Before AC/DC's Malcolm and Angus Young took us down the Highway to Hell, they joined their brother, George Young, and guitarist Harry Vanda to form the Marcus Hook Roll Band, a project that never left the studio.
They released only three singles and one album in the early Seventies. Now Parlophone is releasing the Marcus Hook Roll Band's only album, 1973’s Tales of Old Grand-Daddy, June 3 as CD/vinyl/digital download.
Today, GuitarWorld.com presents the exclusive premiere of "Natural Man," a bonus track from the album. Check it out below and tell us what you think in the comments or on Facebook.
If the Marcus Hook Roll Band had ever left of the studio, travelled the world and promoted their records, AC/DC might not have gotten off the ground.
Dutchman Harry Vanda and Scottish George Young met as teenagers in an immigration hostel in Sydney, Australia. They formed the Easybeats, became a pop sensation, went to London and had a major hit with "Friday On My Mind."
When the Easybeats split up in 1969, Harry and George stayed in London, hoping to make a living as session musicians, songwriters and producers. In 1972, they sent a demo to Alan "Wally" Waller (aka Wally Allen), who was working as a producer for EMI. That June, he got them into Abbey Road studios to record "Natural Man."
The album wasn't made until the following year — on the other side of the globe. Vanda and Young had, in the meantime, accepted an offer from Ted Albert to return to Australia and re-launch Albert Productions. The plan was to build a new studio in his Sydney building, Boomerang House, and kick start the solo career of their old Easybeats band-mate Stevie Wright. But a call came from Waller announcing that EMI’s affiliate in the U.S., Capitol Records, was now interested in single "Natural Man," plus an album from the Marcus Hook Roll Band.
Harry and George had just resettled their young families in Sydney and had no intention of returning to London. So Waller made the trip to Australia, and was delighted to find engineer Richard Lush working at EMI’s Castlereagh Street studios. A fun time ensued in studio A over July/August 1973. A key ingredient was the duty free booze supplied by Waller—Jim Beam’s Old Grand-dad bourbon whiskey — hence the album name.
It was decided not to use any of the London tracks but to start again with a new batch of songs and a new lineup. In an interview for Bomp magazine in 1978, George Young explained to Glenn A. Baker the philosophy behind the Marcus Hook Roll Band:
“We thought it was hilarious, it had just been a joke to us… We had Harry, myself and my kid brothers, Malcolm and Angus. We all got rotten, except for Angus, who was too young, and we spent a month in there boozing it up every night. That was the first thing Malcolm and Angus did before AC/DC. We didn’t take it very seriously so we thought we’d include them to give them an idea of what recording was all about.”
Tales of Old Grand-Daddy Track Listing: