What is 'Stuff'?
Because I'm not exactly a prolific song writer or recording act, there isn't a trove of of unreleased 'lost gems' sitting - superannuating - in tape boxes on a shelf somewhere in my house. However I do have a few artifacts - thus 'Stuff'.
There are things I've included (such as the snippets from my high school 'album', 'Christine' and the pivotal 'Homemovies') that are here more as curiosity pieces rather than as songs you'll want to listen to more than once. Hence these tracks have been placed at the end of the CD rather than in chronological order. Having said that, the final track 'Everything's Very Exciting' is a personal favourite!
Excerpt From Opera ‘Coathanger’
(RR and Rob Marsh)
From the 'Homemovies' album - recorded in 1971 whilst I was an audio operator at STW Channel 9 in Perth - this song was the inspiration behind Coathanger Productions. Follow the lyric's instructions and you'll be treated to many hours of sonic pleasure. This link to Teachers Try Science describes the process in more detail.
The Paul mentioned in the song is my Albany pal and fellow 'Lemming' Paul Sullivan (See: Lemmings Video)
The Ballad Of The Double Bay Batman / Hello Stranger
Produced by Sydney producer Spencer Lee, I've always thought 'Hello Stranger' was a better song than this particular recording indicates. The arrangement and approach was Spencer's and not really anywhere near what I heard in my head when I was writing it. But hey, we've all got opinions.
However, 'The Ballad of The Double Bay Batman' is a different story.
Based on a rather nasty Sydney urban myth of the era, 'Batman' was originally a sordid, bad taste, up tempo, comedy jam number that evolved during a tour with my then band the Redeemers. Now Spencer, being a most colourful chap, was rather taken with the Batman fable and immediately picked the song for the single's b-side. Here he made up for any reservations I may have about 'Hello Stranger' - for with 'Batman' he created a gloriously sinister soundscape that was years ahead of its time and is indeed my favourite "lost recording".
Jesus What A Drag
From the 'One Person Queue' sessions, an outtake that in its own way, more or less covers the same territory as 'Walk On Water'. It seemed like overkill to use both tracks.
Dreams In Radio
(RR and Broc O'Connor)
Co-written with my good friend Broc O'Connor, 'Dreams In Radio' is a 'pop song' that came about when I realised that my dreams don't seem to have visuals; they're all audio. I can imagine the settings but I don't actually see anything. Come to think of it, maybe I'm also imagining the sounds. Maybe that's how everyone dreams. Frankly, I was expecting more.
Broc and I re-wrote and demoed the song many times over many years until eventually, as is not uncommon, the moment passed.
I Love My Horse
This, my final horse related composition, was written for a cowboy themed episode of the 1978 TV show. 'Give 'Em Heaps', where I appeared as Cowboy Dwane. I'm rather fond of both the song and the video.
Video: I Love My Horse
Cool River / I Am Pegasus (Live)
Two live tracks from the debut gig of Ross Ryan Glen Combo (featuring Ken Stephenson and Roy Zedras) at The New Capers in Melbourne, November 2007.
Over the years, I've played various versions of 'Pegasus'; all of them quite different from the original recording - which as an arrangement, is hard to pull off live. If anything, I play it more as it was when I wrote it - this time around with a slight Bo Diddley feel.
Video: Cool River
Video: I Am Pegasus
Tortured Clouds Of Sorrow (Live)
In 198? I recorded four shows at the Troubadour in Melbourne. Philanthropically engineered by Roger Campbell, the subsequent "comedy" album, 'You Can Trust Me (I'm a Musician)', was released for a short period of time, only on cassette and available only at gigs. Although the Troubadour shows themselves were essentially solo performances, I dressed the stage with Atari computers, keyboards and a printer - which were used as backings for several of the songs.
'Tortured Clouds Of Sorrow', from 'Trust Me', was included on 1990's 'The Greats of Ross' compilation but not on the recent 'Difficult Third Compilation' - hence it now lives on 'Stuff', complete with the restored intro that EMI left off 'GOR'.
As for the 'Trust Me' album, plans are afoot to soon make it available to our mailing list punters as a free download.
Christine / Edith Child
Two snippets of songs I recorded prior to them turning up on 'A Poem You Can Keep' and 'My Name Means Horse'.
'Christine' (later to become 'Country Christine Waltz'), was the title track of an EP I recorded in 1968 for my girlfriend of the same name, when I was a student at Albany High School; and 'Edith Child' (Christine's middle name was Edith) is from the infamous 'Homemovies'.
The Sounds Of Peppermint
When selecting tracks for the recent 'Difficult Third Compilation', we invited our mailing list persons to send in their suggestions. One response came from Greg Arnold of Things Of Stone & Wood fame; 'The Sounds Of Peppermint'. Now I have no idea as to how he knew of this track, but seeing as it didn't make it onto 'D3C' it is included here solely for Greg's listening pleasure.
'Peppermint' was part of a 1971 promotional campaign for Perth radio station 6PM. Peppermint Radio (PM, peppermint .. get it?). So of course they painted the station lime green and gave away peppermint scented scratch-and-sniff stickers and so on.They also released a single featuring local band The Statesmen performing the Grateful Dead's 'Keep On Trucking' (another slogan used for the campaign) plus 'The Sounds Of Peppermint'.
The lyrics for the song came from 6PM's ad agency; I put it to music; and with my friend Rob Marsh (co-writer of 'Connie') recorded it at Martin Clarke Studios (at the time the only recording studio in Perth). Then months later, they launched the campaign.
I remember sitting with my girlfriend Mitchy in my Ford ute on a Sunday morning waiting for 6PM to play the track. When they did, I discovered that they had since added an orchestra to the song - scored by Bill Shepherd who at the time was the arranger for the Bee Gees!! I was gob smacked. A truly golden moment.
Video: The Sounds Of Peppermint
Everything's Very Exciting
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the Enid Blyton book 'Noddy Meets Father Christmas', first published in 1955. In the story, the man described as "The Most Important Person" is due to visit Toyland and after several chapters during which the town's citizens, including of course Noddy, are deliriously preparing for Santa's visit, the big day arrives. Eventually Noddy does indeed get to meet the big guy and this literary climax is breathlessly described in in a chapter entitled 'Everything's Very Exciting'.
Shortly after discovering this wonderfully lame title (I was about 35 at the time), I used it for this track which I wrote for a friend who was at the time going through a rather painful marital transition.
Unfortunately I've never found a context to re-record the song so I have only this very sonically challenged home demo to share with you. As mentioned earlier - I'm also rather fond of this one.
Dec 8th 2009.