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Encyclopedia entry for 'Rockmelons' LETTER:

Formed in 1983
StyleDance pop
 Original line-up: Ray Medhurst (keyboards), Jonathan `Jonno' Jones (keyboards, electric dulcimer, guitar, sequencers; ex-No Heavy Lifting), Byron Jones (keyboards; ex-No Heavy Lifting)
 Albums: Tales of the City (True Tone, 1988), Form 1 Planet (Mushroom/Festival, 1992).

History
As Sydney's premier dance-pop band of the late 1980s/early 1990s, Rockmelons helped introduce American-influenced funk, soul and hip hop into the intensely `rock' milieu of the Australian music scene. Utilising state-of-the-art studio technology and all manner of electronic instrumentation, the band's music combined a danceable bottom end and a seamless groove with an innate tunefulness and soulful, sunny disposition.

Formed by black music fanatic Ray Medhurst, Rockmelons started out more as a concept than a band. Having recruited the Jones brothers to put his musical ideas into practice, Medhurst was able to steer Rockmelons in the required direction. Rather than start on the pub circuit, Rockmelons mounted their own Sydney warehouse dance-parties. As well as incorporating Vinnie Dale (keyboards) into the line-up, the group hired three excellent vocalists, Peter Blakeley, John Kenny and Sandi Chick, to help round out the sound. In those days, the band often numbered ten or more musicians on stage, including a DJ and other guest players like Geoffrey Stapleton (keyboards, guitar; from GANGgajang) and Peter Kennard (guitar).

Blakeley has been acknowledged as one of the finest blue-eyed soul singers Australia has ever produced. He remained long enough to feature on the band's second single, `Sweat It Out'/`If Tomorrow Ever Comes' (October 1986), before embarking on a solo career. Sydney independent label Phantom had issued Rockmelons' debut single `Time Out (for Serious Fun)'/`Extremely Serious' (through Festival, February 1985), which featured Chick on lead vocals. `Sweat It Out' was the first product of the band's new deal with the True Tone label. English producer Robin Smith (Earth Wind & Fire, 5-Star, Nolans) produced the band's third and fourth singles, a cover of Al Green's `Rhymes'/ `Hypotheque' (July 1987) and `New Groove'/`In the Neighbourhood' (December) respectively.

`Rhymes' featured vocalist Kenny, while `New Groove' featured Wendy Matthews up front; both singles reached the national Top 40. Smith completed work on Rockmelons' debut album, Tales of the City (May 1988), which yielded three further singles, `What's It Gonna Be?'/`What's It Gonna Be?' (instrumental) (February 1988), `Thief'/`Boogie Tron' (July) and an excellent electro-funk rendition of Curtis Mayfield's `Jump'/`Dreams in the Empty City', also sung by Matthews (October). Tales of the City peaked at #6 on the national chart in June. The band wrapped up the year by winning a shared (with 1927) Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Award for Best Debut Album.

Rockmelons ended a lengthy period away from the scene by re-emerging in 1991 with a new vocalist Deni Hines. The first fruit of the new union was the hit single Bill Withers' `Ain't No Sunshine' (November 1991), which reached #5 on the national chart during January 1992. `That Word (L.O.V.E.)' (May 1992) followed `Ain't No Sunshine' into the national Top 5, peaking at #4 in June. The band's self-produced second album, Form 1 Planet (July 1992), reached #2 on the national chart, and produced a third hit single sung by Hines, `It's Not Over' (#15 in September). The album also featured vocal and rap contributions from Doug Williams, Eric Sebastian, Johanna Pigott (XL-Capris, Scribble) and Kye. Deni Hines embarked on a solo career. Following a fourth single lifted from the album, `Form I Planet' (December), Rockmelons slipped from view once again.



Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop / Ian McFarlane 1999
under licence from Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd

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