Pop Archives

Mental As Anything - Just Like Romeo And Juliet (1980)

(Freddie Gorman - Bob Hamilton)
Australia Australia
#22 Sydney #23 Melbourne #9 Brisbane #44 Perth

In a search for the quintessential Australian band, Mental As Anything have to be considered one of the prime candidates – Ed Nimmervol’s Howlspace.com [archived page]

Single on Regular Records, not an album track at the time.

The Mentals were first heard in Sydney pubs in 1977, and throughout the 80s their good-humoured, freshly original pop-rock was frequently heard on Australian radio and on albums that included Get Wet (1979, the debut), Cats & Dogs (1981), Creatures of Leisure (1983) and Fundamental (1985).

Among The Mentals’ numerous charting singles were The Nips Are Getting Bigger (1979), If You Leave Me Can I Come Too (1981), Too Many Times (1981) and Live It Up (1985).

The band’s line-up on its debut and over the next twenty years: Martin Plaza (Martin Murphy), Reg Mombassa (Chris O’Doherty), Andrew “Greedy” Smith, Peter O’Doherty and Wayne “Bird” De Lisle (David Twohill).

A popular urban myth concerns a group of art students who passed themselves off as a band in order to con the local publican into giving them a gig in exchange for free beer. The deception worked better than intended, and the group came to be known as Mental as Anything. Nearly two decades later, they are still irritating the public with their highly listenable, idiosyncratic brand of garage pop.- Biography page at MentalAsAnything.com

Further reading: 1. Official site at MentalAsAnything.com 2. Mental As Anything history from Howlspace [archived]. 3. Wikipedia entry for Mental As Anything.

Thanks to Shane Johns and Terry Stacey for suggestion.

The Reflections - Just Like Romeo And Juliet (1964)

(Freddie Gorman - Bob Hamilton)
Original version
#6 USA #13 Sydney #26 Melbourne #6 Brisbane #11 Perth

Single on Golden World, the only Top 40 hit by Detroit vocal quintet, lead singer Tony Micale. It was the first of nine Reflections singles on Golden World 1964-65. Their first single, in 1963, had been on the small Detroit label Kay-Ko.  

The Reflections recorded the original version of Poor Man's Son (1965, #55 USA YouTube), also co-written by Bob Hamilton, covered by British group The Rockin' Berries (1965, #5 UK).

Bob Hamilton (?-1969) was a prolific writer and producer for Golden World, the Detroit pop-soul label that was taken over by Motown in 1968.

Co-writer Freddie Gorman (1939-2006), Detroit singer and songwriter and a member of Motown group The Originals, had co-written Please Mr Postman (1961), The Marvelettes record that was Motown's first #1 hit, later recorded by both The Beatles and The Carpenters.

References: 1. Reflections entries at All Music and Wikipedia. 2. The Bob Hamilton page at SoulfulDetroit.com is possibly the best source you'll find online, part of that site's Golden World Story. 3. Golden World Records at Wikipedia (includes discography). 4Freddie Gorman obituary, The Independent, 22 June 2006,

Listen: Michael Shelley interviews Tony Micale of The Reflections on WFMU, 14 November 2020: go to program archive.

The Roamers - Just Like Romeo And Juliet (1964)

(Freddie Gorman - Bob Hamilton)

Single on Hit (#118) YouTube, Bill Beasley's budget label that issued soundalike versions of current hits. The B-side was Bits And Pieces. There were several Hit releases credited to The Roamers 1963-1966. 

Further reading: Ancient archived page on Hit Records. Scroll down when you get there.

Michael & The Messengers - Romeo And Juliet (1967)

(Freddie Gorman - Bob Hamilton)

Single on USA YouTube, anthologised on Nuggets I. It charted regionally in the US, for example in Chicago and Milwaukee.

The Messengers (none of its members was a Michael) were from Wisconsin. The band was re-formed by their bassist when he went to college in Milwaukee but, as Jason Ankeny at All Music puts it, The band's history is so convoluted it required a book, Gary Myers' Wisconsin rock history tome, "Do You Hear That Beat", just to make some sense of it.

Peter’s Faces - Just Like Romeo And Juliet (1964)

(Freddie Gorman - Bob Hamilton)

Single on Pye subsidiary Piccadilly YouTube by band formerly known as Peter Nelson & the Travellers. Peter Nelson* was later in studio hitmakers The Flowerpot Men and White Plains.

Reference: Bruce Eder's bio of Peter's Faces at All Music Guide.

*Not to confused with New Zealander Peter Nelson, real name Peter Trebilcock, leader of Peter Nelson & The Castaways (see Skye Boat Song).

The Racket Squad - Just Like Romeo And Juliet (1967)

(Freddie Gorman - Bob Hamilton)

Single on Jubilee YouTube by Pittsburgh band fronted by Sonny DiNunzio. Also on the album The Racket Squad (1968). The album's CD re-release includes the band's 1969 album Corners Of Your Mind (1969). The band name may be inspired by the early 50s TV series Racket Squad.

West Five - Just Like Romeo And Juliet (1965)

(Freddie Gorman - Bob Hamilton)

B-side on HMV YouTube, the second of three singles by London quintet formerly known as West Four. Their first single was Congratulations, the Jagger-Richard song from the Stones' 12X5

Reference: Vernon Joynston, Tapestry of Delights (1998).

Sha Na Na - Just Like Romeo And Juliet (1974)

(Freddie Gorman - Bob Hamilton)

On 1974 album Hot Sox by energetic 50s revivalist group formed in the late 60s, memorably seen at Woodstock doing At The Hop. Also a single on Kama Sutra (1975, #55 USA).

Sha Na Na had a self-titled TV series from 1977 to 1981 (the source of this YouTube video of Romeo And Juliet). The fictional band Johnny Casino & The Gamblers in the 1978 film Grease was played by Sha Na Na.

Fallen Angels - Just Like Romeo And Juliet (1975)

(Freddie Gorman - Bob Hamilton)

Single on Arista. YouTube

Fallen Angels was formed by three members of Looking Glass, a pop group known for Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) (1972, #1 USA). After further line-up adjustments, Fallen Angels took a heavier direction and a new name, Starz (Cherry Baby, 1977, #33 USA).

Further reading: Greg Prato's biography of Starz at All Music goes back to Looking Glass and Fallen Angels, and notes the influence and cult status of Starz.

Dire Straits - Romeo And Juliet (1981)

(Mark Knopfler)
Red herring


Single on Vertigo, also on the album Making Movies.