These reviews are provided to help maintain a connection with various genres of popular music extending from the 1940’s through to present time.
This is album review number 209 in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl LP’s and Cd’s, in my collection.
The series is called “Cream of The Crate” and each review represents an album from my collection that I believe is of significant musical value, either because of it’s rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.
Links to the previous 200+ reviews can be found at the bottom of this review.
Time for another Australian group …. OK, they weren’t actually Australian it was just that every great band that came across the ditch to Australia, immediately became “ours”.
The group is the La De Da’s and this is a re-release of their first album, the self-tiled – La De Das. originally released on vinyl in 1966 this re-release is on CD, on the NosmoKe label – NSD0011 and released in 2011.
This CD has 16 tracks.
I am in debt to the New Zealand music site – audioculture, for providing much of the background to this band.
The new wave of R&B was already breaking big in charts across the world when four of its best practitioners – The Kinks, Manfred Mann, The Rolling Stones and The Pretty Things – rolled through New Zealand in 1965 for a series of concerts still vividly recalled decades later.
The raw pull of the sound and the style and ethos of the players galvanised local teenagers, throwing up a large and responsive audience to be serviced by the likes of The Unknown Blues in Invercargill, The Third Chapter in Dunedin, Peter Nelson and The Castaways and Chants R&B in Christchurch, Bari and The Breakaways and Tom Thumb in Wellington, The Mods and The Trends in Hamilton, and The Dark Ages and The La De Da’s in Auckland, along with dozens of lesser lights.
While beat music provided a new soundtrack to teenage lives, the group aesthetic and anti-social veneer of R&B offered up an alternative lifestyle to teenage fans – and a good living, local fame and the distant lurking prospect of a hit for groups – by pushing a covert message that being uncompromising not only paid, it gave you the freedom to behave in the way you wanted.
In West Auckland at Te Atatu’s newly opened Rutherford High School, were the mod-ish Mergers with Kevin Borich (lead guitar/vocals), Trevor Wilson (bass), Brett Neilsen (drums) and Phil Key (rhythm guitar/vocals) who attended Mount Albert Grammar. They had heard the word and flirted with an anti-social name, The Criminals, before settling on the provocative ambiguity of The La De Da’s.
Establishing an immediate following through hall and club dates, they stepped into a residency at inner city teen club The Platterack in April 1965.
That’s where NZBC producer Robert Handlin found them and soon became their manager, releasing Kevin Borich’s folkie ballad ‘Ever Since That Night’ backed with the Borich/Wilson penned R&B of ‘Hey Little Girl’ on his Talent City label in June.
The emerging group soon found space in their ranks for classically trained organist Bruce Howard, who swelled their sound and added another vocalist.
With guitar whiz Kevin Borich picking out the leads, they had a strong rhythm section in Wilson and Neilsen with Phil Key on rhythm guitar. And when Samoan New Zealander Key came out of his shell, he revealed one of New Zealand’s finest R&B and soul voices.
With four hit singles, two classy albums and a national following behind them, The La De Da’s set out for Sydney, Australia.
The independent quintet struggled, finding their R&B and soul based set outdated. They also bristled at micro-management and unsuccessful recording attempts, despite gaining fans at Ivan Dayman’s Op Pop disco.
They flopped even worse on the strong Melbourne club circuit before heading home in September 1967.
In January 1968, Brett Neilsen left the group, replaced by The Action’s Bryan Harris, who gave way on the group’s return to Sydney in June to Australian drummer Keith Barber (The Wild Cherries). Wielding a wide and eclectic array of instruments and introducing Sydneysiders to The Doors, Vanilla Fudge, Traffic and The Band, this was the psychedelic La De Da’s, and their heady themed sets immediately caught on.
Back on the front foot, they returned to Melbourne in August 1968 with the show they had wowed Sydney with. This time the city fell for their charms, sparking a long and close relationship with the Victorian capital’s music scene. At year’s end they were voted Australia’s Best Disco Group in popular music magazine Go Set.
Better was to come in 1969. ‘Come and Fly With Me’, their first single since mid-1967, was an upbeat burst of good feeling and the standout track on The Happy Prince, the rock opera on based on Oscar Wilde’s short story, which Trevor Wilson and Bruce Howard had long been working on.
With hits and misses and an ever changing fan base, They finally called it a day in May, 1975.
Phil Key (guitar, vocals) 1964 – 1972
Trevor Wilson (bass) 1964 – 1970
Kevin Borich (guitar, vocals) 1964 – 1975
Brett Neilsen (drums, vocals) 1964 – 1968
Bruce Howard (keyboards) 1965 – 1972
Bryan Harris (drums) 1968
Keith Barber (drums) 1968 – 1975
Reno Tehei (bass) 1970
Peter Roberts (bass) 1971 – 1973
Ronnie Peel (bass, vocals) 1973 – 1975
There is a lot of excellent music that came out of the La De Das, and this album takes us back to almost, the very beginning.
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
To view/listen the first 50 vinyl album reviews just click the image below –
To view/listen the first 50 Cd album reviews just click the image below –
To view/listen album reviews 101 – 150 just click the image below –
To view/listen album reviews 151 – 200 just click the image below –
Click to open the following reviews covering #’s 201 onward.