Thursday, 12 May 2016
Answer Lies Beyond/Beneath the Sun/Games We Play I/Games We Play II/The Lesson So Listen/Love Is/Melodies of St Kilda/Southern Cross/Thyme To Rhyme
The Master's Apprentices began life in Adelaide as The Mustangs, playing Shadows-styled instrumentals. The line-up consisted of Mick Bower, Gavin Webb, Rick Morrison and Brian Vaughton. At the start of 1965, the band recruited Jim Keays as singer, adopted a rawer R&B-derived sound and became The Master's Apprentices. The band members chose the name because they were as much influenced by the blues masters such as John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Jimmy Reed as they were by the current crop of British R&B bands like The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Pretty Things and The Yardbirds.
In May 1968, Webb left to be replaced by Glenn Wheatley (bass; ex-Bay City Union). In June, the band issued the single `Brigette'/`Four Years of Five', which was the first Ford/Keays collaboration. This was another pleasant dose of flower power pop and became The Masters' fifth hit in a row. The new line-up contested the 1968 Hoadley's National Battle of The Sounds final in July. The band came such a close second to The Groove that they were awarded a complimentary prize of boat tickets to England. 1968 ended with Tilbrook leaving, Astor releasing the two-year-old `But One Day'/`My Girl' as a farewell single, the band signing on with influential manager Daryl Sambell and being voted Most Original Group and Second Most Popular Group (behind The Twilights) in the Go-Set Pop Polls. The Masters' first single for 1969 (on EMI/Columbia) was the vapid bubblegum song `Linda Linda' (the B-side `Merry-Go-Round' was tougher).
By the end of the year, the band had scored two Top 20 hits with the hard rock singles `5-10 Man'/`How I Love You' (July) and `Think About Tomorrow Today'/`A Dog, a Siren and Memories' (December). The Masters also issued their second album, Masterpiece, in 1969 and set up the Drum Agency (motivated by the business-minded Glenn Wheatley) to manage acts like Sect and The Expression and promote concerts. `Turn Up Your Radio'/`Jam It Up' became the band's biggest hit to date (peaking at #7 nationally in May 1970). `Turn Up Your Radio' has since become an Australian rock classic. Just as the single peaked, the band left for England. Once in London, The Masters began to absorb all the heavy trends of the English scene and the results were heard on the evocative `Because I Love You'/`I'm Your Satisfier' single (December 1970) and Choice Cuts album (May 1971).
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios with producer Jeff Jarrett, the masterful Choice Cuts was brimming with complex, shifting arrangements. Powerful material like `Because I Love You', `Death of a King', `Rio De Camero', `Song for a Lost Gypsy' and `Michael' highlighted Doug Ford's exemplary guitar technique. Choice Cuts stood out like a diamond in the rough at the time, and it remains one of the finest Australian progressive hard rock albums ever issued. With the band's return to Australia in December, `Because I Love You' reached #12 and Choice Cuts #11 in July 1971. The album was issued in England (renamed The Master's Apprentices) and when news arrived that it had garnered positive reviews in NME and Melody Maker, The Masters set off again for the UK in May.
One month later, the live Nickelodeon album and single `Future of Our Nation'/`New Day' came out in Australia. The album had been recorded at Perth's Nickelodeon Theatre in December 1970, on the first date of the band's national tour, and was one of the first live albums ever issued in Australia. In England, the band recorded a final album, A Toast to Panama Red, and single, `Love is'/`Southern Cross'. Like Choice Cuts before it, A Toast to Panama Red was a groundbreaking album of rarefied skill and tremendous scope yet, upon release in January 1972, it sank without trace. It was simply too musically advanced for the local industry of the day to comprehend. A Toast to Panama Red is one of the great lost treasures of the Australian progressive rock era. Reissue specialists Raven included the transcendent `Melodies of St Kilda'/`Southern Cross' on the essential Various Artists compilation Golden Miles: Australian Progressive Rock 1969-74 (1994).
In 1983, Colin and Denny Burgess formed hard rock band His Majesty with Japanese singer Yukiko Davis and Spike Williams (guitar). His Majesty launched itself in a blaze of publicity, but neither the singles `Glory Boys'/`Champagne Cocaine' (November 1983) and `C Me Comin''/`Randy' (February 1985) on the Regal label nor the band's live shows attracted sufficient interest from the public. The band broke up in 1987.