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Whispering Jack
Whispering Jack
Studio album "Whispering Jack" cover art

Released

20 October 1986

Recorded

April-June 1986

Genre

Adult contemporary rock

Length

41:14

Label

Wheatley, Sony BMG, RCA

Producer

Ross Fraser

Singles

Formats

LP, CD, MC

Preceded by

No Reins
(with Little River Band)

Suceeded by

Age Of Reason

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 No. 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 No. 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.

BackgroundEdit

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 No. 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 No. 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 Sydney radio station 2Day FM 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 No. 1 in Sweden and Australia, as well as being a Top Ten hit in some European countries: No. 3 in Switzerland, No. 6 in the UK, and No. 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 No. 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 No. 1 in Sweden, No. 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 No. 4, March 1987's "A 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 Burchall 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 listingEdit

Standard track listingEdit

  1. "Pressure Down" (H. Bogdanovs) – 3:50
  2. "You're The Voice" (A. Qunta, K. Reid, M. Ryder, C. Thompson) – 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

Alternate track listingEdit

  1. "Pressure Down (Remix)" (H. Bogdanovs) – 3:45
  2. "You're The Voice (Remix)" (A. Qunta, K. Reid, M. Ryder, C. Thompson) – 5:35
  3. "A Touch Of Paradise (Remix)" (R. Wilson, G. Smith) – 4:39
  4. "One Step Away" (J. Kennett, D. Skinner) – 3:36
  5. "Reasons" (S. See) – 4:26
  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. "Let Me Out" (J. Farnham) – 4:22
  10. "Going, Going, Gone" (J. Farnham, D. Hirschfelder, R. Fraser) – 3:33

USA Promo CD track listingEdit

  1. "Pressure Down (Remix)" (H. Bogdanovs) – 3:45
  2. "You're The Voice (Remix)" (A. Qunta, K. Reid, M. Ryder, C. Thompson) – 5:35
  3. "A Touch Of Paradise (Remix)" (R. Wilson, G. Smith) – 4:39

European Promo CD track listingEdit

  1. "Pressure Down" (H. Bogdanovs) – 3:50
  2. "You're The Voice" (A. Qunta, K. Reid, M. Ryder, C. Thompson) – 5:04
  3. "A Touch Of Paradise" (R. Wilson, G. Smith) – 4:48

Boxed Limited Edition track listingEdit

  1. "Pressure Down" (H. Bogdanovs) – 3:50
  2. "You're The Voice" (A. Qunta, K. Reid, M. Ryder, C. Thompson) – 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. "Dream People" (F. Howson, J. Capek) – 5:05
  12. "Amazing Grace [Live]" (Traditional) – 4:27

20th Anniversary Edition track listingEdit

Disc One (CD)

  1. "Pressure Down" (H. Bogdanovs) – 3:50
  2. "You're The Voice" (A. Qunta, K. Reid, M. Ryder, C. Thompson) – 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]" (G. Goble, J. Farnham, D. Hirschfelder, S. Housden, S. Proffer, W. Nelson, S. Prestwich) - 3:08
  13. "Help! [Live]" (J. Lennon, P. McCartney) - 4:58
  14. "You're The Voice [Live]" (A. Qunta, K. Reid, M. Ryder, C. Thompson) - 6:13
  15. "Credits" - 2:06

PersonnelEdit

John Farnham band
Additional musicians
  • Rozzi 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 Fraser – drum programs, snappy fingers
  • Wickow – snappy fingers
  • Dougie – low moans
  • Ross Fraser - producer
  • Doug Brady - engineer
  • Michael Wickow - engineering assistant
  • The Malpass Design Group - artwork
  • Louise Petruccelli - photography

Chart positionsEdit

Chart (1986–1987) Peak position
Australian Albums Chart 1
New Zealand Albums Chart 2
Norwegian Albums Chart 12
Swedish Albums Chart 1
Swiss Albums Chart 3

SinglesEdit

Ytv
Pd
Atop
R
"You're The Voice"
Released: September 1986
"Pressure Down"
Released: 8 December 1986
"A Touch Of Paradise"
Released: 2 February 1987
"Reasons"
Released: September 1987

Domestic releasesEdit

SFL1-0149 (LP)Edit

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SFCD-0149 (CD)Edit

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SFCD-0149L (Limited Edition CD)Edit

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SFCD-0149C (Collector's Edition CD)Edit

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SFCD-0149 (1996 10th Anniversary Edition CD)Edit

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WJK-0001 (Boxed Limited Edition MC)Edit

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SFCD-0149 (2006 Re-Issue CD)Edit

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88697027122 (20th Anniversary Edition CD/DVD)Edit

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88697522092 (Box Set w/"Age Of Reason" 2CD)Edit

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International releasesEdit

PL71224 (European LP)Edit

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WJ Sampler (European Promo CD)Edit

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TLP-90027 (Argentinian LP)Edit

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