What does it sound like?:
The first elpee I bought was The Beatles Hey Jude a singles compilation only released in Australia initially.
The second album I bought was by local band Spectrum. They had no hits at the time so I think I must have heard them on one of the album radio shows appearing around then. It was 1971 and I was 14. I’ve still got the album replete with my name address and phone number on the back (6 digit phone number, we are now up to 8).
I played it the other day and 2 things struck me. It held up really well and also it was worn out. Few of my records are thus as one was always moving on to next release during that period of high creativity. This album and it’s follow up, the double album Milesago fetch a pretty penny in vinyl format but fortunately, their records have been reissued by Aztec Records. Gil Matthews was the drummer in Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and his label have set about remastering and reissuing classic Australasian records from the sixties and seventies.
My copy of Spectrum Part One arrived the other day and has been on high rotation.
Spectrum, at the time, were a head /prog /psych band, think Tamam Shud, Tully, etc. Early influences were Traffic, Vanilla Fudge, maybe some Zappa. They preferred to play “concerts” – remember them? Cross-legged on the floor aching ankles amidst a fog of smoke? They ticked a lot of prog boxes. quirky quasi-intellectual lyrics, Hammond organ through a Leslie box, songs about dope (well one anyway), a prodigious young drummer and yes, a recorder. On top of this, they were the first Australian band to be on the Harvest label.
The things that stood out then are what stand out now- only more so. More so coz the remix really brings the stunning drumming of 17-year-old Mark Kennedy to the fore. Some sections of keys and drums would have me just stop as I was walking past. Mark Kennedy went on to be a top drummer in Australia but sadly the keyboardist Lee Neale appears to have lost the plot and is untraceable.
The leader of the band is/was a kiwi Mke Rudd who has lived in Australia since his early twenties. He’s got a distinctive voice though it is a bit weedy and not particularly attractive. But it does the job and his lyrics are offbeat. A later track was called the Garden of the Frenzied Cortinas, geddit you film buffs? He and bassist Bill Putt continued to play under the Spectrum name until Bill’s untimely death a few years ago.
Spectrum Part One was recorded quickly like so many first albums are. Just go into the studio and do what we do every night we play. But prior to that, they had recorded a jaunty little track called I’ll Be Gone. This song took off and, along with Daddy Cool’s Eagle Rock is a song etched in the musical DNA of Australian’s across generations. In fact, while typing this and playing the song Mrs. Wells walked in and immediately started singing along. It’s that kind of song. But Mike Rudd left it off the record as out of synch with their”underground” vibe. He was quite right artistically, but, as he concedes now, it was commercially stupid, especially for a poverty-stricken band. I’m sure we have done a list of hits left off albums well add this song to the list.
Reissues often grab whatever they can find from a band’s archive. Often it is crap. In this case, the inclusion of I’ll Be Gone (assorted versions) and some other rarities are justified. Comprehensive liner notes in print you can actually read make this a great reissue.
What does it all *mean*?
You tell me.
Goes well with…
Might suit people who like…
Prog, swelling Hammond organ, wonderful drumming.