Pop Archives

Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs - The Word For Today (1966)

(Martin Siegel)
Australia Australia
#11 Sydney #40 Melbourne #20 Brisbane #26 Adelaide #5 Perth

Single on Parlophone, a brassy, uptempo rearrangement of a lesser-known Bobby Rydell single.

The arrangement is by Franz Conde, a Sydney-based pianist, conductor, composer, arranger and producer with experience in British television. He worked for a time as musical director at Festival records, and later as a talent manager and TV producer at Sydney channel ATN7. He produced ATN's pop show It's All Happening (1966), hosted by Billy Thorpe, and The Club Show (1968). He became head of the Robert Stigwood Organisation in Australia in 1968.

In 1963, after Conde left Festival, he and Sydney singer Warren Williams formed a company, Williams-Conde Music Pty Ltd, for composing, arranging, publishing and producing. The Williams-Conde writer credit appears on a number of 60s Australian singles including Williams's It's Party Time which was covered in French by Petula Clark.

Double-sided hit in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth with The New Breed.

Billy Thorpe (1946-2007): British-born singer, guitarist and songwriter whose family emigrated to Brisbane in the 1950s. Based in Sydney from 1963, 'Thorpy', with The Aztecs, had numerous pop hits in a variety of styles, but at the end of the 60s, then in Melbourne, he fronted a loud, rocky, blues-based formation of the Aztecs that contrasted with his earlier pop idol image. Later, his solo and business career took him to Los Angeles, and he wrote two popular autobiographical books, Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy) and Sex And Thugs And Rock'n'Roll [AbeBooks].

Further reading: The comprehensive Billy Thorpe page at Milesago which includes career biography, interview and discography.

Bobby Rydell - The Word For Today (1965)

(Martin Siegel)
Original version

Single on Capitol by teen idol who had eighteen Billboard Top 40 hits from August 1959 to December 1963. By then, the British Invasion was changing the concept of a teen idol.

Rydell had four Top 5 hits: Wild One (1960, #2 USA; not the Johnny O’Keefe song), Swingin’ School (1960, #5), Volare (1960, #4, a remake of the 1958 hit), and Forget Him (1963, #4, written by Briton Tony Hatch).

Martin Siegel’s composer credit appears on various albums and singles from the 60s, sometimes as a co-writer. He has 135 titles listed at BMI. Some artists who have recorded his songs include:

•  Eric BurdonThat Ain’t Where It’s At, on Eric Is Here, 1967;
•  The American BreedDon’t Make Me Leave You, on Bend Me, Shape Me, 1968 (co-wr. Scott English);
•  The Chocolate WatchbandMisty Lane, 1967 single, also by The Standells ;
•  The RenaissanceDaytime Lovers, 1967 B-side (prod. & arr. Claus Ogerman);
•  Freddie ParisTake Me As I Am, 1967 single (co-wr. Richard Ahlert);
•  P. J. ProbyYou Can’t Come Home Again (If You Leave Me Now), 1967 B-side, an obscure and quirky masterpiece (pr. Cal Carter, arr. Arthur Wright).

Rydell’s Word For Today was released in Australia in 1966 but as the B-side of Roses In The Snow which had been the B-side on the 1965 US single.

Thanks to John Yeager for clarificaton.