Monday, February 4, 2013
If I Were A Carpenter/Foul Play
John Swan was born in Scotland. Swan joined his first professional band, Happiness, as a drummer when he was 14. When he was seventeen, Swan enlisted in the Australian Army, and was discharged after two years of service. In early 1974 he was the drummer with the James Wright Band, moving on to Jim Keays' Southern Cross for a short time. By late 1974 he was playing in Fraternity, the Adelaide band best known as AC/DC singer Bon Scott's former group. Brother Jimmy Barnes had replaced Scott as Fraternity's singer but his stay was brief before he left to join Cold Chisel and Swan took over on vocals. He also appeared live with Cold Chisel from time to time, providing backing vocals and percussion.
After Fraternity, Swan became the vocalist with Feather in 1977. This band had previously been known as Blackfeather in the early 1970s but by 1977 no original members were left so the name was shortened. Feather recorded one single, "Girl Trouble" with Swan before he left in 1978 to establish himself as a solo artist.
Under the name Swanee, by which he was already known, he released his first solo single "Crazy Dreams" in 1979. An album, Into the Night, and several other singles followed but met with little commercial success. In late 1981, however, his version of "If I Were a Carpenter" became a national hit reaching #5 on the charts it was backed with the single only B-side "Foul Play". The single was a precursor to the 1982 album This Time is Different that spawned another two hits, "Temporary Heartache" and "Lady What's Your Name", propelling Swanee to national fame. While later releases failed to achieve the same level of success, Swanee has remained one of Australia's best known live acts. Over the years, his band has maintained a floating membership. Among those who have played in Swanee over the years are guitarists Stuart Fraser (Feather, Noiseworks), Harvey James (Sherbet, Ariel) and Bradford Kelly (Heaven) and bass player Mark Evans of AC/DC and Finch, among many others.