Friday, 16 July 2010

The Voice that is Johnny Farnham

I'm looking out the window and I see the rain. Huge torrents of rain with the muffled sound of thunder in the far distance. Yes, the rainy spell is upon us again. Lately, the weather has been gloomy in the afternoons. A good respite from the heat but it plays havoc with my walking exercises at the Bukit Mertajam hill. I haven't been going up there for weeks as I try to recover from some knee problems but now that I feel strong enough, the weather breaks.

Anyhow, as I watch the rain, my thoughts go back to 1969. On the local radio station then -- and the Radio RAAF Butterworth (RRB) was a local station to both Australians serving at the air force base in Butterworth and the people of Penang -- hit after hit of Australian pop singers of the 1960s were being broadcast for what they were worth.

My head is filled with the song Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. It was a hit for American singer BJ Thomas and was originally from the film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  There were many cover versions of this song but in my opinion, none was ever better than this particular version by the Australian pop star Johnny Farnham:

Prior to this song, Farnham had gained attention in Australia with a cover version of Harry Nilson's One (but I prefer the cover version by Three Dog Night) and a novelty song, Sadie (The Cleaning Lady). However, it was Raindrops that turned him into a teen idol.

Like most Australian singers and bands, Farnham was little known outside Down Under. Nevertheless, he had a little following here in Penang among folks of my age because of our exposure to the RRB station. He can well consider me as one who actually liked his music enough to go pester my friend, Art Yew, in Australia to bring them back for me.

For a while, he was singing with the Little River Band but after a falling out with his bandmates, resumed his solo career. From the Whispering Jack album came possibly his biggest hit, You're The Voice, a song that would test any singer's vocal ability. Ladies and gentlemen, the unofficial national anthem of Australia:

But before that, Farnham had teamed up with Australian boy band Human Nature to record yet another memorable hit, Every Time You Cry. I won't include that music video here but instead, show another one of Farnham singing it live in Brisbane in 2009.

Anyone viewing these three videos here should come to the same conclusion as I that Johnny Farnham remains one of the biggest and most impressive acts that could have been more popular outside Australia and New Zealand. To me, he stands tall as a music legend.

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