||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (February 2008)|
Russell Morris at the 2014 ARIA Music Awards, Sydney, November 26th, 2014
|Birth name||Russell Norman Morris|
31 July 1948 |
|Occupation(s)||musician, singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist|
|Associated acts||Somebody's Image
Russell Morris Band
Russell Morris & the Rubes
Russell Norman Morris (born 31 July 1948) is an Australian singer-songwriter who had five Australian Top 10 singles during the late 1960s and early 1970s. On 1 July 2008, the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) recognised Morris' iconic status when he was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
Morris' career started at the age of 18, in September 1966, with the formation of the Melbourne group Somebody's Image, together with Kevin Thomas (rhythm guitar), Phillip Raphael (lead guitar), Eric Cairns (drums) and Les Allan (aka "Les Gough") (bass guitar). Somebody's Image rose to prominence with a local hit version of the Joe South song "Hush". (the song reaching #2 on the local Melbourne charts)
The band came to the notice of the Groop and, in turn, the Groop's friend and local music identity Ian Meldrum. Meldrum convinced Morris to leave Somebody's Image for a solo career. Meldrum, as Morris's manager and producer, spent considerable hours and money to create a seven-minute production extravaganza around a song called "The Real Thing".
"The Real Thing"
"The Real Thing" was written by Johnny Young, produced by Ian Meldrum and engineered by John L Sayers. The backing track was performed by members of Melbourne soul band the Groop, which included Brian Cadd, Richard Wright (drums) and Don Mudie (bass) as well as Zoot guitarist Roger Hicks (who developed the acoustic guitar riff) and backing vocalists Ronnie Charles (The Groop), the Chiffons (including Maureen Elkner) and Marcie and The Cookies' Sue Brady and Judy Condon. Morris was twenty when the record was released.
"The Real Thing" is one of the classic psychedelic singles of the 1960s. The release unsettled radio programmers, who had never been asked to play such a long Australian single before, and a shortened version which omitted the extended coda was often played. At around six minutes and thirty seconds, it was the longest pop single recorded in Australia at that time, although The Beatles' "Hey Jude" at nearly 7 minutes had appeared the year before and is an obvious influence on the song's extended structure. The single reached Australia's Number 1 spot in June 1969, and number one in Chicago, Houston and New York, despite international distribution difficulties. It was the biggest selling Australian single of 1969.
The single featured the song in two parts, backed with "It's Only a Matter of Time", written by Hans Poulsen. It was released on EMI's Columbia label in Australia, on the small Diamond Records label in the United States of America, and on Decca Records in the UK as EMI UK turned it down.
In more recent times, "The Real Thing" has been used by the Seven Network in conjunction with coverage of the Australian Football League (AFL) and featured in a tourist campaign promoting Western Australia. Morris's music has also appeared on the soundtrack to The Dish and he has appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) show Long Way to the Top. In the early 2010s he toured Australia with fellow 1960s rockers Darryl Cotton and Jim Keays in the trio Cotton Keays & Morris.
"The Real Thing" has been included on many compilations of psychedelic rock, most notably Rubble 18, We Can Fly #4 and The Best Of The Rubble Collection #5, where it is paired with "Part 3 / Into Paper Walls."
The song was followed by "Part Three into Paper Walls", co-written by Young and Morris and arranged by John Farrar and the B-side "The Girl That I Love" arranged by Peter Jones (a pop ballad more indicative of what was to come). Both tracks received extensive airplay making it a double number one recording, the first time an Australian artist had scored consecutive number ones with their first two singles. Just prior to its release, Ian Meldrum relinquished Morris' management. Morris, in the meantime, travelled to the United Kingdom to help promote "The Real Thing." While in England he recorded English songwriter Raymond Froggatt's "Rachel", but re-recorded it on his return to Australia. "Rachel" became a big hit for Morris in New Zealand, where it reached #1 in July of 1970. Later hits such as "Live with Friends" and "Wings of an Eagle" were Morris compositions.
Morris decided to concentrate on his own songwriting and with the cream of Australian musicians, spent almost a year painstakingly recording and re-recording what became the Bloodstone album. Recorded at Channel 9's TCS Studios and engineered by John L Sayers, it was one of the first Australian albums of its kind, the first from an Australian singer/songwriter, and a whole world away from the extravagant "The Real Thing." The hit single from Bloodstone was the resonant, romantic "Sweet Sweet Love." The following year, in 1972, Morris released "Wings of an Eagle."
In 1973, Morris moved to London to record an album only to discover there was no record contract waiting for him. He relocated to New York and set to work on an album there, including new versions of both "Sweet Sweet Love" and "Wings of an Eagle" and the single "Let's Do It". A second American album appeared in 1976. It was two more years before Morris was granted his green card, enabling him to tour America. But by then, any chance of an American career had bolted. Instead, Morris returned to a very different Australia than the one he had left behind five years earlier.
During his solo career, Morris had done limited live performances without a band of his own. He then formed the Russell Morris Band and threw himself into a busy round of live performances, writing songs designed to be played live rather than chasing radio airplay, but scoring a couple of minor hits on the way. Eventually, the band played and recorded as Russell Morris & the Rubes.
In 1991, Morris released another solo album, A Thousand Suns, and spent the subsequent years as part of a successful performing trio with fellow 1960s singers Ronnie Burns and Darryl Cotton of Zoot, with a repertoire made up of their individual hits from the past as well as new songs. In October 2000, Jim Keays of the Masters Apprentices replaced Burns, the new group being known as Cotton Keays & Morris. Also in 2000, Morris' "The Real Thing" and "Wings of an Eagle" featured prominently in the Australian-made movie The Dish (centred on the first moon landing) and Midnight Oil released their version of "The Real Thing" as a one-off single, the first time this highly regarded band had chosen to record a cover.
On 1 July 2008, Morris was inducted by Rob Hirst into the ARIA Hall of Fame and was joined on-stage by guest musicians Steve Kilbey, Tim Powles, Jak Housden, Clayton Doley and Lachlan Doley to perform "The Real Thing". According to Andrew Murfett of The Age, "Russell Morris, whose classic The Real Thing was performed with a supergroup comprising members of The Church, The Whitlams and Powderfinger, was inducted with a tribute from Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst. Morris proved to be a revelation on the night, stirring the crowd with a terrific performance."
Morris is one of Australia's most enduring singers. A major pop star in the late 1960s, he went on to become one of the country's most well-known singer-songwriters. Both ends of his career feature predominantly in the soundtrack to the movie The Dish.
In 2013 Morris released an album of self-penned blues music. Sharkmouth received little radio play, but went on to become his most successful album, reaching No. 6 on the ARIA charts. Sharkmouth is a blues album about Australia’s notorious and colourful characters of the 1920s and '30s. Melbourne gangster Squizzy Taylor and Sydney’s Shark Jaws, legends such as Phar Lap, Les Darcy and Sydney’s famous graffiti artist, Mr Eternity, are all mentioned."
Morris' album Van Diemen's Land was the 76th best-selling album of 2014 in Australia.
|9/1967||Somebody's Image||In Records||IN-S-8088||"Heat Wave" / "When I Come Home"|
|11/1967||IN-S-8116||"Hush" / "Baby Blue (It's All Over Now)"|
|"Hide and Seek" / "Livin' in Style"|
|3/1969||Russell Morris||Columbia||DO-8710||"The Real Thing" / "It's Only a Matter of Time"||1|
|7/1969||DO-8828||"Part Three into Paper Walls" / "The Girl That I Love"||1|
|12/1969||DO-9020||"Rachel" / "Little Lady"|
|4/1970||DO-9102||"Rachel" / "Slow Joey"||25|
|12/1970||DO-9314||"Mr. America" / "Stand Together"||8|
|6/1971||His Master's Voice||EA-9539||"Sweet, Sweet Love" / "Jail Jonah's Daughter"||7|
|3/1972||EA-9824||"Live with Friends" / "Alcohol Farm"||13|
|11/1972||EA-10030||"Wings of an Eagle" / "Satisfy You"||9|
|10/1975||Wizard||ZS-127||"Let's Do It" / "Don't Rock the Boat"||30|
|5/1976||ZS-140||"Sail with Me" / "Hard Road"|
|1976||ZS-160||"Wolves in White" / "Two Wheeled Flyer"|
|1979||Mushroom||K7399||"Thunder Ground" / "Two Minute Warning"||49|
|The Russell Morris Band||K7539||"Hot Love" / "Love Stealer"|
|1980||Russell Morris & The Rubes||K-8090||"Hush" / "In the Heat of the Night"||35|
|2/1981||K-8229||"The Roar of the Wild Torpedoes" / "Just Another Night"|
|4/1981||K-8283||"So Tough" / "Walk Don't Run"|
|7/1982||K-8804||"Get It Right" / "You Wanted Fame"|
|1983||K-9131||"I'll Stay with You" / "Turn to Stone"|
|1990||Russell Morris||Festival||RPS 47||"The Real Thing" (Remix) / "Rachel"||1|
|1991||K-10327||"Tartan Lines" / "Over Excited"||61|
|1991||K-10386||"A Thousand Suns" / "This Bird Has Flown"||84|
|1992||K-11049||"Stay with You" / "She Is Leaving"|
|1969||Russell Morris||Columbia||DNZ.10647||"The Girl That I Love" / "Part Three into Paper Walls"|
|1970||DNZ.10684||"Rachel" / "Slow Joey"||1|
|1971||DNZ.10720||"Mr. America" / "The Real Thing: Parts 1 & 11"||8|
|DNZ.10746||"Sweet, Sweet Love" / "Jail Jonah's Daughter"||5|
|1972||DNZ.10777||"Live with Friends" / "Alcohol Farm"|
|DNZ.10814||"Wings of an Eagle" / "Satisfy You"||14|
|19/9/1969||Russell Morris||Decca||F 22964||"The Real Thing" (Parts I and II) / "It's Only a Matter of Time"||N/A|
|21/8/1970||F 23066||"Rachel" / "Slow Joey"||N/A|
|1969||Russell Morris||Diamond||D-263||"The Real Thing" (Part I) / "The Real Thing" (Part II)||N/A|
|1975||RCA||10352||"Wings of an Eagle"||N/A|
|1976||10751||"Running Jumping Standing Still"||N/A|
|Date||Artist||Label||Cat. #||Title||Aus. chart|
|1970||Russell Morris||Columbia||SEGO-70199 (Aus)
|1990||EMI||RP 217||The Real Thing|
|Date||Artist||Label||Cat. #||Title||Aus. chart|
|Turn It On
(Russell Morris 2)
|1979||The Russell Morris Band||Mushroom||L-37074||Foot in the Door||38|
|1980||Russell Morris & The Rubes||L-37488||Almost Frantic||28|
|9/1991||Russell Morris||Festival||D-30533||A Thousand Suns||71|
|2002||Off the Shelf||N/A|
|2003||Cotton, Keays and Morris||3R Promotions||CKM 001||Maximum Hits||N/A|
|2003||CKM 002||Maximum Hits Volume 2||N/A|
|CKM 003||Live Acoustic||N/A|
|2004||Live at the Basement||N/A|
|2007||Brian Cadd and Russell Morris||Pid||748258||Live at the Con||N/A|
|5/2007||Russell Morris||Liberation Blue||Blue145.2||Fundamentalist||N/A|
|2007||Liberation Music||Jump Start Diary||N/A|
|2014||FANFARE142||Van Diemen's Land||4|
|Date||Artist||Label||Cat. #||Title||Aus. chart|
|1973||Russell Morris||His Master's Voice||OCSD-7679||Wings of an Eagle||12|
|9/2002||Rouseabout||RR34||The Real Thing|
|2013||EMI||3753643||The Very Best Of|
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- ""Wings of an Eagle" at Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA)". APRA. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
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- "Where did they get that song?". Pop Archives. Retrieved 2008-05-29.
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- "ARIA announced all-star cast to induct and perform" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
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- "Russell Morris". Ambition Entertainment. Retrieved 2014-01-26.
- "End of Year Charts – ARIA Top 100 Albums 2014". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
- Russell Morris official website
- Milesago entry on Russell Morris
- Cotton, Keays & Morris webpage
- Interview with Russell Morris, September 2013 on Ben Sorensen's REAL Country