Field, See & Mason: Down Under the Covers – A Review

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 “The music is fantastic and the on-stage entertainment and fun and humour as well as crowd rapport, have all been wonderfully captured on this live album”

S
am See, Lindsay Field and Glyn Mason have between them over 130 years experience on stage playing before audiences.

Sam first appeared in Sherbet in 1969, Lindsay Field’s first big break when he won the role of Claude in the original caste of Hair in the early 1970’s and Glyn Mason, who like Lindsay came to Australia from New Zealand and he joined Larry’s Rebels in 1969 just as the group became known as the Rebels.
Between them they have toured internationally as well as extensively with in Australia and have been members of such well known groups as Chain, Copperwine, Flying Circus, Fraternity, Ariel, Goanna, Stockley, See & Mason and all have worked with Johnny Farnham, and Glyn and Sam have also worked extensively with with Brian Cadd and Glenn Shorrock in their Sharkey and the Cadman shows. Lindsay also performed in Jesus Christ Superstar and is in great demand not only as a vocalist and musician but as a vocal coach, arranger, musical director and executive producer.
The careers of these three guys have run together and across each other for many years.
In 2007 Glyn and Sam formed the Pardoners where they garnered a strong and loyal following due in part to their ability to write strong material, their amazing two-part harmonies,Glyn’s powerful tenor voice, Sams fantastic guitar playing and their ability to involve their audience in their shows.
Glyn Mason & Sam See
So more recently they have formed a working trio, called Field, See & Mason (given the precedent set by Stockley, See & Mason) and have found receptive audiences across Melbourne.
There is only one thing better than golden two-part harmonies, and that is three-part harmonies. The strength of the individual voices of Field, See & Mason as well as their sublime harmonies together result in a standout group without peers.
As Field, See & Mason they play a mixture of original material as well as a range of great covers across a range of genres and covering the period of the late 1950’s until recent times.
Lindsay Field, Glyn Mason & Sam See

They undertook to develop out a new show which was to become known as Down Under The Covers, where under the direction of Sam See they have identified a wonderful selection of Australian compositions and have done some serious re-arrangements.
To call what they have done as “covers’ would not only be wrong, it would be highly inaccurate!
Drawing upon Sam See’s extensive production skills and along with his and Lindsay’s arrangements skills, they have totally reinterpreted these wonderful Australian compositions in such a way that while they are recogniseable, they are also so beautifully reinterpreted, in fact it is not exaggerating to say the music has been reinvigorated.
This is an album of this work being performed live. Recorded by Ernie Rowe in August of this year, the material was drawn from performances in front of a live audience first at e-audio in Port Melbourne where co-producer Ernie Rose is the Audio Engineer and then the following week at the Crackerjack Club in Windsor, Melbourne.
The CD has 14 tracks drawing on material covering the years 1971 through to 1988 and is presented in a cardboard gatefold cover.
As you can see the front cover has a picture of Field, See & Mason and the rear cover has the track listing.
Opening the cover up you will find on the left hand side is a list of credits and acknowledgements, while on the right hand side has the list of tracks along with the credits to the writers and the year the track was release.
The overall design and artwork is very good, it’s nicely understated and befits the image of Field, See & Mason. A great job by Gabe James.
So to the music!
Now I make it clear that there is no way I can claim to be unbiased. I am very biased as I know Glyn and Sam personally and attend their live performances whenever I can because each performance is not just done professionally but the music is fantastic. But it goes further as their on-stage entertainment and fun and humour, as well as genuine crowd rapport, makes for a great performance and, all this has been wonderfully captured on this live album.
However, I can and will be honest in my appraisal.
In due deference to the prevailing belief that all music is for the “people’ and should be free to download and steal, I have not provided any complete tracks.
it was a choice between providing complete tracks at a low mp3 sample rate or as high a sample rate as possible in order to capture the quality (as much as one can with an mp3).
I think it would be a disservice to the music to provide low quality samples.
Now it is still rare to find an album where there is not a little padding out, the odd track thrown in just to make up the numbers. Apart from the fact that these three guys would not consider ever providing less than they are capable of, Sam See being a stickler for quality production, would not produce less that the best possible.
And so he and the guys and Ernie Rose have produced 14 wonderfully crafted tracks and there sure is no “fill” or “dross” here.
Ernie Rose
Now the only way I can decide which tracks to share with you is to simply pick my favorites while trying to provide as much as possible of the variety in style of the three in their vocal deliveries and a range of tempo and styles.
I still maintain, as I do in all my music reviews, that track one is the calling card – it sets the scene for what is to come.
Track 1 is Great Southern Land written by Ivor Davies and originally released by Icehouse in 1982. In my mind it is the consummate Australian song – hey we could do worse in terms of a national anthem!
This track features the lead vocals of Sam See and Glyn Mason and while it has none of the synths and drums the original version by Icehouse had, this slightly down-tempo version features some excellent guitar playing.
it really is hard not to listen to this version and not have goose bumps come up and certainly that is in part due to Ivor’s great lyrics, but the delivery and harmonies of Field, See & Mason really bring it alive.
The end is simply beautiful!

Great Southern Land [Sample only]

Track 3 is Pleasure and Pain, written by Mike Chapman and Holly Knight, which is a track most of us will forever associate with the late and incredibly great Chrissy Amphlett and the Divinyls and was released in 1985. This version by Field, See & Mason is astounding because there is no “full” band just the three of them on acoustic electrics and a stomp pedal used by Glyn – but make no mistake, this is such a powerful, powerful version.
The track is performed as a three-part harmony and Sam See’s amazing reinvention of the track results in some superb guitar playing, particularly Sam See’s tasty licks and with both the voices and guitar playing in perfect harmony it makes for a really great rendition.
It is a shame that commercial radio turns it’s nose up at local releases as this has “re-hit” written all over it!

Pleasure and Pain [Sample only]

It was impossible to pass track 4 – Better Be Home Soon which was written by Neil Finn and recorded by Crowded House in 1988. This is a crowd favourite and with good reason. It blends all the elements of Field, See & Mason’s tremendous abilities and skills into a memorable version of this classic track.
Glyn Mason has one of the outstanding voices of our time, and again the harmonies are just spot on. Not to be “moved” by this rendition would suggest that the listener has never experienced the pain and passion of love.

Better Be Home Soon [Sample only]

Track 6 is a fantastic rendition of the Greg Quill track, Gypsy Queen and while I’m not supplying a sample I did want to make a comment that recently there was a tribute album produced to both showcase Greg’s music and help raise some money for his widow.
Why Sam See wasn’t included on that album belies belief. Sam not only knew Greg well, he played with him in Canada and was a good family friend.
All I will say not including him and maybe this rendition of Gypsy Queen, is that it is that albums loss and this album’s gain. Greg and Sam had a great relationship despite their constant good natured disagreement, where Sam insisted that a chord change in Greg’s original version was wrong (and incidentally corrected in this version) but I think Greg would approved mightily of Sam’s beautiful interpretation.
I also so wanted to share the rendition of their sublime revision of Paul Kelly’s Leaps and Bounds – but I also want to leave some things for you to discover.
Once again I have to emphasise that every track on this CD is there because it deserves to be, but I have jumped down to track 9 – It’s Only Love, which is actually a Glyn Mason composition and was a superbly played originally by Ariel and sung by Glyn when he was a member in 1975.
Glyn Mason
The track is often featured by both the Pardoners and by Field, See and Mason simply because, it’s so damn fine!
If I were to nominate five great love songs that had powerful lyrics, powerful delivery, wonderful melody lines and a high emotional content without any saccharin, then surely It’s Only Love would be at the top or bloody close to it. The harmonies are the stuff heavenly choirs are made of, yet make no mistake the power of Glyn’s voice is simply astounding! Oh, and Sam See’s slide guitar work is the best!

It’s Only Love [Sample only]

Following on from this is another “love” song this time sung by Lindsay Field. Never Tear Us Apart was written by Michael Hutchence and Andrew Farris, recorded by INXS and released in 1987. It is hard to imagine that anyone else could do the track the justice Hutchence did, but these guys deliver!
Lindsay field takes the lead vocals and there is a reason he is referred to as “chocolate voice’. If you have never heard Lindsay sing then I can’t imagine many tracks better than this track to introduce him to you.


Lindsay Field
The next track is a regular feature in the Field, See & Mason songbook because not only is it a great version of a great song, and one that the audiences love singing along with, but it has become a feature because of the audience’s inability to understand the “rest” or pause consisting of a count of two, and their insistence in coming straight in with the much loved “Bom, bom, bom, bom’s!”
Not making sense? Well listen, I provided that section in the sample.  Incidentally, the song has now become lovingly known as the “Bom Bom” song!

Never Tear Us Apart [Sample only]

Track 12 is Reasons, which was a monster hit in 1986 for John Farnham. A wonderfully crafted track it was written by Sam See and so it only seems right to share this very popular version with you.
As Sam is so fond of saying, it’s a track he usually hears when shopping in the Supermarket and the few cents it now earns in royalties helps discount the peas he has just brought.  But it’s an indication of the strength of the track that it still gets fairly regular airplay, even thirty years later.
Sam See
But really it is a timeless track.
It is as relevant in 2016 as it was some thirty years ago when released initially in 1986. Yes John Farnham made the track his, but now we get the chance to hear the composer give his interpretation of this popular song, and the support from Glyn and Lindsay turns it, like all the tracks on this album, from simply a “cover” to a wonderfully reinvigorated piece of music which is yet another audience favourite.
These guys really bring this track alive once more!

Reasons [Sample only]

The final track on the album is Highway To Hell, written by Angus and Malcolm Young along with Bon Scott it is part of the legend that makes up AC/DC.
Who in their right mind would try and cover it? Well the answer is simple, three genuinely talented musicians and they do not just reinterpret the track, they do so with acoustic electric guitars.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security – this is no ballad interpretation – this is about as powerful as a version without solid body electric guitars, with no bass guitar and drums will ever get!
Yet at the same time the subtle humour of the guys pour forth as Sam starts off with a lovely piece of classical guitar, which has us thinking . . . where the hell is this going?
Where, why to hell dear audience!
Sam See’s immaculate lead lines, Lindsay’s solid rhythm playing along with the harmonies of Lindsay and Sam bring the type of underpinning action necessary to give Glyn Mason’s stunning vocal delivery the support it deserves.
When Sam asks toward the end of the track, “Is there a hospital nearby?”, we can’t be certain of whether it’s because it’s because he has given his all on guitar, or because Glyn has done himself in, while blowing the roof off the place with his voice.

Highway To Hell [Sample only]

Full kudo’s must be given to Ernie Rose for the job he did in recording these performances. The sound is crisp and the separation of instruments is the mark of someone who has mastered his craft and has the track record to support that claim. In fact Ernie’s career can be traced back to at least 1968 when he worked at the famous Bill Armstrong Studios in Melbourne.
The experience and skill this man has is not easily found and he was an excellent choice and so when he and Sam come down to actually mixing and producing the final product we could rightly expect to get something very special and, they delivered.
Now Australia has a proud history of providing what is per capita, possibly the strongest music and musicians in the world. Now in claiming Field, See & Mason as “ours” we must give apologies to Glyn who was born in the UK and migrated to New Zealand (in fact he cut his musical teeth there), and especially to Lindsay who was born in New Zealand . . . but hey! we have a history of claiming New Zealanders’ as “ours” so why stop now?

There is no doubt in my mind that over the 40+ years I have been actively involved in the Australian music scene I have witnessed some utterly amazing artists, both in the form of groups and as individual artists.
Now this album features three artists who have been involved in some of the best live and recorded music played over a substantial 47 years, and not only have they lost nothing, they have, as all truly great talent does, just matured and got better and better. They are and will remain among the best this country has produced, and it’s a shame they don’t get the recognition they have earned.
I urge you to get a copy of this album because it really is not just unique, it is seriously great! With auto-tuners, modulators, harmonisers, normalisers and a range of digital devices that can make the most tuneless person sound good, it is almost impossible to judge the quality of an artist from studio recordings.
However, when it comes to performing on live recordings – then it is all laid bare you can’t hide behind technology and you deliver or sink!
Field, See & Mason certainly deliver and deliver not just in “spades’, but the other three suits of the deck as well. This album is a must for anyone who loves Australian music, who appreciates quality Australian compositions, really enjoys wonderful reinterpretation of classic tracks, loves sublime harmonies and powerful yet emotive singing along with brilliant musicianship.
I said earlier, I am biased! But I also said I would write the truth and I have done that. I believe that if this album gets the success it rightly deserves there will be a second volume so not only will we have a lot of quality, but quantity as well.
While I have shared some of the tracks from this album with you, there are still plenty of delights and surprises left for you to discover and enjoy. There are “kick-ass dance tracks, truly melodic ballads and sublime love songs – so don’t miss out!

The album Down Under The Covers IS NOW available in CD format and can be purchased through the on-line store operated by the Pardoners
With Christmas fast approaching treat yourself or a friend a real Christmas present that will give a lot of enjoyment.