Saturday, June 7, 2008
Some more rare mid-70s unblogged, jazz-infused Aussie soul-funk.
No-one in this band is named Johnny Rocco - presumably they named themselves after Edward G. Robinson's bad guy in the 1948 film "Key Largo". This Sydney-based group of jazz and funk musicians were joined on this, their only LP, by the New Zealand-born Maori soul vocalist Leo De Castro.
One of a few Maori singers who made their mark in Australian soul-funk and other music in the 1970s, De Castro played in many bands, but recorded with relatively few. Like many urban indigenous musicians around the world who are surrounded by European culture, Maori musicians have often found a home in musics that stem from the African musical diaspora - soul-funk, reggae, and more recently hip hop - although besides this album, De Castro's other sparse outings are more in tune with the ubiquitous "boogie-rock" that held a grip over his adopted country at the time.
I saw these guys play somewhere in 1975, and was particularly taken with De Castro's live voice, he killed it on tracks like "Baby's Gonna make it" - and in cataloguing these 70s funk albums, i'm realizing how much I got out when I was 13, and how comparatively little I get out now :) At the time, they were building up a strong live following, and preparing to record this album.
Original guitarist Mark Punch had just run off to join Renée Geyer's band, but was seemingly here to record on at least two of the tracks he'd co-written : "Heading In the Right Direction", soon to be a hit single for Geyer on "Ready To Deal", and "Sweet Kisses", that she would later record on "Winner".
There are some tight instrumental funk workouts with jazz touches, the flute and talkbox stormer "Number 43" , and great percussion throughout from Sunil De Silva - it's a pretty solid album and worth checking out.
While only independently released in Australia, the album was picked up internationally by 20th Century Records, with the band re-named simply 'Rocco', and a publishing deal seems to have been signed with the Reizner Music Corporation.
Many thanks again to Micko and the Midoztouch community for this album, and thanks to Soul Gentleman for the additional credits from the Italian release.
01 'Good Times'(Olson / Riviera / Monette / Bridges / Guzman / Daird)
02 'Heading in the Right Direction'(Punch / Paige)
03 'Who's the Guy'(Campbell / Partridge / Rich / Dunlop)
04 'Sweet Kisses'(Punch / Paige)
05 'Funky Max'(Punch / Partridge / Dunlop / De Castro)
06 'Rocco'(Buchanan / Punch / Partridge / Dunlop)
07 'Baby's Gonna Make It'(De Castro / Buchanan / Punch / Partridge / Dunlop)
08 'She's Knocking on My Door'(Dunlop)
09 'What are you gonna do for the rest of your life?'(Dunlop / Richards)
10 'Number Forty Three'(Dunlop / Punch / Buchanan / Partridge)
JOHNNY ROCCO BAND
Leo De Castro - vocals
Harris Campbell- guitar, vocals
Tim Partridge - bass
Russell Dunlop - fibes(?), drums
Sunil da Silva - percussion
MANY THANKS TO
Tony Ansell - keyboards
'Spoona' (Tony) Buchanan - sax, flute
Mick Kenny - roland synthesiser
Mark Punch - guitar
Ralph White - horns
Tui Richards - guitar
Garry Paige - mentor
Produced by Russell Dunlop
Engineered by Wahanui Wynyard
Mixed by B.C. Brown and R. Dunlop
All Songs except except "Good Times" published by Reizner Music Corporation
International release on 20th Century Records.Recorded in 1976