Producer Wally Waller remembers Malcolm Young

Producer Wally Waller remembers Malcolm Young


Malcolm and AC/DC were part of the Atlantic story for decades. Today, they still have the Marcus Hook Roll Band album Tales of Old Grand Daddy in the WMG product portfolio. This album, reissued in 2014 on CD and LP, features the first-ever recordings by Angus and the late Malcolm Young, so we thought you may be interested to discover this part of Malcolm`s musical oeuvre.

We are delighted to present you with a quote from back in 2014 from album producer, Wally Waller. Wally went into Abbey Road studios to review all the master tapes from the Marcus Hook Roll Band before the re-release was remastered, and he also wrote some additional sleevenotes for the project...

“Well I’m your Ape Man”… That was the vocal phrase I was singing, it went right down to bottom E (I only just about made it), and I was singing it in reply to George’s lead vocal on the song of the same name (“Ape Man”). The scene was Studio A of the EMI Studios, on 301 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. The date was early to mid August 1973. I had been in Sydney for about a month, producing the first, and as it turned out the last album that “The Marcus Hook Roll Band” ever made.

I had been a member of “The Pretty Things”, who had been EMI artists until a label switch in 1971, which was when I decided to jump ship, and at Norman Smith’s invitation joined the in-house production staff of EMI. One day a guy walked into my office in Manchester Square, London, with a reel of tape under his arm. In the year since I had joined EMI I’d never heard one decent tape, and I’d been through thousands. I was already preparing my excuses as I threaded up the tape and pressed play. I took my seat, and prepared myself to be bored shitless one more time. What I heard was demos of “Natural Man”, and “Louisiana Lady”, both of which I loved - “Who is this band?” I asked immediately - it was basically “Harry Vanda and George Young from The Easybeats”, I was told. I booked Abbey Road as soon as I could, and off we went… that’s where the story began for me. We made two singles, but by the time EMI had asked me for an album, George and Harry had gone back to Australia, and were in no mood to return. So if ‘Mohamed can’t go to the mountain’…

When I arrived in Australia, I was delighted to find that Richard Lush, a fine engineer who I had worked with at Abbey Road, had relocated to Sydney. He would be our engineer for the duration - great!

The ‘Abbey Road Pedigree’ was fairly impressive throughout. Firstly, as an artist, and then as a producer, I had spent quite a lot of the last six years working there. Richard had been there even before that. He had racked up quite a list of credits working alongside people like George Martin, Geoff Emerick and many more, on things like “Sergeant  Pepper” etc., etc., and in his own right he had worked on countless more projects. His C.V. stretches up to the present day, and is littered with some great work. In 1973, Studio A itself had just been refurbished and up-graded to a 16-track studio, with a brand new EMI TG series console. In short, it was a bit like ‘home from home’ for me. ‘Abbey Road South’ I suppose you could call it, and I think we were one of the first to use the new studio set up.

Listening to the album today is like opening a window back in time. My over-riding memories would be… Malcolm Young, and Angus Young (whenever he appeared), were complete revelations. George Young and Harry Vanda were superb ‘songsmiths’ and no mean musicians themselves. Then there was John Proud (Drums) - another fine musician. So often he was the ‘engine room’ that drove some of these tracks unremittingly forward, and on others he was the ‘glue’ that held the parts together. Incidentally, I can still remember Alex Young from my stints in Hamburg, when I was a fresh faced teenager with my first band “Bern Elliott And The Fenmen” in 1962 and 1963. Our paths crossed again when The Marcus Hook Roll Band recorded ‘Louisiana Lady’ in late 1973. Hamburg it was, where I also met Howie Casey (“Howie Casey And The Seniors”) - small world.

“Ape man” was one of the last songs we recorded. It had been a very enjoyable month or so in Sydney. George and Harry & co were real party animals, and having spent about five years in The Pretty Things, I knew a thing or two about partying myself - so as you can imagine, it was a fairly convivial atmosphere to work in.

Finally, the job in Australia was done. George and Harry saw me off at the airport. In the previous month we had shared quite a lot, and I felt we had become pals. We hugged, and  as I made my way to the departure gate - in the back of my mind, I was sure that we would work together again at some point. But sometimes life has its own ideas, and I haven’t seen George or Harry from that day to this.

Wally Waller - March 2014

Listen to the album on Spotify now...

Related Posts