The Easybeats – Gonna Have A Good Time 50 Years Ago Tonight!

The Easybeats – Gonna Have A Good Time 50 Years Ago Tonight!

The Easybeats ride bicycles around Berkeley Square, London, circa 1968. (Photo by Andrew Maclear/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Easybeats, Berkeley Square, London, 1968. (Photo by Andrew Maclear/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This week marks the 50th anniversary of The Easybeats’ “Land of Make Believe”/“Good Times” single reaching its peak position of number 24 on the Australian Go-Set charts. It’s hard to believe such an iconic track as “Good Times” was first released as one side of a Double A-Side single, which probably suggests the record company weren’t overly confident in it and were hedging their bets. It’s even harder to believe that lack of confidence was perhaps justified, as the record didn’t even crack the Top 20.

But The Easybeats were well past their commercial prime in late 1968, even if they were still making killers records. The album on which “Good Times” appeared a couple of months later, Vigil, didn’t even chart, and the band would only have one further Top 40 hit at home – “St Louis” - in 1969. It was a long way from the Easyfever days of 1965 and 1966, and their worldwide hit of 1966 “Friday On My Mind”.

Of course “Good Times” has endured as a hard rocking 60s classic in the eyes of the Australian public, but it probably had more of an impact behind the scenes in the industry at the time, as numerous producers and artists over the next few years saw potential in it for a hit. Of course, that potential would be massively realised in 1986 when Jimmy Barnes & INXS had an international hit with it, but some of the preceding covers – often released under the name “Gonna Have a Good Time Tonight” -  are fun to listen to as well. 

Here are a handful of the more notable versions...

Jamie Lyons Group (1968)

These guys were quick off the mark, and they did it alright except for the horrible vocals in the chorus. Produced by famed bubblegum heavy-weights Jeff Katz & Jerry Kasenetz (aka Super K Productions), this was one of only three singles released by a combo featuring the lead singer of early Super K hitmakers the Music Explosion (of “Little Bit of Soul” fame).  

The Clingers (1969)

Think of Mormon siblings and you’re probably thinking of the Osmonds, but the Clingers were much more rockin’, and this 1969 single, produced by LA rock Svengali and longtime Easybeats champion Kim Fowley is a whole lot of fun!  

Black Claw (1970)

A rarely heard version, released only in the US but recorded by a British band who were an alter-ego of a slightly better known band Country Fever, who are best known as an early outfit for Grammy-winning guitarist for the likes of Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton and the Everly Bros, Albert Lee, who has just left our shores after a month-long tour than finished at the Gympie Muster. Black Claw also recorded a version of the Easybeats’ “St. Louis” around the same time.  

Friends  (1973)
Former Zoot singer Darryl Cotton spent a fair bit of the 70s trying to make it in the States, and one of his earliest attempts was with fellow Aussie Steve Kipner (son of producer Nat Kipner and singer of ‘60s group Steve & The Board; later writer of hits including Olivia Newton John’s “Physical”), together with LA musician Michael Lloyd (who also had close Kim Fowley ties – he actually produced some of the Clingers stuff too). They released an album under the very exciting group name Friends that is worth a listen if you can find it, and their version of “Good Times” does a pretty good job recapturing the feel of the original.  

Shocking Blue (1974)

Known for their enduring worldwide 1969 hit “Venus”, and less known for the song “Love Buzz”, which Nirvana covered as the A-side of their first single in 1989, the Netherlands’ Shocking Blue were a great and versatile band, and showed off their nation’s love for Vanda & Young with this great cover in ’74.  

Mott (1976)

Originally known as Mott The Hoople and fronted by the charismatic Ian Hunter when they hit the charts in a big way with the David Bowie-penned “All The Young Dudes” in ‘72, these guys were one of the greatest and most soulful rock bands of the early 70s.  By ’76 Hunter was gone but the band was still rocking, as this track, from their Shouting and Pointing, clearly demonstrates. 

Teaze (1978)  

“Good Times” is very much a hard rock precursor – you can hear the influence it had on the younger Young brothers in the guitars – so it’s surprising more genuine hard rock bands haven’t covered it. This fairly charmless version by the obscure band Teaze, who were part of the same New Wave of British Heavy Metal (or NWOBHM for short) that gave the world Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, perhaps reveals why. Sorry chaps!

Hindu Love Gods (1986)  

An unexpected teaming of wildman Californian singer-songwriter Warren Zevon with members of mild-mannered indie-rockers R.E.M., the Hindu Love Gods are perhaps best known for their fab cover of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret”, but they let themselves down with this fairly undistinguished single. It certainly would’ve had more character if Zevon had sung it; we think it’s REM drummer Bill Berry singing this one. It sounds like a drummer singing it anyway! 

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