EPs by Oz artists, and Aztec’s GO!! Records The Complete Collection features them all – plus a couple of demo’s - in superb remastered sound.

The collection is littered with great R&B and pop singles by the relatively prolific Cherokees and a spread of lesser-known artists like Terry Dean, the Bobby James Syndicate and the Henchmen,  as well as a couple of singles from rockin’ country singer Betty McQuade, whose moody 1961 country-pop hit “Midnight Bus” Go!! revived in 1965. 

Indeed it’s telling that Go!! would record a country artist, as country music still held an influence in post-Beatles Melbourne, and its impact can be heard in the music of the two finest and most successful Go!! artists, Bobby & Laurie and M.P.D. Ltd.

Bobby & Laurie were the first big pop sensation in Melbourne to follow Normie Rowe onto the national stage. The sound was built on a solid base of great Everly Brothers-style harmonies, laid over loud guitars and an often thumping rhythm, perfectly captured by young recording engineer Roger Savage. (Savage, who’d relocated to Melbourne in 1964 from London, where he’d worked on the first Rolling Stones single, recorded many great records in Melbourne in the 60s.) Bobby & Laurie even did some straight country. They had a national impact and even encouraged a fledgling Easybeats in Sydney, who returned the favor by giving Bobby & Laurie the tune “You Got It Off Me” before they recorded it themselves. (After their stint on Go!!, Bobby & Laurie would join the Easybeats on Sydney's Alberts label).


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M.P.D. Ltd’s star didn’t quite as brightly or for as long as Bobby & Laurie’s, but they had their moment nationally, and they made more great records for Go!! than anyone. The trio consisted of Mike Brady, Pete Watson, and Danny Finley, and they came together in 1965. English immigrant Brady was up front and primarily responsible for the band’s instrumental power with his strong vocals and tough guitar sound. Unlike most of the groups of the time, very little Rhythm & Blues came through in their music; as punchy as their sound was it was very pop, in the same way the great early Who singles were pop.  While their later singles comprised fine originals, their biggest hit was a crunching cover of Johnny Burnette’s 1961 country-pop hit “Little Boy Blue.”


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We caught up with a still very busy Mike Brady - he still works in advertising, makes records, and is a top announcer on Melbourne’s 3AW - for a quick Q&A about M.P.D. Ltd and the Go!! Records days.

ILYOS - M.P.D. Ltd was unusual in that were a 3-piece, which was pretty much unheard of that the time. How did that come about? I believe you had a dynamic and choreographed stage show.

MB - When we first got together there were really only three of us, and we had no-one else in mind. It worked well and gave us a rawness that we were developing ‘til the end. Our stage act was designed to make sure people would talk about us. It was before Carnaby St had been heard of in Oz, so we were on the money. 

ILYOS -  You were also an unusual band for the time because of the material you covered, which ranged from the dramatic pop of the Shangri-Las to the country-pop of Johnny Burnette. Was this a deliberate thing? 

MB -  The choice of covers was really just a reflection of our diverse individual music tastes. Country was big on the Oz charts at the time, and Pete and I had toured with a lot of well-known country acts of the time in our previous band the Phantoms. We wanted to do more country, but it didn’t really suit our act which we wanted to be seen as wild!!! Towards the end of the band we had been recording in England with Pye Records, and we were doing all originals. We didn’t complete these as we came back to Australia to tour. I still have the rough band tracks somewhere.

ILYOS – “Little Boy Sad” was also covered by the American band The Gants and Herman’s Hermits. I believe those both came in ’66, after yours. Do you know if your version was the first version to use the slower and heavier arrangement? 

MB - Yes, those versions were ‘covers’ of OUR version, which had been released in the States. I had been playing it that way for years as I was never able to play it fast like the rockabilly version by Johnny Burnett. 

ILYOS - Some of the band’s original material, in particular, reminds me a bit of the Who, who were also influenced by the likes of the Everly Bros and the Beach Boys – different to a lot of the bands around in the mid-60s. Were you guys Who fans? 

MB - I know I was inspired by The Who and also the Kinks. England was exploding with all kinds of music at the time from Georgie Fame to the Yardbirds. From the Animals to The Stones. There was a lot to choose from, and we were just finding our own way because we felt we could make it as a 100% original outfit.

ILYOS – You played with the Dave Clark 5 early on I think?

MB -  We weren’t big fans of the DC5, but we got on well with them. I think Dave was a bit stunned when he first saw Danny doing his drum show mastery!

ILYOS – M.P.D. Ltd’s records, like the Bobby & Laurie stuff and most of the other Go!! material, have a tremendous meaty sound. Did you work with Roger Savage? How do you think your stuff - and the Go!! stuff in general - compares with what else was going on in Australia at the time, especially in Sydney with the Easybeats, Mike Furber, etc.?

MB - It was great that Roger Savage had come to Australia;  he brought some excellent skills. I think we were all about the same as each other in the different bands and to be honest, the sounds were all a bit ‘pissy’ to me compared with the US. The Easybeats didn’t get a big sound to my ears until they had been in the UK for a while. I suppose we just didn’t have the technology at that point, but we soon caught up. Bill Armstrong’s new studio in Bank Street South Melbourne became the place in Melbourne and Sydney was moving fast too.

ILYOS - You didn’t do any R&B material at all, which was pretty unusual in the wake of the Beatles and Stones. Were you into that material at all?

MB -  Not until we saw Otis Redding in England and then something just lit up for me. It was what I wanted to do, and we started experimenting, but it was getting close to the end of the band.

ILYOS - The band was very successful very quickly. How did that change your lives?

MB - In those days it was just a lot of fun, and we were on TV every five minutes, so we were quite well known. Money wasn’t a factor though as our manager gave us a small fraction of what we earnt and kept the rest for our “conquest” of England which he abandoned to come back to Australia and tour British acts he signed in the first few weeks we were there.

ILYOS - Can you describe the experience of playing live back in the day? Could you hear yourselves?

MB - We couldn’t hear a thing above the roar of the kids, but we could make out the drums which held us together. On the road, especially in country towns, the guys wanted to fight us, and the girls wanted to f*** us which often led conflicts of the heart and the fist!!! We were young and not very PC!!

ILYOS - The Bee Gees helped out on one of your singles I believe? How did you connect with them and any memories?

MB - Pete Watson came on the same ship as them to Australia, and he set it up. They didn’t do backing vocals, but they added music and production ideas.  Maurice was the main one helping us, and he was obsessed with doing things well. Great!!!

ILYOS - The band went to the UK in 1966 but came home reasonably quickly. How did you find things over there? Did you play any shows? 

MB - We did a couple of live shows but it was a very crowded scene, and we returned after a year. Our manager, Ron Blackmore basically abandoned us there and came back to Australia to tour British acts who’s management he had met in the few weeks he was there. It was a disaster being there without management. We did record there at Pye, but the tracks were never completed.

ILYOS - The band folded just as things were getting a bit heavier and bluesier. The Loved Ones, The Wild Cherries, etc., even The Groop,  seemed to aim more at young adult club audiences. What did you think of the changes that were happening in music at the time?  Did you like any of that stuff?

MB - One of the reasons the band broke up was I believed our music wasn’t particularly what I was into by then.  I had become more interested in soul and R&B music by then. Things like the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, Otis Redding, Ray Charles…

ILYOS - After the band folded you and some other folks signed onto play for the troops in Vietnam. That was a harrowing experience I believe. What can you tell us about that?  

MB - Vietnam was a whole mind-boggling experience. Suffice to say we were there {Wayne Duncan,  Gary Howard and myself} for the US troops and it was not an official government tour. Quite a few Aussie bands did this. It was nothing like the tours done by some acts who went on official Australian Government tours; the two different types of tour were nothing like each other. We were mostly left to our own devices and often had to stay outside of bases, and that was fairly dangerous! The government tours had security and protection at all times. They also usually only stayed a week or two. The non-government acts mostly signed on for a year. We were often hungry, scared, fired at and at least on one occasion fired back. It was very tough.

ILYOS - A dozen or so years after M.P.D you were back in the charts again with “Up There Cazaly.” I assume that was a different experience to what you went through in the ‘60s??

MB - Yes “Up There Cazaly” was an accident. I should have been wearing a ‘musical condom’! It was only ever meant to be a TV promo/theme and was done under a pseudonym The Two Man Band. This was because I had a ‘serious’ album in the works and I didn’t want that to be confused with a sports anthem. But it became so big that I put my hand up. The album was released the next year and had a sticker on the cover ‘Special Offer - Does Not Contain The Single “Up There Cazaly”’. This was probably the worst piece of marketing in the history of Australian music. The serious album sunk without a trace!!! I had a couple of minor hits on the Fable Label during the period prior. “Sympathy,” “Oh Lord Why Lord” and a few others.

For more details on GO!! Records The Complete Collection, check out the Aztec Records website.

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