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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tamam Shud - Evolution (1969 aussie, significant hard psych rock with prog traces, 2007 japan extra tracks edition)

As the year progressed The Sunsets, now immersed in the blossoming psychedelic scene, reinvented themselves as Tamam Shud. Their new name was a Persian phrase meaning "the very end", which was taken by Bjerre from the closing words of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. (The naming of the group is recounted in a hidden track at the end of Permanent Culture, narrated by Tim Gaze's father.) They were certainly one of the first Australian groups to take up the new acid-rock style led by artists like Cream, Hendrix and Pink Floyd. As the above quote indicates, they were also strongly influenced by free jazz, and by the American West Coast groups like Love, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane -- although they were (in my opinion anyway) far more coherent musically than the Dead, and their songs were less strident lyrically than some of the Airplane's more politicised material.

On stage, their live sound had a distinctive edge thanks to Bjerre's use of an acoustic guitar, amplified by a pickup, and right from the start they were respected by audiences and players alike for their musicianship. Their first appearance as Tamam Shud was at the Intermedia Circus in Sydney in 1967 and they soon became recognised as one of Australia's most innovative bands, with their sets including long, improvised instrumental sections. According to Noel McGrath, "...audiences never danced - they sat and listened".

Over the next five years Shud became one of the most popular live acts of the east coast scene, playing at all the major disco and 'head' venues in Sydney and Melbourne. The lingering "surf band" tag linked them with Sydney's northern beaches surf culture, and it's a misnomer that has been repeated in several refernece books, but according to Lindsay, Tamam Shud hardly ever played the northern beaches. In reality, the major fan base fopr them, and for contemporaries like The Dave Miller Set was on Sydney's university and college dance circuit, and with the 'hippy' audiences at inner city underground venues like the Mandala Theatre in Darlinghurst and the Beacon Theatre in Newtown.

The Shud also had a notable association with the famous Sydney film/lightshow collective UBU who promoted many pioneering multimedia events in Sydney, and Shud were regularly teamed with other leading progressive acts including Tully. They often played at UBU-organised events, including the legendary Underground Dances of 1968-69. In the press release for the first Underground Dance in December 1968, they were described as "the wildest new group on the local scene". They became firm favourites with Go-Set magazine (especially Sydney staff writer David Elfick) and featured regularly in its pages.

Not everyone was so appreciative however. At one early UBU concert -- a benefit for the Coogee Boardriders Club at the Heffron Hall in East Sydney on 10 August 1968 -- the Shud's performance and the UBU lightshow were brought to an early halt by the hall manager, who turned off the power, condemning the event as "the ultimate in depravity"!

Their first LP, recorded at the end of 1968, has been justly hailed by Ian McFarlane as: "... one of the first wholly original rock albums issued in Australia".

It was made independently, the session financed by filmmaker Paul Witzig to provide music for his surf film Evolution (the first Australian surf film to abandon narration and accompany the images with music alone). Four tracks -- Evolution, I'm No-One, Mr Strange and< Lady Sunshine -- were used in the film. These four tracks were later re-recorded, along with eight other originals, for what became Tamam Shud's debut album Evolution.

Most of Witzig's budget was committed to the considerable expense of transporting and filming surfers in exotic overseas locations (air travel was very expensive back then, relative to today) so the budget for the music was minuscule. Consequently, the twelve songs that make up Evolution were recorded live, with very basic equipment, in a single 2-1/2 hour session, and mixed in a mere 1-1/2 hours. Evidently most if not all of the tracks are first takes. The spontaneity is delightfully revealed by the intro to the bluesy Feel Free; the song breaks down just after the count-in and Bjerre is heard to laughingly say "Wait until the bass turns his amp on." Barron had indeed forgotten to switch on!

Although the recording quality is fairly rough, both the material and the performances are very strong, and it stands up extremely well today. Arrangements are excellent, performances are very energetic; Bjerre's strong, soulful vocals carry the songs with ease, Zytnic contributes some tasty acid-tinged lead breaks, and Barron and Davidson provide a solid and supple backing throughout. The standout track is without doubt the beautiful, jazzy Lady Sunshine, which was included on Raven's Golden Miles anthology in 1994. In the Freedom Train interview Lindsay named Falling Up as his personal favourite.

Evolution is now rare indeed; a good copy - if you can find one -- will set you back several hundred dollars on the collector's market, and it cries out for a CD release. There has been talk of one of the local reissue labels doing so, but nothing has eventurated to date. The album was leased to CBS, and both the film and its soundtrack were very successful, thanks in part to Go-Set, who supported the film with a poster competition, a 'win-a surfboard' competition, and regular features on the Shud throughout 1969

1a. Music Train - 3:52
1b. Evolution - 2:45
2. I'm No One - 2:08
3. Mr Strange - 2:34
4. Lady Sunshine - 4:39
5. Falling Up - 2:48
6. Feel Free - 3:12
7. It's A Beautiful Day - 2:53
8. Jesus Guide Me - 3:53
9. Rock On Top - 2:49
10.Slow One And The Fast One - 6:58
11.Too Many Life - 3:04
12.Bali Waters - 6:14
13.Got A Feeling - 2:37
14.My Father Told Me - 3:48
All songs by Lindsay Bjerre
Tracks 12-14 from "Bali Waters EP" (1972)

Tamam Shud
*Lindsay Bjerre - Songs, Guitar, Vocals
*Peter Barron - Bass
*Larry Duryea - Congas
*Tim Gaze - Guitar
*Kevin Stevenson - Reeds
*Richard Lockwood - Sax, Flutes
*Nigel Macara - Drums

1970  Goolutionites And The Real People

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Kaleidoscope - White-Faced Lady (1970 uk, a luscious sustained reverie, japan two disc set edition)

This elaborate two-CD set collects two albums by Fairfield Parlour: From Home to Home, a somber, more mature album that was inspired by early Pink Floyd and released on Fontana's more progressive Vertigo imprint in 1969, and White Faced Lady, the band's so-called "lost masterpiece." Burning Airlines Records' 2001 reissue of White Faced Lady collects both albums -- which are accredited to the band's previous moniker, Kaleidoscope -- with the best packaging of these recordings thus far, including two lavishly designed, glossy booklets, including one that features singer Peter Daltrey's original White Faced Lady story and lyrics. 

The origin of White Faced Lady is quite interesting: over the spring and summer of 1970, the band's two songwriters -- Peter Daltrey and Eddie Pumer -- had noticed that quite a few of their new songs seemed to have a similar theme. They began shaping these tracks into what turned out to be an ambitious and conceptual pop opera, taking its name from a pivotal track, "White Faced Lady." The narrative followed the tragic life of a troubled movie starlet named Angel, desperate for both love and fame but finding neither. The story was said to have been based loosely on the tragic life of Marilyn Monroe. 

Musically, White Faced Lady was less British pop-like than their earlier recordings, as the band was then becoming more "renaissance/progressive" overall, even as it revealed they may have been straining beyond the scope of their sweeping orchestration vision. The first part of White Faced Lady had a wistful, somewhat light air about it, with acoustic guitars, flutes, full orchestra, and choir giving way to more complex and cluttered arrangements that sometimes blended in sitar ("Song for Jon") and other psychedelic elements along the way. 

Without a label's backing, however, the band had to invest their own money into the recordings. Later, their longtime producer, former Radio One DJ David Symonds, signed a leasing deal with a Vertigo exec who agreed to pay them upon delivery of the album. The sessions were continued the following spring at Sound Techniques in London's Chelsea district. 

Toward the end of the sessions, the band found out that their leasing deal was off, so this ornate and abstruse album was shelved for 20 years. It wasn't officially released, in a complete form, until 1991, when the band issued the vinyl version on their own Kaleidoscope label. Both albums were later collected on CD as Kaleidoscope: The Fairfield Parlour Years. 
by Bryan Thomas

Disc 1
1. Overture - 2:47
2. Broken Mirrors - 2:49
3. Angel's Song: "Dear Elvis Presley..." - 2:38
4. Nursey, Nursey - 3:47
5. Small Song - Heaven In The Back Row - 3:21
6. Burning Bright - 2:03
7. The Matchseller - 3:50
8. The Coronation Of The Fledgling - 2:14
9. All Hail To The Hero - 3:09
10. White-Faced Lady - 4:46

Disc 2
1. Freefall - 5:13
2. Standing - 1:47
3. Diary Song: The Indian Head - 4:24
4. Song From Jon - 7:51
5. Long Way Down - 4:05
6. The Locket - 2:58
7. Picture With Conversation - 3:38
8. Epitaph: Angel - 7:54
All compositions by Peter Daltrey and Eddy Pumer.

*Eddy Pumer - Lead Guitar, Keyboards
*Steve Clark - Bass, Flute.
*Dan Bridgman - Drums, Percussions.
*Peter Daltrey - Lead Vocals, Keyboards

Kaleidoscope's mosaic 
1967  Kaleidoscope - Tangerine Dream
1967-71  Please Listen To The Pictures / The BBC Sessions
1967-69 Kaleidoscope - Dive Into Yesterday
1969  Kaleidoscope - Faintly Blowing
1970  Fairfield Parlour - Home to Home

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