RUSSELL MORRIS
The Real Thing
(John Young)
Australia 1969
#1 Sydney #1 Melbourne #1 Brisbane #3 Adelaide #3 Perth

Original version

Single on Columbia.

Melbourne singer-songwriter Russell Morris had been lead singer of Somebody's Image, and built a respected solo career through a series of original and often progressive singles that included The Real Thing, Rachel and Part Three Into Paper Walls (all 1969), Sweet Sweet Love (1971) and Wings Of An Eagle (1972).

The Real Thing was written by Johnny Young, Western Australian singer, songwriter, radio announcer and TV personality, born John De Jong in the Netherlands in 1945. He topped the charts as a pop star in the second half of the 60s, compered the national pop TV show Go!! and worked as a disc jockey on 3XY in Melbourne, Victoria. From 2000 he hosted Breakfast at Radio 6IX in Perth, Western Australia.

In later years Johnny Young became known for his long-running youth variety show Young Talent Time and the associated talent school. Although his own hits (Step Back, Cara-Lyn, Kiss Me Now) were written by others, his main claim to pop fame, at least internationally, may well be for writing The Real Thing. Among Johnny Young's other compositions are The Star, a hit in Australia for Ross D. Wylie that was covered in the UK by Herman's Hermits; and Lionel Rose's 1969 hit I Thank You (not the Johnny O'Keefe song).

The Russell Morris record was produced by Ian 'Molly' Meldrum, pop journalist who became a fixture on the Australian music scene through his appearances on national teen TV show Countdown from the mid-70s. There he became known as much for his endearingly sincere but inarticulate interviews and commentary as for his enthusiastic advocacy of local and visiting artists. Buy At Sanity.com.au

Terry Stacey writes:
With backing provided by the cream of Australia's 60s pop scene including The Groop and Marcie & The Cookies, The Real Thing was a ground-breaking
single for its time. At over 6 minutes long this psychedelic-pop masterpiece included a dynamic build-up starting from a simple acoustic guitar intro through to a long hypnotic rave instrumental run out (which included phasing, sound effects and speeches) and ended with a dramatic apocalyptic/cold war nuclear explosion extinguishing a children's choir. It has since been covered by artists such as Kylie Minogue and Midnight Oil, was featured in the soundtrack of the movie
'The Dish' (2000) and is currently used as the theme for a TV tourist promotion for Western Australia (2005).

References: Terry Stacey's research; Paul McHenry, Cover Me (1998); Chris Spencer, Australian Rock Discography 1970-79 (1999); Chris Spencer et al, Who's Who of Australian Rock (2002); Russell Morris page at Milesago; other pages cited below.

Further reading: Paul Culnane's reflections on The Real Thing and its follow-up Part Three Into Paper Walls at Milesago's Russell Morris page.

For another hit produced by Molly Meldrum, see Colleen Hewitt's Day By Day.

VARIOUS ARTISTS
The Real Thing/Real Thing
(Various Composers)
Red herring

  Numerous compositions have the title The Real Thing or Real Thing but most of them are not the same song as The Real Thing by Russell Morris.

To appreciate the popularity of this phrase as a song title, try searches at BMI, APRA and All Music Guide.

The versions listed on this page are some that I have confirmed as being the same song as The Real Thing by Russell Morris. No doubt there are others.

Later versions:

FANTASY
The Real Thing
(John Young)
Australia 1977
Later version

Melbourne pop band who had a hit in 1973 with the double entendre novelty The Marrow Song.

From Tribute to Australian Rock And Roll, an album of remakes of Australian hits from the 60s and 70s. (ARD 1970-79).

THE BUM STEERS
The Real Thing
(John Young)
Australia 1983
Later version

Early 80s Melbourne band known, according to Ian McFarlane, for its radical, improvised, distortion-heavy reworkings of such Australian rock classics as Russell Morris's The Real Thing and Coloured Balls' GOD.

The Bum Steers comprised former members of Primitive Calculators and a member of Ollie Olsen's electronica band Whirlywirld. Another Ollie Olsen band, Third Eye, also recorded The Real Thing (see below).

References, further reading: 1.  Primitive Calculators official website. 2. Primitive Calculators history by Ian McFarlane, with band members' corrections (pdf at PrimitiveCalculators.com). 3. Wikipedia entries on Primitive Calculators and the Little Band Scene.

Thanks to Denise of Primitive Calculators.

THE REELS
The Real Thing
(John Young)
Australia 1988
Later version

Eclectic Sydney pop band who topped the charts in 1979-80 with Love Will Find A Way.

On the Neighbours LP (Paul McHenry, Cover Me p.35).

See also: According To My Heart.
THIRD EYE
The Real Thing
(John Young)
Australia 1990
Later version

CD single by Melbourne electronica group, a project of musician, composer and producer Ian 'Ollie' Olsen.

Ollie Olsen's CV includes the pioneering electronic band Whirlywirld, production work with Michael Hutchence and film music for Dogs In Space (1987) and Head On (1998).

Personnel from Whirlywirld and Primitive Calculators formed The Bum Steers, who also recorded The Real Thing (see above).

Primitive Calculators re-formed to record their song Pumping Ugly Music for the soundtrack of Dogs In Space, for which Ollie Olsen was musical director.

Further reading: 1. Ollie Olsen entry at Wikipedia. 2. Ollie Olsen's website (under construction March 2010).

KYLIE MINOGUE
The Real Thing
(John Young)
Australia 2000
Later version

From the soundtrack of the Australian film Sample People (2000). Also on the album Kylie: Greatest Hits 87-99 (2003).

MIDNIGHT OIL
The Real Thing
(John Young)
Australia 2000
Later version

Recorded in 1994. On the live album The Real Thing, released in 2000.

TERRANOVA
The Real Thing
(John Young)
Germany 2004
Later version

German electronica outfit. On the 2004 album Digital Tenderness on the Ministry of Sound label.

Corrections or comments? Contact the writer.