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:
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
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”.