Who Did It First? The Easybeats, “Good Times” (1968)

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(Above: Add this to your list of all-time “side one, track ones.”)

Very early in my college radio career – like on my first show – I had a habit of keeping some songs close by so as to sneak them in if time allowed. They fell under “personal preference;” the show was mostly for me, I thought, and if I liked a record that was a sufficient reason to play it a lot. The bigger the hit, the less likely it was to fall into this category. And so it was with “Good Times” by Jimmy Barnes and INXS. The song, included in the soundtrack to the film The Lost Boys, only made it up to #47 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1987 but hit #2 in Australia.

It’s not even the best version of that song.

In 1968, The Easybeats, fresh off the international success of the previous year’s “Friday On My Mind,” went back into the studio. “FOMM” hit #16 in the States but was top 10 in several countries and sold over a million copies. (It was, of course, a #1 record in Australia, where the band was from.) 1968’s LP Vigil began to mark the end of the band. (How many times have we heard of a group having one smash and not rising to that level again? Perhaps Tom Hanks should make a movie about it.) The co-leaders of the band Harry Vanda and George Young, started writing songs for other performers. Their single “Bring a Little Lovin” went on to be a minor hit for Los Bravos, hitting #51 in the US. Vigil contained a track called “Good Times” that supposedly, when it was first played on the radio in the UK, caused Paul McCartney to find a pay phone, call the radio station, and ak the disk jockey to play the record again. “Good Times” features help on back up vocals from Steve Marriott of The Small Faces. Amazingly, it’s the B-side of a single; the intended hit, “Land of Make Believe,” only made #18 in Australia and failed to chart in the UK at all.

But there’s more to the story, of course. George Young had two younger brothers who I think may have been influenced just a little by the sound of “Good Times.” Malcolm and Angus Young went on to form their own band, which they called AC/DC. You might be familiar with their work. Vanda and Young produced the first six albums for the band; in essence, everything before Back in Black was their handiwork. But they didn’t just write hard rock, either. Vanda and Young wrote “Love Is In the Air,” which was a huge hit for John Paul Young (not one of the brothers) in 1978 and remains a record that I am highly unlikely to turn off when I hear it. Oh, and if that weren’t enough, Vanda and Young are essentially the members of a group called Flash and the Pan, who produced one hit in 1979 called “Hey, St. Peter” (seen in an early music video here).  It’s another fantastic record that I don’t hear nearly enough; it only made #76 on the US chart, but it’s a jam. (I vaguely recall sneaking this in to the rotation in the last days of WCFL-FM/Morris before the bankruptcy hit, using the fact that it released in 1979 as argument for fitting the format.)

If you’re looking for a record to start a party, I suggest this one. And, if you’d like to impress your friends with a load of useless music trivia, you’ve just gotten plenty of that as well. (Isn’t that why we’re all here, anyway?)

To hear the original “Good Times,” click here. (A cool live performance video can be found here.)

One thought on “Who Did It First? The Easybeats, “Good Times” (1968)

  1. Random thoughts on this:

    1. “Friday on My Mind” should be played only on Fridays.
    2. I really dig the first three Flash and the Pan records, especially the second one, “Lights in the Night.”
    3. I never knew “Good Times” was a Vanda-Young composition.

    Liked by 1 person

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