Vocal harmony trio The New World are one of the genuine curiosities of Australian pop. If they're remembered at all today, it's most likely for their 1971 hit "Tom Tom Turnaround". However, they scored an impressive run of chart success in the early Seventies, their story intersects with some of the biggest names in British music, and they were instrumental in launching the career of one of the most successful writer-producer teams in pop history.
The group formed in Brisbane in 1967. In 1968 they signed with Albert Productions, whose recordings were released on EMI's Parlophone label. They achieved national prominence with their debut single, a version of the MOR standard "Try To Remember", which was a Top 20 hit (#19, Jan. 1969). Their next and last Australian single, "Feed The Birds", was released in December 1969, but it did not chart. They also recorded a self-titled LP for Parlophone; it was first released during 1969, but it was reissued on Columbia (Aust.) in 1971, following their UK breakthrough, and again on EMI's budget label Axis in 1975.
According to Noel McGrath, the trio headed to Britain in early 1970, but like so many other Australian acts of the period, they found it hard going on the cut-throat English music scene. Their easy-listening repertoire was out of step with the growing popularity of heavy rock and glam, and they were given a hard time in the recording studio, where they were told their music was out of date.
Fortunately, their luck changed when the owner of a club where they were playing offered to sponsor them to compete in Opportunity Knocks, Britain s renowned national TV talent quest. In startling contrast to the earlier criticisms, New World was an immediate success on the show – they were voted back onto the program a record number of times and gained an average of 30,000 votes per show.
Their TV success led to a contract with the British Columbia label (owned by CBS in the UK, unlike Australian Columbia, which was owned by EMI) and they scored their first UK hit with a version of Joe South's "Rose Garden"; it had recently been a hit for Lynn Anderson but New World's version made the UK Top 20, peaking at #15 in February 1971.
Their next single, "Tom Tom Turnaround", is the song for which they are best known today. It was a big success in Britian, just missing the Top 5 (#6, July 1971) and it was also Top 40 in Australia (#24, Sep. 1971).
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