Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Marty Rhone & The Soul Agents - Village Tapestry (Australia)

Marty Rhone will forever be synonymous for his two seventies hits "Denim And Lace" and "Mean Pair Of Jeans" - but to fanatics of Australian music of the sixties - he is fondly remembered for a string of classic songs which seem rather advanced for their vintage.

Marty was born Carl Van Rhoon, on 7th May 1948. A slight, young and shy singer of Dutch-Indonesian descent, he started singing at an early age, and when he was 17 went straight from school to a professional singing career.

In late 1965, Marty and his band, The Blue Feelings, went to the Channel 9 studios to audition for the television show, 'Saturday Date'. However, it actually turned out to be, on the sly, auditioning for a new record company called Spin Records, which was run by Nat Kipner (the father of Steve Kipner of Steve & the Board). Nat liked Marty but not the band, and as a result Marty signed with the label.

The Soul Agents were a respected Sydney band comprising: John Green (guitar) - Barry Kelly (keyboards) - Gerry Dean (bass) and Roger Felice (drums), all musicians of varied background. Nat Kipner had seen The Soul Agents performing at a Sydney club and was very impressed with the band, so in January 1966, Marty Rhone and The Soul Agents joined forces and became part of Nat Kipner's Spin Records roster along with Steve & The Board, the Bee Gees, Jeff St. John & The Id, Tony Barber, The Dave Miller Set and Ronnie Burns.

The next twelve months was a hectic schedule taken up with recording, touring and television appearances. The first single, "Nature Boy", was released on the Spin Label in 1966, followed by "Thirteen Women", "I Want You Back Again", "She Is Mine" and Marty's own composition entitled: "Village Tapestry" - (the Bee Gees did guest backing vocals on both 'She Is Mine' & 'Village Tapestry'). "Village Tapestry" is now considered a minor classic and has since been critically recognised as being way ahead of its time.

There were many highlights in their touring schedule including Marty's support to The Rolling Stones on their 1966 Australian tour and performing at Sydney Stadium on the P.J.Proby Show with Wayne Fontana, Eden Kane and The Bee Gees. This show was also the first appearance of Marty Van Wyk on lead guitar, who had just left The Throb and replaced John Green as lead guitarist with The Soul Agents.

With all the single releases, chart success eluded Marty and the Soul Agents, even with such a compelling original track as "Village Tapestry".

In 1967, The Soul Agents took on a full-time residency performing at one of Sydney's biggest Nightclubs, and Marty moved to Melbourne where he continued to do television and personal appearances and remained there until early 1970 when he was conscripted into the army for a two-year period.

Out of his battle greens in 1972, Marty enrolled at the Conservatorium of Music on a government grant for a two-year period and then turned his attention toward acting, where he worked both live theatre (Godspell) and on television (Number 96 and The Class Of '75).

Then in August 1975, Marty's dues-paying came to an end when he signed to the M7 label and burst into the charts with "Denim And Lace", which became the year's second biggest selling single, and spent thirty-five weeks in the charts.

Within two years Marty had notched up three more hits - "Star Song", "I'm On The Loose Again" and the funky "Mean Pair Of Jeans". Marty went on to represent Australia at the 1976 Australian Popular Song Festival, performing a song composed by Brian Dawe and Steve Groves entitled "I'm On The Loose Again". It became the winning entry and from there they took it to the World Contest at Tokyo, where they took out two major awards - 'Best Song' and 'Most Outstanding Performance'.

By the end of the 70's, Marty was in London performing on stage alongside Yul Brynner in the production of 'The King And I'.

Today, Marty still remains a respected actor/entertainer, whose early work is long overdue proper attention.

Four of their songs; "Every Minute Of You" - "I Can Tell" - "Nature Boy" and "Thirteen Women" were included on Spinning High; "Green Mansions" and "Lonely Too Long" resurfaced on So Good Together; "No No No No" and "Village Tapestry" got a further airing on Spin Discovery; "Leave While The Music Is Still Playing" can also be found on Countdown Silver Jubilee LP, "Mean Pair Of Jeans" also figured on Jukebox From Hell and you'll also find "Ruby With Red Hair" on Sound Of The 70s. "Every Minute Of You" can also be found on the Pretty Ugly CD. Finally, "Thirteen Women", resurfaced on So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star, Vol. 1 and So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star (3-CD).

The Soul Agents were a well-known Sydney outfit that became Marty Rhone's backing band. They backed other artists but also had a release of their own. The band's sound was tailored by guitarist John Green, who'd formerly been in The Lost Souls and both he and Barry Kelly went on to Jeff St. John and Copperwine. A respected bunch of musicians, Dutch-born guitarist Marty Van Wyk - writer of the Somebody's Image hit "Hide & Seek" - was an original member of The Throb and later The Cherokees. Roger Felice went on to form Rockwell T. James and The Rhythm Aces with Ronnie Peel, and later moved to England and joined Thunderclap Newman. It was the flip side on their 45, "I'm Still Mad At You", that's the gem. A pounding mod-punker with just a tinge of acid, you can also check it out on Diggin' For Gold, Vol. 3.
                                                                     Roger Felice

1. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - 01 Nature Boy (2:34)

2. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - Thirteen Women (2:54)

3. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - Village Tapestry (2:34)

4. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - I Want You Back Again (2:02)

5. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - She Is Mine (2:46)

6. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - No, No, No ,No (2:45)

7. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - What More Can I Do (1:28)

8. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - I Can Tell (1:58)

9. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - Every Minute Of You (2:12)

10. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - Tell Me Love (2:09)

11. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - Lonely Too Long (2:36)

12. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - Green Mansions (2:27)

13. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - She's Coming Home (2:29)

14. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - Hurry Poor Working Man (2:19)

15. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - As The Sun Goes Down (3:42)

16. Marty Rhone & the Soul Agents - So You Want To Be A Pop Singer (3:34)
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