Stevie Wright


Band members                             Related acts

- Stevie Wright -- vocals

 

 

 

- Black Tank

The Easybeats

- Flash and the Pan

- Hard Rain

- Likefun

- Rachette

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Hard Road

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 36-109
Year:
 1974

Country/State: Leeds, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out notch top seam; promo sticker on cover

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5792

Price: $20.00

 

The Easybeats were one of Australia's most successful 1960s rock and roll exports.  The group had mounds of talent and enjoyed both critical and commercial successes in the States.  That said, the individual members, including lead singer Stevie Wright, were virtually unknown to American audiences.

 

Wright's post-Easybeats career reflected a frustrating series of starts and stops, compounded by ongoing drug and alcohol problems.  When The Easybeats called it quits in 1969 Wright formed the band Rachette.  Rachette survived until 1971 at which point Wright joined the band Likefun.  From there he ended up in the Australian cast of Jesus Christ Superstar (he played Simon Zealotes), sticking with the show through 1973.  He also briefly sang with the band Black Tank.

 

1974 saw Wright reunite with former Easybeats cohorts Harry Vanda and George Young.  In addition to producing Wright's solo debut "Hard Road", the pair played on most of the collection and contributed about half of the material, with Wright responsible for the balance.  Musically the set was quite diverse, showcasing Wright's raw and raspy voice on a collection that aptly demonstrated his pop and rock credentials.  Sure, it wasn't the most original album you've ever heard, but depending on how you feel about the genre, the album was literally a precursor to the hard rock sound that would start to invade late-1970s/early-1980s airwaves.  In fact, for AC/DC fans, Angus and Malcolm Young have long been rumored to have played on the set.

 

"Hard Road" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hard Road   (Harry Vanda - George Young) -  3:02

The biographical 'Hard Road' made it obvious why Wright was reportedly briefly considered by AC/DC as a replacement for Bon Scott.  The two had very similar voices and deliveries.  A howling slice of rock and roll anger and frustration, it was almost scary hearing Wright claw his way through this one.  You literally couldn't help but wonder if the man's head was gonna explode.  Killer chorus too boot.   rating: **** stars

2.) Life Gets Better   (Stevie Wright) - 3:10

'Life Gets Better' was a far more pop oriented song.  The funny thing was that Wright's pop voice sounded completely different this time out.  Yeah, he still had a dry, strangled delivery, but it was quite likeable here.  The song was also near perfect for radio play.  Should've been released as a single.   rating: **** stars

3.) The Other Side   (Stevie Wright) -  2:32

Propelled by a snarling Wright lead and some tasty horn charts 'The Other Side' was actually almost funky.  Another track that was quite commercial.    Only complaint were the irritating female backing vocalists.  They were a needless addition to the song.   rating: *** stars      

4.) I Got You Good   (Stevie Wright) -  3:16

'I Got You Good' was the first mild disappointment.  Wright sounded okay, but the song itself was a mindless slice of boogie.   rating: *** stars

5.) Dancing in the Limelight   (Stevie Wright) - 2:36

I've literally played 'Dancing in the Limelight' for friends and had them ask me which AC/DC album it was off of.  The resemblance to Bon Scott's voice and delivery was truly remarkable on this one.   rating: *** stars

6.) Didn't I Take You Higher   (Harry Vanda - George Young) -   5:57

Another Vanda-Young composition, 'Didn't I Take You Higher' was one of the album's highlights.  Great fuzz-propelled rocker with some cheesy synthesizers, a hysterical Wright spoken word segment and a killer chorus.   rating: **** stars  

 

(side 2)
1.) Evie - 11:01

     Part 1 (Let Your Hair Down)   (Harry Vanda - George Young) -  

     Part 2 (Evie)   (Harry Vanda - George Young) -  

     Part 3 (I'm Losing You)    (Harry Vanda - George Young) -  

Side two started with what was probably Wright's commercial and creative zenith.   Penned by Vanda and Young, 'Evie' was a three part suite that managed to encapsulate the highs and lows in a relationship - lust, family joy, and heartbreak all in just over eleven minutes.   Part 1 'Let Your Hair Down' was a take no prisoners rocker that was simply mesmerizing.  The near perfect rocker.  Imagine what AC/DC would sound like if they wrote a commercial track.  Part 2 'Evie' shifted into a ballad.  Pretty, but not nearly as impresses as Part 1.   Part 3 'I'm Losing You' returned to rock with the break-up part of the plotline.  With backing vocals from Vanda and Young the track actually had a likeable Motown edge.  Very nice and easily the album's highpoint.   YouTube has a  live performance of the 'Evie'.  It's labeled as a 1979 performance at the Sydney Rocktober concert.  Due to file size constraints, it's broken out into two parts:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wdfpYFBdyI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bWHobeIGeQ&feature=related

rating: ***** stars          

2.) Movin' On Up   (Stevie Wright) -  3:16

As a blues number, 'Movin' On Up' proved surprisingly likeable with some highly ironic lyrics.   rating: *** stars

3.) Commando Line   (Stevie Wright) -  3:58

'Commando Line' may have been the catchiest and most radio-friendly track on the album.  It certainly served to showcase Wright's voice at it's most dynamic.  rating: **** stars          

 

 

The album was also tapped for a couple of singles. In Australia the choice was: 

 

 

- 1974's 'Evie (Part 1) b/w 'Evie (Parts 2 and 3)' (Albert catalog number AP-10468)

 

Though I've never seen a stock copy, in the States the single was:

 

- 1974's 'Hard Road' (stereo) b/w 'Hard Road' (mono) (ATCO catalog number 45-7016)

 

Simply a great debut that's been sadly overlooked by critics and the buying public.  Well worth grabbing since you can still find copies on the cheap.

 

As you'd expect, the collection sold well in Australia where it eventually topping the local charts.  Unfortunately whatever hope for commercial success the album may have had in the States were probably severely damaged by ATCO's hideous cover art.  The British and Australian covers weren't great, but comparatively speaking ... well, you can judge yourself.  Here's a copy of the Australian and UK pressing:

 

              

 Polydor catalog number 24 80249   Albert catalog number APLP-005



Anyone ever read Wright's book "Hard Road - The Life and times of Stevie Wright" by Glenn Goldsmith (with Stevie Wright)"?  Comments?

 


reviewed by SRB August, 2009

 

 

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