|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
SONS OF THE VEGETAL MOTHER
Wayne Duncan (bass, vocals)
Trevor Griffin (piano)
Ross Hannaford (vocals, guitar)
Jeremy Kellock (Jeremy Noone) (tenor sax*)
Mike Rudd (bass)
Tim Partridge (bass)
Ian Wallace (alto sax#)
Simon Wettenhall (trumpet#)
Ross Wilson (vocal/guitar)
Bruce Woodcock (tenor sax#)
Gary Young (drums, vocals)
Sons of the Vegetal Mother were an "esoteric special-occasion progressive band" (Baker, 1994) with a floating lineup based around the nucleus of Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford. The band was formed in early late 1969, just after Ross Wilson returned from a stint in the UK.
SOVTM brought together the four musicians who subsequently became Daddy Cool -- Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford (ex The Pink Finks, The Party Machine) and singer-drummer Gary Young and bassist Wayne Duncan, who had both been members of veteran Mebourne band The Rondells, who are best known as the backing group for pioneering beat duo Bobby & Laurie.
In early 1969 Ross Wilson had been invited to go to the UK and join "progressive pop" band Procession. That band (which had evolved from Normie Rowe's backing group The Playboys) had relocated to Britain in 1968 but their career had stalled and they were trying to revitalise the group and find a new direction, to which end they invited Ross to come to London to join the band. Having just received an insurance payout for a road accident he had suffered in his teens, Ross broke up his band of the time, The Party Machine, and flew to London to join Procession.
Ross WIlson: "I received a phone call from Brian Peacock in the UK. They were having a line up change and felt a front man might be a good idea. I had to pay my own way there but had just scored an insurance payoff from a traffic injury and was eager to escape Melbourne and see the world."
Ross arrived in London in April 1969 and the revamped Procession gigged sporadically over the next three months. During this period, they got the opportunity to record some new material at Olympic Studios in Barnes. and three tracks were cut at these sessions -- Mick Rogers' "Surrey" and Wilson's "Papa's In The Vice Squad" and "I Wanna Be Loved", all of which were consigned to the vaults and are yet to see the light of day. By this time, Procession's music had taken on a new direction, with Ross adding a more theatrical feel thanks to his interest in Frank Zappa. One of the new songs incorporated into the set (but never recorded by the band) was "Make Your Stash".
"[It] was later recorded by both Spectrum and Daddy Cool and the source for inspiration for Manfred Mann&rsquos Earth Band album that used Holst&rsquos &lsquoPlanets Suite. 'Make Your Stash' used one of the themes from that suite with my lyrics and bridge which Mick appropriated for Manfred Mann using new lyrics."
By June 1969 Procession was on its last legs, but manager David Joseph secured an unusual final booking for the band -- a transatlantic student cruise from London to New York and back, set for the second week in August 1969, which was the trip was supposed to help pay off the band&rsquos outstanding debts.
"It was the best thing we did," says Wilson. "[It was] a lot of fun and we got to play every night and join in some cool arty student performance stuff during the day."
When they returned to London in August, Procession had effectively run its course:
"[We] ran out of money and industry interest," adds Wilson. "By then manager, David Joseph was more interested in the New Seekers, plus I think the new line up [with me and Chris] had meant the group lost whatever focus it had."
Ross returned to Melbourne in late 1969, armed with a swag of new material, intent on creating an "esoteric special-occasion progressive band" with a floating lineup of semi-regular members and guest players, which would allow him to explore the progressive/theatrical interests that his passion for Zappa had awakened.
The Vegetals performed intermittently at multimedia and art events, 'happenings' and concerts at Melbourne galleries and venues like the TF Much Ballroom. Band 'members' at these events included Wilson and Hannaford's former Party Machine cohort Mike Rudd (Spectrum) and bassist Tim Partidge (Co. Caine) and it was planned that other performers would join in, such as Ross' friends Keith Glass and Gulliver Smith.
The Vegetals made few recordings -- their only known release is Garden Party, a custom-pressed EP played at and given away to audiences at an event/exhibition called "The Garden Party":
An Environment by Warren Knight - Ti Parks - Guy Stuart
October 28th to November 22nd, 1970
The Age Gallery, 250 Spencer Street, Melbourne
The EP was never commercially released and consequently it has become one of the most collectible Australian records of the rock era. One track from the EP, "Make It Begin", was anthologised on Golden Miles, Raven's 2CD compilation of Australian progressive rock, and more recently "Love is the Law" and "Make It Begin" were included on Ross Wilson' career retrospective Now Listen.
Snippets of footage of the Vegetals in performance can be seen Chris Lofven's experimental short film 806 which is now included as a special feature in the DVD edition of Chris' 1976 feature film OZ. which also includes priceless footage of The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, Myriad and Quinn. Happily, this long-unseen short is now available as a bonus feature on the DVD edition of Chris' 1976 feature film Oz
Wilson, Hannaford, Young and Duncan also created a 'subset' of the Vegetals, dubbed Daddy Cool, which was devised to provide 'light relief', playing short, enjoyable sets of '50s-style doo-wop and rock & roll between the Vegetals' lengthy, exploratory sets, playing Wilson's Zappa-influenced progressive pieces, but over time it became obvious that Daddy Cool was getting more popular than the "main act"
Sons of the Vegetal Mother were part of the lineup at one of Australia's first outdoor rock festivals at Myponga in South Australia at the end of January 1971, and this proved to be a watershed in the group's short career. The enthusiastic reception given to the Daddy Cool's set eclipsed the Vegetals' performance, making it clear that DC was taking on a life of its own, and Sons of the Vegetal Mother was soon phased out altogether. (It was during the Myponga performance that Chris Lofven filmed the footage that was later used in his promotional film-clip for "Eagle Rock").
A few months after Myponga, Daddy Cool was spotted by former teen guitar prodigy turned producer Robie Porter they signed to the Sparmac label, and in May they released their debut single "Eagle Rock".
The Garden Party (Custom pressing MP-465 33 1/3 rpm stereo)
Side One label is buff colour and credits the song to "Sons of the Vegetal Mother", with writing credited to Ross Wilson; Side two label is orange.
Buff side: "Love Is The Law" *
Orange side: "The Garden Party" / Make It Begin"#
Words and music by Ross Wilson © 1970
Custom Recorded by Bill Armstrong
Engineer: Ern Rose
Thanks to Paul Culnane for the details of this recording, which come
from the card insert included with his original copy of the EP.
ReferencesGlenn A. Baker