Current Traffic

Sunday 1 February 2015

Post 557 - Jel Elliff - The Singles - 1971/1975

 Jel Elliff was born in Scotland and came to Australia in 1970 . He was first heard of in a Sydney band called "Chantry Barn" whose other members included Al Ward (later of Al Ward/Dan Johnson fame) and a female singer, Jel's girlfriend at that time, Del Ford aka Delores Foxtonfinn who was last heard of in a Newcastle band in the 1990's called "Me, Me, Me". Chantry Barn, as far as I know, never recorded anything official but was a great live act around the folk clubs of Sydney. When Chantry Barn broke up, Jel went solo, scoring a contract with the Australian HMV label. From 1970 – 1972 he released 4 singles:

What Are You Doing Sunday / Willoughby (May 1971, #44 Adelaide; #30 Brisbane; #23 Perth) HMV EA-9560
Going Nowhere / Pearly John (Aug 1971, #28 Adelaide) HMV EA-9625
Cotton Jenny / Suzanne (Jan 1972, #32 Brisbane) HMV EA-9776
Silvertown Girl / Morning Has Broken (Nov 1972) (Did Not Chart) HMV EA-9955
No album was ever released but surely after 4 singles one must have been in the works at some point. Jel toured around the country but mostly in Sydney & Melbourne. In November 1971 Jel represented Australia with the song “Going Nowhere” at “Yamaha's World Popular Song Festival” in Tokyo where he reached the 2nd semi-final and also won the “Composers Award”.
After his HMV contract ran out Jel returned to his birth country of England. Now, having reverted to his real name of “Jel Tyson”, he formed a band with another Australian, Paul Matthews (real name: Paul Simmons). They called themselves “Alaska” and started playing gigs in the pub and folk club scene around London. Before too long they managed to score a recording contract with the Warner Brothers label. Two singles were forthcoming:
I Don't Know Why / Out on a Limb (#19 UK Charts) (Warner Bros K16440 UK, July 26, 1974); Warner Bros 6338 (Aust, Nov 1974)
Lend a Hand / Turn Around (Warner Bros K16546 UK, May 9, 1975)
The singles (the first one was also released in Australia) had a “McGuinness Flint” type of sound and the first single managed to get some good airplay and ended up in the English charts getting as high as #19. Unfortunately the second single flopped and the album they had recorded during 1975 wasn’t released which is a great shame as it’s quite wonderful with its "America" style acoustic arrangements and wonderful harmonies. I have had the pleasure of hearing this fine  album and I can’t work out why it was never released.
Following the demise of “Alaska” (circa late 70’s) Jel found himself in America (Chicago to be precise) where he ended up fronting one of Chicago's top 80's bands - "The Reason". This band generated a large and loyal following throughout the midwest, gaining success by opening for major acts such as Duran Duran, The Psychedelic Furs, The Go-Go's and The Stray Cats before disbanding in the mid-80's. Jel then returned to Sydney, Australia, where he built a state-of-the-art recording studio - “Fat Boy Studios”. Fat Boy served as the recording studio for budding Aussie rock groups such as The Church, The Hoodoo Gurus and Midnight Oil. During this time he also formed a few bands - “Different Tongues" and "The Bleeding Hearts" were two of them and they played around the Sydney pub scene. I don't think any of these bands ever officially released anything but their many demo recordings are pretty good for the time. Eventually, in the early 90's, Jel closed the studio and returned once again to the U.S. and there he raised a family. He is still in the US and has over the years fronted a couple of bands with the most recent being an almost straight country band called “The Autrys” which are far removed and, in my opinion, nowhere as good as the acoustic and jangle pop he did so well in the 70’s and 80’s. He also released a CD circa early 2000’s called “Bleeding Hearts”.

Here to download are all of the “Jel Elliff” H.M.V recordings as well as the two Warner Bros “Alaska” singles. Like so many artists on this Blog there was little if any info on Jel Elliff, so a “BIG” thanks goes to Ian MacCarthy for helping with the history of Jel. Any corrections would be most welcome.        mp3


Jel Tyson said...

your facts are incorrect.

Jel Tyson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ozzie Music Man said...

Great to hear from you Jel could you please put us right if you don't mind. :)

Micko said...

A terrific post Ozzie & great to havce all of Jel's singles together Plus I didn't have the last one & had no idea about his later work in the UK & US..funny how you always remember some acts even when they only had little or minor success. Although Jel had a great name..perhaps that's why I remember.
So I too would like to know the true facts Jel re the intervening years, if you're reading this

Jel Tyson said...

Jel Tyson here I do love your ozzie man stuff however even though I was amazed at you info on me it was 50% incorrect I was born in Scotland not England but did grow up there My family migrated to ozz in 1970 Yes Chantry Barn was a fantastic little band consisting of yours truly Paul Simmons and Delores Ward Ford was her married name Paul quit after a year and was replaced by Al Ward who was a solo act from The Pact folk days While in The Chantrys I already had a solo deal with EMI and being young and dumb at the time signed a very bad deal The Chantrys were what I really wanted to do Al Del and I moved to the UK in 1974 played a handful of gigs but Both Al and Del had visa problems they both returned to Australia Al as you mentioned teamed up with Dan Johnson a very talented American and you are correct Del reverted to her family name Foxton Finn A great singer and guitar player Paul came to England in mid 75 and your facts are correct regarding Alaska Warners sent us to The USA to record an album when we returned to the UK 6 months later the decided not to release it which was a bummer it was well produced they basically paid Paul and I off and cancelled our contract He returned to Sydney in 1980 I moved to the west coast finally returning to London Joined my friend Steve Freemans band Harlow helped finish their album which was never released.AS you mentioned played in a terrific band The Reason out of Chicago after two years and what was left of the money warners gave me I returned to Australia and Fat Boy Studios I cannot take a lot of credit for the success of the studio my old buddy Paul Simmons and young engineer Mark Onorati deserve that I basically finainced it It ran its course over 4 to 5 years we sold it as a going concern to two English guys from the 80s band Clasix Nervou who managed in three months to drive into the ground. I returned to the US in 1988 and put together a band called The Bleeding Hearts we toured around for a couple of years I got tired of that and got married raised three daughters Released my solo album Bleeding Hearts in 2001 did pretty good sold a lot of copies in the UK and Europe where so called Americana does well went over there in 2002 to promote it good fun. Yes put together cowpunk band The Autrys. We have tons of recordings but yet again nothing was released loved this band but we partied too much. I currently live in Chicago in a 3 bedroom house and own a analog 24 track studio down the block which I built called Independent Artists Studio don't care for digital Have a new band The Savage Nuns featuring Al Scum drummer from classic Chicago punk band The Cunts finished an album which we will realease in summer of this year also long overdue 2nd solo album Golana in late 2015.Please don't think I was being critical love your stuff just wanted to put the facts straight Check out Grahame Lister he is an ozzie who played with Paul and I in Alaska he still lives in England we meet occasionally over here or in London he had a lot of success in UK with his band The Firm take care J.T.

Ozzie Music Man said...

Thanks Jel for posting this info and will correct soon. If you don't mind and would contact me on as I have a few questions myself I'd like to ask. Thanks again for getting back to me and the info, much appreciated.

Don Morrisson said...

I met Jel and his 'ol mate, Paul Simmons in the UK in the mid-1970's. We (the band I was in, 'Xanadu') were Aussies living in the UK who were building our own 24 track studio when these two 'Poms' floated in asking if we were open for business! I have remained a close friend of Pauls' ever since, and although I haven't spoken to Jel for many years, consider him a true friend. He is a very talented song writer, a funny man, and a truly dedicated talent to his craft. I loved the work Jel and Paul did together as 'I Don't Know Why.' Don Morrisson - Drummer, Xanadu.

Ozzie Music Man said...

Hi Don Morrison thanks for the update would like to know more about your band as well and the other Aussie that played with you. You can email me at :)