Russell Morris: The Real Thing
In 1969 Russell Morris was a pop singer, best known in Australia for some listenable if asinine pop songs, aspiring crooner Johnny Young had been the host of teen pop shows 'Club Seventeen' and 'Go', and Ian Meldrum was a journalist with pop magazine 'Go Set'. Pop was their world, and a pretty little world it was too. When Johnny Young wrote 'The Real Thing' he envisioned a pop ballad; an acoustic guitar, some strings and perhaps a girl chorus wrapped up in a sincerely syrupy declaration of pop love. That's what he was thinking when he gave it to Meldrum, who was also Morris's manager/producer. Maybe Meldrum secretly detested the song, or he had a paticularly inspiring weekend. Whatever, he turned loose on it, blasting away its prissiness with phasing, echo, feedback, demented overdubs, manic choirs and laughter and finishing it off the only way he could, with a massive explosion.
Russell gets the credit for this psychedelic masterpiece but it was always Meldrum's moment. In a few years he'd be the host of 'Countdown' the show that ruled Australian music in the 1970s. Johnny Young would host 'Young Talent Time', a breeding ground for kids who aspired to one day mount Countdown's centre stage. Russell Morris wouldn't go away either, though he'd never quite reach the heights of The Real Thing, but who could?
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