Friday on My Mind

It has swagger, rawness and testosterone, but most of all it has those damned infectious songs.

Friday on My Mind will restore your faith in the bio-drama and leave you with a smile on your dial.

ABC has left the best until last with its 2 part miniseries on a quintessentially Australian band, The Easybeats.

This production is every bit as good as those surrounding INXS and Peter Allen, and comes at a time when the nation is mourning iconic members of the Young family.

It was a meeting of young immigrant teens at Villawood hostel in 1964 that ignited one of our greatest musical exports, and arguably our finest songwriting team.

Director Matt Saville and writer Christopher Lee cleverly ease us into the world of new arrivals, initially with very little dialogue.

Lanky Dutch teen Harry Vanda (Mackenzie Fearnley) jams with fellow Dutch newcomer Dick Diamonde (Du Toit Bredenkamp) in between rusty washing machines in the hostel, when cocky UK teen Stevie Wright (Christian Byers) insists on singing with them -his energy proving unmistakeable.

Wright brings Scot George Young (William Rush) and together with recruited British drummer Gordon ‘Snowy’ Fleet (Arthur McBain) they set their sights on local gigs under the name The Starfighters.

By the time they reach the Beatle Village in Sydney they have changed their name to The Easybeats and wear matching outfits. Their raw guitar sound wins over frenzied crowds but in between the applause and increasing number of female admirers, there are brawls with jealous males and some frustration that they are destined for better things.

“You’ve got to have a hit song to be a real band or your nowt!” insists Young.

Spotted by manager Mike Vaughan (Alex Williams) they are soon signed by music producer Ted Albert (Ashley Zukerman) to Albert Records.

As the songwriting improves, Albert is meticulous in his techniques, approaching recording like a blueprint business plan. Scenes with him adjusting microphones within inches of amplifiers and fine-tuning acoustics, much to the baffled looks of eager boys, creates an authentic relationship that sustains across the series.

There are wild road tours, more punch-ups, and more riffs born from plectrums meeting strings that seep into psyche (truth be known, they were there all along). Songs including “For My Woman,” “She’s So Fine” and “Wedding Ring” are charting around the country.

Wright’s energy is unleashed with girls at every gig whilst drummer ‘Snowy’ Fleet is missing his young family, Dick Diamonde is lumbered with the guilt of turning his back on religion and Young is obsessed with success and churning out their next big hit. As London looms the five will be pushed and pulled by business, personal and musical demands.

Casting relative unknowns as The Easybeats works to remarkable success here, and makes this convincing for the viewer. Christian Byers nails Stevie Wright, proving a dynamic, wide-eyed & skittish frontman. William Rush is the other stand-out as George Young, tougher, unsatisfied by early success. Look for a glimpse of a primary-aged Angus Young in school uniform, of course.

Ashley Zukerman is focussed and humble as Ted Albert, the brains behind the band, who comes from old money but has a vision for an Australian sound.

Part II, which focusses on UK touring, shows some signs of budget restraints with Sydney locales doubling for London, as the band chases that big hit suggested by the title. But they are minor qualms in what is a true blue yarn -even though their roots can all be found on European passports.

“None of you were were born in Australia. What makes you an Australian band?” asks one British music journo.

“The music mate,” replies Young.

Don’t miss this. Can we have AC/DC next?

Friday On My Mind airs 8:40pm Sunday November 26 and December 3 on ABC.

7 Comments:

  1. Thank you again …for a great piece David Knox….I saw the preview….casting looks great…
    Many bands and singers owe a lot to Ted Albert….a very clever man….

  2. Yes, would love to see a quality AC/DC bio-drama similar to this.
    I would imagine one day it will happen.
    Though would be a hard task finding the right person to play the inimitable Bon…very big shoes to fill.

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