Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 Mar-Apr Contents 14 Rhythms
When talking to punters at Blues, Folk or Roots
festivals, I find that many of the older ones have
followed the same journey as I have over the years.
We started listening to the popular music of the day in
the ‘60s or ‘70s and, like many of the artists, started to
dig back to the roots of the music they were playing.
Lovers of blues bands started to discover the original
performers, lovers of Dylan and similar started to explore
Woody Guthrie and others. Our love of this music
developed over time and now has become our main source
of musical nourishment. In this column, I want to go back
to some of those first loves – particularly when it is relevant
to a current event eg CD or book release, reunion concert.
In the 60s there was a lot of rivalry between different groups
of fans – you were a Beatles fan or a Stones fan for example.
The biggest gap came in the late 60s when you were a pop
fan or a rock fan, and never the twain would meet. But
this was very much an artificial divide that the musicians
themselves took little notice of. You could be in a so-called
pop band one week, and a heavy rock band the next week.
Perhaps the most professional and musical Australian
band on the scene in the late ‘60s was Sydney band The
Executives. They had a string of wonderful hits – ‘My
Aim Is To Please You’, ‘Sit Down I Think I Love You’,
‘Windy Day’ and ‘Christopher Robin’ to name a few. They
also recorded a number of progressive songs such as
‘Parenthesis’ and ‘Requiem: 820 Latham’, and punky songs
like ‘Bad Reputation’. The bands were highly accomplished
musicians who played over 30 instruments between them.
Although very popular in NSW and most other states, the
band never really broke in the Melbourne market. Brian
King from the band feels that this was largely due to the
difference in venues. In Melbourne, bands were often doing
three or four gigs a night in various discos, nightclubs
and pubs which was virtually impossible for a large band
priding themselves on high standards of musicianship and
performance. In Sydney it tended to be one show a night
allowing for proper setting up, sound checks etc. that suited
the band much better.
The Executives were recognized though in the USA where
they were signed to a five-year contract with Buddah Records
in 1969 – something that was unheard of for an Australian
band at that time. They recorded an album under the name
Inner Sense, but due to complications it was never released.
All but two tracks on the album were written by band
member Ray Burton showcasing another side of The
Executives. Over the course of their career a high
proportion of their songs were written within the band.
Unfortunately the frustrations around the non-release of
the album led to the original break-up of the band in mid-
1971 although they did later reform with some change in
Since then members of the band have gone on to showcase
their talents in a variety of ways. Rhys Clark, the drummer,
became the original drummer for Billy Joel, then worked
for Hoyt Axton for a number of years, and in the 2000s was
the drummer for Freddy Fender and the Texas Tornados.
Ray Burton and Gino Cunico teamed up as a duo and
released an album in the USA, which drew rave reviews in
Billboard and was voted No. 1 album of the month by US
FM Radio Report ahead of Sly and the Family Stone. Ray
returned to Australia and co-founded the jazz-rock band
Ayers Rock. At that time he also wrote ‘I Am Woman’ for
Helen Reddy – a monster worldwide hit. Brian and Gary
King continue to perform to this day. Virtually all of the
members of the band have maintained careers in music – a
remarkable achievement and a testament to their talents!
Why am I talking about The Executives? Well over the last
year Jaesen Jones has written the story of the band in all
its detail. The book has been recently privately published
and is obviously a labour of love. Jaesen fell in love with
the band in the ‘80s – long after their heyday and has
produced a book that is beautiful to look at and fascinating
to read. The book was written with the help of members
of the band, and at 160 pages have all of the wonderful
details that we love, as well as wonderful pictures and extra
material to provide a great overview of the band.
The book is available at: jaenahre.com/executives for the
very reasonable price of $16.95 + postage. It can also be
obtained at gigs by ex-band members Brian and Gary
King, and hopefully at a number of record stores.
This is a fascinating and beautiful book that I highly
recommend to anyone interested in Australian music or
music from the ‘60s.
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