Song of the day: Johnny O’Keefe – "She’s My Baby"

November 5, 2009

Here’s Australia’s Elvis*, Johnny O’Keefe, with “She’s My Baby” (1959):


“She’s My Baby” was a hit that had the distinction of charting twice for JOK, courtesy of the following course of events…

In 1969, Queensland singer Jon Blanchfield released a new, slightly-more-Vegas version of “She’s My Baby.” It sounds an awful lot like this:

Jon Blanchfield – “She’s My Baby” (1969)


Jon’s version charted only in Brisbane (capital of Queensland), where it reached number three.

Legend has it that JOK, upon hearing the remake, promptly told any journalist who would listen that his version was better than the new one by that young upstart. JOK’s record company then decided to re-release Mr O’Keefe’s record and, despite any odds I’d have given it, the re-release did very well indeed: #13 in Sydney; #6 in Melbourne; and #3 in Brisbane. (You can’t keep a good song down.)

So here we have a rare case of two versions of the same song zooming up the charts at the same time. Have I ever told you that the Australian music industry is occasionally weird?

Oh, by the way: despite Johnny O’Keefe’s “mine-was-the-first-and-the-best” protestations, his version wasn’t the original. It was first recorded by Hawaiian entertainer Al Lucas in 1959. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my hands (or ears) on a copy of Al’s version. I would love to hear it.

But back to the duelling singles:

It’s a toughie… I like Johnny’s energy, but I like Jon’s cheese. Maybe you can decide which you prefer.

(*When Elvis Presley became phenomenally popular, it seemed that every country had to have their own Elvis. Australia had Johnny O’Keefe.)

Song of the day: Jon Blanchfield – "Son Of A Simple Man"

July 9, 2009

Here’s Jon Blanchfield with his 1969 single, “Son Of A Simple Man”, a song about Ned Kelly written by the estimable songwriting team of Brian Cadd and Don Mudie:

Jon Blanchfield – “Son Of A Simple Man” (1969)

When I heard this again after many years of not hearing it at all (I have a very strong feeling that nobody, and I mean nobody, plays John Blanchfield songs on the radio anywhere), the song stuck in my head for days afterwards. I kept returning it, but I don’t know why. It might be the tune, it might be Jon’s voice, it might be the electric sitar which helps reinforce that late 60s vibe, or it might be a combination of all three. It’s just a song that haunted me for ages.

And here’s the flip-side of the single, a rather bizarre version of “Waltzing Matilda” which sounds like it was recorded in a pub down the street instead of a recording studio. (“Waltzing Matilda” usually sounds like this.) You ain’t heard Australia’s unofficial national anthem quite like this: