Sunday 25 December 2011

John Vincent - 'Ow Ya Goin' Santa Claus 7" RCA 101885, 1969

Since most of you are SSL speakers, that's Strine as a Second Lingo, you'd be forgiven for missing the small ocker revival amongst tastemakers in recent years. The original Ocker was a character in the '60s TV show The Mavis Bramston Show, codifying the broad speaking, straight talking, piss taking, clever but smartarse bloke Aussies seemed to love to love. The genre never really went away, but it did start to seem less attractive as it morphed into the garden variety yob by the 1980s. Perhaps starting with the reissues of the Bazza McKenzie fillums, crate diggers started pulling a few old ocker classics out of bins country wide and proselytising their worth.

John Vincent was a South Australian DJ who put out many ocker novelty records, both under his own name and as the 'Ken Oath Ockerstra. We like this one in particular because of its links back to a cool earlier version from 1967. We'll get to that in a minute, but for now enjoy a bit of seasonal stupidity, with Thin Vin's approximate vocals taking centre stage.

’Ow Ya Goin’ Santa Claus [Download]

The song has its roots in an earlier song, in fact Vincent's debut record, recorded with legendary Australian '60s band The In-Sect, whose I Can See My Love is rightly regarded as a classic of Australian '60s punk. As told by guitarist Frank Sebastyn to Ian Marks in the great recent book Wild About You, the In-Sect were the regular house band at the Arkaba Hotel in Adelaide, where they played six nights a week and an all day Saturday beer garden gig to 1200-1300 people.

I arranged that for John. He used to keep hanging 'round the Arkaba saying, 'Can I sing a song, mister?' And after weeks of telling him to piss off, we let him up on stage, and he did this song called 'Ow Ya Goin' which knocked 'em out. So I spoke to Ron Gillespie [from W&G] and he agreed to record him, too.
It goes on to tantalisingly say Ow Ya Goin' was "allegedly recorded in the lavatory at the Adelaide Railway station" with no further details!

Detailing the three stages of a standard piss up, the lyrics in total are:

'Ow ya goin'? Alright!
Crack a coldie. You beaut!
See ya later. Hoo roo!

Again for our SSL friends a few translation hints are in order: crack a coldie is "open yourself a cold beer from the esky"; you beaut is an exclamation of pleasure equating to "you little bloody ripper"; hoo roo they say is an archaic Australian farewell, but I've been hearing it all this weekend as I've done the rounds of family and friends. It's all helped along by a sterling performance by the In-Sect with loud drums, organ and some great guitar by Sebastyn.

’Ow Ya Goin’ [1967] [Download]

Vincent and the In-Sect combined twice more, first on the Madge's Charity Badges / Choko Brandy 7" (RCA 101860, December 1968), then on the Ballad Of Andy Capp 7" on Adelaide label Gamba. Dean Mittelhauser said of the RCA record, "this was another of Vincent's terrible novelty songs, but the band's raunchiness is undiminished, particularly on the A-side where there is a truly fab guitar solo. It's absolutely boss, and makes Vincent's bad lyrics and even worse vocals almost bearable". It's a cool record and has been comped on the Australian psych CD, Datura Dreamtime.

Vincent revisited 'Ow Ya Goin' in 1973 on his only album. Without the In-Sect, and without '60s enthusiasm, it's reduced down to a pretty standard 12 bar blues workout. We include it for completeness. If you absolutely have to dig further into Vinnie's back catalogue we can perhaps suggest this approximation to Heads Down No Nonsense Mindless Boogie style satire from 1975, and again with a Ramones tribute band.

’Ow Ya Goin’ [1973] [Download]

The album

1 comment:


I've just stumbled upon your blog - great work. Look forward to wasting many hours here. In particular I wanted to mention the post about John Vincent. I loved these records growing up. I loved the fact that he couldn't really sing and that it was all a bit rubbish, and that he persisted on continuing to put more out. Their was actually two John Vincent albums before he switched to the Ken Noath Okastra. The second one was called "Son/Daughter of Owyagoin? (or what do you expect for $1.98?). The word son was crossed out and 'daughter' written in and the cover was a photo in the same wheel barrow, in the same garden, a couple of years later with John sitting with his daughter on his knee. His song Havin' a Barbie was a local hit and has been covered by many Aussie bands over the years. I once took my copy of the second album to the radio staion he worked at (5KA) to get him to sign it. He said "Oh that's where the other one went to". He was a lovely man, whom I got to know a bit in his later years. He sadly passed away before we could act on a plan to make a series of interviews about his records and influential time in radio. He is sadly missed in SA and every year there is a Music Trivia night for charity in his name, hosted by Adam Hills (whom Vincent had mentored). Thanks for your time and keep up the good work.