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Monday, September 24, 2012

Chain - Two Of A Kind (1973 aussie, stylish blues rock)

In the '73 Sunbury Festival featured Mighty Mouse, as well as a Matt Taylor "solo" slot. Phil and the two Barrys, augmented by second drummer Kevin Murphy backed Matt for this gig. On Mushroom's triple-album document of the event, The Great Australian Rock Festival Sunbury 1973, Mighty Mouse weigh in with the lengthy "Sunset Song", while Matt's set is represented by his own composition, "Brisbane To Beechworth". He had already recorded with his Sunbury line-up (minus Murphy, but with "Sleepy" Greg Lawrie on board) for his debut solo album Straight As A Die. Also a Chain record in all but name, and showcasing Taylor's own rollicking, witty compositions, this album was a Top-20 seller and in September yielded Mushroom Records' first placing in the national Top 10 singles list, "I Remember When I Was Young" a song that, like "I'll Be Gone", "Eagle Rock" and "Most People I Know", has become a perennial 70s OzRock anthem. 

With so much activity involving so many Chain alumni, it was inevitable that Mighty Mouse would evolve into yet another Chain -- by now the 15th permutation of the band!. Signing to Mushroom, this line-up issued two singles, the medium-tempo "I Thought You Weren't My Friend" (August) and the gruff shuffle-blues "I'm Gonna Miss You Babe" (November). Neither was particularly successful, but the reconstituted group did impress on the touring circuit, appearing in March at yet another large outdoor gathering, the Down Under Rock Festival in Melbourne (again, all the usual suspects were on a bill that featured – surprise – headliners The Aztecs). During May, Chain toured the country as support to the Muddy Waters Band and soon after teamed with that band's James "Peewee" Madison (guitar, vocals) and George "Mojo" Beauford (vocals, harmonica) for recordings that would form part of Chain's next LP, Two Of A Kind.

One of Melbourne's premier "head" venues around this time, along with the T.F. Much Ballroom, was the Garrison Disco in Prahran, the venue which had served as the unofficial HQ for Madder Lake. Local council pressure forced Garrison's closure in June 1973, and as one of its most popular and regularly-performing acts, Chain was fittingly invited to be among a handful of select bands that paid tribute to the place in its final days. Two Chain songs ("Grab A Snatch And Hold It" and "Do What You Wanna Do"), recorded live there on 7 June, appeared on the various artists' album Garrison: The Final Blow Vol. 2, along with "Roberta" by Taylor and Lawrie as a duo. Other songs recorded that evening were released in other formats: the single "I Thought You Weren't My Friend", b/w "Elephant", an edit of the extended soloing jam "How To Set Fire To An Elephant", which appeared in its full 18-minute form on Two Of A Kind. 

1. Two Of A Kind (James Madison) - 4:44
2. Reconsider Baby (Lowell Fulsom) - 4:39
3. Everybody Has To Lose Sometime (Traditional) - 8:22
4. Blues With A Feeling (Little Walter Jacobs) - 4:47
5. How To Set Fire To An Elephant (Ian Clyne) - 19:22

*Phil Manning - Guitar, Vocals
*Barry Sullivan - Bass
*Barry Harvey - Drums
*Ian Clyne - Keyboards
*Mal Capewell - Sax, Flute
*James "Peewee" Madison - Guitar, Vocals
*George "Mojo" Beauford - Vocals, Harmonica

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Chain - Toward The Blues (1971 aussie, superb blues rock, 2007 Picar bonus tracks issue)

Formed from the remnants of Perth band the Beaten Tracks in 1968, the Chain were named by singer Wendy Saddington after the classic soul track "Chain of Fools." Saddington soon left and the band released one of Australia's first progressive blues singles, "Show Me Home," in 1969. Soon after, the Chain shortened their moniker to Chain. In June 1970, Chain recorded the classic live album, Live Chain, at Caesar's Palace discotheque, and along with other Australian acts like Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Carson, and the Adderley Smith Blues Band, were considered at the forefront of the Australian blues movement.

In 1971 the new Chain (already by now, "Mk 7"!) attracted the attention of the aggressive young entrepreneur Michael Gudinski, who was by then in the throes of putting together the enduring Mushroom indie record label. Gudinski, who also became the group's manager soon afterwards, has subsequently acknowledged that Mushroom was conceived and built upon Chain's reputation, and he in turn enthusiastically helped foster their career during those heady times.

During the same year, the band continued to grow in stature as a must-see drawcard around the Melbourne blues haunts, as well as being a popular staple at the various outdoor festivals common to the era. An appearance at the Odyssey Festival at Ourimbah in January was captured on the double-LP set History Of Chain, cementing the group's greatness for posterity. Other festival appearances, such as at Myponga outside Adelaide and Wallacia near Sydney (each featuring a roster of the cream of OzRock's best) had a similar effect, and Chain by now were regarded as among the premier of Australia's progressive blues units.

The "classic" line-up of Chain enjoyed a national top ten hit in May with its debut Infinity single, "Black And Blue" (working title: "We're Groaning"), backed with Taylor's ambitious but solidly-delivered and decidedly progressive "Lightning Ground". The A-side recalled the traditional Afro-American "work-song" motif, and heralded the solid, blueswailing body of songs featured on Toward The Blues, Chain's first album for Festival's "progressive" Infinity imprint, which was released to great (and enduring) critical acclaim in September.

At a climactic concert on 13 June 1971 at the Melbourne Town Hall, where a number of the scene's pre-eminent bands assembled (headliners Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs released an LP of their stunning performance there), a self-deprecating Chain were awarded a silver disc plaque (at that time a coveted accolade) for selling 25,000 copies of the "Black 'n' Blue" single, a record that went on to become one of mainstream rock radio's most-played and most oft-requested staples.

1. Thirty Two-Twenty Blues (Robert Johnson) - 4:10
2. Snatch It Back And Hold It (Junior Wells) - 5:03
3. Boogie - 10:44
4. Booze Is Bad News Blues - 7:46
5. Albert Gooses Gonna Turn The Blues Looses - 7:04
6. Black And Blue - 4:50
7. Undgemend - 3:28
8. Blow In D - 6:01
9. Mr. President - 3:40
10.Leaving - 2:47
11.Two Of A Kind - 4:43
12.Forever - 5:07
13.I'm Gonna Miss You Babe - 3:30
14.Gertrude Street Blues - 5:01
All songs by Barry Harvey, Phil Manning, Barry Sullivan, Matt Taylor, except where noted.

*Barry Harvey - Drums
*Phil Manning - Guitar
*Barry Sullivan - Bass
*Matt Taylor - Vocals, Harmonica

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