The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band Classic ‘Smoke Dreams’ Reissued Through Gil Matthews’ Aztec Records -
Captain Matchbox Whoopie Band Smoke Dreams

Captain Matchbox Whoopie Band Smoke Dreams

The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band Classic ‘Smoke Dreams’ Reissued Through Gil Matthews’ Aztec Records

by Paul Cashmere on June 24, 2024

in News

‘Smoke Dreams’, the first Captain Matchbox album, was released on July 9, 1973 and reached no 23 on the Australian album chart. It featured the hit song ‘My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes’. According to Gavin Ryan’s ‘Australian Singles Charts 1940 to 2020, the song reached no 10 in Melbourne, no 14 in Adelaide, no 25 in Brisbane, no 34 in Sydney and no 51 in Hobart.

AZTEC RECORDS continues to bring you the best of Aussie reissues. For a sweet trip down memory lane, when jug bands could sing “That cat is high, look at them two stoned eyes” (‘That Cat is High’) look no further than this superb reissue of Smoke Dreams by Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band. Originally issued on vinyl back in 1973, Smoke Dreams was where the band made the transition from underground heroes to major attraction.

As one of the most unusual aggregations ever assembled in Australia, Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band played jug band blues, folk-jazz and gypsy swing enlivened with sideshow entertainment and vaudeville lunacy. Even in the 1970s it was music of a by-gone era (the 1930s) yet in the hands of lead singer / washboard player Mic Conway and his eccentric crew it was vibrant and addictive, outrageously entertaining, left-field and breathtakingly brilliant.

At a time when other bands were obsessed with the blues and prog rock, Captain Matchbox took their inspiration from Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton and the Memphis Jug Band. The group’s irreverent, counter-cultural style was almost unclassifiable in some ways because they traversed the folk, jazz and rock scenes without having to be loyal to any particular one. They appeared at rock venues (the notorious TF Much Ballroom and the Reefer Cabaret), outdoor festivals (Sunbury), jazz clubs and folk nights with the response always positive.

Recorded at Armstrong’s Studios with venerable engineer Ernie Rose at the helm, Smoke Dreams announced to the wider Australian public that the band’s music was just a barrelful of kooky fun. The laconic and playful hit single ‘My Canary has Circles Under His Eyes’ made them certified radio stars. Smoke Dreams retains a quirky, appealing freshness to this day, full of jug band blues, ragtime jazz, vaudeville, parody and swing, with novelty W. C. Fields megaphone vocals, acoustic guitar, kazoo, washboard, banjo, honky tonk piano, all manner of silly noises and found sounds.

The album included five additional tracks including the 1978 commercial for Jaffas.

Get Smoke Dreams here

Captain Matchbox Whoopie Band’s second album was released on AZTEC RECORDS in 2014.

Track Listing
CD1 – Smoke Dreams
1. I Can’t Dance (I Got Ants In My Pants)
2. My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes
3. Nagasaki
4. Sophisticated Mama
5. Mobile Line (France Blues)
6. Hotsy Totsy (Everything Is)
7. Who Walks In When I Walk Out
8. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
9. After You’ve Gone
10. That Cat Is High
11. Smoke Dreams (Of You)

Bonus Tracks
12. Jungle Love (Single B-Side)
13. Coney Island Washboard Blues (Live)
14. Lindberg Hop (Live)
15. Red River Valley (Live)
16. Jaffas (Commercial)

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