Crunch time

The strangely-named “The RAH Band” burst onto the scene in 1977, with a UK top-ten hit, a bouncy dance track called “The Crunch”.

Who were they, this peculiar ensemble, with their strange-sounds? The music industry newspaper Billboard provided the answer:

RAH notice

Billboard assumes its industry-savvy readers knew who Hewson is, and fair enough. You know his work, even if you have never heard the name. Born in 1943, he began a career as a producer and arranger in the late 1960s. He worked with the cream of pop music, most notably The Beatles (credits include “Across the Universe”, “I Me Mine” and “The Long and Winding Road”) but also The Bee Gees, James Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Supertramp, Diana Ross, Carly Simon, Art Garfunkel, Leo Sayer, Fleetwood Mac … it goes on, but you get the idea.

As The RAH Band, Hewson could relax a bit and have some fun – and that is what “The Crunch” undoubtedly is. It is a dance-floor packer without pretension. Just listen!

  • Artist: RAH Band
  • A Side: The Crunch (Part1)
  • B Side: The Crunch (Part 2)
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm, vinyl
  • Label: RCA Victor
  • Made in: Australia
  • Catalogue: 102914
  • Year: 1977

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs





Life intervenes

Catching the shuttle to Planet Vinyl can be hard. There is work, there is family, there are bills and tax returns. There is illness and stress. Life intervenes. But though I have been too busy to write about music, I have been listening, with open ears, and discovered some strange and wonderful things. Here is one.

Christopher Wood is a guitarist, from my home state of Victoria, Australia. In 1988 he put out an LP. It is solo guitar, a set of original instrumental compositions, independently recorded and released. Out there in the distant reaches of obscurity, it is in my honest opinion a masterpiece. Lovely, delicate compositions drawing from a wide range of influences, played with absolute assurance.

woodI had never heard of Wood, and could find out nothing about him from the usual sources, but kept hunting. I was delighted to find that he is still around, still playing, and has a website: There is an email address, and I sent him a message. After a little while, a reply came:

Hello Richard
Thank you for your kind words.
They are much appreciated.
After years of composing and playing in a reclusive environment I am currently preparing to do more recording and performing.

This is wonderful news. I still don’t know much about Christopher Wood. He is a private person, obviously, and I respect that. You get the feeling that, in the past thirty-odd years, life intervened. But he is a wonderful talent. I have put my money where my mouth is and bought his most recent release. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out his website and consider doing the same.

  • Artist: Christopher Wood
  • Album title:Guitarist
  • Track: B1 “Song of Hope”
  • Format: 12”, 33⅓ rpm, vinyl, stereo
  • Label: Red Hill Music
  • Made in: Australia
  • Catalogue: RHM. CWG. 001
  • Year: 1988

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs



Yeah, I don’t know, it’s dubious

‎In Australia, Dexys Midnight Runners are remembered, but as a one hit wonder. “Come on Eileen” was huge, top of the charts for six or eight weeks in 1982. But they never had another hit here: not one. Which is odd, because in the UK they were big, and for years. They had seven singles which reached the top 40. They had three top-ten LPs.

I was an avid listener to pop radio back then. If I had heard anything else by Dexys, I am sure I would remember it. This is probably just a reflection of what I wished I could call “the appalling timidity of commercial radio in the 1980s”, except that things have actually got worse. Tune in to FM radio and you will still hear “Come on Eileen”, and other hits from 30-odd years ago, and absolutely nothing that you have not heard (and heard often) before.0317

Why? Radio is terrified of losing listeners. “Don’t play anything which might make people change stations,” is the philosophy. So: nothing new. Nothing old, either, unless everyone already knows it. No jazz. No classical. No country. No folk. No nothing. Strangely enough, this dismal approach is causing commercial radio to slowly die.

Community radio (a bit like college radio in the States) gives the lie to the “don’t lose listeners” approach. Community stations are run on volunteer labour and the whiff of an oily rag, much of the oil coming in the form of voluntary subscriptions paid by listeners. People pay eighty or one hundred dollars a year, and sometimes much more, to support community radio. I do this for PBS 106.7 FM, which is perhaps the weirdest and most wonderful radio station on the planet. If you don’t believe me, check it out.

The thing is, community stations are not allowed to have advertising. Their audiences are easily large enough to support a (modestly) profitable commercial operation. But to build that audience would require commercial radio to play interesting, different, engaging music, to challenge people and take them outside their comfort zone.

Maybe, just once in the hour, you could try something different. Flip the single, and see what the B-side to “Come on Eileen” might be.

Commercial radio. As a muted voice-over in this joyful, solos-all-round, soul-tinged instrumental declares: “Yeah, I don’t know, it’s dubious”.

  • Artist: ‎Dexys Midnight Runners & The Emerald Express
  • Single Title: Come On Eileen
  • Track: Side B “Dubious”
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm
  • Label: Mercury
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Catalogue number: 6059 551
  • Year: 1982

Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs