In June 1964, the Beatles flew into Australia for a tour that turned the island continent Down Under upside down (which means they managed to flip it right side up, i suppose — oh, never mind). If, during the preceding February, the Fab Four hit America like a hurricane, now, in the Antipodes, they struck like a monsoon. Not long after John, Paul, George and Jimmy (Jimmy?! Yes, that's right, Jimmy — but that's another story) touched down at a rainy Sydney airport, they were greeted by hundreds of thousands of Australian fans — many of whom were recent emigres from the U.K. Several of these newly patriated Beatles-smitten folk, being equipped with a fair amount of musical ability and, more important, a bona fide British accent, fashioned Fake Beatles groups of their very own. Here are some of the Aussies and Kiwis who kept the flame burning once the Beatles high-tailed it back to Old Blighty. [All songs MP3]
The Twilights: "If She Finds Out" Fake Beatling would come naturally to this Adelaide combo, which had as its two lead singers the English-born Glenn Shorrock and an Irishman fortuitously named Paddy McCartney. When not faking the Fab, as in this 1965 single, they also performed Beatled-up soul songs and versions of Hollies album tracks. Shorrock later made a mint as the frontman for late-'70s soft rock sensations the Little River Band.
The Allusions: "The Dancer" Released in 1966, this Sydney quintet's tune sounded as if it came straight from 1964. Specifically, it could have come right off A Hard Day's Night. More specifically, it kinda did, as the song is a dead ringer for "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You," except with Michael Morris' Macca-ish vocals standing in for George's adenoidal lead.
The Easybeats: "What About Our Love" and "Then I'll Tell You Goodbye" Most famous for their international smash "Friday on My Mind," these expats from Britain and the Netherlands often displayed a more rough-hewn sound, as heard on "Women (Make You Feel Alright)," which bears a keen resemblance to "I Wanna Be Your Man." There was even an actual Liverpudlian in the band, Snowy Fleet, who had previously played drums with Merseybeat combo the Mojos ("Everything's Alright"). This brace of bogus Beatleosity came from the Easybeats' second LP, It's 2 Easy, from 1966.
The Rondells: "I'll Be Gone" This Melbourne group released two singles and an EP in its brief career, with this sweetly harmonized ballad from 1965 appearing on the latter. Two members later turned up in 1970s neo-doo-wop group Daddy Cool.
The Bee Gees: "All of My Life" and "I'll Know What to Do" Their Fake Beatles pedigree is well established in this series, and here these Aussies by way of Manchester deliver a double dose of the shamtastic sound. "All of My Life," released in 1966, gives off a strong whiff of the Fabs' own "Not a Second Time " in its concluding moments — a song that was released in 1963, a musical lifetime ago! More up-to-date is this Revolver-ish demo of "I'll Know What to Do," a song that was released officially in 1967 by Ronnie Burns, who figures in the following entry.
Ronnie Burns: "Coalman" This Bee Gees protege from Melbourne had a huge Australian hit in 1967 with this Barry Gibb song that would also fit nicely alongside Beatles '66. Burns, who recorded several Gibb gifts, including Fake Beatles tracks "Exit, Stage Right" and "All The King's Horses," maintained Australian success throughout the decade and into the '70s.
The Pleazers: "That Lonely Feeling" Spanning Australasia, this group originated in Brisbane, then relocated to Sydney. But they made their mark after moving once again in 1964 — this time to New Zealand, where they all but had the beat group market to themselves, at least for a brief while. This song is a cover version of a recording by Glaswegians Dean Ford and the Gaylords, written by ace song scribes John Carter and Ken Lewis. Both versions of this gorgeous Fake Beatles ballad inexplicably stiffed on the charts everywhere.
Ray Columbus and the Invaders: "She's a Mod" When one brings up covers of Brit tunes by Kiwis, the starting point is this exceedingly energetic number, which contains the requisite "yeah-yeah-yeah" hook in the chorus to certify its Fake Beatle pedigree. Before Christchurch's Ray Columbus topped the New Zealand and Australian charts with it in 1964, the song was first heard (or, more accurately, not heard) through the original, by Birmingham group the Senators (with a 16-year-old John Bonham on drums).
Tony and the Shantels: "On My Mind" As on "She's a Mod," this song also demonstrates the wisdom that a well-placed "yeah-yeah-yeah" or twenty can propel a song from good to better — even by the tail end of 1965, when this disc was released. Perhaps fresher Beatles records were hard to come by in the small town of Shepparton in Victoria, from where this group hailed. We're better off for that.