Sun Arise

I heard this track (2 Meg mp3) on Andrew Ford’s marvellous Music Show this morning. It’s quite striking I thought and perhaps many troppodillians have heard it. But I hadn’t. It won’t take you long to figure out who is singing it, but some other things about the song might surprise or interest you – they did me. I tell you what? You play the song to youself by downloading the mp3 file that’s linked above and then click through below the fold for a few interesting facts.

You might like to ask yourself.

  1. Who’s singing?
  2. When was it recorded?
  3. Where was it recorded?
  4. Who produced it?
  5. How did they get the sounds they wanted.

The first most obvious fact is that it’s by Rolf Harris. Don’t suppose that surprises anyone. But the date blew me away – 1962. The voice is so strikingly Australian – which may not surprise anyone since Rolf was selling its Australianness. Still it’s not a particularly ocker accent, just Australian accents emerging in song. This has really only happened in Australian popular singing to my ear in the last decade – even the last five years. Sherbert and even Skyhooks and in many ways the Beatles sang with a range of sounds in their voice which seem clearly American.

The producer of the track? The Great George Martin. He apparently sent the word out to the radio stations that this song was so different that if they wanted to play it, they should do so for at least two months to give people the ‘hang’ of it. Rolf says that it took off after two and a half months.

The didgeridoo sound?   Well no whities could play it – including Rolf and I guess there were none in London at the time anyway.   So it was made by 8 double bases each playing a single bottom note as a drone.   Rolf said one session double bass player left the studio saying that it wsa the most boring gig he’d ever been to.

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Link
15 years ago

I missed the interview damn, but they played the song last week. He sort of gives it a black fella inflection to it. I do like Rolf singin–I guess that is tragically daggy, but Two Little Boys is a real heart ripper.

I can go just as fast with two . . .

harry clarke
15 years ago

I heard the interview and the music. RH is great – one of my long-time favourites. And this one of his best.

That I remember it so clearly ages me, 1962, it is amazing.

Lesley de Voil
Lesley de Voil
15 years ago

In 1962 I wasn’t into pop music, consequently this was completely new to my ears this am. I did wonder at the obvious takeoff of indigenous style, but the structure gave it away. I wonder what the murris thought of it in 1962.
Link, you can hear the interview at
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/music/mshow/

marcus
marcus
15 years ago

I heard the interview and was surprised by how old the song was. And it still sounded pretty good. Completely off the point, Rolf Harris made a chance but important contribution to Neolithic archaeology. Two long silver tubes had been discovered in a chamber tomb in Ireland. The archaeologists guessed that they were some sort of musical instruments but they had no idea how they were played. Until, up pops Rolf on the telly playing a didgeridoo (he had learnt it by then), and the problem was solved.

Dan
Dan
15 years ago

The drone underneath the singing seems to be the double basses, but in between verses there’s obviously some quasi-didge vocalisation going on – that sound’s not coming from the basses.

Richard Tonkin
15 years ago

If it helps, I remember Rolf saying in another interview that the didge sound for “Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport” was a slack-tuned bass, there being a bit of a dearth of didge-players in London in the Sixties.

Also accordion to Rolf (sorry) the session musos had the choice between a couple of quid then-and-there or sales percentages. The musos, in what would normally be a wise move, chose the cash up front.

Link
15 years ago

I downloaded the MP3, thanks Nicholas. Its a very interesting production for its time and no doubt Rolf had full control. Some of the didge-like sounds I suspect might be Rolf doing nasal vocals. Double tracking his voice works well. There is something so ???compelling about Rolf’s singing.

Christine
Christine
15 years ago

Well, I already knew Sun Arise, despite being born in ’72. If you’re looking for daggy – I recall insisting on playing a Rolf Harris tape at my birthday party in Grade 4 or so, over the complaints of the other kids that it wasn’t cool. I have no idea what was cool in Grade 4, though.

Cameron Reilly
15 years ago

wow that’s a great find. I’ve been wanting to hear this version of the track for 20 years. The only version I’ve ever heard was the one on Alice Cooper’s classic 1971 album “Love It To Death”.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000002KBB/sr=8-6/qid=1152710094/ref=pd_bbs_6/104-5461163-8075135?ie=UTF8

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