Walking in the Rain ... Doc Neeson's last studio recording gets released. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
When Doc Neeson recorded what would turn out to be the last song of his career he wasn’t thinking endings but what he would do next.
"He was still upbeat and optimistic," recalls producer Brendan Gallagher. "He said I've got these gigs and I want to do some more recording with you, which I would have done. I'm sure it would have been great but I had a niggling feeling this would be goodbye."
That song, a cover of Walking In The Rain which was written by and originally recorded for the famous Albert Productions label (under the name Flash And The Pan in 1978) by original Easybeats George Young and Harry Vanda, was released to radio on Thursday and will be on CD on August 15 as part of the Good Times box set.
Originally intended as a download-only track ahead of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Albert Productions – which was the home for the Easybeats, AC/DC and Neeson’s The Angels – demand from Angels fans pushed Alberts and Sony to release a physical version.
The song, which mixes a jazz sample with almost a spoken word delivery by Neeson, similar but also quite different to the approach taken by Grace Jones on her famous 1981 version, rides on the mellifluous tone of Neeson’s deep voice and Irish/Australian accent.
"The strength of the song written by George and Harry is dreamlike or trancelike in mood," Neeson said soon after recording the track. "The lyrics are a stream of consciousness which so masterfully creates a subconscious state of mind. One of the biggest challenges was to get in that state of mind to sing the song."
Now with radio, as well as in stores, Walking In The Rain could mark a chart farewell for Neeson who died in June from a brain tumour but was, according to Gallagher, still impressive when they entered the Alberts studio in November last year.
"It was pretty instructive of what an old pro he was because the day we were going to do the vocals Australian Story were following him around with cameras," Gallagher says. "They asked do you mind if we film while you do it and and Doc said sure. They started filming, I hit record and he did it in one take. I said let's do another one, just for the cameras really because he got it in the first go. He was that good."
And Neeson was not done yet.
"On the last day he said I really like working with you and I'd like to do some more. And he started telling me that he'd been booked into this pub tour run and he wanted me to put a band together and come out and play with him," Gallagher says. "Other people around him when you’d ask what’s happening with Doc would shake their heads but you wouldn't know it from him."