Ted Albert

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Edward 'Ted' Albert (1937–1990) was an early pioneer in Australian independent record production and founder of Albert Productions (part of Albert Music). In recognition of his contribution to the music industry, the Australasian Performing Right Association established the annual 'Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music'.

Albert Productions[edit]

Ted Albert joined the family music business, J. Albert & Son (now Albert Music) in the mid to late 1950s at a time when Rock and roll was emerging into the music mainstream in the United States, Australia and Europe. The early 1960s heralded the arrival of the independent record producers Phil Spector and Joe Meek and later still Shel Talmy. As artists in their own right, they had complete control of the creative process and shaped the bands recording sound.[1] J. Albert & Son considered the opportunities presented by the Australia teenager consumer market.

In a letter dated June 1964 addressed to Alberts' New York based lawyer, Alex Albert wrote in part:

"... the time is at hand for a real boom in local (Australian contemporary) compositions and recordings and we have therefore entered this field with much more drive than ever before. We have formed an Artists and repertoire (A&R) department and have inaugurated a recording subsidiary we have called 'Albert Productions'."[2]

Albert Productions was established as J. Albert & Son's A&R department in late 1964 with the sole intention of signing and recording Australian artists.[3] Ted Albert was Albert Productions' first managing director. The company lacked any dedicated record facilities however, J. Albert & Son owned and operated Radio Station 2UW and made these studios and a theatre available to Albert Productions for recording and audition purposes.[4] Later still, Alberts contracted EMI and its subsidiary Parlophone Records to handle record distribution. In late 1964 Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs was the first to sign to the Alberts label.

Easybeats[edit]

Ted Albert was introduced to member of the Easybeats by a mutual friend and band manager Mike Vaughn. Vaughn organised a private audition and a few days later the band was signed to a recording contract. Ted Albert produced the early Easybeats records and played on some of these early recordings.[4] "Ted had an intuitive gift for selecting material, finding the right sound and honing the 'feel' of a song.[1] Alberts then signed the band to a recording contract with EMI's Parlophone label. In 1966, the Easybeat signed a five-year record distribution contract with United Artists Records to handle the band's International product distribution.

After arriving in London in that year, Ted Albert hired EMI's Abbey Road Studios to record the band's next album though he was replaced by freelance producer Shel Talmy to record their biggest hit "Friday on My Mind". The single reached No. 1 in Australia, No. 6 in the UK, No. 16 in the United States.


Record entrepreneur[edit]

In the 1970s Ted Albert fostered Australia's third wave of youth oriented music. Early in 1972 Simon Napier-Bell, the English record producer was scouting for new talent in Australia and produced a few records for Alberts including 'Pasadena'. The song which was recorded by singer John Paul Young was written by former Easybeats's Vanda and Young with lyrics by David Hemmings. The single reached No. 16 on the Australian Singles charts in early 1972.[1]

At the time Vanda and Young were still living in England but upon hearing of 'Pasadena's chart success returned to Sydney.[1] In 1973 Alberts opened a recording studio in King Street in Sydney's Central Business District. Vanda and Young produced Ted Mulry Gang's album 'Here We Are' and that album's single 'Jump in My Car' in King Street.[5]

During the 1970s and the early 1980s Albert Studio became one of Sydney's preeminent recording studios for recording contemporary music for artists, including pop artist William Shakespeare through to Rose Tattoo, Heroes, Cheetah, Choirboys and internationally renowned band AC/DC. In addition the studios were much in demand by rock bands such as Cold Chisel, by blues music acts such as Graham Lowndes and for the recording of commercial radio jingles.

Ted Albert invested considerable sums of time and money equipping Alberts with state-of-the-art recording technology and the facility was gradually expanded to accommodate three studios. By one account he would buy the latest console or multi-track (technology) on the spot whilst on overseas business trips.[4] For example in 1978 Albert Productions installed a MCI JH-500 series mixing console, reputedly Australia's first automated console acquired on one such trip.[6]

In 1990 in recognition of his contribution to the local music industry, Ted Albert was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award at the annual ARIA Awards. Tragically later that year he suffered a fatal heart attack and for his contributions to the local industry, the following year the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) established the annual Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Service to Australian Music.[1]

Film industry[edit]

Strictly Ballroom poster art.

In 1988 Albert and producer Tristram Miall established a film production company called M&A Productions (Miall & Albert) to pursue film ideas and opportunities in the music and dance genre. Ted Albert had attended Sydney's Wharf Theatre to watch a stage play called 'Strictly Ballroom' written and directed by Baz Luhrmann. Tristram Miall bought the film rights and commissioned Luhrman to write and direct the film adaption. Albert spent three years raising film finance. In November 1990 Albert suffered a fatal heart attack at home. His wife Antoinette (Popsey) Albert assumed the role of Executive Producer to see production to completion.

On its release 'Strictly Ballroom' garnered critical acclaim and No.1 box office Australia film of 1992. The film launched Baz Luhrman's career in the Australian film industry. The film soundtrack featured the Vanda and Young penned tune 'Love Is in the Air', performed by John Paul Young. With the film's International success and the subsequent release of the new version of the song, the single peaked at number 2 on the Australian charts, and was a minor hit in the UK. It was subsequently awarded eight Australian Film Institute Awards as well as the coveted Prix de la Jeunesse at the Cannes film festival.

Personal life[edit]

Ted Albert was born in Sydney, the second of three sons to parents Alexis Albert (1904–1996) and his wife Elsie née Lundgren.[7] The family's music publishing empire, J Albert & Son, was founded by Edward's great grandfather Jacques Albert. Jacques Albert migrated to Australia from Russia in 1884 and established a clock, watch and occasional violin repair business in King St Sydney.[3] Later with his son Frank, Jacques expanded the business and diversified into music publishing and sheet music retail. His son Frank also concluded music licensing arrangements with overseas publishers for Australia and New Zealand.[8]

Ted Albert and his brothers, Tony (1939–2000) and Robert were raised in the family home 'Coolong' in the eastern Sydney suburb of Vaucluse.[9]

Away from the world of music Albert was a dedicated sailor and helmsman. His family had a long standing association with the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. Albert raced the dragon class yachts 'Rawhiti' AUS 111 & Rawhiti 11, AUS176, and he was a dual Prince Philip Cup, New South Wales Champion and twice successful defender of the Sayonara Cup sailed in the Dragon Class.[10][11] Apart from yacht racing, Ted also owned a 1969 40ft Halvorsen motorcruiser called "Colorado" (later renamed "Kookaburra") that could be seen plying the waters in and around Sydney Harbour.

Ted Albert is survived by his wife Antoinette (Popsy) Albert née Muir and daughters Emily and Anna.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Albert Productions, Milesago: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964–1975,website
  2. ^ Ted Record producer, music publisher,
  3. ^ a b Company history Albert Music website
  4. ^ a b c Abrahams C, (2005) Studio Connections: Studio Picture Book
  5. ^ Abrahams C, (2005) Studio Connections.ALBERT STUDIO 1
  6. ^ Interview with Colin Abrahams, No Nonsense AC/DC webzine.Weblink[dead link]
  7. ^ [Register for BDM NSW Entry
  8. ^ 'Albert, Michel François (Frank) (1874–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, Melbourne University Press, 1979, pp 27–28
  9. ^ Albert Family profile, Australian Financial Review Magazine, December 2009, Fairfax Media Ltd
  10. ^ The Dragon class in Australia, Australian International Dragon Association, 2007
  11. ^ His widow donated a trophy for a series at the Australasian Yachting Championships named the Ted Albert Memorial Cup in his honour.
  12. ^ Death notice, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 November 1990