Before Stevie Wright hit the hard road and Vanda & Young penned the hits “Love Is In The Air” and “Walking In The Rain” they were all in a band called The Easybeats. The group were bigger in Sydney than The Beatles and The Stones. And director, Peter Clifton lucked out when he met the latter – and specifically Mick Jagger – who convinced him to travel to England in 1966 to “See some exciting bands”. The Easybeats were one such group and the rest they say is all history.
The band had originally started playing together in Sydney but eventually relocated to the UK where they recorded “Friday On My Mind”. It became an international hit and Clifton was on-hand to capture the recording of their follow-up single. The location was Olympic Studios and the producer was Glyn Johns (The Who, The Beatles, Bob Dylan). The song was “Heaven & Hell” and anyone expecting a studio-centric film like The Beatles’ Let It Be would be sadly mistaken as this short featured so much more.
Easy Come, Easy Go is a black and white film that opens with images of a sunny, Sydney beach and the apt song, “She’s So Fine”. It is the first of many Easybeats songs to feature, including: “Wedding Ring,” “Saturday Night” and “Who’ll Be The One”.
We are soon introduced to the group by frontman, Stevie Wright. Some light-hearted shots of each member are shown as he introduces bassist, Dick Diamonde as the one who’s usually asleep; lead guitarist, Harry Vanda as the big guy; rhythm guitarist, George Young as the Scotch fella; and drummer, Gordon “Snowy” Fleet as the eldest, practically middle-aged at 21. Wright then introduces himself as the little ‘un that can’t stop moving. His jumping around on-stage is a kind of hysteria to almost rival the screaming girls that meet them at the airport (which in turn, is just like the fanfare that typically surrounded The Fab 4).
There’s a scene with Stevie playing cards (a tad Wilfrid Brambell-like in A Hard Day’s Night) plus the boys playing sports (football and golf) and some gaffing about in Scotland. Dressed in kilts, the guys sing, jig and frolic about on a tiny raft in the river. It’s good, harmless fun but perhaps the most enjoyable scenes are the interviews with the young lads as they discuss the future.
Wright sees himself in a few years as “Happily married with kids” because quote “I’m not really a musician”. Young meanwhile, concedes that in 20 years he could have a proper, day-to-day job, but he also hopes to have his very own recording studio. These are rather sweet and telling moments.
But the cornerstone of the film is of course, the music. In the recording studio we hear Young wanting some jangly guitars for the “heaven” part of the single and he also instructs Stevie to “Make it sound beautiful”. And it’s no surprise that the big finale is the “Payday song,” the group plugging “Friday On My Mind” on a TV spot.
The screening of Easy Come, Easy Go saw the revival of a not quite released film from the sixties receive the attention and the applause it deserves. With the negatives previously believed to be lost and with the assistance of Alberts and the National Film and Sound Archive, the world premiere was an amazing addition to the Sydney Film Festival programme. The short had shown five mod-looking lads form Oz return to the Motherland victorious and proving that Sydney was far from a cultural backwater. This delightful romp of a short had offered so many good times- it was all so easy.
Review Score: 10 out of 10
Easy Come, Easy Go screened at the 59th Sydney Film Festival.
Runtime: 34 minutes