|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
Original article by Paul Culnane, 2001 (revised 2007)
Along with other early seventies rock mavericks like Wendy Saddington, Jeff Duff and Pip Proud, Melbourne-based Mandu (pronounced Marn-doo) is considered by the few who know of him as an enigmatic outsider, who only released one somewhat neglected album before retreating into obscurity. Possessed of a powerful, passion-infused voice and a penchant for elegant, ethereal song arrangements, Mandu (real name is Chris Moriatis, aka Chris Morris) debuted in mid-'74 with the ambitious concept album To The Shores Of His Heaven on the Astor label.
The LP feturedfine and sympathetic support from such session luminaries as Phil Manning, Barry Sullivan, Peter Sullivan, Steve Cooney and Gary Young. Atop this lush musical bed, Mandu sang, with understated emotion, his tale of a disillusioned alien visitor to earth.The concept was delivered with an intuitive conviction, but the album was greeted with bemused indifference at the time, although it is a cult collector's item nowadays. The current (2004) value of the original LP, which was packaged in an illustrated gatefold sleeve, is around AU$50. It was re-released as a single-sleeve LP under the alternate title, We Ran Across The Sky on Image in 1980.
Two singles were lifted from the album -- September 1974's "We Ran Across The Sky" / "Traveller", and exactly a year later the album’s title track, coupled with a powerful version of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter". To promote the album Mandu formed a touring band during 1974 and played mainly around the Melbourne 'head' venues. The Mandu Band comprised guitarists Greg Cook (ex-Cam-Pact, Mixtures, Skylight), and newcomer Steve Cooney, with Peter Sullivan on keyboards, ex-Skylight bassist Mike Clarke and drummer Bob Bickerton (from Rock Granite & the Profiles).
Late in 1975 Mandu joined guitar ace Lobby Loyde in his Southern Electric project, which included vocals on Lobby's Obsecration album. This fine example of Mandu's vocal prowess is currently available on CD (see Discography). Mandu visited the UK in 1976 and it was soon after that he disappeared from view, apart from a short return foray with Loyde for 1980 concerts and recordings. Later he made sporadic appearances with such outfits as the mid-80s' Mandu Bandu. With his imposing stage presence and unique vocal style (reminiscent, perhaps, of a more impassioned Terence Trent D'Arby), Mandu is one of Australia’s more left-field rock characters, and one to cherish. Happily, the sought-after Mandu album wil be re-issued on CD in 2008 by Aztec Music.
"We Ran Across The Sky" / "Traveller" (Image IS-154)
"Gimme Shelter" / "To The Shores Of His Heaven" (Image IS-170)
To The Shores Of His Heaven (Image ILP 743)
re-released as: We Ran Across The Sky (Astor/Image) 1980
"We Ran Across The Sky" and "To The Shores Of His Heaven" were included on the Image compilation LP Image Music Demos, Vol. 2. "To The Shores Of His Heaven" was included on the 2002 Screensound compilation All Fired Up.
with Lobby Loyde and Southern Electric:
Obsecration (Rainbird RBSA055)
re-released 1997 as Lobby Loyde & the Coloured Balls (EMI 7243 8 57861 29) 2CD
References / Links
Thanks to Dave Graney and Peter Maloney for suggestions, guidance and listening material and thanks to John Gardner for discographical information.
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Vernon Joyson et al
Dreams, Fantasties & Nightmares - Australia (Borderline Books, 1999)
National Film & Sound Archive
All Fired Up press release