- Bass, Autoharp, Vocals – Malcom Nichols
- Design, Art Direction – Peter Hocking
- Drums – Peter Hocking
- Engineer [Sound] – Marcus Herman
- Guitar, Banjo, Clarinet, Piano, Vocals – Brendan Hanley
- Photography By – John Pollard (2)
- Sounds [Sound Effects And Other Noises] – Graeme Ross (4)
- Vocals – Duncan McQueen, Ron Fletcher
- Washboard – John Pollard
Not very long ago there was a public outcry from people like the above seven old ladies when a copy of Michelangelo's magnificent David was displayed in a large Melbourne store. The sight of a naked man. masterpiece or not. was just too sinful ...yet how would he have looked in a pair of Jockettes? The art world is full of painters like Beardsley, Lindsay, even Picasso for heaven's sake, all indulging in a dash of naughtiness
Shakespeare has been known to sneak in a snide one now and then and who can forget Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, to say absolutely nothing of wee Robbie Burns! Lately, of course, the theatre has undergone a major revolution with Hair. Oh! Calcutta and a million other get-your-gear-off, say-what-you like, do-your-own-thing productions. Television, that invader of the family fortress, has introduced a number of remarkably permissive programmes, of which Curry and Chips is the most flagrant. In all forms of creative endeavour the famous four letter word has been almost fully emancipated — Lady Chatterley would be delighted!
However, this L.P. is neither revolutionary, nor does it contain so much as one magic word. It is a collection of time-honoured songs, which have been sung at social gatherings for generations. They are folksongs in the true sense. They have existed all over the world, handed down, mainly by word of mouth, on College Campuses, in Football Clubs, or learnt from the Balladeer in the corner of the Coffee Lounge or little Pub down the street. There are countless variations of the lyrics, ranging from the slightly saucy to the wildly pornographic. The songs on this album have not been emasculated in any way — rather has the choice of songs been suited tothe venture — a venture which is probably the first of its kind in the world. To present to the public a well produce stereo recording (the first of a series) of world famous bawdy ballads which have existed previously only as part someone's repertoire, or on poorly copied under-the-counter tapes, and cheap-and-nasty recordings.
With the venture came certain obvious problems, the most significant of which was a marketing one: How to present the record through normal retail outlets (as opposed to plain-wrapper direct mail tactics) and yet be able to screen thepurchasers to the satisfaction of social conscience, Obviously, the ribald rhymes contained herein are not about to disintegrate anybody's moral framework, however it could be a trifle embarrassing if seven-year-old Willie let out with a few lusty choruses of Cats on the Rooftop at the Sunday School Picnic.
The "AO" label was the answer. This record is quite categorically FOR ADULTS ONLY, and in the same way that children are put to bed before AO programmes on television and minors are discouraged from drinking themselves to oblivion at the local . . . we suggest that similar sane policies should be applied to this record.
Here then is "Oh Dear What Can The Matter Be?" and a dozen other classic risque rhymes, recorded in Australia by your truly and a few of my friends musicians and otherwise, to whom I am extremely grateful
SEVEN OLD LADIES: Our title track delivered with passion and sensitivity by the eminent Mr Ron Fletcher (no strange to show business), ably supported by the entire cast
THE CHANDLER'S SHOP: This is alleged to be the original version the old hit parade song "The Thing". The voice this track is authentic 19th Century West London working class....or is it?
PASSENGERS PLEASE REFRAIN: A semi-traditional version of the song that could claim to have, in its original form, dumbest lyrics in the world. Mr. Fletcher provided the touching vocal while Mr. Ross and others produced the highly authentic sound effects.
ROLLING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN: A hillbilly song of virtue led astray — the girl who sells out for the bright lights and the big city — "and the West Virginny hills can go to Hell' .
FOUR OLD WHORES: The male role of physical boaster is rather whimsically reversed in this tale, as four old girls vie for first prize. This song was taught to me by Trevor Lucas in 1961.
BALL O' YARN: A country style song which finishes with a clever line swapping verse and Mr. Fletcher telling the with Messrs. Ross and Nicholls. and yours truly adding the barbershop background.
THE JOLLY TINKER: The Tinker in folklore is a notorious fellow, always being professionally contracted to "block holes" and managing to do so without letting the listener know whether he is doing his job, or otherwise. We don't have many doubts about the physical attributes of our Tinker — nor his application of same. This track was recorded as a one-hit" number, vocal, guitar and Ron Fletcher's comments all at once.
BELL BOTTOM TROUSERS: The ribald Navy classic, showing marked similarities to "Foggy Dew' . Our hero, in this case, a lone sailor "with a heart of solid oak' outmanoeuvres the combined efforts of the 42nd Fusiliers, the Prince of Wales Hussars, and of course the waitress from the Prince George Hotel.
RING DANG DOO: The female equivalent of the tinker's "Long John Tiddleywhacker". Viva la difference!
THE MERMAID: A Sweet Violets" type of drop-the-line song which "may be dull, but it's certainly clean".
CATS ON THE ROOFTOP: A lengthy zoological treatise, dealing with the oldest subject in the world. Mr. Herman had great difficulty in recording the cats at the precise psychological moment. However, he managed to capture some memorable moments as a background to this track.
REDWING: There's a moral in this song somewhere for the ladies. The reference to Hermann Goering suggests that that the song may not be all that old — but it is funny.
A LUSTY YOUNG SMITH: Double entendre at its very best. A delightful dalliance song, fairly brimming over with allegory.
Brendan Handley: Guitar/Banjo/Clarinet/Piano/Vocals.
Malcolm Nichols: Bass/Autoharp/Vocals.
Ron Fletcher: Vocals.
Peter Hocking: Drums.
John Pollard: Washboard.
Duncan McQueen: Vocals.
Sound Engineer: Marcus Herman.
Sound Effects and other Noises: Graeme Ross.
Cover Photograph: John Pollard.
Design and Art Direction: Peter Hocking.