The Birth of “Empty Monkey”
This Album came about because
the Levi Smith’s
Clefs were visited at the Whisky au Go Go in
We spoke about recording; he
wanted to know why we hadn’t recorded. I told him I was too busy working. I’ve
always had it backwards, most bands have to record so as to become popular and
be able to draw a crowd and therefore get work.
I am fortunate to be gifted with an extremely strong stage presence, (a
good showman), so recording was not a priority for me. .
My separation with Whisky was
quite funny in retrospect. My band line up was incredibly tight due to our
playing schedule and Bruce Howe (bassist) was always in my ear to leave Whisky
and work the Australian popular music traps to show off our band. This
I was a bit reluctant to leave
a good gig that paid well. Let’s face it; performing 6 nights a week with no
gear to shift, no roadies, PA & Lights supplied is a great gig. You turn
your Amp on and head for the bar. I was 27 years old, single and looking good
with Go-Go girls and waitresses everywhere, full houses, American soldiers on R
& R from Vietnam, the beautiful people, 1968/69 the hippie’s era and free
love. Mate you’ve got to be kidding, the
in place in
So I asked John Harrigan, (Surf City, the Hawaiian Eye and Whisky’s owner) for
a two-week holiday. He said he would think about it. Well he did for two weeks
and then I asked him what his answer was, he told me “no”. I asked why and he
said that he could not replace me. I had consumed a couple of Bacardis and was
quite angry and said, “Well you’ll have to” and gave him a fortnights notice.
On the road again! I booked a week in
So after working a gig at
Ed Nimmervol of Go Set fame reviewed this album
and wrote, “This
is the best rock album ever produced in
Whilst my band was recording Doug’s Album, Sweet Peach double dealt behind my back and coerced my band to form Fraternity with Bonn Scott, who proceeded to write themselves into the Australian Musical History books.
Trust, in the music industry, is still hard to find.
In the meantime Whisky Au Go
Go could not replace me and asked me to go back to
However I shall stay on the Empty Monkey recording trail.
I retained the first session Demo LP and on listening to it many years later decided that this session was not as loose as I had once thought.
Stan Lewandowski had
experimented with phasing and one can hear the musos changing their minds and
creating something from nothing. Some of the tunes are nothing like the
released versions and are very valid in their own right. I had a chuckle when I
sent a copy to John Bisset in
I have had the help of Rob Pillar who
restored old recordings for the State Library of SA. Rob set about decrackling this old
record, which one could ski up and down the bumps and bends. We can’t just put
a penny on the needle anymore.
I ended up sending the first session at Gamba test pressing
Jerschensky of Mayfair Music in
In the year 2008 we lucked out on discovering the master tapes from Warners Music, we were able to gain purchase of them and consequently Aztec Records owned by the original drummer of the Levis, Gil Matthews, who re-mastered them and packaged a double CD with a 24 page lift out written by Ian McFarlane (Whammo). This CD is currently available from this site's shop or order it from your local record shop
As we have come to recognize musical antiques are valuable, I do hope this section of my musical journey has added or maybe add to your musical life.
I am very proud of this line up of the “Levi Smith’s Clefs”.