Wendy Saddington's musical influences included the likes of Bessie Smith, Etta James, Mahalia Jackson, Odetta, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin, and the raw blues from the Mississippi delta, along with the swanky soul coming from the American Stax, Atlantic and Motown labels. There was also something of the vulnerability of Edith Piaf in Wendy's pleading, bleeding vocal entreaties.
Saddington first came to notice in Melbourne psych-soul outfit The Revolution, before swiftly joining Adelaide's psychedelic/classically flavoured James Taylor Move around late 1967. Virtually all the members of this band went on to bigger and better things -- Peek, Tarney and Spencer all moved to the UK, where Tarney and Spencer became sought-after session players, writers and producers as well as forming their own successful band.
Peek likewise became an in-demand session player in London and later linked up with renowned classical guitarist John Williams, and together they formed the enormously successful classical-rock fusion band Sky. As with most of Saddington's band collaborations, she had already left the band before any recordings were made.
Such was again the case when Wendy joined the emerging blues-rock ensemble Beaten Tracks, which she named (The) Chain, after the song by one of her heroines, Aretha Franklin's soul classic, "Chain Of Fools". Wendy spent around 18 months touring with Chain, and it was during this time that her passionate, earth-mother Joplin/Franklin vocal style came to prominent notice among promoters and punters alike. Also, her 'outlandish' appearance attracted magazines like Go-Set: a sad waif-like face, heavily mascara-ed around the eyes, framed by the hugest of afro 'do' this side of Jimi's Experience! Wendy favoured simple Levi's, with a basic shirt or cheesecloth kaftan top, copiously accessorised with love-beads and bangles.
During 1969 Wendy made a guest appearance on the short-lived ABC-TV program Fusions, an innovative 'in concert' series starring Sydney-based progressive band Tully. It's not known whether any tapes of this series have survived, but the recent rediscovery of a large number of episodes of the ABC's GTK series give hope that at least some of this series has sruvived.Circa 1969 Wendy also began writing a regular column in Go-Set., giving advice on love and relationships.
Saddington's next musical outing was with Jeff St John's highly acclaimed and well-established group, Copperwine, and it's here that we finally have an officially-released recording of her sublime vocal performances! Wendy joined the band in March 1970, just after the release of Copperwine's superb Joint Effort album, and she sang live as co-lead with St John for a concentrated touring regime through to February 1971. In January of that year, with St John temporarily away from the band, Saddington fronted Copperwine for their acclaimed performance at the Wallacia Festival on the central-coast of New South Wales.
An live recording of the event was released on Festival's new progressive subsidiary Infinity during '71, which showcased Copperwine's sympathetic backing sensibilities for Wendy's distinctive vocals. On such cuts as the funky opener, Nina Simone's "Backlash Blues", and her heartfelt reading of Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues", Saddington continually astonishes with her sensual soul power. Another notable inclusion is Wendy's introspective and idiosyncratic reading of John Lennon's "Tomorrow Never Knows" (which Wendy introduces as a George Harrison composition!).
Other highlights include "Five People Said I Was Crazy " (which, with its wild Ross East guitar solo, Barry Kelly's electric piano flourishes and Wendy's monumental banshee wail, certainly lives up to its title). The closing tour-de-force "Blues In A" completely satisfies the listener as a consummate combination of the music of one of Australia's premier all-purpose prog-blues bands of the time, with definitely one of our most unique and mesmerising blues-soul vocalists.
1. Backlash Blues (Nina Simone) - 4:16
2. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (B. Dylan) - 7:31
3. Tomorrow Never Knows (J. Lennon, P. McCartney) - 8:42
4. Five People Said I Was Crazy (Wendy Saddington And The Copperwine) - 7:35
5. Blues In 'A' (Wendy Saddington And The Copperwine) - 14:27
6. Looking Through A Window (Warren Morgan, Billy Thorpe) - 5:58
7. We Need A Song (Warren Morgan, Billy Thorpe) - 3:24
8. Looking Through A Window (Warren Morgan, Billy Thorpe) - 3:58
Tracks 1-5 recorded live at "The Odyssey" Music Festival Wallacia January 1971
Bonus Track 6-9 single infinity recorded July 1971
*Wendy Saddington - Lead Vocals
*Harry Brus - Bass
*Ross East - Guitar, Vocals
*Peter Figures - Drums
*Barry Kelly - Keyboards, Vocals