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Sherbet - 1976 Howzat

ARTIST: Sherbet
ALBUM: Howzat
LABEL: Festival Australia/Infinity
SERIAL: L-35905
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 1998, Festival (Australia), D-20034


LINEUP: Daryl Braithwaite - vocals * Harvey James - guitars, vocals * Tony Mitchell - bass, backing vocals * Alan Sandow - drums * Garth Porter - keyboards, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Howzat! * 02 Lady Of The Night * 03 Gimme Love * 04 If I Had My Way * 05 Hollywood Dreaming * 06 Dancer * 07 Blueswalkin' * 08 Motor Of Love * 09 The Swap (You Can Get the Lot) * 10 Can't Find True Love * 11 I'll Be Coming Home

Men at Work, Cold Chisel, Icehouse and INXS usually spring to mind when the subject of classic Australian pop is discussed, but long before music from 'Down Under' blasted its way into the consciousness of the world record buying public in the 1980's, there was the heaven-sent and candy coated powerhouse called Sherbet. They were attractive, could play and write extremely well and little girls from Perth to Brisbane understood. They were everywhere in the Aussie media, the country's favourite poster boys in a bygone era that toured extensively playing every city and resort town with a concert stage, leaving a brace of hit singles and screaming pre-teens in their wake. Hell, even AC/DC supported Sherbet once or twice and their rivalry with the at times, pornographic glam band Skyhooks is the stuff of legend. Sherbet was a force to be reckoned with and this, their sixth album, 'Howzat!' broke everything open for the band on a world-wide scale.

The Songs
Opening with the title track and what would become a major hit single, Sherbet offer a funky sound similar to perhaps 10cc, but with a hook that burns into your brain and thankfully never heals! Three and half minutes of pure pop bliss if you ask me! 'Lady of the Night' with its laid back California sound and the up tempo 'Gimme' Love' leaves me with the same vibe as Starbuck's underrated 'Searchin' for a Thrill' album. There is some very nice orchestration on several tracks reminding me of England's Jigsaw in spots, but Daryl Braithwaite's vocals are gritty and powerful, the perfect compliment to the lushness of this sound, in particular on the beautiful ballad 'If I Had My Way'. The only blemish on the album is the final track 'I'll Be Coming Home' which is a bluesy, boozy sing-along where the band sounds like they really have had 'one too many'!

In Summary
Sherbet would go on to tour North America and the UK in support of this record, eventually hooking up with Andy Gibb who brought them to RSO Records in the States. Unfortunately RSO in their infinite wisdom forced the band to change their name to Highway releasing an album ingeniously titled '1'. It bombed (the album was released in Australia under the Sherbet moniker with a different cover and was successful) and after losing two years and a small fortune in America, they headed back to Australia, releasing a couple excellent Genesis styled albums 'The Skill' and 'Defying Gravity' as The Sherbs. Vocalist Daryl Braithwaite would have a successful solo career and Gary Porter would go on to become of all things, a notable country music producer. 'Howzat!' in my opinion has held up well all these years later. This is certainly one of their best, but they never recorded a 'bad' album. Unlike the rest of the band's catalog, this release is still relatively easy to find on CD, but don't wait too long!

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