21 May 2009

One Hit Wonder #1 - Gary Shearston - I Get A Kick Out Of You

Label: Charisma
Year of Release: 1974

This is the first in what will doubtless be a very occasional series of glimpses at One Hit Wonders. In an overwhelming majority of cases, it's apparent that despite having one frequently large hit, One Hit Wonders tend to fare less well for airplay than various cult bands who never really had a proper smash. So whilst you could twist your radio dial on to 6Music and hear (if you're lucky) The Fall, the odds of spinning it one day and hearing The Look's "I Am The Beat" or Airhead's "Counting Sheep" are less favourable. One Hit Wonders barely even get fifteen minutes of fame - it's usually one obligatory Top of the Pops appearance (back when it was broadcasting), a less-than-sell-out tour (whoops, The Shepherds Bush Empire isn't very full, is it, Nizlopi?) then a trip back home to sign on with the DSS after the album flops.

Australian folk artist Gary Shearston most assuredly did appear on TOTP in 1974 with this brilliant cover of "I Get A Kick Out Of You", but there's no YouTube evidence of it. Instead, this black and white transmission from elsewhere will have to do, and the reduced quality fails to distract from the lazy, weary majesty of Shearston's version. If Bryan Ferry had known precisely where to draw the line with his cover versions of classics, we might just have heard something like this - but perhaps not. This is so understated it's great, the world-weary desperation of the vocals tugging dramatically against the romantic strings. It's a tremendously odd single to have ever reached number 7 in the charts, but it managed nonetheless, and I can't help but think the world must have been a happier place for it.

Gary Shearston is something of an odd fish. He was already in his thirties by the time this was released, a career creating folk albums of Australian bush songs apparently behind him. Having moved to the UK and signed with Charisma, he managed two albums of rather more pop-orientated material, before eventually returning home to become a priest in the Outback. As careers go, that's an especially peculiar path. I have to confess that I've yet to stumble on either of his Charisma albums "Dingo" or "Greatest Stone On Earth", but if anyone's heard them, I'd be grateful to hear some views about their content.

Thanks to ianabroad for the YouTube upload.


SteveL said...

Gary Shearstn's Dingo is my favourite album. I bough it for "I get a kick out of you" but was astonished by the quality of several Shearston penned songs. Not sure how this site works, but will be happy to get something to you if you want


23 Daves said...

Thanks Steve, I may well take you up on that. I'll drop you a line as soon as I get a few spare moments.