Do-Ré-Mi, 1985 publicity shot
L–R: Stephen Philip, Helen Carter, Deborah Conway, Dorland Bray
|Origin||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
|Genres||Pop rock, new wave|
|Years active||1981–1988, 2018–present|
|Labels||Green Records, Larrikan Records, Virgin|
|Associated acts||The Benders, Thought Criminals, Deborah Conway, Ghostwriters|
|Past members||Dorland Bray|
Do-Ré-Mi (often typeset as Do-Re-Mi or Do Re Mi) are an Australian rock/pop band formed in Sydney in 1981 by Deborah Conway (lead vocals), Dorland Bray (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Helen Carter (bass, backing vocals) and Stephen Philip (guitar). They were one of Australia's most respected and successful post-punk groups. Do-Ré-Mi recorded self-titled EP and The Waiting Room for independent label Green Records before signing to Virgin Records and recording their first LP, Domestic Harmony in 1985 with Gavin MacKillop producing. Domestic Harmony achieved gold sales and contained their most played song, "Man Overboard", which was a top 5 hit single in 1985. This song was notable for its lyrical references to penis envy and pubic hair. Do-Ré-Mi's follow-up singles Idiot Grin and Warnings Moving Clockwise reached the Top 100.
Their second album, The Happiest Place in Town, produced by Martin Rushent, included the singles Adultery, King of Moomba and Haunt You, all of which charted to varying posiitons. The band chose to take an extended break in 1988, with Conway pursuing a solo career, and ended up permanently disbanding later in the decade.
One of Dorland Bray's first groups was Shotgun Willie. They played several gigs in the Melbourne pub scene, mainly performing country material gathered from artists such as the relatively unknown Delbert McClinton and Willie Nelson.
Conway and Bray were both in Melbourne-based band The Benders with Neville Aresca, Les Barker, John Campbell, Daniel Solowiej and Greg Thomas. Before joining The Benders, Bray had been in punk rock group the News. Vocalist Conway joined The Benders in 1979 whilst still at Melbourne University. The Benders performed mostly in Melbourne and gigged around pubs playing original material (mostly written by Conway and Thomas) and Blondie and Devo covers. Conway and Bray also wrote songs together. In Sydney, Philip had been a guitarist for Thought Criminals and was also a session musician. Carter was a member of punk band Friction. Carter had been living with punk rocker Roger Grierson of Thought Criminals (later an executive of Festival Mushroom Records).
when the boys were taking a break at rehearsal one day, I picked up the bass guitar for the first time.— Helen Carter, 2004
Bray and Conway left Melbourne for Sydney in 1981, forming Do-Ré-Mi with Carter. In July 1982 Do-Ré-Mi recorded some tracks for a self-titled 12" EP using Philip as a session musician. Philip formally joined the band by the time of the EP's release in August 1982 on independent label Green Records. In line with the core post-1960s principle that the personal is political, the band's first recording featured a spiky-funk sound working under passionate, personal-political songs, which included the anti-cold war track "Standing on Wires".
Conway had lived with Paul Hester drummer in Deckchairs Overboard (later in Split Enz and Crowded House). Hester guested on timbales for "(Just Like) Hercules", a track on their second 12" EP, released by Green Records in January 1983, The Waiting Room.
Do-Ré-Mi was signed by Virgin Records after being spotted by the management of Cold Chisel and The Angels. Do-Ré-Mi recorded two LP albums: Domestic Harmony (1985) and The Happiest Place in Town (1988) and seven singles for Virgin Records. Both albums were recorded in London, Domestic Harmony had Gavin McKillop producing and peaked at No. 16 on the Australian albums charts;. Martin Rushent produced The Happiest Place in Town.
Their best known hit, "Man Overboard" originally appeared on their 1983 EP The Waiting Room. They re-recorded "Man Overboard" for Domestic Harmony and the track was released as a single in June 1985. It peaked at No. 5 on the Australian singles chart. "Man Overboard" became the 8th highest positioned Australian song for 1985 End of Year Chart. In the Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2001 TV series Long Way to the Top Carter described the delight Do-Ré-Mi had in the success of this single, which came despite the concerns of their record company:
There was a real hit-maker mentality [...] people would say 'It can't be a hit – it doesn't have a chorus [...] You're talking about pubic hair, oh my God!'— Helen Carter, 2001
In 1985 Do-Ré-Mi performed three songs for the Oz for Africa concert as part of the global Live Aid program – "Man Overboard", "Warnings Moving Clockwise" and "1000 Mouths". It was broadcast in Australia (on both the Seven Network and Nine Network) and on MTV in the US.
Not long after their second album was released in February 1988, Do-Ré-Mi travelled to the United Kingdom to begin recording a third album. Before this was finished Virgin Records offered Conway a solo deal and Do-Ré-Mi disbanded.
Bray became a member of Ghostwriters for their first album Ghostwriters (1991). Carter and Philip wrote and performed together first with short lived Lupi and later (c. 2001) in Underfelt. Philip wrote soundscapes for a number of theatre productions of Macbeth, featuring David Field at the Performance Space in Sydney, and produced for Peter Milton Walsh and Grant McLennan.
Conway has a successful solo career, winning an ARIA award for her first solo album String of Pearls in 1991 (co-writing three songs with Bray). Her best known solo hit was 1991's "It's Only the Beginning" reaching No. 19. Conway is still involved in musical activities with a 2007 version of Broad. Thought Criminals reformed in February 2006: see Official website.
In 2018, Carter, Conway and Philip reformed Do Re Mi to perform at the inaugural Australian Women in Music Awards ceremony in Brisbane. Carter and Conway decided to continue with the reunion after being approached to be a part of the By The C concert series. The group, alongside new members Bridie O’Brien (guitar), Julia Day (drums) and Clio Renner (keyboards), would go on to announce a run of headlining shows for 2019.
Covers and others
"Man Overboard" was used for He Died with a Felafel in His Hand (2001) performed by Conway and Wicked Beat Sound System. It was also recorded by the band george (with Conway guesting) for their 2004 EP Still Real.
- Domestic Harmony – Virgin (VOZ 2001) (July 1985) (CD version has five bonus tracks)
- The Happiest Place in Town – Virgin (V 2467) (February 1988)
All tracks written by Bray, Carter, Conway and Philip except where noted.
- "Man Overboard" – Virgin (VOZ 003) (June 1985) AUS No. 5
- "Idiot Grin" – Virgin (VOZ006) (September 1985) AUS No. 43
- "Warnings Moving Clockwise" – Virgin (VOZ 009) (December 1985)
- "Guns and Butter" – Virgin (VOZ 011) (October 1986) AUS No. 48
- "Adultery" – Virgin (VS 1005) (October 1987) AUS No. 27
- "King of Moomba" ) - Virgin (VOZ 027) (May 1987)
- "The Happiest Place in Town" – Virgin (VOZ 031) (February 1988)
- "Haunt You" – Virgin (May 1988)
- McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Do-Ré-Mi'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-768-2. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
- "Do-Ré-Mi". HowlSpace – The Living History of Our Music (Ed Nimmervoll). Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
- Holmgren, Magnus. "Do-Ré-Mi". Australian Rock Database. Passagen.se (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. NOTE: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1970 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988.
- Debbie Kruger (14–20 July 2004). "Once more with feeling". Melbourne Weekly Bayside Magazine. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
- "Long Way to the Top article on Helen Carter". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
- "Deborah Conway Official Website". Deborah Conway. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
- Harris, Anna (30 January 2004). "Deborah Conway – still alive and brilliant". Archived from the original on 14 May 2006. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
- "Helen Carter video interview for Long Way to the Top". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
- Helen Carter (January 2004). "Publication reviews". Perfect Beat 5 pp 80–82. Retrieved 9 August 2007.
- "1985 End of Year Chart". Oz Net Music Chart. Archived from the original on 8 September 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
- "Oz for Africa". liveaid.free.fr. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
- "Do Re Mi Announce First Headline Shows In 30 Years". theMusic.com.au. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- "He Died with a Felafel in His Hand soundtrack". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
- "george Official Website". george. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
- T. Zuk. "Love My Way music credits". Australian TV information archive. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
- "Australasian Performing Right Association". APRA. Retrieved 25 September 2007.