the cream of the crate – album #1: howling wolf

 

 

 This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site which was abandoned for its current site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site. 

"Lest we forget their invaluable contribution to that in which we take great pride..." Glenn A. Baker [Liner notes] - " Innovative, uncommercial band at first but they deserve a special place in the history of Australian rock". Australian Music History - "They left a legacy of innovative and imaginative music". Milesago

This is an album in my collection that is irreplaceable, and simply a classic!

Once again I take a sharp left hand turn in regard to style, and even country of origin, in regard to my fourth album for review. 

The album I’m featuring is a tribute to the influence of Mike Rudd and indeed the musicians that accompanied him in Spectrum. We cannot underestimate in particular Mike’s influence on the development of original Australian music.

In my Crate, Spectrum rates as one of the most innovate groups that we can call our own, despite him being born in New Zealand and cutting his musical teeth in that country.

Over the coming months I will look at a range of fabulous Australian groups and artists, but I think it is appropriate that Spectrum rate as the first that I look at.

The album I have pulled from the Crate is the Red* Orange *Yellow *Green *Blue *Indigo *Violet album [ROYGBIV]. 

It’s a compilation that was released in 1984 on the EMI label.

Now whilst its appearance came after the official demise of the group (mind you, Mike has continued to operate with Spectrum since its inception in 1969 through to today) so it can be claimed the group never finished.  It just had many a musical hiatus!

This album does, in my mind, represents the best of Spectrum and its alter ego – Murcepts (the smaller, more ‘pop’ oriented line up that was formed in the 1970’s when Mike recognised that Spectrum didn’t provide what “pub audiences” were demanding) 

The ROYGBIV album may in fact have been a ‘grab for cash’ by EMI – but in releasing it they left us with an LP that does have all those tracks we remember so fondly.

cream of the crate: album # 4 – spectrum_roygbiv
Rear Cover of the ROYGBIV album [CLICK to enlarge]

 

I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy from a radio station of the day, marked “Not For Sale, For Review & Demonstration Purposes Only” (EME 1100), and it remains in remarkable condition all these years later.

 
cream of the crate: album # 4 – spectrum_roygbiv
CLICK to enlarge
 
 

It seems that Mike Rudd first came to prominence by joining Ross Wilson’s Party Machine having recently arrived in Australia with his NZ group the Chants.

The Chants broke up due to musical direction differences and Mike joined The Party Machine as its bass player.

A quick glance at the track credits will see a Wilson composition (Make Your Stash) is included on this album, representing the close relationship the two musicians had at that time.

When Wilson chose to fold the Party Machine top seek to further his career in the UK, Mike Rudd decided that there was no choice but to form his own group.

It was a case of just about the first people who walked through the door became the group.

Top Aussie drummer Mark Kennedy turned up along with the guitarist from the group he was in, and that person was Bill Putt.

Out of this meeting the first incarnation of Spectrum came about and a life-long friendship between Mike and Bill would have its genesis.

cream of the crate: album # 4 – spectrum_roygbiv

As 1971 opened, all the hard slog paid off handsomely when “I’ll Be Gone” (b/w “Launching Place Part II”) was released as Spectrum’s debut single in January 1971.

Its success was considerably assisted by one of Australia’s classic early promotional films, created by musician and filmmaker Chris Lofven. It became the National #1 in February 1971 and spent 20 weeks in the charts.

I’ll Be Gone is undoubtedly their most widely played, widely known and widely loved track. In the words of Mike Rudd at a live show at the Station Hotel – “We were very, very lucky….It’s been good to us!”

cream of the crate: album # 4 – spectrum_roygbiv Now, what a line up! Bill Putt on bass has remained a constant with Rudd, throughout all the various incarnations and groups that he has been in. His throbbing and distinctive sounding fender bass, and his laconic attitude puts him as a major player in the group’s success. This can be shown with Mike and Bill recently playing on the Long Way To The Top show.

You will note that the second side of the album is music played by Murtecps.

Murtecps was the same lineup at the time as Spectrum but was devised by Mike to meet a rising musical need.

Astutely, Mike recognised that the plethora of discos and music venues that had developed in the 1960’s in abandoned warehouses, factories and unused commercial buildings, particularly in Melbourne, were on the wane.

In the early 1970’s, The Station Hotel in Greville Street Prahran, through the entrepreneurship of ex-Campact bass player Mark Barnes, commenced offering live music and the music punters flooded in and consumed large quantities of alcohol.

cream of the crate: album # 4 – spectrum_roygbiv
Mike and Spectrum at the Station hotel – 2011

 

Recognising the success of this venture other hotels followed.

Mike understood that the music of Spectrum met the needs of University audiences and live music festival audiences but not the pub audiences.

Writing new material, and reversing the letters of Spectrum, Murtceps came into being! 

The place of Spectrum, and to a slightly lesser degree Murtceps, in Australian Music History cannot be overstated.  They broke new grounds, they popularised the ‘drug-songs’ yet did it in a way that was hard to complain about.

cream of the crate: album # 4 – spectrum_roygbiv

Their music was infectious, their music smelt of quality. It was written on the liner notes that, “…they appeared regularly at the most exclusive Melbourne ‘head’ venues…” and they did, and what’s more, they made sure they were ‘inclusive’ of thir audiences, and we loved them for it!

LINEUP:

Mike Rudd (vocals, guitar, recorder, harmonica) *

Bill Putt (bass) 1969 –1973 & 1979 – 2013 *

Mark Kennedy (drums) 1969-70 *

Ray Arnott (drums, vocals) 1970-73 *

Lee Neale (keyboards, vocals) 1969-72 *

John Mills (keyboards) 1972-3 *

Peter ‘Robbo Robinson’ – drums, percussion (1999– 2013

Daryl Roberts – keyboards (1999–2013)

* Played on this album


Tracks on ROYGBIV (Spectrum)

I’ll Be Gone” (Rudd) – single edit
Launching Place Pt II” (Rudd) 
Make Your Stash” (Ross Wilson)
Drifting” (Rudd)
But That’s Alright” (Rudd)
Love’s My Bag” (Rudd)
Trust Me” (Arnott) – single edit

Tracks on ROYGBIV (Murcepts
Esmeralda” (My Crudd)
Stay Another Day” (My Crudd)
We Are Indelible” (My Crudd)
Indelible Shuffle” (My Crudd) 
Some Good Advice” (My Crudd)
Dalmas (Theme)” (Rudd)

There are so many great tracks on this album, I felt it was an injustice to choose one over another, so the following is a compilation of some of those tracks.

What tracks? Listen, and you identify them! 

Compilation of tracks


Followers and supporters of Mike and his music may be interested in a 4-part interview conducted with Mike in July 2019, where he spoke on his life and his music.

Click to go to Part 1

Click to go to Part 2


 

VIDEOS:

A Spectrum clip from around 1970 – its the Ross Wilson composition, “Make Your Stash”

 

Spectrum (Mike Rudd) Live 1984 – Pt.1 – We Are Indelible

 

Spectrum – I’ll be gone live 1971

 

Spectrum – Mike Rudd – Live 1984 : Pt 3 – Hand Jive – Esmerelda


 

Previous Cream of The Crate Albums

Click to open:

#1.  Howling Wolf: Real Folk Blues

#2.  Otis Redding: Otis Blue

#3.   Dr John: Gris Gris