Number of Discs: 2
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Format: Audio CD
Label: Aztec Music
Could there be a singer in the annals of Australian rock and pop as under-rated and under-appreciated as LEO DE CASTRO? In a perfect world, the tenacious Leo De Castro would be recognised and justly celebrated as one of our major vocal talents. The man born Leo Kiwi Kino in Auckland, New Zealand (1949) was a musical giant of a man, blessed with the most soulful, gravelly-toned voice of his generation. Aztec Records presents, on Double CD, the first ever anthology covering the career of this astonishing performer, Leo De Castro & Friends. It’s time to rediscover the legacy of this awe-inspiring, talented figure.
Between 1969 and 2008 Leo was a permanent fixture on the Australian pub/concert/festival circuit. His early days fronting the legendary rock bands King Harvest and Friends saw him praised by those in the know for his soulful vocal abilities. Then as singer for the Johnny Rocco Band he became a pioneer of the funk rock genre locally, eventually incorporating country elements into his rockin’ funk and soul stew. In later years he tended to fly under the radar, content to play the clubs around Hobart, Tasmania, but those who knew of his dynamic stage presence hankered for more.
The redoubtable singer was always able to surround himself with musicians of quality and distinction, and such celebrated names as Billy Green, Charlie Tumahai, Mark Kennedy, Duncan McGuire, Ray Oliver, Russell Dunlop and Mark Punch are present and correct across these recordings. On the first disc you’ll hear classic singles by King Harvest (‘Wichita Lineman’, ‘Jumping Jack Flash’), Friends (‘B. B. Boogie’, ‘Lucille’), the Johnny Rocco Band (the original version of the timeless soul ballad ‘Heading In The Right Direction’) and Leo De Castro’s Babylon (‘Suspicious Minds’). As an added treat there’s the one and only single by Healing Force (‘Golden Miles’) featuring the towering vocal delivery of Leo’s comrade-in-arms, Charlie Tumahai.
The second disc comprises live recordings of Friends, circa 1972/73. Much of this material is previously unreleased and it’s particularly gratifying to hear the breadth, depth and sheer power the band brought to the stage at the Mulwala and Sunbury festivals and the Myer Music Bowl (the 3XY Moomba Concert, supporting the Aztecs, in front of a colossal audience of 200,000 people). The enthralling live renditions of ‘Lucille’, ‘Freedom Train’, ‘Golden Miles’, ‘Lady Montego’, Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Gimme Some Lovin’’ and Neil Young’s ‘Down By The River’ are a fitting testimony to the talents of the great Leo De Castro.
This deluxe 2CD version is packaged in a handsome 8 panel digi-pak. Digitally remastered audio by Gil Matthews, it sounds better than ever, with a 24-page booklet colour booklet with rare photos and liner notes by Ian McFarlane is a must-have for fans of Classic Aussie Rock.