The Twilights (band)
The Twilights were the leading Australian pop music group of the mid to late 1960s.
The Easybeatsand The Masters Apprenticesthe band are regarded as one of the most significant Australian groups of the period and renowned for their musical excellence and live prowess. They were one of the most popular bands of their day with teenage audiences but also commanded high respect among fellow musicians. The group is also notable as one of the few major Australian pop acts of the period to retain the same personnel for virtually all of their career.
*Frank Barnard - drums [1964-65]
*Peter Brideoake – rhythm guitar, vocals
Terry Britten– lead guitar, vocals
*John Bywaters - bass
*Clem "Paddy" McCartney – lead vocals
*Laurie Pryor - drums [1965-69]
Glenn Shorrock– lead vocals
The migrant hostels of the major Australian cities were fertile breeding grounds for some of the most important Australian pop-rock rock bands of the Sixties. At Villawood migrant hostel in suburban Sydney, New South Wales, some young and talented music enthusiasts had recently formed into a group called The Easybeats, and that band’s story is among the most compelling in Aussie rock history.
The Twilights formed in the satellite town of Elizabeth, 20 km north of
Adelaidein South Australia, a town whose population in the 1960s was largely made up of immigrants, particularly those from the UK. Like many young musicians all over the world, the nascent Twilights were seduced by the magic of The Beatles’ film "A Hard Day's Night". Drawn together by their British origins -- similar to the impetus that sparked the Easybeats' formation in Sydney -- Glenn Shorrock(hailing originally from Kent, UK), and his friends Mike Sykes and Clem "Paddy" McCartney (born in Belfast) formed an a-cappella trio, eventually gaining regular bookings around the small Adelaide folk/coffee-house circuit.
Occasionally, and especially for more prestige engagements, the vocal 3-piece teamed with local instrumental outfits, among them The Vector Men and The Hurricanes. Typical of the era, the latter band began as a Shadows-style instrumental act, but soon caught the British-invasion bug. The Twilights and The Hurricanes developed a solid bond, leading to the formation of the six-piece, fully electric-and-vocal group, The Twilights.
Still based in Adelaide, self-managed and produced, the band released its debut single, "I'll Be Where You Are" on
EMI’s Columbia imprint in June 1965. A plaintive ballad written by Shorrock and Britten, the single gained moderate notice in Melbourne but failed to chart outside Adelaide. Subsequent singles made further inroads – the second release, "Wanted To Sell", cracked the Melbourne charts and the third, the brisk, Beatle-esque Brideoake/Britten original "If She Finds Out" gave the band early exposure in Melbourne Sydney and Brisbane.
The Twilights gained a strong reputation with their dynamic live shows in Adelaide, and a 'vibe' quickly built about the band that could perfectly replicate Beatles songs with ease, but could equally 'rock out' with wild abandon. Ironically though, it wasn’t until the fifth single that national success was assured.
Early in 1965, Frank Barnard (featured on the first two singles) was replaced on drums by one Laurie Pryor. The former’s wife apparently objected to (recently appointed manager)
Garry Spry’s strict away-from-home touring regime for the newly successful group, and so Frank succumbed to that well-worn marital constriction and quit. Laurie, a locally-known drumming prodigy, who was playing with John Broome & The Handelsat the time, immediately pounced on the offer of a slot with a band obviously going places. The new line-up including Pryor remained intact for the life of the band.
Upon assuming managership, Spry’s strategy was to establish the group as a viable recording and performing entity from the far more stable and accessible base of Melbourne, Victoria. To that end, The Twilights moved en masse to that city in late 1965 where they played a three month residency at Spry's Club "Pinocchios". Such was their impact at Pinocchios that the rock club was sold out every night and they had all the club and dance promoters in Melbourne wanting to book them.
The Twilights' breakthrough single was a dynamic, harmony-rich cover of the
Velevettes' "Needle In A Haystack" which Spry insisted that they record and the single went top ten in all Australian states. The Twilights had already made big inroads with their previous single, a rendition of Larry Williams’ "Bad Boy" that many consider superior to The Beatles’ better-known version. The funky follow-up single, "You Got Soul", together with a robustly convincing first album, confirmed the band's status as nationwide pop stars.
On their eponymous LP debut, produced by EMI's David MacKay, The Twilights demonstrated great diversity as a recording unit and showcased their major influences. The LP featured a strong batch of self-penned tunes, songs specially commissioned for them (from the likes of
Barry Gibband Hans Poulsen), and tour-de-force covers of concert staples, showcasing the group’s dexterity with a variety of styles, including a blistering version of The Yardbirds’ "I’m Not Talkin’" contrasted with the mellower tones of The Who’s "La La La Lies", The Moody Blues’ "Let Me Go", a thrilling version of The Hollies’ "Yes I Will" and a strong reading of The Rolling Stones’ "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction".
In July 1966, The Twilights took the stage of
Festival Hall, Melbourne, before a full house of screaming, streamer-bedecked fans, to be the first national winners of Australia's prestigious rock band competition, Hoadley's Battle of the Soundsahead of over 500 other hopefuls. They were awarded bonus points for sound, originality, presentation and audience reaction. A peculiar rule that set a maximum group membership of five, meant that Paddy McCartney -- half of the band’s (unusual for the time) twin lead vocal line-up -- had to bow out of the winning performance. But he returned to the stage for the triumphant encore and was, luckily, included in the victors’ spoils.
On September 26 1966, the group set sail for the world music mecca of London.
The highlight of 1967 was undoubtedly the band’s trip to England, part of their prize for winning the 1966
Hoadleys Battle of the Soundscompetition. As soon as they disembarked from the liner at Southampton, they made a bee-line for all the essential landmarks of Swinging London, including Carnaby Street, and the band -– now sporting "Pepper" moustaches and the finest mod coiffures –- soaked up the delights of a city and culture that had already profoundly influenced them.
Although the band had high ambitions, they were somewhat dismayed by the quality of the British groups they encountered. As Shorrock ruefully observed upon the band’s return to Australia:
"Our biggest shock was the high standard of so many groups who are not even known. It was hard for us to get jobs with good money". Nevertheless, one major achievement was the opportunity to play a week’s residency at Liverpool’s The Cavern Club to an enthusiastic response.
The band fulfilled another dream -- recording at the famous
Abbey Road Studiosunder the production guidance of Norman "Hurricane" Smith, who engineered for the Beatles and produced Pink Floyd’s debut album (" The Piper at the Gates of Dawn"). It’s alleged that Paul McCartney poked his head around the door, thumbs aloft, and offered cheers and encouragement to the band whilst recording. The Beatles themselves were at that time recording one of the classic singles of all time, "Penny Lane" and The Twilights were invited to sit in on their sessions.
A clutch of songs from the Abbey Road sessions soon saw release back in Australia. In February, their superb version of "What’s Wrong With The Way I Live?" rapidly made the top ten nationally. Composed especially for the group by The Hollies’ Graham Nash, Tony Hicks and Alan Clarke, the song exhibited a sophisticated sound that the band had only hinted at before. With its banjo motif and tight block harmonies, the recording earned plaudits from the composers themselves ("Much better than we did it!", an amazed Nash remarked) -- and garnered support from other expatriate Aussie musicians like
The Bee Geeswho were trying to crack it in the UK at the time, as well as earning encouraging airplay on pirate radio stations like Radio Caroline, where a nunmber of expatrite Australian Djs were working. The flipside, "9.50", a driving Terry Britten psych-rocker, proved equally popular in Australia and was revived by Divinylsas a single B-side in the early 80s.
For short time it appeared that the single might make significant inroads into the British charts, but just as it was gaining airplay momentum it was derailed by the release of the Hollies' own version of their album, which EMI unfairly issued in spite of an earlier undertaking not to do so. Extremely disappointed the Twilights decided amongst themselves to return on the next boat home without telling Spry their manager who was back in Australia. He rang to tell them that they had been booked to appear on "Top Of The Pops" Britain's famous Television show, only to find they were already one week out at sea.
The third song recorded during the Abbey Road sessions provided the next a-side. "Young Girl" was a melancholy and evocative Laurie Pryor tune featuring Terry Britten’s innovative use of the variable volume pedal.
The changes in looks, attitude and musical accomplishment evident in the band upon its return to Australia were exemplified by the increasing dominance of lead guitarist and songwriter
Terry Britten. Of all the Twilights, the Manchester-born Britten most fully absorbed the kaleidoscopic influences on offer in the musical melting pot of London. Terry exhibited the greatest creative growth in the band, and from this time onwards assumed the role of chief songwriter and leader. Embracing, like his hero George Harrison, elements of Eastern philosophy and religion, Terry introduced exotic instruments and musical forms into The Twilights’ music, and heralded this newfound discovery by heavily featuring the sitar as a lead instrument on the b-side to "Young Girl", a fine social observation called "Time And Motion Study Man". It was not to be the only instance in which sitar and other Indian instruments were used prominently on major Twilights records.
The last single from the group in 1967 arrestingly utilised the sitar as a lead instrument on both sides. Unusually for the time, "Cathy Come Home" came housed in a two-colour picture sleeve; the title was inspired by the famous BBC-TV play of the same name. The A-side showed the group at the peak of its powers, while its flip, "The Way They Play" displayed a dynamic group cohesion, with John Bywaters’ fluid basslines proving particularly effective. The single was another unqualified airplay and chart success, but it was probably the last major hit that the band enjoyed.
The single also began a trend whereby Britten wrote songs inspired by movies or TV shows, which continued in his later writing. He wrote a song for Ronnie Burns, around another Aussie-produced film, Age Of Consent, which was submitted but rejected for the film soundtrack; he released his own solo single in 1969, again inspired by a current movie,
Tim Burstall's "2000 Weeks".
In concert the group continued to impress. Weeks before the local release of The Beatles’ "Sgt Pepper" album, The Twilights were playing the whole LP live, in order, from start to finish. Alarmed staff at EMI are said to have demanded that the Twilights desist, fearing their flawless performance might actually mar reaction to the album when it was finally issued in June.
The watershed year for The Twilights started optimistically with the Aussie chart success of "Cathy Come Home" and continued with the invitation by the Seven Network to develop a weekly television sit-com series based around the group at work and play, loosely along the lines of "The Monkees" or "A Hard Days’ Night".
At the time, "Go-Set" magazine documented the pilot of "Once Upon A Twilight" with photos of the group on location around Melbourne, with their proposed co-stars, the late comedienne Mary Hardy (playing the role of the band’s secretary), and a youthful
Ronnie Burns. The fate of the TV show was decided at the end of the year, when the Ford motor company withdrew its sponsorship and the project was cancelled, but the project helped to propel work on what was to become The Twilights’ zenith recording achievement.
The "soundtrack" to the shelved TV show took on a life of its own. A long gestation period, interspersed with the band’s most concentrated regime of live touring yet, resulted in one of the finest Australian albums of the era, "Once Upon A Twilight".
The album, released in a lavish dye-cut pop-up gatefold cover, included Peter Brideoake’s plaintive, cello and horn-embellished "Tomorrow Is Today" and Laurie Pryor’s raucous comedy turn "The Cocky Song", but the albums best moments are essentially Terry Britten’s own. As main songwriter he provided lush settings for Shorrock, including the title track, "Found To Be Thrown Away" and "Paternosta Row", and delicate arrangements for Paddy’s featured number, "Bessemae". Britten provided lead vocals and almost solo instrumentation on "Mr Nice" and "Devendra", the latter featuring an arrangement of Indian string and percussive sounds reminiscent of George Harrison’s "Within You Without You". Elsewhere, the use of brass sections, string quartets, wah-wah guitar, feedback, Keith Moon-styled drum patterns, backward masking, stereo panning and Leslie vocal effects, decorate a suite of generally spirited and captivating pop songs that hinted at brilliance.
"OUAT" was initially pressed in mono only, as the stereo mix commissioned in America was delayed. An uncorroborated anecdote says that
Linda Ronstadtand her band The Stone Poneys (including Anglophile songwriter Andrew Goldand future Eagle Glenn Frey) were recording in an adjacent studio, and heard some of the mixing sessions. Impressed with the quality of the songs and performances, Ronstadt and her manager apparently lobbied to secure American release for The Twilights on Capitol records. The veracity of this story is moot, because it all came to nought.
When it finally arrived, the stereo version of the album was slightly disappointing with its thin, murky mix, but it did highlight the dense layers of overdubs, sound effects and studio trickery the group and producer David MacKay had meticulously laboured over. And it became plain that Britten had by now assumed defacto leadership of the band, with some of the most sophisticated songwriting yet demonstrated. To complete the ambitious package, another typically innovative touch: a gatefold pop-up 3D cover depicting the six lads frolicking with lusty wenches around a medieval castle!
Concurrent with the release of the album came the group’s eleventh single. "Always", recorded during the same sessions, is a sumptuous ballad, a rich mix of acoustic guitars, trilling flute embellishments, and Terry’s haunting lead vocal. But both LP and single fared poorly on the charts, signalling the beginning of a downturn in the group's fortunes.
Nevertheless, 1968 was certainly the band’s peak year as a performing entity. Melbourne was theirs, and they dominated the city’s thriving dance and disco circuit. Popular venues such as Sebastian’s, Bertie’s, Pinnochios, Catcher, The Thumpin’ Tum and Opus played host to the most polished stage shows by an Australian band yet witnessed. With their enormous Marshall amplifiers, impeccable presentation and tight musicianship, the band could do no wrong. Sprinkled among their own best songs and selections of the Motown and soul classics, the group also performed powerful cover versions of such numbers as Cream’s "Sunshine Of Your Love", Traffic’s "Dear Mr Fantasy", Hendrix’s "Purple Haze" and The Move’s "Night Of Fear", and their live renditions of such songs were often said to comprehensively eclipse the originals.
The Twilights show at the time also had a prominent comedy/slapstick element. Egged on by the sardonic wit of John Bywaters, Shorrock was frequently prone to adopting his alter-ego, Superdroop, dressing in a most disreputable super-hero jumpsuit (or a ridiculous but scary gorilla outfit on occasions), to taunt the audience with puerile gags, sometimes swinging precariously on a trapeze over the crowd!
Checking into Armstrong’s recording studios in Melbourne with longtime producer MacKay, the group released the double-a-side, "Tell Me Goodbye" / "Comin’ On Down" in August. The former was a catchy singalong with a tremolo guitar figure from Terry, while the flip was a cosmic, slightly confusing, phasing-drenched number. It was a fine single but was largely ignored by radio and the public.
Like many other groups of the time, the band was by now beginning to outgrow the teen audience that had supported them. They had achieved much in their short time together and according to some observers they had lost interest, become complacent and were merely going through the motions. Spry had quit as manager mid-year due to the bands insistence for him to give up Management of his other band "The Groove" and all girl group "Marcie and the Cookies" as well as his running of A.M.B.O. Australia's largest Entertainment Agency in which he was Chairman. Soon after internal divisions and petty power struggles had begun to surface between the members, record company and their appointed Manager.
November saw the release of the group’s swansong, this time produced by the up and coming New Zealand born producer
Howard Gable. "Sand In The Sandwiches" attempted a jaunty, frivolous "let’s all head off for the beach" theme but fell short of target, coming across as somewhat stilted and forced -- even rock historian and self-confessed Twilights nut Glenn A. Bakerdescribes it as "abysmal". The b-side, by contrast, shoe-horned just about every vital strength of the band into an absolutely exhilarating 2 minute 48 seconds. Led by Pryor’s ferocious tom-tom fills, heavily compressed handclaps, boisterous "Hey!" call-and-response vocal chants and yet another idiosyncratic Britten solo, the song called Lotus was a solid affirmation of The Twilights’ outstanding musical skills and was the perfect bookend to their remarkable recorded output. Yet again though, airplay and sales reception were comparatively pitiful.
Preparations for a second trip foray to the UK were thwarted later in the year when Laurie declined to participate and resigned from the group. Disappointed and dejected with their recent lack of progress and perceived loss of popularity, the group decided then to cut its losses and disband, announcing a series of final live appearances.
After the shock announcement of the breakup in Go-Set's 22 January issue, The Twilights gave their last NSW concert performance at
The Trocaderoin Sydney. They were a last-minute inclusion in the Ray-o-Vac Batteries Spectacular, which featured an all-star lineup including The Groove, Johnny Farnham, The Dave Miller Set, The Las De Das, Heart'n'Soul, Respect, Clapham Junction and The Executives, with comperes Ward Austin and Dal Myles. Five thousand fans attended, with thousands more reportedly turned away. Their last Melboourne concert was at Bertie’s disco, Melbourne.
After The Twilights
Glenn Shorrockturned to band and agency management, looking after Brisbane teen-pop outfit, "The Avengers" and becoming agency manager for A.M.B.O. But the muse still beckoned and he soon formed a "super group" with Brian Cadd and Don Mudie (ex-Groop), specifically designed to take the overseas market by storm. Axiom underachieved in this regard, but served as a template for The Little River Bandwhich scored phenomenal success in the US later in the seventies, with Glenn as its lead singer. Before LRB, he spent time in England between 1972 to 1974 again managed by Garry Spry over there, who set up Publishing Recording and Production contracts for him with MAM, releasing several solo singles for the MAM label, doing backup vocals in Cliff Richard’s touring band, then joining the avant-garde orchestral-rock collective, Esperanto for two albums. After leaving LRB in early 1982, Glenn retreated from performing for a time, compering ABC-TV’s Rock Arena, before releasing a solo album "Villain Of The Peace", then teaming again with Cadd for the Blazing Salads venture. A double-album anthology "The First Twenty Years", which traces most phases of Glenn’s recording career (including a brace of Twilights tracks) was issued out in 1985. More recently, he helped mount a large-scale presentation of Beatles songs at the Sydney Opera House in 1998 with a crack band and full orchestra under the baton of Sir George Martin.
Terry Brittenconsolidated his reputation as "songwriter for hire", penning and sometimes producing songs for (among many others) Zoot, The Avengers and Ronnie Burns. He released a solo single, "2,000 Weeks", before moving to England to develop a new classically-flavoured quartet with fellow expatriates, Kevin Peek, Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer (ex- James Taylor Move). The wryly-dubbed Quartet released a single, "Now" on Decca before disbanding in late 1969; a much-touted album, "Joseph" never saw the light of day. Terry then partnered with Brian Peacock (ex-Procession) in Homer, before concentrating on honing his craft as songwriter to the stars (sometimes in collaboration with the likes of Alan Tarneyand Trevor Spencer, and B. A. Robertson. He wrote several major international hits for Cliff Richard, Tina Turnerand local "Countdown" poppet, Christie Allen, as well as co-writing "Just Good Friends" with Graham Lyleof ( Gallagher & Lyle) for Michael Jackson's "Bad" album. Finally, too, he fulfilled his long-time ambition to secure a film soundtracksong, winning a Grammy Awardfor his theme to the movie " Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" - Tina Turner's " We Don't Need Another Hero". Britten continues to compose from his home base in rural Englandbut has returned to Australia on occasion including the triumphant Twilights reunion for the Long Way To The Top concert tour.
Laurie Pryortook up drumming duties with Chain soon after leaving the Twilights, undertook various studio sessions and helped form the much-lauded early 70s prog outfit, Healing Force with the late Charlie Tumahai.
* Peter Brideoake turned to classical composing and TV soundtrack work, and now teaches at Adelaide University
Five of the original six members of the band reunited for a special Beatles concert in Adelaide in 2000, and they reformed again for the hugely successful Long Way To The Top concert tour in 2002. The only member not present was Pryor, who was reported to have opted out due to illness.
I'll Be Where You Are/I Don't Know Where The Wind Will Blow Me – Columbia DO 4582 June 1965
Come On Home/Wanted To Sell – Columbia DO 4610 Oct 1965
If She Finds Out/John Hardy – Columbia DO 4658 Feb 1966
Baby Let Me Take You Home /You've Really Got A Hold On Me – Columbia DO 4685 May 1966
Bad Boy/It's Dark – Columbia DO 4698 Jun 1966
Needle In A Haystack/I Won't Be The Same Without Her – Columbia DO 4717 Aug 1966
You Got Soul/Yes I Will – Columbia DO 4742 Dec 1966
What's Wrong With The Way I Live/9.50 – Columbia DO 4764 Feb 1967
Young Girl/Time & Motion Study Man – Columbia DO 4787 May 1967
Bowling Brings Out The Swinger In You/Bowling Brings Out The Swinger In You (instrumental version) – EMI Custom PRS 1736 (promo only) 1967
Cathy Come Home/The Way They Play – Columbia DO 5030 Nov 1967
Always/What A Silly Thing To Do – Columbia DO 8361 May 1968
Tell Me Goodbye/Comin' On Down – Columbia DO 8448 Aug 1968
Sand In The Sandwiches/Lotus – Columbia DO 8602 Nov 1968
2,000 Weeks/Bargain Day – Columbia DO 8711 1969 (Terry Britten solo)
Bad Boy – Columbia SEGO-70129: I’ll Be Where You Are; If She Finds Out; Baby, Let Me Take You Home; Bad Boy. 1966
Needle In A Haystack – Columbia SEGO-70139: Needle In A Haystack; What’s Wrong With The Way I Live; 9.50; Young Girl. 1967
Always – Columbia SEGO-70161: You Got Soul; The Way They Play; Cathy, Come Home; Always. 1968
The Twilights – Columbia 33OSX-7779 (reissued as Music For Pleasure MFP-8129)
Once Upon a Twilight – Columbia OSX-7870
Best of The Twilights – HMV OELP-9777
Twilight Time – Raven RVLP-08
The Twilights: The Way They Played – Raven CD RVCD-03.
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