Forgotten series: The Easybeats – Falling Off the Edge of the World (1968)

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Although they were a bona fide phenomenon in their home base of Australia, the Easybeats to the rest of the planet are basically remembered for two things.

First of all, there’s “Friday On My Mind,” which scorched the airwaves here, there and everywhere in 1967, and serves as one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll tunes pitched to wax. The Easybeats are also known for rhythm guitarist George Young — whose little brothers, Malcolm and Angus, garnered universal success with AC/DC.

The other members of the Easybeats were lead singer Stevie Wright, lead guitarist Harry Vanda, bassist Dick Diamonde and drummer Snowy Fleet. Collectively, these guys were the cat’s meow, a truly incredible band that produced a riot of riveting sounds that rate as some of the best of the era.

Having cracked the international market with “Friday On My Mind,” expectations were running high for the Easybeats. Now that the band was recognized and accepted outside their turf, the sky seemed to be the limit. Following both the group’s massive hit single and album of the same name was Falling Off the Edge of the World (Capitol Records), which unfortunately didn’t turn them into the global gods they so arguably deserved to be. But the disc sold gold down under and the group’s star continued to beam brightly locally.

Along with being a tight unit, the Easybeats possessed a darn good songwriting team in the shape of Harry Vanda and George Young. The duo’s tunesmith techniques were special right from the beginning, and as time ticked on their talents become even richer and riper.

Unlike countless of their contemporaries, the Easybeats never acquired much of a taste of psychedelic cuisine. Straight on rock was their bag, but Falling Off the Edge of the World does include a pair of cuts that squirm beyond such parameters. A pinch of paisley is smuggled into “The Music Goes Round My Head,” which further wiggles and wobbles with reggae aspirations, while the moody “Land Of Make Believe” conveys a touch of flower pop progress as well.

Small Faces frontman Steve Marriott lends his brawny burr to “Gonna Have A Good Time,” a storming rocker that portrays the Easybeats in a full-throttle mode from start to finish. The band’s energy is immense, their harmonies are screaming and the whole presentation simply cooks. Intensity proceeds to prevail on “Falling Off the Edge of the World (Seeing You With Him),” which aches and bakes with yearning, where parked on the opposite end of the spectrum is the symphonic sonics of “Hello How Are You” that swims awfully close to Bee Gees and Marmalade territory.

Additional top-flight cuts on the record are “Come In You’ll Get Pneumonia,” “See Saw” and “Fancy Seeing You Here,” plus inspired tributes to Ray Charles and the Chambers Brothers on “Hit The Road Jack” and “I Can’t Stand It” respectively, which ooze to the nines with rocking soul smarts.
Self-contained and uniformly solid, Falling Off the Edge of the World is a perfectly-realized effort. The selection of material is excellent, and the Easybeats are typically on fire. Dominated by power pop rock songs, a genre which the band has frequently been referred to as pioneers, the disc swaggers, struts and sparkles to an ear-candied repertoire of chubby hooks, tough but sympathetic vocals, dazzling choruses and red hot riffs.

Sharing a fellowship with the Kinks and the Who, the Easybeats expertly melded melodic motives with hard and hearty rhythms, and Falling Off the Edge of the World does a fantastic job connecting the sensibilities. The Easybeats were a dynamic band, and this album is a fine glimpse of their genius.

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