Ross Wilson is probably the only person in Australian rock music who can't make a comeback simply because he's never been away.
In a career that spans over 30 years Ross remains one of Australia's most respected artists. From Daddy Cool to Mondo Rock, as a solo artist, or as songwriter of A-grade classics such as "Eagle Rock" & "A Touch of Paradise", or producer of the legendary Skyhooks, Jo Jo Zep, & The Screaming Jets, Ross's involvement with success has continued unabated.
Daddy Cool exploded out of the 70's playing rootsy 50's sounds. Mondo Rock surfed the scene from the mid 70's to the late 80's. As a solo performer and major songwriter he continued to achieve success & make his mark in the 90's with his songs being recorded by artists as diverse as Jimmy Barnes, John Farnham, DEF-FX, Custard, Jennifer Rush, You Am I, Leslie Avril, Uncle Bill, Renee Geyer, Christine Anu, Lee Kernaghan, Beccy Cole, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and The Wiggles!!!
2001 saw Ross back on the front line as the result of a decision to return to regular live performing & recording.
First release was 'Go Bongo Go Wild!', exploring blues based material from swinging re-bop to doowop, traditional R&B to reggae - "it all sounds the same to me / just beautiful music / whoo-oo-whee" - which gathered unanimous rave reviews. Later in the year came a 30 track x 35 year career retrospective 'Now Listen! The Best Of Ross Wilson', winner of the Rhythms magazine Readers Poll 2001 'Best Compilation or Box Set' (runner up Buffalo Springfield) & its own collection of 4 star reviews.
Ross Wilson has come a long way since 1964 when he fronted The Pink Finks, a schoolboy R&B band. They recorded 'Louie Louie' a bona fide garage record and possibly Australia's first independent single. The disc charted in Melbourne leading to a record deal & 3 more singles being released, while he was still at school!
In 1966 he formed The Party Machine & honed his emerging songwriting skills. The band published a lyric book in 1968 which was seized by the Vice Squad, deemed as obscene, & burned!! It was time to leave home. Ross relocated to England at the invitation of Procession, Australia's avant-garde rock pioneers.
Returning to Australia in late 1969 he formed Sons Of The Vegetal Mother from which a splinter group, Daddy Cool, emerged in 1970. Summer 70/71 saw DC take Melbourne by storm via their TF Much Ballroom performances. Appearances at outdoor rock festivals sealed their reputation nationally.
In early 1971 Daddy Cool released Australia's all-time champion #1 Rock Anthem 'Eagle Rock'. By the end of the year the group had set new sales records in this country, dominating the charts & concert scene, and became the first Australian band to make a real impact on the US touring circuit.
From 1974-76 Ross produced 3 albums for Skyhooks and again set new sales records & redefined standards and directions for a vigorous and expanding domestic music scene. In 1976 the soundtrack for Australia's first Rock Movie 'OZ' included his debut solo recording, 'Living In The Land Of Oz', championing aboriginal land rights. At this time he also produced Jo Jo Zep's first two albums & early recordings for The Sports.
In 1977 Mondo Rock was formed. Their 2nd album 'Chemistry' became one of the largest selling albums of 1980/81, yielding the hits 'Cool World', 'State of the Heart', 'Chemistry' & 'Summer of '81'. Mondo Rock continued to produce hits with 'No Time', 'Come Said The Boy' and 'Primitive Love Rites', until Ross decided to pursue a solo career, releasing the 1989 album 'Dark Side Of The Man' & the hit single 'Bed Of Nails'.
After 20 years of non-stop touring Ross took a few years off to concentrate more on writing than performing. Some were lucky enough to catch his recreational power-funk outfit RAW, 1991-93. In 1997 he toured with 'The Lounge Lizards', a collaboration with The Angels & Angry Anderson. He has done his country thing at The Tamworth Country Music Festival and collaborated with jazz men such as Jex Saarehlaht, Paul Williamson, John McAll & the Heta Moses Big Band around his home base in Melbourne. All this activity is reflected in his current & forthcoming CD releases.
"GoBONGO GoWild!" CD Reviews
The jury is IN - never less than a 4 Star Rating.
The reviewers' verdicts? This is a great album.
SUNDAY HERALD SUN 16/12/01 2001's 100 Best; 10 x Top Ten Lists by the resident critics.
GoBONGO GoWild! comes in at #1 on Pete Best's 2001 Top Ten as his Album Of The Year.
"GoBONGO GoWild! swings. This is a sparkling R&B collection in the grand tradition.
GBGW! is a very welcome return. Listening to it, you're struck by the thought: Has this city produced a better singer?"
Jeff Jenkins - Inpress Magazine Melbourne 5/9/01
"GoBONGO GoWild! is authentic music teeming with soul. Diversity in styles, rhythmic confidence & shifts in moods are its abiding strengths"
Terry Reilly - The Age Melbourne 4/5/01
"Wilson's off like a runaway train, touching more bases in a single record than your lazy exploitative rock act does in a career".
Pete Best - Sunday Herald Sun Melbourne 6/4/01
"Gorgeous grab-bag of long overdue loot, (his) implicit understanding of rock'n'roll, doo wop, & urban blues is not diminished one whit & even heightened by a new turning into breezy jazz & gritty new originals."
Glenn A. Baker - The Australian Financial Review 2/6/01
"GoBONGO GoWild! gathers together songs from the '90's ..including recently recorded material & songs from compilation CD's (including stunning recordings with members of the Revalators). The recordings are distinguished by sassy vocals, great ensembles and some fine harp from 'The Boss' ".
Phil Cullen - Coast-FM 7/5/01
"GoBONGO GoWild! shows Ross Wilson to still be in mighty fine voice & that exquisite musical taste has rarely eluded him".
Robert Dunstan - Rip It Up Magazine Adelaide 19/4/01
"Ross The Boss returns to the scene with a mighty compilation of old & new. The new recordings reveal the depth of Wilson's inherent talent as a writer, arranger & performer, cementing his status as one of our greatest composers and vocalist of the highest order. Make no mistake, Ross Wilson is well & truly back."
Billy Pinnell - Addicted to Noise 12/6/01
"The Eagle Rock man is back with a swinging compilation...that has been put together with a lot of panache & retro savvy"
Ray Purvis - The West Australian 19/7/01
"The whole thing's a happy romp...the sound of Ross Wilson enjoying his affair with music"
Ed Nimmervoll - Howlspace Album Of The Week 23/6/01
"This is no slouch album, every track's a winner on this classic, collectable album. GoBONGO GoWild! is like a blaring siren, alerting music lovers to the rich tapestry of Wilson & his influences"
Vince Lovegrove -Lovegrove's Ear On London 16/5/01
"The album is almost like an Aussie sermon on life narrated by one of this country's greatest 'Preachers of Rock', Ross Wilson...a true legend." Rating 10 outta 10
Russ Kellett FM97 & CH31 17/7/01
"Immediately engaging, another career highlight from the man who fronted Daddy Cool & produced Skyhooks".
Mitchell Peters -TimeOff Magazine Brisbane 16/5/01
"Bongo Brilliant. Great album Ross"
Lee-Roy - 'Support Your Local Rock-Gods' 979fm 13/7/01
"With this latest offering Ross Wilson has once again demonstrated his versatility as one of Australia's finest musicians, lyricists and vocalists. An eclectic mix of reggae, 50's rock 'n' roll, doo-wop, blues, and jazz, this diversity of styles is accentuated by the constant changes in mood from the laid back crooner 'Mood Swing' to the rock inspired 'It's love baby (24 hours a day)'. GoBONGO GoWild! is a great mix of classics and originals & it's these originals which demonstrate Wilson's timelessness in the Australian music industry for, although the album will mostly appeal to older generations, it is this timelessness that will attract a younger audience as well. Highlight tracks include 'Midnight Rider', 'She Belongs To Me' and 'Mood Swing'."
Courtney Worthington, Oz Music Central website