A Touch of Paradise Original
Mondo Rock’s Touch of Paradise Original
“A Touch Of Paradise” is about an unknown place that is … well, paradise. Ross Wilson (Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock frontman), Gulliver Smith (Australian prog rock band Company Caine’s frontman) and Roger McLachlan (Little River Band bass player) wrote the song in the late 1970s. “A Touch Of Paradise” appeared on John Farnham’s iconic 12th studio album, 1986’s Whispering Jack, released during his splendiferous mullet heyday. Rock band Mondo Rock released the “A Touch Of Paradise” original in 1982. It appeared on their third studio album Nuovo Mondo.
“A Touch Of Paradise” is an important song for Wilson. He wrote it during a period of musical transition. It was a more sensitive song, a ballad, compared with other songs Wilson wrote at the time.
‘A Touch of Paradise’ was one of the first songs Wilson wrote as he morphed from the hairy frontman for rockers Daddy Cool into sophisticated adult-pop vocalist of Mondo Rock.”Simon Collins
The “A Touch Of Paradise” original by Mondo Rock has a new wave feel to it, whereas Farnham’s version has a Triple M soft rock feel to it. Wilson’s voice sounds rawer too. However, both versions of “A Touch Of Paradise” are pretty similar. Farnham didn’t deviate too much from the original.
Farnsey’s Music Woes
Following the departure of singer Glenn Shorrock, former teen-idol Farnham fronted Little River Band between 1982 and 1986. But by the mid-80s he wanted to pursue a solo career.
The problem was by that time Farnham’s name was “music industry poison”. His last hit was 1969’s “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”. And the almost-40-year-old Farnham was still known as pretty teen Johnny Farnham who sang about Sadie the cleaning lady. He was almost broke and needed desperately to prove he could handle weightier emotional and contemporary material.
Recording Whispering Jack
In 1985, Farnham and his manager, Glenn Wheatley, began working on Whispering Jack. Wheatley mortgaged his house to pay for the album’s recording sessions. All up, he sank $150,000 into Whispering Jack.
John also updated his look, growing a flowing, golden mullet and sporting a full-length Drizabone; he resembled a rock and roll stormtrooper.”Daily Review, 24 November 2016
Whispering Jack took a year to plan. In the winter of 1985, Farnham and Wheatley spent six weeks working in the garage of Farnham’s rented suburban home. They then moved to a studio for another few weeks to lay down vocals and instrumentals. At Farnham’s suggestion, they added a bagpipe solo to “You’re the Voice”.
How Jack Came Back
Initially radio stations refused to play tracks from Whispering Jack. Mid-80s Australian FM radio was dominated by Triple M and 2Day FM in Sydney, and EON FM in Melbourne. They wanted to play INXS, Jimmy Barnes, Mondo Rock and Crowded House, not Johnny Farnham.
Wheatley sent “You’re the Voice” to radio stations in plain wrapping, supplying no information about the song other than its title. 2Day FM played it and listeners inundated them with requests for the new song.
Whispering Jack became the highest Australian album of all time and the first Australian album released on CD. It sold over a million copies and took the number one album spot on the Australian ARIA Charts for 27 weeks. Farham’s music career revived and he became the only Australian artist to have a number one record across five consecutive decades.
A Touch of a Ballad
Wheatley wanted to include a ballad on Whispering Jack and suggested “A Touch of Paradise”. The “A Touch of Paradise” single was released in February 1987 with a live cover of the Beatles’ “Help!” on the B side. It peaked at number 27 on the Australian singles chart. The song featured McLachlan, who’d help write the song, on bass. Nikki Nicholls and Penny Dyer sang backing vocals.
A Live Music Staple
“A Touch of Paradise” has been performed live 124 times – four by Mondo Rock and 120 by Farnham. Most recently he performed the song at the January 2020 Falls Music Festival in Fremantle. Each time Farnham sings “A Touch of Paradise”, he acknowledges Wilson.
I’m afraid I’m not a massive Farnsey fan, but he’s a good singer and an Australian icon. Although I prefer Mondo Rock’s “A Touch of Paradise” original, Farnham showcases his good singing voice in his version. Oddly, the early-80s “A Touch of Paradise” original features less synth than Farnham’s version.
Farnham’s rarely-seen “A Touch of Paradise” music video is worth a look too. He’s resplendent with his glorious mullet and sports a grey striped suit.
Kevin Paige Version
In 1990, American singer Kevin Paige released a cover of “A Touch of Paradise” as a single from his 1989 self-titled debut album. Paige seems to be channeling Michael Hutchence on the album cover, but his music is less sexy. In fact, he now makes Christian pop music. This fact kind of sums up my opinion of Paige’s version of “A Touch of Paradise”.
All up, I prefer the “A Touch of Paradise” original by Mondo Rock and I reckon it’s awesome that Farnham acknowledges Wilson each time he performs the song.