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Ross Wilson: Reviews

My copy of New Cool arrived today from half a world away, and it's simply AWESOME. I would have been happy with just a half hearted rehash, but this is way beyond all expectations! The new stuff is AMAZING, perhaps the best tracks to date. Waiting for it was a long ten days, but well worth it! Tomorrow, it goes in the CD player in my taxi, and all of Key West can get turned on to what's kept me rockin for the last thirty four years.

OC/AC - so very very true!!!
Mark Meyer, Key West FL, USA - Daddy Cool's MySpace (Nov 16, 2006)
"Reuniting with old friends after many years gives a feeling of 'it seems like only yesterday', and that nostalgia is apparent on Daddy Cool's first album in 32 years. The New Cool is new, but also familiar, thanks to lead-singer Ross Wilson. There's doo-wop on 'For You', rockabilly on 'Everybody's In The Mood' and 'Hey Senorita', jazz on 'Daddy's Back', rock 'n' roll on '$64,000 Dollar Question' and the New Orleans-esque 'Barbara'. Gary Young sings lead on one song, Ross Hannaford on three and there are three live bonus tracks. It seems like only yesterday."
Rating = amazing+
Billy Pinnell (Oz music pundit) - JB Hi Fi in store magazine (Nov 15, 2006)
(edited text) "After a 34 year wait Daddy Cool's new album is pretty damn cool. Mixing doo wop, rock & jazz You Can't Have Everything, Sexy Girl, & Waves help make this an excellent album. Whether it scores any new fans remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Daddy Cool do it their way, and their way is still pretty cool." Rating 3.5 stars Adventurous
Glenn Mitchell - Herald Sun - (Hit Mag liftout) (Nov 9, 2006)
What a fabulous cd, I just love it & will be giving it plenty of air play on my show. Congratulations on your fantastic music.
Wendy Rudin - Blues DJ - Spirit FM 92.3 NSW (Nov 7, 2006)
"Love 'The New Cool' - an instant party! Rock solid."
John Higgins - SMS (Oct 10, 2006)
Our 1st press review - ahead of the official release 4 Nov 2006.
"Here it is, half a lifetime later, Daddy Cool's 3rd studio album. And while the world is unrecognisably different, life in DC land has barely changed. 'The New Cool' is an irresistible mix of 1950's West Coast garage, Chuck Berry & doo wop." (4 stars)
Pete Best - Sunday Herald-Sun (Oct 15, 2006)

'Ross Wilson: Live At The Palais' DVD

Ross Wilson has been touring his ‘5 Decades of Cool’ show around the country with select shows beginning last year in the southern states and wrapping up at this year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival. Wilson is in a unique position, given that he’s had genuine chart hits from the 1960’s through to success with Mondo Rock in the 70’s and 80’s, solo hits in the 90’s and willing singers in Farnham and Barnes who’ve done some of the heavy chart lifting since. Wilson, to his credit, still makes fine albums, but, with radio what it is in this country, you’re hard pressed to hear them. This set, shot in Melbourne, reaches back to early hits from The Pink Finks and Daddy Cool and includes Mondo’s and solo material. Given that Wilson produced Skyhooks it’s good to see a lounge reading of ‘Ego Is Not A Dirty Word’ featuring Bob Starkie. Highlights include the opener ‘Bed Of Nails’, ‘Come Back Again’, ‘Hi Honey Ho’, ‘Chemistry’, ‘Summer Of ‘81’, ‘Cool World’ and the alternate national anthem, ‘Eagle Rock’. Guests include Ross Hannaford, Jimmy Barnes, The Wolfgramm Sisters and Mike Rudd who performs ‘I’ll Be Gone’. Not only a testament to Wilson’s enduring appeal, the set bookends a remarkable legacy of a man who is considered, quite rightly, by many to be one of this country’s most revered writers.

4 stars outta 5

Ross Wilson is one of this country's musical treasures, a fine singer and songwriter whose recent habit of appearing as judge & mentor on various talent shows is surprisingly apt: he's been there and done that, but he still burns with an obvious passion and commitment to music. That enthusiasm is in gleeful evidence on this new DVD which captures Wilson's '5 Decades Of Cool' show in all its glory. Cutting across all segments of his long & winding career (most notably with 70s icons Daddy Cool and 80s pop masters Mondo Rock with members of both bands appearing), and boasting a blazing guest spot from Jimmy Barnes, this is a fine testament to a vital Australian performer.

4 stars

Jackie Shannon - Filmlink (Dec 6, 2009)

"Ross Wilson has been making music for 45 years, but this 2009 DVD documents his biggest solo gig. The production is not overly slick, but the songs tell the story, covering the whole spectrum of his amazing career (including a surprise cameo by Spectrum’s Mike Rudd). “Where are the white pants?” a crowd member asks. “In the closet,” Wilson replies, “I pull them out every now and then … for bowls.” But there’s plenty of life left in this granddaddy cool. “And before we know it,” he says, “we’ll be into six decades of cool.”  

4.5 stars

Jeff Jenkins - Music Australia Guide (MAG) (Dec 14, 2009)

Baby boomers will lap this one up. Wilson recently celebrated 45 years in music with a gala concert at St Kilda's Palais Theatre, with guests including Jimmy Barnes and members of his bands Mondo Rock and Daddy Cool, plus Bongo Starr (Skyhooks) and Mike Rudd (The Party Machine, Spectrum). A chance for those who attended to relive the night, or for those who missed out to enjoy the career of one of the most influential artists in Australian rock.

(from The Sunday Age / Christmas Essentials Buyers Guide

Patrick Donovan - The Age music critic - The Sunday Age (Dec 6, 2009)

5 Decades Of Cool Concert - 14 August 2009

Streaming in to the Palais on a cold, windy Friday night were five decades of fans ready to listen to one of the most prolific and talented members of the Australian rock world. Ross Wilson, singer, musician, producer, songwriter and all round talented guy. The concept was brilliant – go on stage, sing your most famous hits, both from previous bands and solo, and entertain your most loyal and passionate followers. And that’s exactly what he did. If Wilson was nervous, he didn’t show it. If he was sick of singing the same songs that have carried him for five decades, we weren’t aware of it. Some of the arrangements were different but the audience soaked it in, and appreciated the time and effort that went into a visually and aurally satisfying show. 

Mike Rudd and Ross Hannaford, Aussie legends themselves, came on stage to warble through the vice squad banned song, I Don’t Believe All Your Kids Should Be Virgins and then Rudd went straight into Spectrum’s I’ll Be Gone.  This is how the night panned out as well known ditties were interspersed with absolute Australian rock gold. Throughout the night the back of the stage had a giant screen flicking images from Wilson’s musical history. Album covers were a feature with Daddy Cool, Mighty Kong and Mondo Rock covers displaying a kind of visual history of social and musical representations of the time. 

The audience loved it, his family loved it, the special guests (Ross Hannaford, Mike Rudd, Bob Starkie, Jimmy Barnes, The Wolfgramm Sisters, Stuart Fraser, James Black & Eric McCusker) had fun, and most importantly the man of the moment showed us that there are many more years left in this iconic Aussie talent. It was a spectacular night and at the end every one was given a copy of his CD Hell of A Time so we could keep the Wilson energy channelled at home.

Angie Valcanis - Beat Magazine (Aug 21, 2009)

 

Ross Wilson is one of the most respected and storied artists in Australian pop and roll and thus it made perfect sense to find him announcing that he would follow his long time compatriot Joe Camilleri into the  (relatively) vast surrounds of the Palais Theatre for a concert celebrating has 45 years in music.

 Actually the “45 year” occasion is probably a little rubbery so the sub-title of Wilson’s concert “5 Decades of Cool” was probably more apt given that it must be really hard to pick a date and say “it started then”.

 I’ll wander through the concert in a minute however it’s probably fitting that the most meaningful moment in the whole show came at its conclusion. The final song Love's Journey was drawn from Wilson’s next album, rather than from his back catalogue and the final image on the backdrop actually announced Wilson’s forthcoming national tour that will run from September through December. We may have been there to celebrate Wilson’s past but he has his sights firmly fixed on the future.

 But there’s nothing wrong with a brief stroll down memory lane is there?

 Wilson chose to do things largely chronologically, with a couple of exceptions. He actually opened with one of my favorite Wilson songs Bed Of Nails, re-invented in the style of a jazz combo. The lyrical relevance of this was interesting although it may have been lost on some of the crowd. I heard a few murmurings of concern when Eagle Rock made an early appearance, re-jigged as a jug band ditty. Surely the classic song wasn’t going to be dismissed in such a strange way? Of course not.

 Early guests appropriately were Ross Hannaford and Mike Rudd. They accompanied Wilson through some Pink Finks and Party Machine songs including the rarely heard I Don’t Believe All Your Kids Should Be Virgins. This song, used to illustrate how subversive they were at the time, did its job well, but it also should be left where he found it for future performances!

 Another obscurity though – which I think went by the name of Woman of The World – should immediately be sent to every pop singer looking for a hit. It was a cracking little song that wouldn’t sound out of place in the Top 40 today. (Um, do they still have a Top 40?)

 Wilson generously handed the lead singing over to Rudd for a rendition of the Spectrum hit I’ll Be Gone and his strident vocal and wailing harp made this an early highlight.

 Other great moments in the first set included Come Back Again (such a great song built around such a simple idea), the eternally silly Baby Let Me Bang Your Box and the superb Hi Honey Ho which reminded us what a huge groove Daddy Cool created for a bunch of Australian white boys in the 70’s.

 Stu Fraser joined the band for a couple of more rockin’ songs and his presence emphasised how important a good guitar player has been to Wilson’s music. He’s had the incomparable Ross Hannaford who showed at this concert that he has lost none of the tasteful dexterity and brilliant touch that he has used to grace so many important Australian recordings. Later in the night Eric McCusker showed that his more focused contributions to Mondo Rock songs were equally essential to their success.

The 1st set finished with the very significant Living In The Land of Oz (which in retrospect is as much an alternative national anthem as Down Under or Beds Are Burning) and the slinky The Fugitive Kind and Primal Park which served to give us a taste of the second half.

Part Two commenced, well, badly. While Wilson’s production of the Skyhooks albums Living In The Seventies and Ego Is Not A Dirty Word was an important landmark in Australian contemporary rock music and his part in their success was essential the performances of Horror Movie and Ego were simply lame. The band managed to purge any life out of those subversive, brash songs and Greg Macainsh made the right call by sitting in the audience rather than participating in that part of the show.

Fortunately things came good from there. Jimmy Barnes came, saw, bellowed and generally spread the love on a couple of songs showing himself to be a generous performer and likeable house guest before Wilson played a great song called Slave To My Emotions which highlighted what a good harp player he is.

After an impressive re-invention of A Touch Of Paradise (and a funny story about the power of Na Na Na’s) we were ready to hit the home straight.

 A series of Mondo Rock hits followed and they only served to make you wonder why that band didn’t become a huge American pop success. Hearing those songs now you can only be amazed how perfectly they would have fitted American radio formats of the time.

 Chemistry, Summer of 81, Primitive Love Rites, State Of The Heart, Cool World and Come Said The Boy are all great commercial songs and they drew the concert to a very “smiles on faces” conclusion.

 Of course the encore included a gang bang on Eagle Rock (in the style to which the audience had become accustomed over the last 40 or so years) and a happy Daddy Who?, Daddy Cool! finale, before the aforementioned Love's Journey pointed us into the future.

 Did we get everything we paid for? Absolutely. Were there any surprises? Actually there were and you have to commend Wilson for his openness to re-inventing some of his songs and to genre-hop so willingly.

 While the concert rather randomly marked a point of celebration for Wilson you do get the sense that the audience got more from the exercise than Wilson himself did. I suspect he’s already thinking about the next album, the next show, the next song. And that’s probably why he is who he is.

 

"Concert of the year" 

Jeff Jenkins - Off The Record - 102.7 RRR FM (Aug 15, 2009)

Adelaide Cabaret Festival 5-20 June 2009

Ross Wilson - No Smoke, Just Mirrors / Space Theatre, Friday 19 - Saturday 20 June 2009

OZ rock legend Ross Wilson took the cabaret bit firmly between the teeth for this smooth set of jazzy reinterpretations of his greatest hits. Backed by a trio on piano, bass and percussion, the show was punctuated with comical anecdotes from the road.

True to his word, there was no smoke to hide behind on stage - not even a cigarette - but there were sideshow mirrors and You Got a Mirror as the opening tune. In turn, Wilson held a mirror up to his own material, allowing the audience to see the songs - and their lyrics - in a very different light. Pop ballad Bed of Nails became a jazzy, cruising stroll. He went back to the 1960s and his first band, the Pink Finks, with a very mellow, seductive take on Louie Louie, then turned in a rolling ragtime-meets-skiffle rendition of Daddy Cool's iconic Eagle Rock. Psychedelia and prog rock collided on the Party Machine's controversial 1968 non-hit I Don't Believe All Your Kids Should be Virgins, while his 1980s Mondo Rock classic Come Said the Boy was stripped back into a torch song, proving that a great tune can be performed in almost any style.

In between, Wilson tampered with two songs he produced for Skyhooks, making Horror Movie his own with an almost tribal rhythm, and throwing a great harmonica solo into the slow and slinky Ego is Not a Dirty Word. He reclaimed Touch of Paradise from Farnham (funky - no seagulls), put real swing into State of the Heart and got some really cool four-part a cappella harmonies going before rocking out with Daddy Cool. It got the ovation that Wilson - and his impressively reworked catalogue - so richly deserved.

Ross Wilson - No Smoke, Just Mirrors

"...a show packed with great tunes presented in a new and exciting way."

With piano bass and drums as backing Ross Wilson swings easily into cabaret mode, recreating both himself and many of the familiar songs from his past. The show opened to plenty of applause with You Got a Mirror and Bed of Nails from The Dark Side of the Man. The fans were out in force for this show.

This journey through his career took us right back to the beginning when, in his mid teens, his first band was The Pink Finks who had some success on the charts with their version of Louie Louie. A quick jump forward in time to the Daddy Cool days and another big hit, Eagle Rock, had the audience swaying and singing along. Another band, The Party Machine, produced a song that got him into a degree of trouble, I Don’t believe All your Kids Should be Virgins. Then followed Mondo Rock’s Come Said the Boy and, borrowed from a band whose albums he produced, Skyhooks, came Horror Movie.

The hits and favourites just kept on coming. The songs all had stories attached to them and Wilson shared these with us as though he was chatting to a group of friends. He has plenty of charm and a good sense of humour and this reinvention of himself as a cabaret performer works well.

More familiar tunes, Ego is Not a Dirty Word, Bom Bom and A Touch of Paradise followed in quick succession and then with a brief change of mood, he turned to Stardust, originally recorded by Billy Ward and the Dominoes. State of the Heart, Cool World and Come Back Again all proved winners with the audience. From his soon to be released album comes Love’s Journey and, although already running over time, he even managed to squeeze in an encore.

The new and improved Ross Wilson is proving to be just as popular as his past incarnations and is likely to gather new fans. This was a show packed with great tunes presented in a new and exciting way.

Live & Local

NO SMOKE JUST MIRRORS #2 at the Brisbane Cabaret Festival - 23 June 2010

Did you know that the seats in the Optus Playhouse rock? I don’t mean they ROCK, I mean they literally sway back and forth with the slightest movement from anyone sitting in them. I discovered this last night as the 40 people in my row, (and the people in the row in front of me, the row behind, let’s just say the entire audience), jiggled their knees, tossed their heads and swung their shoulders to Ross Wilson’s cabaret show No Smoke, Just Mirrors. 

Wilson wants to take us on a little trip. A trip through his well-known and obviously much-loved music. And he knows exactly what we want to hear. Over the course of 90 minutes, the Australian singer-songwriter introduces us to his high-school band The Pink Finks (who re-recorded “Louie Louie” in 1965 and found success in the charts) and to his “angry young man” phase in the late 60’s with the band Party Machine, where he learned that it was “good to be bad and be banned” with songs like “I don't believe all your kids should be virgins.” 

And, of course, he knows we want the big hits from his days as the front man of Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock. He gives us “a good singalong” with the Daddy Cool’s “Come Back Again”, “Eagle Rock” and “Daddy Cool” (which the band played as a cover and took on as their theme song).  

He sends a little thrill of danger and seduction down our spines with Mondo Rock’s “Come Said the Boy” and a re-invigorated version of “A Touch of Paradise” (which he admits was a flop when his band released it but found new life when John Farnham did it on his album Whispering Jack). There was even a lounge-style version of “Ego is not a Dirty Word” in memory of his friend and the front man of Skyhooks, Shirley Strachan. He’s also quick to remind us that he produced the first three Skyhook’s albums (“the ones with all the hits”, he says). 

Then, he throws in some of his latest songs, including “Love’s Journey” and “I Come in Peace” (the album, out next month, will also be called “I Come in Peace” and he’s heading out on the I Come in Peace tour later on this year. He’s got a theme and he’s sticking to it). 

He performs in front of a huge screen that flashes with images of his albums and with photos of him at every age and in all his bands. And between songs, he just talks to us: about his life, his friends, his music. It’s delivered in a casual, self-deprecating style that is wholly Australian, warm and very charming. It’s like sitting down with him in his living room as he pulls well-worn albums and photographs out of big box and dusts them off for our enjoyment. 

No Smoke, Just Mirrors is a relaxed and intimate look at “the many sides of Ross Wilson”. If you love or loved any of his music, you’ll be rocking in your seat at this show.

Brisbane Cabaret Festival
No Smoke Just Mirrors
Ross Wilson

Venue: Playhouse, QPAC, South Bank, Brisbane
Date: 23 Jun 2010

LIVE AT THE NORWOOD HOTEL, SA - 5 December 2009

Ross Wilson started off his latest tour with a two-hour show at the Norwood Hotel that revved up his own past hits and mixed in some other, bluesy material. The mainstay of such key bands as Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock, and writer of many successful songs, Wilson showed he is still a consummate stage presence.

 The first familiar songs included a lolloping “Come Back Again”, the doowop of “Bom Bom” with some excellent harmonies, and a honky tonkin’ “Baby Let Me Bang Your Box”. Wilson’s falsetto opening to “Sexy Girl” turned into growls, and the fat notes he extracted from his Gibson guitar impeccably complemented Davey Porter’s tight drumming. Eric McCusker, who wrote or, with Wilson, co-wrote a number of the songs in the show, constantly contributed tasteful licks with his black Stratocaster.

 The show gathered energy as Wilson shed his jacket, and then rolled up his sleeves. Davey’s drumming gave real substance to a bluesy “Bed of Roses”, and then Howlin’ Wolf’s classic “Back Door Man”. Wilson described the latter as a “good clean adultery song”, and it was a gem. Rendered dark and slightly menacing, this was a suitably rough performance of the standard, lovely despite John McAll’s piano solo not quite coming off. And, yes, Wilson did howl.

 The tense lyric of “Moodswing” (co-written with Don Walker) was offered down-tempo with a cabaret flavour and a jazzy middle section. Wilson was funny in his discourse on the history of Nah-nah-nahs, “the lifeblood of music”, which led into a gutsy “A Touch of Paradise”, best known as a John Farnham hit. “Cool World” was still catchy, its suitably restrained vocals delivered over driving percussion. The band really loosened up with a powering “Summer of ’81” which featured slap bass from Chris Paraha, followed by a punchy “Primitive Love Rites”.

Inevitably, there was the big one. Wilson asked the crowd to stand for “the national anthem” and everyone happily rose for the enduring “Eagle Rock”, which heralded the end of the main show. Of course, there was an encore, including a deliciously grubby “Shake Rattle ’n’ Roll” to close the night on a lively note.

Ross Wilson has the voice, the songs, and the moves. This tour looks like being a beauty.

Port Fairy Folk Festival 6-9 March 2009

The Cool Folk Rock

Cool weather could not dampen the enthusiasm of thousands of music fans who converged on southwestern Victoria for the annual Port Fairy Folk Festival. More than 13000 people - a sellout crowd - packed 20 stages with thousands more taking advantage of free street performances.

The music line-up features more than 120 local & international acts including rock legend Ross Wilson. Audiences at Wilson's gigs abandoned their chairs with the whole crowd on their feet to dance to 'Eagle Rock' & other classics.

"Everyone has had such a hard time, a sad time with the fires, & to have such a massive weekend of beautiful, incredible, energetic music, then for the sun to come out, it's an absolute joy", said festival director Jamie McKew.
Herald Sun (Mar 9, 2009)
I saw you at Port Fairy over the weekend (I go every year).
Your set was absolutely fabulous – so musical, highly entertaining – and you are a comedian as well!

Hope you got lots of good feedback. All the people I was with were raving about it afterwards.
Stephen Luby / Producer ABC-TV "Bed Of Roses" - Email (Mar 9, 2009)

Mighty Kong CD

SMOOTH ROCKIN' PSYCHEDELIC MASTERPIECE
Mighty Kong - All I Wanna Do Is Rock album (1973) released for the first time on CD 2008 thru Aztec International
"Given that this is a re-release, it makes sense to get into a 1973 mind-set. So yeah, hug a gorilla & get your big hair awn, find some weird bell-bottom pants & shed a tear for the fact that the Mighty Kong (comprised of, amongst others, Ross Wilson & Ross Hannaford of Daddy Cool) were pushed into the background by the Cool and Mondo Rock, Wilson's other big band of that era. But, ultimately, revel in the fact that this smooth rockin', psychedelic masterpiece of Australian history is able to see the light of day once more"
Also awarded Vice Magazine (Australia) 'Best Album Cover Of The Month' !

Mondo Rock

(Reviewing 'The Countdown Spectacular Tour')
"Is Ross Wilson a genius? We're in the second half of the show & this question keeps coming back to me during the 10 minutes or so that Mondo Rock is on stage. He's the one performer tonight whom you look at & think, He could have done something overseas if he'd wanted to. Everything about him is unique. The way he moves, dresses, sings - & his songs. Sure, Mondo Rock may have not been the most sympathic vehicle, but it showed that in his third decade in the business he was still savvy & talented enough to have hits. The great 'Cool World' is the first one played tonight."
Robert Forster (The Go-Betweens) - The Monthly (Nov 1, 2006)

Artist Of The Year

ARTIST OF THE YEAR
"He's our Mick Jagger - an ageless, timeless, brilliant rock performer. Ross Wilson - who celebrated his 60th birthday in 2007 - has been making music for more than 40 years & shows no sign of stopping. Daddy Cool went on the road in 2007, blowing them off stage ( and Ross joked that there were more Wilsons in DC than in The Beach Boys). Daddy Cool also added a live disc to there comeback album. Meanwhile Mondo Rock did some shows in Malysia. And Ross continued as a judge on Channel Seven's 'It Takes Two'. But despite his stardom Ross was always happy to support public radio & TV. And he never stops making music - 2008 will bring his Liberation Blue album. For ongoing excellence Ross Wilson is Howzat!'s Artist Of The Year"

Daddy Cool / Beach Boys Tour 07

Great Southern Blues & Rockabilly Festival, Narooma, NSW October 1, 2006
"I've left the best til last, as the organisers also did. After all, who could follow Daddy Cool? Thanks to well-matured musical skills and improved concert PAs, these guys actually sounded better than in their heyday. Those harmonies, those classic songs, that white suit, and hanna, where'd ya get that outfit? OK, Ross Wilson doesn't quite shake it about as much as he did in the 70s but, hey, who does? They say you can't go back. Well these guys went back and took it forward at the same time. An absolute highlight."
ARIA Hall Of Fame, Regent Theatre, Melbourne 16 Aug 2006 - "Daddy Cool's early performance, which included 'Eagle Rock', was outstanding and it set the mood for an entire night of great live songs" (from the other inductees)
Scene & Heard - Sun-Herald, Sydney (Aug 20, 2006)
A really good concert - Christopher Cross opened with a nice bracket of old and new material. Daddy Cool were brilliant, the original lineup pumped out its classics with plenty of energy (can't wait to see Ross Hannaford at the Guitar Festival). Ross Wilson was his usual garrulous, hyperactive, entertaining self. The night was topped off by The Beach Boys - your report says it all. Over 4 hours of pure entertainment - a great night had by all.
John Callaghan - Adelaide Now (Nov 8, 2007)
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