|John J had four major album releases among the many inclusions on complation albums still being released today. We found some early reviews written at the time ...|
1972 saw the release of John's first solo album 'Rock 'n' Roll Refugee', featuring the first triple-gate fold out LP cover, through Warner Brothers. The album was recorded "live" in the studio in two three-hour sessions at Copperfield Studios and was produced by the then A&R head of Pye Records in England, Alan A. Freeman. 'Rock 'n' Roll Refugee' contained many of the songs John was playing live at the time and, although it received very little airplay or publicity, managed to generate sales well into the mid-thousands.
“Exhibits varying directions and a mixture of expressions. Francis’s high standard of musicianship, thought and songwriting gently rippled throughout... virtually a live studio album” (Darel Nugent, Go Set).
Breaks, Works and Thoughts
John's second album, 'Breaks, Works and Thoughts', was released in 1973 and included the iconic 'Simple Ben', which is featured on the 'Morning of the Earth' movie soundtrack, the hit single 'Play Mumma, Sing Me a Song', as well as the driving 'Bop Right Over You' and the strikingly powerful and distinctively original 'Steel Man'. 'Breaks, Works and Thoughts' is undoubtedly a landmark in Australian music history and was the most nominated album at the 1973 Australasian Radio Awards (the precursor to today’s ARIA Awards) winning the coveted Best Song/Composer of the Year Award for 'Play Mumma, Sing Me a Song'.
“ A progression from the first album... better and tighter arrangements, new ideas and more concentration” (Darel Nugent, Go Set). Simple Ben was also released as a single to promote the Morning of the Earth album.
Disc and Tape Review raved: “ Francis is among the handful of truly original creative Australians on the scene. This new album is world class in musianship, production and composition right down to the quality of Francis’ throaty soulful voice and his artistry with lyrics and melodies. A great album.”
'Open Fist' was released in early 1974 and showed a harder hitting side to John J Francis. Right from the opening track, 'Living in Sydney', it was obvious that his music had moved into a tougher, rougher, electric rock sound although links to his earlier acoustic-based style remained in several tracks such as the poignant ballad 'Things are Never Quite the Same' and the beautiful 'Countryside Angelus'. The blues flavoured rocker, 'City Lights, Saturday Night 1959' was released as a single and the album sold in its thousands and has since become the most sought after of the four John J Francis albums.
The remainder of the review discusses a prominent Sydney vocal teacher singing praises of the previous album (excuse pun).
The fourth album, 'Wassa Matta', was released in late 1974 and was again a mix of electric and acoustic tracks including the beautiful ballad 'Sit Beside Me' and a unique cover version of the R ‘n’ B classic 'Mess o' Blues'. The other standout tracks were ‘A Christian Woman Came’, ‘Sometimes in the Night’, ‘Waterson’ and‘To the End’. Warners chose to release the country-flavoured 'Lucky Star', featuring vocal backing by the singing group Family, as the single with a tough version of another R 'n' B gem, 'Money Honey', on the flip-side.
Conn, in his 2000 Weeks, wrote that the album continued the style of
his previous albums, except on The Big Show, which despite the appalling
production contains some extremely biting lyrics about the rock business.
© copyright 2008 - JJFrancis Music