The album was not released. Various tracks were released on Vigil and different compilations.
June 1967 until August 1967. Studio: Olympic Sound Studios, London.
Producer: Glyn Johns.
In mid 1967, the creative momentum still strong with The Easybeats and the band started work on their next album. Choosing to work with Producer Glyn Johns (who would later go on to produce The Who and The Beatles), the group returned to the famed Olympic Sound Studios where they had recorded their last single “Heaven and Hell”. With Snowy Fleet now back in Australia, the band used friend and session musician Freddie Smith to sit on drums until a replacement for their departed comrade could be found. The songs Harry and George had written for this album were a solid mixture of hard rock songs (‘Good Times’), epic ballads (‘We’ll Make It Together’) and psychedelic power pop (‘Station on Third Avenue’, ‘Mr. Riley of Higginbottom & Clive’). In the same month as Sgt. Pepper was released, The Easybeats were on their way into the psychedelic age. But it was to be journey cut short, as yet again the band would find themselves at the mercy of fate.
During the recording of the album, The Easybeats, and their management, would be caught up in a dispute with their Australian label – Albert Productions. When the Easybeats were first signed to the production company in 1965, they had signed a world-wide deal with giving Albert Productions (the record music arm) rights to their recorded material and Albert Publishing Pty. the rights to all songs written by the members of the group in Australia, with other companies in other regions. Because of the agreement, when their manager Mike Vaughn had struck a deal with the U.S. label United Artists Records in mid-1966, he actually engineered a “lease agreement” between Albert Productions and U.A. This meant Albert Productions would own the rights to the recordings which they leased out to Parlophone in Australia and through United Artists for the U.S, U.K., Canada and other countries in Western Europe (in the U.K. and Europe EMI handled distribution while in the U.S., U.A. would do this themselves). This was a five-year contract with the option for yearly renewal after that. The initial U.A. agreement was a short-term agreement to cover the release of ‘Women’ in the U.S. and ‘Come and See Her’ in the U.K. A formal contract was signed in New York between Albert Productions Managing Director and the band’s long time Producer Ted Albert and U.A. President Michael Stewart on July 16, 1966. In the beginning, this worked fine. After the false start – with the rejected attempt at recording a single at Abbey Road Studios (that was produced by Ted Albert), the group signed a production agreement with Shel Talmy for their next recordings. Shel Talmy was known for his early success with The Who and The Kinks.
The group and their management directed IBC Studios to send mono and stereo mixes and, eventually the multi-tracks, to United Artists in New York (rather than Albert Productions in Sydney). U.A. in New York would duplicate the masters and pass copies onto their subsidiaries in the U.K. and Europe. U.A. would then send Albert Productions copies of the master tapes, which would have annoyed Alberts considering they owned and paid for the originals tapes.
When ‘Friday on My Mind’ and the Good Friday album was completed, United Artists directed royalty’s to Albert Productions on all United Artists records sold, as per the lease agreement. After Alberts Productions took their percentage, they passed on the remaining royalties onto the Easybeats’ company: The Easybeats Ltd. However the band and Mike Vaughn felt that they should be receiving royalties directly from their international sales without Alberts acting as middle-men. Talmy too was receiving his percentage via Alberts Productions and with ‘Friday On My Mind’ a hit record he felt he should have been in a better position.
Interviewer (Richie Unterberger) 1 : “What did you think of the Easybeats?”
Ironically enough, The Who were in a similar situation with Shel Tamly’s production company and they too would end up breaking their contract. Shel and the group and Alberts parted ways with Glyn Johns stepping in as Producer on the next single; “Heaven and Hell” in mid-1967.
Unhappy with this deal, the band and their management wanted out of their current contractual arrangement. According to both Glenn A. Baker and Vanda and Young biographer John Tait – their manager Mike Vaughn was also in negotiations for a new contract with another label (the band would sign with Polydor Records later in 1969). When Albert Productions heard about this – all payments from Albert Productions were ceased until the issue between The Easybeats and the labels could be resolved. With the already group essentially penniless (much of their initial Australian earnings already spent while in England), the recording of the album came to a halt. An agreement was eventually reached between the three parties – The Easybeats would owe one more album to Alberts/U.A. before being released from their exciting recording contract. All subsequent releases would be through Polydor Records. Their song publishing contract with Albert Publishing Pty. would still stand. After the legal battle was over, the multi-track tapes for ‘Good Times’ and ‘Land of Make Believe’ were purchased for remixing for the Vigil album and the studio bill and Glyn John’s fee was settled. But by this time, the band had moved on and the album would stay forever unreleased.
Although not much is known about the sessions for the album. 10 tracks were given to Mike Stewart by Mike Vaughn on a 7 ½ ips reel. This was taken back to New York to the offices of United Artists. The tracks on that tape (in order) are as follows:
- Station On Third Avenue
- Where Old Men Go
- C & W Title
- Land of Make Believe
- We’ll Make It Together
- I Know It
- Good Times
- My Old Man’s a Groovy Old Man
- Mr. Riley of Higginbottom and Clive
- Where Did You Go Last Night
The third track listed as ‘C & W Title’ was later renamed ‘Bad News’ (according to the copyright records at Albert Publishing). The song, as its working title suggests, is a country and western pastiche complete with honkey tonk piano, featuring Stevie singing a sad tale of a cowboy receiving the new of the death of his parents.
The chorus goes:
Didn’t know what I had ‘till I lost my mama
Didn’t know what I had ‘till I lost my pa
Now the only thing left for me is drinking
I feel like living here anymore.
‘I Know It’, which was featured on the vinyl version of Steady On is a upbeat, jazz-inspired, bubble-gum pop song that almost could be passed off as the best song The Monkee’s never wrote. It is unclear why it never made the cut for The Shame Just Drained as it is defiantly worthy of release.
Acetates of the above mentioned tracks were sent to Alberts as a reference for publishing. In 1977 when The Shame Just Drained was assembled, these acetates were the only source Alberts had at the time, as the 10 song tape was still in the United Artists New York vaults. This explains the poor fidelity of these songs on that album. ‘My Old Man’s a Groovy Old Man’ would later be released on The Best of The Easybeats Volume 2in 1969.
Another track said to have come from these sessions is ‘Amanda Storey’. Not much information is out there on this track other than the string section arranged by Bill Shepard was overdubbed in late 1967. An acetate disc of earlier version was uploaded to YouTube by a collector. It features a mellotorn like ‘We’ll Make It Together’ does. As stated on the label, it has been slowed down to the key of C, presumably so it could be used as a demo for other artists.
Other tracks speculated by Andy Morton in an article for Shindig magazine were ‘The Music Goes ‘Round My Head (the first slow version)’ and ‘Come In You’ll Get Pneumonia (the first version)’. These songs were cut later in 1967 with Tony Cahill on drums.
According to George Young in a 1976 interview to Australian Rolling Stone – the album was mixed, mastered and cover art created. To date neither cover art nor an official final track listing has surfaced. There was a photo shoot from the period featuring Tony Cahill that may have been indented for the final album artwork, but there is no hard evidence to prove this. These photos would later appear on The Best of The Easybeats Volume 2 in 1969 and The Shame Just Drained in 1977.
Although the album is commonly referred to as Good Times, an official title of the album has never been confirmed. The Absolute Anthology prints a quote from George that reads: “…..so we dug out this thing we had recorded for the scrapped album called ‘Good Times’” which may be misread as George stating that the ALBUM was called Good Times. So the closest we have is the information on the 10 song tape and George Young’s mention of ‘Good Times’ and ‘Land of Make Believe’ being from that scrapped album.
It is also unknown as to whether the master tapes have survived or are with Albert Productions.
1) the full interview with Shel Tamly can be found here at Richie Unterburger’s site: http://www.richieunterberger.com/talmy.html