Monday, April 18, 2011

The La De Das - The Happy Prince (1966)


Aside from Ray Columbus & the Invaders, the La De Das were New Zealand's most popular rock group of the '60s. As big fish in a very small pond, their work doesn't hold up to scrutiny in the company of the era's top American and English acts. But they did record some fine garage/pop numbers in the spirit of the Rolling Stones in the mid-'60s. A few of these ("How Is the Air Up There?" and "All Purpose Low") were big N.Z. hits, and they reached the Top Ten with covers of John Mayall's "On Top of the World" and a version of Bruce Channel's "Hey Baby." In 1968, they recorded a psychedelic-tinged children's concept LP, The Happy Prince; which bears resemblance to modern twee. After a failed attempt to crack the British market, the group soldiered on for quite some time with pedestrian hard rock that -- like even the best of their early work -- was very derivative of overseas trends.
The La De Das - The Happy Prince
Originally Released 1969

Posted in response to request on the Demonoid forum.

The La De Das were a leading New Zealand rock band of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Based on the Oscar Wilde story, The Happy Prince was recorded in Australia and was released to critical acclaim but this did not convert to sales.

Unfortunately as the original tapes of this were not available for reissue so this release has been remastered from vinyl and not terribly well in my opinion - however this is the only version available.

Narrated by Adrian Rawlins
1. Intro: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 2:16 
2. Covered In Gold : Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 3:43 
3. Ruby And The Lady: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 5:50 
4. Come And Fly With Me: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 3:54 
5. Swallow, Little Swallow: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 3:13 
6. You Can't Take It With You: Narrated By Adrian Ra… 5:58 
7. Life Is Leaving: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 3:48 
8. Tales Of The Nile: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 3:17 
9. Winter Song: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 4:37 
10. Lullaby: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 3:46 
11. Civic Pride: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 3:27 
12. Chant: Narrated By Adrian Rawlins 4:45 

Music Only Version
13. Covered In Gold 3:44 
14. Ruby For The Lady 3:32 
15. Come And Fly With Me 3:28 
16. Swallow, Little Swallow (Edit) 2:34 
17. You Can't Take It With You 4:17 
18. Life Is Leaving (Edit) 2:09 
19. Tales Of The Nile 2:26 
20. Winter Song 2:48 
21. Lullaby 2:47 
22. Civic Pride 2:22 
23. Chant (Edit) 1:03


"Overseen by up-and-coming young producer David Woodley-Page, The Happy Prince was recorded over four weeks in early 1969, and whatever its supposed artistic limitations, it was a fine technical achievement, especially considering that Australia at that time lagged several years behind the UK and USA in its access to the latest recording technology. Although multitrack recorders were in common use overseas—major American pop recordings had been made on 8-track as far back as 1965, but 8-track was still not readily available in Australian commcercial studios. The first 8-track machine installed in a major independent studio was at Armstrong's in Melbourne, in 1970.

Four-track recorders, which were the standard in Australia at that time, had definite limitations, as the Beatles had found when they began creating more complex music in the mid-60s. The process of "bouncing down" -- dubbing a completed 4-track recording onto one track of another tape—demanded skill, care and good equipment, otherwise the buildup of noise on the master tape soon became unacceptable. However, by a neat technical trick, The Happy Prince effectively became Australia's first 8-track recording, a feat Woodley-Page achieved by recording onto on two Scully half-inch, 4-track recorders that were electronically synchronised. This de facto 8-track method provided much greater scope for multitracking and overdubbing and a considerable improvement in overall sound quality.

The band released its magnum opus in April 1969. Hailed as the first Australian concept album, the ambitious LP was a suite of songs co-written by Howard and Wilson. Lead vocals were, for the sake of dramatic consistency, performed entirely by Phil Key. It was lauded by writers such as David Elfick, Molly Meldrum and Brian Cadd, but rave reviews from critics failed to transfer into sales, and the band came close to splitting after its release. The production is excellent and was a breakthrough for the time, although the material has been criticised as being patchy and rather overblown in parts. It was also the album was also marred for some critics by the rather campy tone of the narrated links, which were read by Adrian Rawlins."



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