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Encyclopedia entry for 'Jenny Morris' LETTER:

StylePop, soul
 Albums: Body and Soul (WEA, 1987), Shiver (WEA, 1989), Honeychild (East West/Warner, 1991), The Best of Jenny Morris: The Story So Far (compilation, Warner, 1992), Salvation Jane (rooArt/Warner, 1995).

New Zealand-born singer Jenny Morris (b. 1956) started out with Wellington neo-feminist girl group Wide Mouthed Frogs. In 1980 she joined new wave pop outfit The Crocodiles, who had a Top 20 hit in their homeland with `Tears'. The Crocodiles flew to Sydney in February 1981 but by July, with the band in tatters, Morris had launched her solo career. One of the other Crocodiles members who made the fateful move to Sydney was drummer Barton Price who went on to join Sardine v and Models. Debra Byrne later issued a cover version of `Tears' as a single.

Morris sang the theme song to the feature film Puberty Blues. `Puberty Blues' was issued as her debut solo single backed with `Adolescent Angst' (December 1981). She then formed QED with Rex Goh (guitar; ex-Air Supply) and Ian Belton (bass). With the help of session players like Amanda Vincent, Sam McNally and Glen Muirhead (keyboards), Tony Buchanan (sax) and South African Ricky Fataar (drums, who also co-produced with Mark Moffatt), QED recorded a quite respectable pop album, Animal Magic (EMI; November 1984). The album contained a couple of old Crocodiles songs, including `Animal Magic', `Everywhere I Go' and `You're So Hip'. The album produced three singles, `Everywhere I Go'/`Checkmate' (national #21 in December 1983), `Solo and More'/`I'll Get It Right' (March 1984) and `This One'/`Hush Sweet Charlotte' (August). Although `Everywhere I Go' peaked at #6 in Sydney, QED never really took off.

Morris issued a tentative solo single, `Get Some Humour'/`Get Some Humour' in November 1985. In the meantime, Morris had sung backing vocals on INXS's 1984 breakthrough album The Swing. At the end of 1985 she accepted an offer to sing backing vocals on INXS's massive Listen Like Thieves world tour. INXS's Andrew Farriss wrote and produced Morris's next single, `You're Gonna Get Hurt'/`Cool' (September 1986), before he returned to his commitments on the international touring circuit. Producers Ricky Fataar and Mark Moffatt completed Morris's debut solo album, Body and Soul. Issued in July 1987, it was a promising release and yielded three singles, `Body and Soul'/ `Animal Magnetism' (April), `You I Know'/`Broke the Leather' (August) and `Lighthearted'/`Are You Ready?' (November).

Body and Soul reached #12 on the national chart, sold platinum (over 70 000 copies) and established Morris as one of the best singer/songwriters in the country. The Neil Finn-composed torch-ballad `You I Know' became her biggest hit (#13 in September) and Morris won the 1987 Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Award for Most Popular Female Performer. In 1988 Morris married photographer Paul Clarke and took a break to start a family. Two years later she was back with the accomplished Andrew Farriss-produced album Shiver (August 1989). Morris co-wrote ten of the album's 11 tracks; the 11th track was a cover of Paul Kelly's `(Beggar on the) Street of Love'. Four singles were lifted from the album: `Saved Me'/`Drown' (#27 in August 1989), `She Has to Be Loved'/`Conscience' (#5 in November), `(Beggar on the) Street of Love'/`Conscience' (February 1990) and `Self Deceiver'/`Pass It Over' (Live) (April). `Saved Me' and `She Has to Be Loved' highlighted Morris's growing confidence by fusing funk rhythms with pop hooks.

Shiver reached #2 on the national chart in October, and went on to sell over 250 000 copies in Australia. Morris embarked on an international tour that took in US dates supporting Prince. Morris's 1990 touring band included Dweezil Zappa (son of Frank) on lead guitar. At the start of 1991, Morris issued a version of `Piece of My Heart' (made famous by Janis Joplin) as a single (backed with a live version of `She Has to Be Loved') and it reached #24 on the chart during February. With the help of co-producer Nick Launay and the master rhythm section of Jamaicans Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, Morris crafted a cohesive, dynamic and emotion-charged third solo album, Honeychild (October 1991). The album reached #4 on the national chart and included her biggest hit single to date, the funky `Break in the Weather' (#2 in October).

The album's second single, the haunting `I've Had You' (co-written with Paul Kelly) was not quite so successful and peaked at #39 in January 1992. A third single, `Crackerjack Man' (May 1992), missed the national Top 40. The 16-track compilation album The Best of Jenny Morris: The Story So Far (November 1992) drew together all Morris's hit singles, plus her rare duet with INXS's Michael Hutchence on `Jackson' and a re-recorded version of `Tears' which also came out as a CD single (October). The Story So Far peaked at #12 in April 1993, one month after Morris supported ex-Beatle Paul McCartney on an Australian tour.

Morris's next run of singles was spread over a period of almost two years: `Only We Can Hear' (May 1994), `Rhythm and Flow' (June 1995), `In Too Deep' (October 1995) and `What I Do Now' (February 1996). The album from which these singles were culled, Salvation Jane, appeared in August 1995 on the rooArt label. Among the production credits for the album were long-time collaborator Andrew Farriss, Electric Hippies and hot-shot engineer Jeremy Allom (Massive Attack).

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


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