Sunday, 24 February 2013

Maureen Elkner - Dynamite 7" Infinity K-5373, 1973

Appearing the same year as a similarly-themed Chinn/Chapman masterpiece, Maureen Elkner's debut solo single came slap-bang in the middle of her two most notable claims to fame: singing back up on Russell Morris' 1969 Australian psych landmark The Real Thing, and her 1975 ocker novelty hit, Rak Off, Normie. In an ideal world, this excellent glam pummeler would've enjoyed the same level of success, but sadly it's been reduced to a mere footnote in Maureen's extensive CV - that is, when it's even mentioned at all.

Dynamite is a high water mark of early Aussie glam, but it could easily have been a very different beast. A couple of years ago, Kim Humphreys' wild production on the Toxic single showed us that sometimes you can polish a turd; as it turns out, Humphreys was no stranger to the Brasso. Take it away, Kim:
Dynamite by Maureen Elkner featured my band Stumble, a three piece which had in its ranks Gordon Heazlewood (drums) and Vic Pisani (bass). The flip side (Barley Rye) was another band doing the backing. I was contacted when they couldn't capture the feel for Dynamite.

Those tracks were originally intended for the singer from the band who did the Barley Rye side but for some reason she pulled out of the project, so I suggested Maureen, who I had just seen doing a production of Cabaret. She did a couple of novelty singles after that, but I was not involved with those. I believe they got John Robinson from Blackfeather on guitar for the later projects.
Barley Rye is a raga of sorts, competently handled, but of little interest to fans of distorted guitars, and evidence for Humphreys' claim that those musos were out of their depth when it came to the hard stuff (we'll come to the punk-era exploits of the Barley Rye band in a later post). Dynamite is where all the action is - an explosive rocker with Kimbo contributing some wild fret-shredding and a killer guitar sound, and Maureen bringing admirable grunt and sass to her obviously trained vocal style. Some rude, honking baritone sax rounds out the '73 glam signifiers. The only thing that could possibly make it better is a song-ending explosion, but the instrumental crescendo is a close enough approximation.

A second single on Infinity (K-5487, 1974) followed the more usual Australian glam archetype, pairing a cover (Wild Thing) with a weaker original (Sweet Morning). Wild Thing is about as essential as a cover of that song can be (i.e. not very) - there are moments when it swings convincingly, and it is saved somewhat by Maureen's vocals, but the formerly wild guitars have been tamed and the sax is far too smooth to match Dynamite's obnoxious blurting. The flip is a Barley Rye-level throwaway which would probably find a more appreciative audience elsewhere.

Dynamite [Download]


Anonymous said...

Gets better with every listen

Anonymous said...

Just found this. Thank you so much. This song is very special to me because it's how I sing. As much as I am grateful to be recognised for 'Normie' it almost wrecked my career. The musicians on this recording are brilliant and I'm so sorry that I never got to meet you. It's wonderful musos like yourself that give me credibility and you have no idea how much it means to me. If you want to be in touch, I'm on FB xxxx Maureen Elkner