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Whispering Jack is the twelfth studio album by Australian adult contemporary pop singer John Farnham. It was produced by Ross Fraser, and released on 20 October 1986, which peaked at #1 on the Australian Kent Music Report Album Charts. Whispering Jack has become the highest selling album in Australia by an Australian artist: as of 2006, it was 24x platinum indicating sales of over 1.68 million copies sold. It spent 25 weeks at the #1 spot on the Album Charts during 1986–1987, it was awarded the 1987 ARIA Award for "Album of the Year", and was the best charting album in Australia for the decade of the 1980's in Australia. It was the first Australian-made album to be released on Compact Disc within Australia. One of Farnham's biggest hits, "You're the Voice" was issued as the lead single from this album and peaked at #1 on the Kent Music Report Singles Charts.

Prior to this album, Farnham's career had stalled after being recruited and then leaving as lead singer of Australia's Little River Band. Farnham's manager, Glenn Wheatley, mortgaged his home to raise funds for the recording of this album. After initial reluctance by major Australian radio stations to play the lead single, "You're the Voice", public demand became overwhelming and they relented. The song became one of the standout Number One songs on the Australian Charts of the 1980s and still remains a staple of Australian Radio. Whispering Jack re-started Farnham's career and kept it rolling across two more decades. On 21 November 2006, Whispering Jack was re-released to celebrate its 20th Anniversary, which came with a bonus track, an extended studio version of "Pressure Down" and with a DVD of the edited 1987 Whispering Jack Live in Concert televised performance.

Background

John Farnham had been a teen pop idol during the 1960s and 1970s, he met Glenn Wheatley, who was bass guitarist of rock group The Masters Apprentices, when both acts were managed by Darryl Sambell. From the mid-1970s, Farnham had moved into television, stage and cabaret entertainment. Wheatley, who was already managing Little River Band (LRB), signed Farnham to his company in 1980. They decided Farnham's comeback single would be a reworking of The Beatles' "Help!", which was produced by LRB's Graeham Goble, it peaked at #8 on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart. Farnham was utilising a more adult contemporary pop style and the associated album, Uncovered, was also produced by Goble, which peaked at #20 on the Kent Music Report Album Charts. The B-side of "Help" was Farnham's song writing effort, "Jillie's Song", co-written with Goble. In recording the album, Farnham's studio band included guitarist Tommy Emmanuel (ex-Southern Star Band), keyboardist Mal Logan (ex-Renée Geyer Band, LRB), drummer Derek Pellicci (LRB) and bass guitarist Barry Sullivan (ex-Chain). They became his tour band until Logan and Pellicci returned to their LRB commitments and were replaced by Sam McNally and David Jones respectively. Three other solo singles followed in 1981 but none charted into the Top 50. In February 1982, after Glenn Shorrock had departed Little River Band, Farnham became their lead vocalist with recommendations by Goble and Wheatley.

In 1985, Farnham had started collecting a songlist for a future solo album while still in Little River Band, he finished his vocals for their album, No Reins, and left the band late that year. Farnham's first solo performances since 1981 were live shows with the John Farnham Band consisting of Brett Garsed on lead guitar, Sam See on guitar and Derek Pellicci, formerly of Little River Band, on drums. In early 1986, sound engineer Ross Fraser suggested to Wheatley that it was time to start working on the solo album. Wheatley searched vainly for a producer and record label willing to work with Farnham, Fraser took on the producer role and Wheatley provided financial support after mortgaging his house.

Whilst visiting a jazz club in the US, Farnham was mistakenly introduced as Jack Phantom, and when he subsequently provided a running commentary for a local pool game he named himself Whispering Jack Phantom after the Pot Black commentator 'Whispering' Ted Lowe. Farnham's work for the album, Whispering Jack, included expanding his song list with Fraser's advice. "A Touch of Paradise" was written by Gulliver Smith and Mondo Rock's Ross Wilson, while "Pressure Down" was provided by Harry Bogdanovs. Two weeks before the album was due to be recorded a demo tape arrived from London with similar material to "Pressure Down", Farnham and Fraser listened to the demo of "You're the Voice" and knew they had found a once-in-a-lifetime song. Another song on offer was "We Built This City" but Farnham knocked it back, it was later recorded by US band Starship.

Initially, public interest in the re-branded former teen-idol was difficult to cultivate, and radio stations refused to play Farnham's album. Things however started to change after Sydneymarker radio station 2Day FMmarker played its first single, "You're the Voice", which was released in September 1986. Henceforth, radio stations began receiving requests for the song. Its television debut was on Hey Hey Its Saturday with Skyhook's Greg Macainsh providing bass guitar. "You're the Voice," peaked at #1 in Sweden and Australia, as well as being a Top Ten hit in some European countries: #3 in Switzerland, #6 in the UK, and #6 in Austria. The song was written by Andy Qunta (ex-Icehouse), Keith Reid (Procol Harum), Maggie Ryder and Chris Thompson (ex-Manfred Mann's Earth Band).

Whispering Jack, released in October, became the highest-selling album by an Australian act in Australia, and peaked at #1 on the Australian Kent Music Report Album Charts for a total of 25 weeks. As of 2006, it was 24x platinum indicating sales of over 1.68 million units in Australia alone. The album was released internationally on RCA/BMG and peaked at #1 in Sweden, #3 in Austria, and Top 20 in Norway. In August 1988 it returned to the Australian Top Ten. Other Australian singles were December's "Pressure Down", which peaked at #4, March 1987's "Touch of Paradise" and October's "Reasons".

Farnham followed with Jack's Back Tour, an initial itinerary of eleven performances was thought to be enough considering they were up against tours by Michael Jackson and Billy Joel, but after high ticket sales, it was extended by eight more shows and use of larger venues. At that time, Jack's Back Tour was the highest grossing tour by an Australian act. John Farnham Band now consisted of Garsed on lead guitar, David Hirschfelder on keyboards (ex-Little River Band), Macainsh on bass and Angus Burchill on drums. Farnham won six of the inaugural 1987 Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Awards for 'Album of the Year', 'Single of the Year', 'Highest Selling Album', 'Highest Selling Single', 'Best Male Artist' and 'Best Adult Contemporary Album'. On 19 July 1987, TV series Countdown broadcast its last show, the 1986 Countdown Music and Video Awards with Farnham winning the 'Best Album Award' for Whispering Jack.

Track listing

  1. "Pressure Down" (Harry Bogdanovs) – 3:50
  2. "You're the Voice" (Andy Qunta, Keith Reid, Maggie Ryder, Chris Thompson) – 5:04
  3. "One Step Away" (J Kennett, D Skinner) – 3:36
  4. "Reasons" (Sam See) – 4:26
  5. "Going, Going, Gone" (John Farnham, David Hirschfelder, Ross Fraser) – 3:33
  6. "No One Comes Close" (Eric McCusker) – 4:09
  7. "Love to Shine" (Bogdanovs, K Dee) – 4:01
  8. "Trouble" (D. East) – 3:25
  9. "A Touch of Paradise" (Ross Wilson, Gulliver Smith) – 4:48
  10. "Let Me Out" (Farnham) – 4:22


20th Anniversary Edition Track listing

Disc One (CD)
  1. "Pressure Down" (H Bogdanovs) - 3:50
  2. "You're the Voice" (M Ryder, C Thompson, A Qunta, K Reid) - 5:04
  3. "One Step Away" (J Kennett, D Skinner) - 3:36
  4. "Reasons" (S See) - 4:26
  5. "Going, Going, Gone" (J Farnham, D Hirschfelder, R Fraser) - 3:33
  6. "No One Comes Close" (E McCusker) - 4:09
  7. "Love to Shine" (H Bogdanovs, K Dee) - 4:01
  8. "Trouble" (D East) - 3:25
  9. "A Touch of Paradise" (R Wilson, G Smith) - 4:48
  10. "Let Me Out" (J Farnham) - 4:22
  11. "Pressure Down [Extended Version]" (H Bogdanovs) - 5:55
Disc Two ("Whispering Jack Live in Concert" DVD)
  1. "Pressure Down [Live]" (H Bogdanovs) - 4:19
  2. "One Step Away [Live]" (J Kennett, D Skinner) - 3:35
  3. "Going, Going, Gone [Live]" (J Farnham, D Hirschfelder, R Fraser) - 3:47
  4. "Let Me Out [Live]" (J Farnham) - 4:21
  5. "A Touch of Paradise [Live]" (R Wilson, G Smith) - 5:29
  6. "When the War Is Over [Live]" (S Prestwich) - 5:33
  7. "Amazing Grace" [Live](Traditional) - 4:39
  8. "Reasons [Live]" (S See) - 5:14
  9. "No One Comes Close [Live]" (E McCusker) - 4:26
  10. "Love to Shine [Live]" (H Bogdanovs, K Dee) - 4:23
  11. "One [Live]" (H Nilsson) - 5:47
  12. "Playing to Win [Live]" (Graeham Goble, Farnham, Hirschfelder, Stephen Housden, Spencer Proffer, Wayne Nelson, Steve Prestwich) - 3:08
  13. "Help! [Live]" (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:58
  14. "You're the Voice [Live]" (Ryder, Thompson, Qunta, Reid) - 6:13
  15. "Credits" - 2:06


Personnel

John Farnham bandJohn Farnhamvocals, drum programs, snappy fingers

Brett Garsedguitars

David Hirschfelderkeyboards, drum programs, snappy fingers



Additional musiciansRozzi Bazzani – backing vocals

Sandy Weeks – backing vocals

Helen Cornish – backing vocals

Penny Dyer – backing vocals

Colin Setches – backing vocals

Mal Stainton – backing vocals

Nikki Nicholls - backing vocals

Ross Wilson – drum programs, snappy fingers

Wickow – snappy fingers

Dougie – low moans

Chart positions

Chart (1986–1987) Peak

position
Australian Albums Chart 1
New Zealand Albums Chart 2
Norwegian Albums Chartmarker 12
Swedish Albums Chart 1
Swiss Albums Chart 3


References


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