Wednesday, 1 June 2016
Arkansas Grass/Baby Bear/Fords Bridge/ Samantha/Take It Or Leave It/Little Ray of Sunshine/Yesterday Today and Tomorrow/ Mansfield Hotel/Cant Let Go This Feeling/ Country Pickin/Once A Month Country Race Day/Fools Gold/Who Am I Gonna See
Axiom's formation was a by-product of the annual Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds in which the top Australian bands of the day performed in front of judges for the prize of a paid return trip to London. In 1967 The Twilights were the first winners, the next year The Groop. Both found it difficult to settle back to the grind of the Australian pop scene after tasting the London big time. Neither band had made anything but the smallest dent in London (The Twilights being given a song by the Hollies, while The Groop's "When I Was Six Years Old" was recorded by Manfred Mann's Paul Jones), but it was enough to leave the lingering thought amongst band members, "What if..?"
The Groop broke up in late 1969, by which time The Twilights had already split and singer Glenn Shorrock had moved into management. A plan was hatched to form a new group out of the two groups' frontline remnants; there was some controversy surrounding the break-up of The Groop, with Go-Set magazine hinting that Cadd and Mudie had split the band to join Axiom without telling the other members about the new group. Twilights' songwriter and guitarist Terry Britten was supposed to join Shorrock and The Groop's piano player and chief songwriter Brian Cadd in the new band, but when Britten chose to go to England instead, his place was taken by The Groop's Don Mudie, who in the latter stages of The Groop had formed a strong songwriting partnership with Cadd. The group was completed by Cam-Pact guitarist Chris Stockley, and Valentines drummer Doug Lavery. Immediately dubbed a supergroup, the band asked fans to suggest a name and settled on Axiom.
Midway through the recording of the LP, which was released under the title Fool's Gold, drummer Don Lebler (The Avengers) replaced Doug Lavery. Axiom left Australia for the UK in April 1970 after signing a publishing deal from Leeds Music, with the local music press reporting that they had received record deal offers from both Apple Records and the Decca label. As a parting gift they left their second single, "A Little Ray of Sunshine", inspired by the birth of the child of a couple that the group knew – not by the birth of Cadd or Mudie's child, as has often been incorrectly reported. The single reached No. 5 in April 1970. "A Little Ray of Sunshine" has become one of the Australian songs most often still played on radio and was even celebrated with its own stamp in Australia Post's 1998 Australian Rock stamp series.
Although many of the songs on Fool's Gold featured Australian references, Brian Cadd revealed years later that the track "Ford's Bridge" had a very different origin:
" ... we wrote a song, which must have been all the stuff that I had left in my head from 'Arkansas Grass', which I called 'We Can Reach Georgia by Morning'. We had done some rough mixes and somebody played some of them to Stan Rofe and Rofe got right off his bike about it and said that it was absolutely unconscionable for us to use Georgia and why couldn't we use an Australian name? So I succumbed to the browbeating of everybody, and we found in the atlas a place in Northern Queensland called Fords Bridge, which had the right meter for the words ... I never really got over that. It really hurt me, It annoyed me ... I just got very annoyed with the parochialism. When it reached out and touched me and made me change a word in a song. I hated it."
In England Axiom signed a three-year recording contract with Warners, cemented by a single "My Baby's Gone" produced by Shel Talmy of early Who, Kinks and Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" fame. The band completed a second album, If Only, recorded at the iconic Olympic Studios in London. Although some former members were later critical of what they felt was Talmy's overproduction of the record, in a 2000 interview with Richie Unterberger, Talmy still spoke highly of both group and LP:
By the time the album was released the band had already broken up and as Talmy indicated, it effectively vanished without trace.
Glenn Shorrock remained in England where he performed as lead vocalist of the extraordinary band Esperanto, eventually returning to Australia in 1974 to join the nascent Little River Band. Brian Cadd returned to Australia and launched a hugely successful solo career. Don Lebler remained in the UK to become a member of The Mixtures. A couple of years later Chris Stockley became part of The Dingoes. In October 2010, Fool's Gold (1970) was listed in the book 100 Best Australian Albums.