1: The Real Thing – Russell Morris

NeilTop 30 - Australian Songs

Entered Charts: 16 April 1969
Entry Point: 39
Highest Chart: 1
Weeks In: 22
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It should come as no surprise that The Real Thing lands at number one in this countdown – it was a really great song in its own right but when Ian “Molly” Meldrum took control of its production, along with vocal talents of Russell Morris and the musicianship of a backup group consisting of members of the Groop, this was always going to be a monster hit. Iw as fortunate enough to interview Russell a few years back (click here to listen to the interview), and it seems that the only thing that stopped it from being a hit in the US was the fact that it was split, with the main part on the song on one side of the 7-inch vinyl and the final three minutes on the other. Even though it reached number one in Chicago and New York City, the fact that most people only heard the first three minutes or so, means that it just became “another 3 minute song”.

Australian radio stations were also hesitant to play all 6 minutes and 20 seconds but after being “encouraged” by Molly, the full version became a major hit in Australia.

So, why number one? To me it stacks up as a good song but also, bearing in mind that this was recorded in 1969, this was a masterpiece in engineering and production. Few songs can truly define their era (think I Want To Hold Your Hand for 1963, Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale for the late 60’s, Vietnam War period), but The Real Thing is well, the real thing when defining the Australian music scene in the late 1960’s.

And what does it all mean? It’s all about egos – hence the reference to Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler towards the end of the song.

A most worthy number one in my mind.