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Where did they get that song?

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What have they done to my song?

Melanie Safka

Obscure Originator Dept: Jason Crest

When I found out who had recorded the original version of Smacka Fitzgibbon's minor Australian hit Waterloo Road (1970), I asked the obvious question, "Who's this bloke Jason Crest?"

Not a bloke, but a whole band from Tonbridge in Kent with a name that sounds like one bloke.*

When they were signed to Philips, the band was called The Good Thing Brigade, but a change of name was thought to be in order. Their repertoire included an original song entitled The Collected Works of Justin Crest so they tweaked that bloke's name and became Jason Crest.

The history of Waterloo Road indirectly takes in Blackburn's Four Pennies, another band that recorded for Philips.

Mike Wilsh, co-writer of Waterloo Road, was a former Four Penny, as was Fritz Fryer who had moved on to A&R and production after the Pennies and was influential in Jason Crest's signing with Philips.

Lionel Morton, another Penny, also recorded Waterloo Road (1969). To stretch the connection with The Four Pennies further, their #1 hit Juliet (1964) was written by Mike Wilsh, Fritz Fryer and Lionel Morton.

(Mike Deighan, the other writer of Waterloo Road, sadly wasn't ever in The Four Pennies, but he was at one stage in a group with Fritz Fryer.)

Before Smacka Fitzgibbon got hold of Waterloo Road, it was adapted by Pierre Delanoë as Les Champs-Élysées and became a hit for French-American singer Joe Dassin (1969) in France, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands, and Belgium. Dassin's recording of Les Champs-Élysées may be familiar to some from Wes Anderson’s film The Darjeeling Limited (2007).

These days, someone might well ask, "Who's this bloke Smacka Fitzgibbon?" There is no simple answer to that, and you probably had to be there in Melbourne during his heyday to appreciate this larger-than-life character. You could start with the distinguished Australian Dictionary of Biography under Graham Francis (Smacka) Fitzgibbon (1930-1979), jazz musician, hotelier and restaurateur.

*Jason Crest is not unique as a band name that sounds like one bloke. How about Jethro Tull, Mungo Jerry, Judas Priest ...?

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