Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Finch - 1976 - Thunderbird

Stay/Pink Spiders/Hey Spunky/Poser/Crystal Country Gorge/Sail Away/Valley Of Fears/One Nighter/Mushroom

Finch were an Australian hard and pub rock band, initially forming as Stillwater in 1972 and by the following year had changed their name to Finch. The line-up of Finch was Peter McFarlane on drums, Owen Orford on lead vocals, Bob Spencer on lead guitar, and Tony Strain on bass guitar. They won a 2SM/Pepsi Pop Poll, earning a contract with Picture Records. The group released their first single, "And She Sings", in January 1974 while Spencer was still in high school. Finch contributed to the soundtrack album for the surfing film, Drouyn (August 1974), which featured world champion, Peter Drouyn. Finch's tracks, "Sail Away", "Lady of Truth" and "Roses" were used in contrast to "jazzy incidental material". The Canberra Times' Michael Foster noted the "sound is no less compelling, and perhaps is more evocative because it is less insistent on the one beat and theme".

The band worked in the pub rock circuit and released a self-financed album, Thunderbird, in May 1976 on Eagle Records. It was produced by John Zulaikha (Buffalo), Brian Todd (their manager) and the band. Tony Catterall of The Canberra Times felt it was "not without its merits" as the group "are always at least exuberant", however "it suffers sadly from a lack of originality (Free, Status Quo and Black Sabbath influences abound), naivety in the lyrics and poor production". Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, noted the group "had a good deal of English-flavoured blues and hard rock buzzing around in their systems". In December they released a single, "Short Changed Again", which peaked at number 29 on the Sydney chart. As the single gained notice their distribution company foundered.

 Late in 1976 Finch moved to Melbourne and supported a national tour by Supernaut. In March 1977 Spencer left to replace Red Symons on guitar in Skyhooks. Tony Strain left the band at the same time. From April to July the band went through nine different members (including Sam Mallett, Skeeta Pereira, Gary Quince, and Graham Thompson) before Peter McFarlane and Orford were joined by Mark Evans (ex AC/DC) on bass guitar, Graham Kennedy on guitar and vocals, and Chris Jones on guitars. The band signed to CBS / Epic Records and issued the single, "One More Time" in October. They started recording material for their second album, Nothing to Hide, in the following month. Dave Hinds (ex-Marshall Brothers, Rabbit) replaced Chris Jones (who joined Feather) on guitar and vocals in December.

 The band adopted a more hard rock style, and the next single, "Where Were You?" reached number 14 in Melbourne and number 33 in Sydney in February 1978. Nothing to Hide (March) was produced by Peter Dawkins (Dragon) and provided a second single, the title track (May). The Canberra Times' Luis Feliu opined that they continued to provide "punchy rock and roll and a bit of R and B, the British way ... However, Finch's style has now become overworked to the point of being uninteresting". Finch signed with CBS's United States subsidiary label, Portrait Records. Due to a Dutch band also called Finch, the Australian group were renamed as Contraband.

 In October 1978 Portrait issued Contraband's debut single, "That's Your Way" and Barry Cram (ex-Pantha, Avalanche, Russell Morris Band) replaced McFarlane on drums, who joined Swanee. In May the following year an album, Contrabandwas released, which was also produced by Dawkins. Some interest was generated in the US but the album was not successful in Australia. It provided two singles "Rainin' Again" (March 1979) and "Gimme Some Lovin'" (July) – which is a cover of The Spencer Davis Group 1966 single. Earlier Finch material was re-released under the Contraband name. However Portrait dropped them later in the year and they broke up.

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