Camden Stereo RCA CAMS 159
Why is Australian country music usually so dull? Most popular Australian country music is either tired retreads of well worn bush ballads or “slick” Tamworth appropriations of whatever is currently popular in Nashville. I found my self asking this question so often that I ended up collecting Australian country in order to find something, somewhere, that could boil water.
Only after I collected in the double figures that I had some luck with a group of “Jimmie Rogers” alike types who seem to enjoy the mutual hobbies of yodeling and boundary riding.
One of such of these was the “Yodeling Jackaroo” Buddy Williams. Buddy was an old time traveling rodeo type of performer that drove the trucks, rode the horses and sold the tickets. His son, Harold, grew up in this environment, playing bass in the family band and no doubt doing his part in the circus.
So it’s no surprise that someone with such a background was bound to turn out something fairly decent given the chance. Harold had done his research and his choice of material shows this, favoring contemporary American artists such as Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Lee Hazelwood and the Bee Gees. His attention to detail is superb, the cover of the record is designed to look like Camden RCA’s then reissue series of vintage country.
The Merle Haggard influence draws parallels instantly to another Merle fan, Gram Parsons, but perhaps with more of Jerry Reeds funky country swagger. In any case there is a definite Burritos influence. The slippery session players, “The Overlanders” play with more of an R+B lilt than country, adding Hammond organ to the mix (which is a definite Tamworth no-no). This is very much in the mold of “Progressive Country”.
The highlight of the record has to be Harold and his sister Kaye singing their version of Lee Hazelwood’s “Summer Wine”. Kaye’s vocals are the perfect counterpoint to the lush strings and “Hazelwood”posing of her older brother.
For a record that has it’s eye on perfection, it seems to have been recorded in an awful hurry. Obvious mixing errors abound, a reverb unit overloads here, a hard popping vocal sound gets unmixed over there. Almost like they said “Bugger it, we have the best musicians here, why mix it?”
Someone at RCA was impressed enough by what they heard (or it was in Buddy’s contract) to offer sister Kaye her own album titled “Just Between The Two of Us” CAMS-158 with a similar cover and band, again The Overlanders.
Australian country royalty destined for big things? The albums suggest this. As to what happened to Harold and Kaye is anyone’s guess, Google searches are inconclusive.