[This is an old post, but I'm re-upping it because our antipodean chum (and friend of PowerPop) Peter Scott just sent me the mp3 on the off chance that I didn't have it. -- S.S.]
Okay, this is a really long story, and I've told some of it before on a couple of occasions, but there's a new kicker at the end, so please indulge me.
First, the set-up.
One of the greatest (and most obscure) lost singles of the 70s -- indeed, in rock history -- is a little number called "Natural Man" by The Marcus Hook Roll Band.
The MHRB were actually Harry Vanda and George Young of The Easybeats, then toiling under various aliases in the period before they roared back as the production team behind the first couple of AC/DC albums (AC/DC's Malcolm and Angus, of course, are George's younger brothers).In any case, the record itself is one of the landmarks of the Glam Era -- a perfect three chord "Sweet Jane" derivative with hilarious topical lyrics, gorgeous layered electric and acoustic guitars, and absolutely brilliant production, including a bass guitar and cowbell breakdown (a la the bit in Free's "Alright Now," but hookier) that sets up a massive series of final choruses that once heard are etched into your auditory canal forever. An absolute masterpiece, is what I'm saying.
Unfortunately, it was not a hit when released here on Capitol Records in 1973. I had a promo copy like the one pictured below at the time, but I misplaced it later in the decade.
Note the misspelling of Harry Vanda's name, which may give you some clue to the record's importance to the braniacs at Capitol. In any case, the only LP it ever appeared on back in the day was an Australia-only release that apparently self-destructed, Mission Impossible-style, approximately two days after it was issued. As for CD, starting in the late 90s you could get a copy of the song on an import MHRB compilation, but unfortunately it was an inferior demo version that lacked all the magic of the single.
You can read a contemporary account of the single -- from the now defunct house organ of United Artists Records -- online, although I'm having trouble getting the link. Incidentally, the author of said piece, Martin Cerf, was one of the hipper record company guys at the time, and a friend to numerous rock journalists of the period including the late great Greg Shaw; he may, in fact, have been a partner in Greg's BOMP Records, although I'm hazy on that.
Anyway, as the years flew by down the echoing corridors of time, I pretty much decided that the single version never actually existed and that I'd more or less hallucinated the whole business. But two or three years ago I finally got a pretty good vinyl rip of the 45 (with some surface noise and turntable rumble, but otherwise listenable) and musically it was indeed as great as I recalled.
And that, I figured, was that.
Well, not quite.
Cut to: last month. From Rhino's just released reissue -- which I had no idea was in the works -- of the original MHRB album, please behold in breathless wonder the newly remastered (from the original tapes) version of "Natural Man." Sans pops and clicks and sounding as glorious as it must have been when first played back over the monitor speakers at EMI's Abbey Road studios in June of 1972.
And you will hear no better rock-and-roll song or record any time this year, trust me.
You're welcome very much.