Category: Australian independent label

Date: 1966-1978

Location: Perth, WA

Ownership: Martin Clarke, Keith McGowan

House labels: Clarion, Action

Distributor: Festival


The Perth-based Clarion label, established ca. 1962, was co-owned by Martin Clarke and 6PR DJ Keith MacGowan. Like his Sydney namesake and contemporary Martin Erdman, Clarke developed a passion for music and sound recording as a youngster. His built his first recording studio in his mother's home as a teenager; he began his career working as a turntable-panel operator with Perth radio stations in the 1950s, while still at school. At the age of 21 he set up Western Australia's first purpose-built recording studio in North Fremantle; a few years later he sold that facility and purchased an old house at 272 Hay Street, East Perth, which he converted into the Martin Clarke Recording Studio. 

Clarke installed the best recording equipment he could buy, including a top-of-the-line Neumann record cutting lathe imported from Germany. The ability to produce his own master discs was a crucial advantage, giving Clarke total control of the final sound -- it ensured that sub-standard masters were not being used for pressing Clarion's records, and avoiding the risks of damage or loss of master tapes in transit and production.

"No one in Australia did that, it hadn't been done before and hasn't been done since."

Just like Erdman's Du Monde label in Sydney, Clarion was dedicated to local Perth acts and it did much to support the thriving local music scene there in the Sixties and Seventies, but it had a wider national impact thanks to the national breakthrough of several of its acts, notably Johnny Young. The first single issued on Clarion was "Jag Drag" b/w "Little White Star" (right) by Peter Piccini & His Orchestra, released in 1962. The A-side was an instrumental; the b-side was a song with monologue, about the recent space flight of John Glenn, which made reference to Glen having seen the lights of Perth from orbit. Piccini was a noted accordionist, keyboard player and composer-arranger, who later became musical director for the Nine Network. He did arrangements, conducted and played on many Clarion recordings.

Clarion evidently went into abeyance for several years until 1966, when it was revived, with Clarke acting as producer, engineer, A&R manager and (in the early days) distributor. Prior to reactivating Clarion, Clarke set up the shortlived Action label, but only three singles were released on this imprint. 

The first group of releases from the mid-Sixties (personally distributed by Clarke) were mostly recordings by local Perth TV personalities, and these had only limited success. When Clarke began tapping into the booming Perth pop scene sales began to rise as he recorded and released local acts such as The Times, Russ Kennedy & The Little Wheels, Roy Hoff & The Off Beats, Glen Ingram, Clem Croft, The Times, the early singles by The Valentines, and Clarion's most successful artists,  Johnny & The Strangers, who became nationally known under their later name, Johnny Young & Kompany.

A distribution deal with Festival Records deal led to a national release of some of the singles that had already been successful in Western Australia, like "The Skye Boat Song" by Glen Ingram, and songs by Robby Snowden, Johnny Young and others. Over the next few years sales were strong and the label earned three gold record awards, including a Gold Album award for the Johnny Young LP Young Happening.

Clarion was one of the most productive independent labels of the period, with 120 singles, 20 EPs and 20 LPs issued between 1962 and 1978. Clarke also released about fifty singles on the Martin Clarke Recording Studios label, as well as countless one-off specialty recordings. The label's biggest national hit was Johnny Young's double-sided hit "Cara-Lynn" / "Step Back" (May 1966), which went to #1 in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney and topped the new Go-Set national Top 10, shooting Johnny to national stardom. Young's recordings featured prominently on the Clarion catalogue until mid-1969 and releases include several tracks written by the Bee Gees, with whom Johnny became good friends. 

Among other notable releases was Ray Hoff & The Offbeats' "Tossin' and Turnin'" -- which must rank as one of the wildest Australian pop singles of the Sixties -- Glen Ingram, Toni Lamond, Perth's "pop prince" Robbie Snowden, folk singer, Play School host and children's entertainer Don Spencer, Perth band Fatty Lumpkin (which included ex members of Bakery) and songwriter Bill Millar. Clarke and Millar also collaborated on one of Clarion's most remarkable singles, the outrageous pyschedelic confection "Even Stevens" / "Hypnotic Suggestion", which they released under the pseudonym 'The Vegetable Garden'. Clarion also recorded the first singles by The Valentines, which featured future AC/DC frontman Bon Scott and singer and music journo Vince Lovegrove as co-vocalists.

During 1970 Clarion released two singles by Perth band The Birds. According to Alec Palao's liner notes for the Clarion Call CD, this group was a trio that included a couple of English roadie-musicians who had previously worked with guitarist Ron Wood, who (with brother Art) had played in a UK band of the same name in the mid-60s. Apparently the Perth Birds simply appropriated the name and passed themselves off as the (emigrated) UK Birds in order to get a contract with Clarion, and they even recorded two tunes that the UK Birds had already covered.

Clarion's releases tapered off sharply after 1970, with only a handful of singles issued each year in 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1974. The label was briefly reactivated for one final single in February 1978, after which the label was wound up.

Martin Clarke left Perth in 1989 and moved to England, where he had family. In the early 2000s he licensed the rights to Clarion/Action catalogue to the British reissue label Cherry Red, who compiled the CD The Clarion Call. It's an excellent overview of the Clarion singles of the Sixties, mixing well-known hits with more obscure material, including the demo version of Johnny Young's breakthrough hit "Step Back", recorded in a Perth hotel room by Johnny, and accompanied by The Easybeats.

Martin Clarke was inducted into the WAM Hall of Fame in 2005 for his contributions to Western Australian music. Sadly, he died in London from a heart attack on Tuesday 28 March, 2006. Later that year the Western Australian Museum's Light and Sound Discovery Centre mounted the Clarion Gold exhibition, co-ordinated by Richard Rennie, which commemorated Martin's work with Clarion, and was staged to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Clarion's first national hit. The exhibition displayed a number of significant items, including Martin Clarke's first record cutting lathe, ca. 1957, a gold record he was awarded in 1966, and many rare records, photographs and documents and some magnificent 1960's record players.


Clarion used its own cataloguing system (prefixed MCP-) for its first dozen releases, (some of which are yet to be identified) but in 1966 the manufacture and distribution of its recordings was taken on by Festival Records on a national basis and all subsequent Clarion recordings were issued using the standard Festival catalogue system. From the early 1960s until early 1973 all records released and/or distributed by Festival were issued using its "K-1000" series catalogue number, which is the reason that the catalogue numbers for labels like Clarion, Sunshine and Spin do not run in numerical sequence. Each label was identified by its own prefix -- Festival's own prefix was FK, and the other labels it distributed were identified with two- or three-letter prefixes -- in the case of Clarion, its prefix was "MCK". Several singles in 1966 were issued with dual catalogue numbers, after which all Clarion releases carried Festival catalogue numbers. The Sep. 1972 single by Tex Croft was the last single issued with the "MCK" prefix and Clarion's last few releases (like all other Festival-distributed labels) used the new K-prefix catalogue system introduced in early 1973.


Cat. # Year Artist Title
MCP-001 1962 Peter Piccini & His Orchestra "Jag Drag" (inst.)
"Little White Star"
MCP-002 - - -
MCP-003 - - -
MCP-004 - - -
MCP-005 1966 The Times "Glad Not Sad"
"Woman Love"
MCP-006 - - -
MCP-007 - - -
MCP-008 1966 The Times "(That) It's Me"
"Valley Of Tears"
1966 Russ Kennedy & The Little Wheels "I've Got My Eyes On You" (Westlake-Shuman)
"Little Wheel"
1966 Russ Kennedy & The Little Wheels "I've Been Watching You"
"Too Much Monkey Business" (Berry)
1966 Ray Hoff & The Offbeats "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" (Hank Ballard)
"Bama-Lama-Bama-Loo" (Penniman)
May 1966 Johnny Young & Kompany "Cara-Lyn"
"Step Back"
MCK 1361 June 1966 Ray Hoff & The Offbeats "Bama-Lama-Bama-Loo"
"Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go"
MCK-1363 June 1966 Russ Kennedy & The LIttle Wheels "I've Been Watching You"
"Too Much Monkey Business"
MCK 1419 July 1966 Glen Ingram & The Hi-Five (A)
Terry Walker & The Hi-Five (B)
"Skye Boat Song" (arr. Boulton-Lawson)
"Long Time Gone"
MCK-1468 Sep. 1966 MBR "Things"
"Dizzy Miss Lizzy"
MCK-1491 Sep. 1966 Robbie Snowden "The Wanderer"
"Take Your Time"
MCK-1520 Oct. 1966 Ray Hoff & The Offbeats "Tossin' and Turnin' " (Rene-Adams)
"Looking For My Pigs"
MCK-1546 Jan. 1967 Johnny Young & Kompany "Kiss Me Now"
"When Will I Be Loved"
MCK-1588 Dec. 1966 Maggie Hammond "This Little Bird" (J.D.Loudermilk)
"Go Laddie" (arr. Birrell-Pridmore)
MCK-1607 Jan. 1967 Toni Lamond "Bye-bye love"
"Ain't misbehavin' "
MCK-1627 Jan. 1967 Glen Ingram & The Clan "That It's Me" (Terry Walker)
"Take This Hammer" (Leadbetter)
MCK-1630 Jan. 1967 Colin Cook "Pocketful of Rainbows" (Wise-Weismann)
"Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout A Thing Called Love" (Chris Andrews)
MCK-1663 Feb. 1967 Robbie Snowden "No One Really Loves A Clown"
"Talkin' "
MCK-1679 Feb. 1967 Kompany "I've Been Around"
"Tell Her No"
MCK-1722 Feb. 1967 The Troupadors "Near To Me"
"Big Boat"
MCK-1734 Apr. 1967 Glen Ingram "I'll Be Dog Gone" (Robinson-Moore-Taplin)
"You Don't Know (What You're Heading For) (Terry Malone)"
MCK-1773 Aug. 1967 The Valentines "I Can't Dance With You" (Marriott-Lane)
"Every Day I Have To Cry" (Arthur Alexander)
MCK-1777 Aug. 1967 Maggie Hammond "High Flying Bird" (Billie Ed Wheeler)
"You Won't Be Leaving" (Hazzard)
MCK-1806 June 1967 The Kompany "Little Joe The Boxer"
"The Family Way"
MCK-1821 June 1967 Robbie Snowden "Sheila"
"What Do You Want To Make Eyes At Me For"
MCK-1857 June 1967 Johnny Young & Kompany "Lady"
"Good Evening Girl"
MCK-1914 Aug. 1967 Colin Cook "Cry I Do"
"You Baby"
MCK-1954 Aug. 1967 Johnny Young "Craise Finton Kirk" (B., M. & R. Gibb)
"I Am The World" (B., M. & R. Gibb)
MCK-1975 Sep. 1967 The Valentines "She Said" (Wright-Young)
"To Know You Is To Love You"
MCK-2006 Oct. 1967 Robbie Snowden "Sunshine Rides On A Trolley"
"Do You Want To Dance"
MCK-2014 1967 Clem Croft & The Hi-Five "I've Walked A Long Way"
"Mule Skinner Blues"
MCK-2024 1967 Johnny Young "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man"
"Epitaph To Mr. Simon Sir"
MCK-2080 Aug. 1967 Johnny Young & Kompany "Wonderful World"
"Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You"
MCK-2101 Dec. 1967 Bill Millar "The Three Bells"
"Everybody Knows (But Her)""
MCK-2104 Jan. 1968 The Troupadors "Come Home, Baby"
"Little Boat"
MCK 2124 Nov. 1967 Johnny Young "Unconcientious Objector"
"Epitaph To Mr Simon Sir"
MCK-2167 1968 The Valentines "I Can Hear The Raindrops" (Lovegrove-Ward)
"Why Me?" (Lovegrove-Ward)
MCK-2168 Feb. 1968 Robbie Snowden "Surrounded By A Ray Of Sunshine"
"Just A Little"
MCK-2196 1968 Chris James "I Will"
"Da Doo Ron Ron"
MCK 2261 Apr. 1968 Colin Cook "I've had my moments" (Orbison-Melson)
"Riot In Cell Block Number 9" (Lieber-Stoller)
MCK-2344 1968 Johnny Young
I"Remember Me If You Please"
"Central Park"
MCK-2411 July 1968 Johnny Young "It's A Sunny Day"
"My World"
MCK-2431 July 1968 Robbie Snowden "Freckles"
"I Can't Stop"
MCK-2432 Aug. 1968 The Proclamation "King Of The Mountain"
"Tea And Sympathy" / "Don't You Worry"
MCK-2441 Aug. 1968 The Valentines "Peculiar Hole In The Sky" (Vanda-Young)
"Love Makes Sweet Music"
MCK-2443 Sep. 1968 The Clan "Peeping Tom"
"Sunday Afternoon"
MCK-2456 Aug. 1968 Soul Purpose
featuring Russ Kennedy and George Rhodes
"Hip Huggin' Mini"
"Sitting In The Park"
MCK-2461 Aug. 1968 Clem Croft "The Man Who Robbed The Bank at Santa Fe"
"Just A Closer Walk With Thee"
MCK-2510 Sep. 1968 Tex Croft "I've Walked A Long Long Way"
"Round Hole Guitar"
MCK-2576 Oct. 1968 Chris James "Going Home For The Last Time"
"Goodbye Mama"
MCK-2579 Oct. 1968 Johnny Young "Mrs Willoughby"
MCK-2668 Nov. 1968 Clem Croft "Jimmie's Song"
"Hey Little Star"
MCK-2680 Nov. 1968 Tex Croft "I Won't Go Hunting With You Jake"
"Long Gone Lonesome Blues"
MCK-2763 Feb. 1969 Soul Purpose "Boogaloo Down Broadway"
MCK-2792 Feb. 1969 Tex Croft "When It's Springtime In Alaska"
"Miller's Cave"
MCK-2880 Mar. 1969 Jonne Sands "Let The Sunshine In"
"Wish It were You"
MCK-3069 Jun. 1969 Strawberry Fair "Come Back and Shake Me"
"Things We Said Today"
MCK-3113 1969 Johnny Young "A Love Song"
"The Trip"
MCK-3148 July 1969 Johnny Young "Milk and Honey Days"
"Half of a Man"
MCK-3149 July 1969 Gemini "Sunshine River"
MCK-3232 Aug. 1969 Quentin Irving "Conquering Hero"
"How Time Does Fly"
MCK 3285 1969 The Vegetable Garden "Even Stevens"
"Hypnotic Suggestion
MCK-3233 Aug. 1969 The Kandies "Wait For Me"
"Rainbow on the River"
MCK-3271 Sep. 1969 Wayne Pride "It Takes All Kinds To Make A World"
"The Long Black Veil"
MCK-3284 Oct. 1969 Les Meade "What a fool you played me for"
"Lisa Marie"
MCK-3285 Sep. 1969 The Vegatable Garden "Even Stevens"
"Hypnotic Suggestion"
MCK-3333 1969 The Birds "I Can't Let Maggie Go"
"No Good Without You"
MCK-3367 Nov. 1969 Swingshift "Words"
"Here, There And Everywhere"
MCK-3398 Nov. 1969 Gemini "Butterfly Wings"
"Nobody Knows When Youre Down And Out"
MCK-3403 Nov. 1969 Quentin Irving "Share"
"Who Can I Love"
MCK-3433 Dec. 1969 Willpower "Soul Finger"
"Spinning Wheel"
MCK-3451 Jan. 1970 Will Taylor "Mr Farmer"
"The Ballad of Jack Solar's Son"
MCK 3474 Jan. 1970 The Birds "I See The Rain"
"Rene" (Marriott-Lane)
MCK-3451 1970 The Birds "I See The Rain"
"Rene (Marriott-Lane)
MCK 3475 Jan. 1970 Chris & John "Sweeter than roses"
MCK-3476 Jan. 1970 Terry Walker "That It's Me"
"Long Time Gone"
MCK-3477 Jan. 1970 Tex Croft "Act Naturally"
"There Was A Time"
MCK-3527 Feb. 1970 The Inner Circle "Alladin"
"Moments of soft persuasion"
MCK-3541 Feb. 1970 Lionel Lewis "Amy"
"Yesterday When I Was Young"
MCK-3542 Mar. 1970 The Birds "Say Those Magic Words"
"Dust In My Pants"
MCK-3612 Mar. 1970 Don Spencer "Ode To War"
"My Silent Friend"
MCK-4177 Apr. 1971 Terry Lawrence "The Girl I Left Behind Me"
"Let Me Be Free"
MCK-4269 June 1971 Terry Lawrence "It Takes Minutes"
"I Want You Again"
MCK-4437 Nov. 1971 Glen Ingram "Let Me Be Free"
"I Want You Again"
MCK-4653 May 1972 Clare Thomas "Let Me Be Free"
"What Went Wrong"
MCK-4654 May 1972 The Court Jesters "Rangers Waltz"
"Day By Day"
MCK-4775 May 1972 Bruce Culver "My Kind of Music"
"Just a drop in the ocean"
MCK-4812 Sep. 1972 Tex Croft "A Thing Called Love"
"There never was a time"
K-5271 Oct. 1973 Fatty Lumpkin "Don't Knock My Boogie"
"Got to get back to Nellie"
K-5452 July 1974 The Quarefellas "Put a light in every country window"
"Bricks and Mortar"
K 5478 1974 Chalice "In My World"
"Mister Won't You Help Me"
K-5566 Oct. 1973 Fatty Lumpkin "Millionaire"
"Man Who Owns the Sea"
K-5626 Aug. 1974 Chalice "Ebenezer"
"After The Gold Rush"
K-5653 1974 The Martin Clarke Orchestra "Joey's Gone"
K-5740 Nov. 1974 Chalice "Nine To Five Girl"
"Nearly Gone"
K-7013 Feb. 1978 Steve Thunder Band "Lady"
"Stomp Your Feet"


Cat. # Year Artist Title
? ? Lloyd Lawson Lloyd Sings
MCPE-004 1967? The Times I'm Not The Marrying Kind
MCX 11205 1966 Johnny Young Let It Be Me
MCX 11226 1966 Ray Hoff & The Offbeats It's Ray Hoff & The Offbeats
MCX 11244 1966 Glen Ingram Skye Boat Song
MCX 11246 1966 Johnny Young Kiss Me Now
MCX 11251 1967 Johnny Young All My Loving
MCX 11269 1967 Robbie Snowden No-one really Loves A Clown
MCX 11379 1967 Johnny Young Craise Finton Kirk
MCX-11472 1967 The Valentines I Can Hear Raindrops
MCX 11725 1969 The Swingshift Words


Cat. # Year Artist Title
MCL-32116 1966 Ray Hoff & The Offbeats Ray Hoff & The Offbeats
(also issued as Festival FL-19006)
MCL-32124 1966 Johnny Young Johnny Young's Golden LP
MCL-32234 1966 Johnny Young It's A Wonderful World
MCL-32268 1967 Various Artists The Clarion Set
MCL-32752 1967 Johnny Young Surprises
L-25164 1974 Peter Piccini Nostalgia Accordion

References / Links

Thanks to Andy from globaldog productions for corrections and additional information.

Hank B. Facer
Museum of Indigenous Recording Labels
MIRL Discography No 27, June 1982

Clarion Gold Exhibition
Fremantle Light and Sound Discovery Centre, Western Australian Museum

Ian McFarlane
Encyclopedia of Australia Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)

Globaldog Productions - Clarion 45 Discography

Vernon Joyson
Dreams, Fantasies & Nightmares - Australia (Borderline Books, 1999)

Cherry Red Records

Peter Piccini wesbite

RPM Records - The Clarion Call

Martin Clarke commemorative webpage

State Library of Western Australia
- features several excellent photos of Martin Clarke at his Perth studio, taken in 1968