Sunday, 16 September 2012

Ginger - Get Back Mama 7" Polydor 2079 053, 1974

Record collecting isn't a competition, except when it is. Immersed in the dusty, mouldy, rancid stacks of 45s at Gould's Book Arcade, I'm suddenly aware of a new presence lurking around the racks - the gent responsible for releasing the D.A.s flexi, who just happens to be Sydney's (other) most ardent grillfat collector. Usually a chance meeting would mean a lengthy discussion about Buffalo rehearsal tapes and the greatness of the Toxic 45, but digging is serious business so pleasantries are foregone for a quick nod of recognition before it's back to the trenches. Time passes - minutes? hours? days? - with nothing for our troubles but blackened hands and the early signs of mesothelioma. For Mr Grillfat, the tedium becomes too much and he throws in the towel. Literally at that very moment, the Ginger single peers out of an unlikely handful of sleeveless oldies 45s. I laugh loudly - it's more of a cackle, really - wave the record over my head and taunt Mr Grillfat with a cry of "Lightweight!" as he walks off into the distance. It's a sense of superiority unique to a man standing knee deep in filthy garbage to kill time while his wife's at the gym. I pay the requisite 95 cents and leave feeling smug and in desperate need of a decontamination shower.

Fast forward a few years and a copy of the Ginger 45 appears on eBay UK as part of a killer glam collection. Condition is listed as VG, which is less than ideal but undoubtedly better than the G (for Gould's) copy filed at Wallaby Beat HQ, so I pull the trigger. And here we are, 35 quid later, yet again wondering why we've seen just two copies of a major label Australian glam record in the last decade.

Suzi Quatro had greater and more prolonged chart success in Australia than just about anywhere else, so covering a track from her debut LP probably seemed like a safe bet in 1974. Get Back Mamma is a fine song in its original incarnation, but when we feel the urge it's Ginger's reworking that's more likely to hit the turntable. With a symbolic dropping of an "m" from the title, Ginger's arrangement is tauter and the attack more basic; not only that, the amateurish take on Suzi Q's bass solo is endearingly sloppy, and the replacement of the original's electric piano with a bleeping, pulsing analogue synth adds to the over-the-top feel.

We suspect that Ginger was initially a studio project in the finest Euro-glam tradition, but a touring version of the band was assembled to promote the single. Among those involved were two-thirds of unrecorded Sydney band Today, Chris Brockbank (a.k.a. Chris Phantom) and a young Michel Brouet (later of The Press). Sadly, the attempt to coattail ride on Suzi Q's popularity was a resounding failure, sealing the single's fate as a low-lying layer of the Gould's crust.

Get Back Mama [Download]

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