Fifty years ago, in 1969, Australia’s top pop male singer Normie Rowe went to Vietnam to serve in the Australian Army. Normie had been conscripted, along with thousands of other young Australian men, and trained for armed combat in the controversial Vietnam War. For those chosen, by random ballot, it was, by law, compulsory. Normie had already racked up 13 chart hits since breaking through in 1965. He was the “King of Pop” but his two years in the army left him having to start out again.
Fifty years on and Normie has had the opportunity to record and release a stirring version of the classic Australian ballad Compulsory Hero, written by songwriter and one time member of 1927 (and Moving Pictures) Garry Frost.
Normie’s take on Compulsory Hero is a deeply emotional rendition of a song Garry originally wrote for a feature film that was to be made about the Vietnam War. That film didn’t get made at the time, but Garry made good use of the song when he formed 1927 and recorded their debut album with hit producer Charles Fisher.
The new recording of Compulsory Hero was produced by Michael Carpenter at his Love HZ studio. Michael created the recording playing most of the instruments as well as adding strings for the emotional orchestral build in the recording. Normie says, “it’s a great thrill to be involved in this project. Such strong lyrics for me to interpret adds to a very stimulating experience. 1927 were very strong musically and lyrically. To join in revisiting such an epic piece is a complete joy.”