Tamam Shud

Sydney 1967-1972


Personnel

Lindsay Bjerre [gtr,vcls] 1967-72
Peter Barron [bs] 1967-72
Dannie Davidson [dr] 1967-70
Larry Duryrea (aka Larry Taylor) [congas]
Tim Gaze [gtr, vcls] 1970-2
Bobby Gebert [kbds] 1971
Richard Lockwood [sax, flute, clarinet] 1972
Nigel Macara [dr] 1970-72
Kevin Sinott [dr] 1970
Kevin Stevenson [reeds] 1970
Alex 'Zac' Zytnic [gtr] 1967-70


Biography

Tamam Shud was one of the most original and innovative Australian groups of the late 60s and early 70s. They played a very important part as pioneers of acid-rock and progressive music. For many years after they split they were something of a cult, and their original recordings were (and still are) very hard to obtain. But thanks to a gratifying 'comeback' and considerable commercial success with their 1994 album Permanent Culture, and the driving, bluesy single Stay. There has been a significant revival of interest in this outstanding and original group, as well as sparking interest with younger listeners.

The evolution of Shud was typical of many groups of the era, beginning as an instrumental band, through 'beat' pop group and psychedelia, to progressive rock. The group originated in a Newcastle instrumental band The Four Strangers - Dannie Davidson, Zac Zytnic, Eric Connell (bs) and Gary Johns (gtr). They cut one well-regarded surf single The Rip/Pearl Diver, for Astor in 1964 after which Johns left the band and was replaced by singer /guitarist Lindsay Bjerre, at the end of the year. Lindsay was a natural musician and performer who began singing at an early age; he made his first public appearance, according to rock historian Noel McGrath, in an impromptu but well-received performance in a Tamworth pub at the age of 15. He was also able to read and write music (unusual for a pop musician), and his keen musical instincts proved extremely important for the band's future.

Under Bjerre's guidance The Four Strangers were steered into a more up-to-date beat/R&B style and snared a five-year deal with the Festival. Their recordings are highly prized by 60's beat fans, and no less than four Sunsets tracks - Sad & Lonely, When I Found You, I Want Love and Hot Generation have been anthologised on various compilations; When I Found You is now available on CD on the essential Festival 3-disc compilation So You Wanna Be A Rock'n'Roll Star?. Their first Festival release was a gritty R&B single Sad & Lonely/You'll Be Mine, which sold well locally in Newcastle. At the end of the year they changed their name to The Sunsets and during 1966 as they became one of the top bands in Newcastle, they made forays into Sydney. During this period they also recorded the music for the soundtracks for Paul Witzig's surf-films A Life In The Sun and Hot Generation. While very successful, this contributed to them being tagged - inaccurately - as a surf band.

"Paul Witzig had us as The Sunsets doing the soundtrack to A Life In The Sun. We were just like any other band. I was writing all the singles we did through Festival, and they did well and we weren't doing any surf music at all. Paul actually said "I want you to play surf music, instrumental, for this movie". But that did us a lot of damage because we actually went backwards momentarily. Doing that whole instrumental thing for the movie. So Festival released some of it and it went up the charts. So here was The Sunsets with an instrumental song sounding all surfie and it was making the tag even more so than it was. I remember Molly Meldrum bagging us in Go-Set and it wasn't representative of the band at all."
[Freedom Train]

Hot Generation has attracted a particular following over the years, and the title track has been covered by both the American all-girl group The Pandoras (1985), and Australia's Psychotic Turnbuckles (1989).

When The Sunsets shifted to Sydney's eastern suburbs in 1966 they hooked up with the Harrigan Agency, playing at their venues Surf City, The Star Club and Sunset Disco, and touring with other Harrigan acts like Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, Max Merritt & The Meteors, Ray Brown & The Whispers and Chris Hall & The Torquays. The big turning point came at the end of 1966 when The Sunsets were invited to play a three-month residency at a Surfer's Paradise nightclub owned by celebrity Digby Wolfe, as Lindsay Bjerre recalled to Ian McFarlane:

"We played at this nightclub, Digby's, just as 1967 came around and the whole LSD thing took off. The start of acid rock, the hippies, LSD, all those things first hit. The big revolution took place. We were doing covers, Happy Together by The Turtles, Eric Burdon & The Animals stuff, and few of our own things and we were playing six nights a week and it made the band incredibly tight. The whole band took LSD and no longer were we innocent surfie guys. All the people we ran into around the drug scene were putting us onto albums like like Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow, Arthur Lee and Love's Da Capo. We were all getting into jazz. "
[Freedom Train]

All these changes proved too much for bassist Eric Connell who, according to Bjerre "... couldn't really handle what was going on. He was basically a straighter guy". He left the band when they returned to Sydney at the start of 1967, and apparently quit the music scene entirely. Davidson and Zytnic wanted a seasoned professional to replace him, but Bjerre felt that the players on offer were too straight and was determined to find someone with "the right attitude". His choice was Peter Barron. Bjerre had by then moved to the Sydney harbourside suburb of Manly, and he had seen Barron around the area; when someone mentioned that Peter played bass, Bjerre decided to give him a try. Bjerre felt that, despite his youth and inexperience, Barron was the right person for the group, and within a couple of months he was "playing great".

As the year progressed The Sunsets, now immersed in the blossoming psychedelic scene, reinvented themselves as as Tamam Shud. The new name was a Persian phrase meaning "the very end", which was taken by Bjerre from the closing words of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. They were certainly one of the first Australian groups to take up the new acid-rock style led by artists like Cream, Hendrix and Pink Floyd. As the above quote indicates, they were also strongly influenced by jazz, and by the American West Coast groups like Love, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane - although they were (in my opinion anyway) far more coherent musically than the Dead, and their songs were less strident lyrically than the Airplane's more politicised material. Their live sound had a distinctive edge, thanks to Bjerre's use of an acoustic guitar, amplified by a pickup, and right from the start they were respected by audiences and players alike for their musicianship. Their first appearance as Tamam Shud was at the Intermedia Circus in Sydney in 1967 and they soon became recognised as one of Australia's most innovative bands, with their sets including long, improvised instrumental sections. According to Noel McGrath, "...audiences never danced - they sat and listened".

Over the next five years Shud became one of the most popular live acts of the east coast scene, playing at all the major disco and 'head' venues in Sydney and Melbourne. Although the "surf band" tag linked them with Sydney's northern beaches surf culture, Tamam Shud hardly ever played the northern beaches, according to Bjerre. In reality, they established their major fan base on Sydney's university and college dance circuit, and with the 'hippy' audiences at inner city underground venues like the Mandala Theatre in Darlinghurst and the Beacon Theatre in Newtown. The Shud also had a close association with the famous Sydney film/lightshow collective UBU where they were regularly teamed with other leading progressive acts including Tully. They often played at UBU-organised events, including the legendary Underground Dances of 1968-69; in the press release for the first Underground Dance in December 1968, they were described as "the wildest new group on the local scene". They became firm favourites with Go-Set magazine (especially Sydney staff writer David Elfick) and featured frequently in its pages.

Not everyone was so appreciative however. At one early UBU concert - a benefit for the Coogee Boardriders Club at the Hefferon Hall in East Sydney on 10 August 1968 - the Shud's performance and the UBU lightshow were brought to an early halt by the hall manager, who turned off the power, decrying the event "the ultimate in depravity"!

Their first LP, recorded at the end of 1968, has been justly described by Ian McFarlane as "one of the first wholly original rock albums issued in Australia". It was made independently, the session financed by filmmaker Paul Witzig to provide music for his surf film Evolution (the first Australian surf film to abandon narration and accompany the images with music alone). Four tracks - Evolution, I'm No-One, Mr Strange, and Lady Sunshine - were used in the film. These four tracks were later re-recorded (in slightly different versions) along with eight other originals, for what became Tamam Shud's debut album Evolution.

Most of Witzig's budget was committed to the considerable expense of transporting and filming surfers in exotic overseas locations (air travel in 1968 was very expensive, relative to today) so the budget for the music was minuscule. Consequently, the twelve songs that make up Evolution were recorded live, with very basic equipment, in a single 2-1/2 hour session, and mixed in a mere 1 -1/2 hours. Evidently most of the tracks, if not all, are first takes. The spontaneity is delightfully revealed by the intro to the bluesy Feel Free; the song breaks down just after the count-in and Bjerre is heard to laughingly say "Wait until the bass turns his amp on." - Barron had indeed forgotten to switch on. Although the recording quality is fairly rough, both material and performance are very strong, and it stands up extremely well today. Arrangements are excellent, and performances are very energetic; Bjerre's strong, soulful vocals carry the songs with ease, Zytnic's contributes some tasty acid-tinged lead breaks, and Barron and Davidson provide a solid and supple backing throughout. The standout track is without doubt the beautiful, jazzy Lady Sunshine, which was included on Raven's Golden Miles anthology in 1994 (although in the 'Freedom Train' interview Lindsay named Falling Up as his personal favourite).

Evolution is now rare indeed; a good copy - if you can find one - will set you back several hundred dollars on the collector market, and it cries out for a CD release. The album was leased to CBS, and both film and soundtrack were quite successful, thanks in part to Go-Set, who supported the film with a poster competition, a 'win-a surfboard' competition, and regular features on the Shud throughout 1969.

Zytnik left the band at the end of 1969, after Evolution, moving on to Graham Lowndes' band Bootleg and then joining one of the later incarnations of Blackfeather in late 1971. Bjerre was on the lookout for a real power player to replace Zac, but found most of the applicants too restrained:

"...we had seasoned players come up and they all wanted to play really laid back, they were all too gentle, and there was nobody really rip-roaring it up."
[Freedom Train]

The gong eventually went to a prodigiously gifted young Sydney guitarist, Tim Gaze - another inspired choice by Bjerre, it seems. Only 15 at the time, Gaze had already been fronting his own band, Stonehenge, when he answered the Shud's ad. In spite of his youth, Bjerre acted on his hunch to try the young player out; when the shy young man arrived at the band's Whale Beach house and set up in the rehearsal room, he proceeded to blow the band away.

"I looked over at the other guys and they looked at me and you could that see they were over the moon. I walked out of the room and was listening in the main part of the house and we just said "well, mate, you got the gig (laughs). We were amazed. It was a delight to play with him and see what he did to audiences."
[Freedom Train]

Tim's superb playing was precisely what Lindsay was looking for to power up the music he was writing, and it's a tribute to Gaze's ability that within weeks they were ensconced in Sydney's United Sound Studios cutting tracks for the new album. In early 1970 the band hooked up with Drum, the newly formed booking agency set up by The Masters Apprentices in Melbourne to handle their own booking and those of about two dozen other acts. Meanwhile, the success of the Evolution film and album led to Tamam Shud being offered a deal by Warner Bros, for whom they recorded their second LP, the highly praised concept album Goolutionites & The Real People, released in October 1970. It is generally reckoned to be their best work - Ian McFarlane calls it "one of the truly great Aussie progressive rock albums" and it also distinguished them as one of the first local bands to tackle environmental issues in their songs. It is now extremely rare and one of the most collectible albums of the period. The recording quality is of course far superior to Evolution, and Gaze's filigree guitar work and incisive lead lines add tremendous power and colour to the album. The material is less immediately accessible than Evolution , but rewards repeated listening.

Just after Goolutionites was finished in May, both Gaze and Davidson left the band in, to join guitarist Dennis Wilson's newly-formed Kahvas Jute, and they featured on their only album, the superb Wide Open. The band quickly built up a strong reputation a live unit, and the album garnered rave reviews, but it was to be short-lived. Internal tensions resulted in Tim leaving Kahvas Jute before the year was out, and by the end of the year he was back in Tamam Shud. To replace the lost members, Lindsay had brought in Kevin Sinott (dr) and Kevin Stephenson (reeds) and began to explore a jazzier direction. In June they made their first tour of Melbourne, and performed at the Dallas Brooks Hall, where EVOLUTION was screened for the audience before the band played. In August, Go-Set reported that the band were preparing to enter the studio, and that Bjerre had written enough material for a new LP, but nothing more came of it, and their inability to complete a follow-up to Goolutionites became an increasing source of discontent, especially for Bjerre. How many tracks, if any, were actually recorded is unknown.

When Gaze returned (just as Goolutionites was released) Sinott and Stephenson were let go, and Shud returned to a heavier sound. Since Davidson had stayed on with Kahvas Jute, Bjerre recruited a new drummer - Tim Gaze's former Stonehenge colleague, the 18 year-old Nigel Macara, who had also played with Bootleg. The sound expanded further when percussionist Larry Duryea (aka Larry Taylor), from Sydney band Heart'N'Soul joined near the end of the year, and on occasions they further augmented the band with noted Sydney jazz pianist and session stalwart Bobby Gebert.

Shud continued to tour solidly during 1971, playing the Melbourne disco/dance circuit in July, and touring Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane over the last four months of the year. They recorded several live performances for ABC TV's GTK, and one of these tracks, America, was released on CD in 1994 on The GTK Tapes Vol. 1.

Towards the end of the year, their progressive contemporaries Tully split up, and their reed player Richard Lockwood asked to join Shud -- a natural progression, since he had been jamming and playing occasional gigs with them for some time. The multi-instrumentalist (he played sax, flute and clarinet) expanded Shud's sound even further. The single Got A Feeling / My Father Told Me was issued in January 1972 and featured a more commercial and up-tempo sound (with harmonies and melodies quite suggestive of later work by Dragon).

The final Shud recordings were for the soundtrack of Albie Falzon's legendary surf film Morning of the Earth in 1972. Initially Falzon wanted Shud to provide the entire soundtrack, and according to Bjerre " ... there was talk of Spectrum doing something" as well. But things changed when producer/musician G. Wayne Thomas took control of the album -- a fateful decision for Shud, as it turned out. First, Thomas decided to include some of his own songs, plus tracks from Brian Cadd, John J. Francis and Hannagan. Thus Tamam Shud's input was reduced to three (albeit excellent) tracks - First Things First, Bali Waters and Sea The Swells. The next blow came when First Things First was recorded: according to Lindsay he had lost his voice on tour in Melbourne, so Tim Gaze cut the vocal, and although he was having voice problems at the time too, his vocal "sounded great" according to Bjerre. But, unknown to the group, Thomas later erased Gaze's vocal and replaced it with a new one by Melbourne singer Broderick Smith from Carson. The resulting track is fine in its own right, but the new vocal was apparently added without the group's approval. They in fact didn't find out about the substitution until they heard the result at the film's premiere, and they were understandably furious.

On the plus side, all three Shud tracks are outstanding; Bali Waters (my favourite) is a classic surf instrumental, featuring some beautiful flute playing from Lockwood, with strings and wordless choral backing; it was also included (with Got A Feeling and My Father Told Me) on the Bali Waters EP, released later that year, which is now another major collector's item.

The Morning of the Earth film and soundtrack album were a tremendous success in Australia. Despite the record receiving no radio airplay whatsoever, the LP charted in May 1972, and eventually went gold, becoming the first locally-made soundtrack to sell in such quantities. Ironically, the "sting" for Tamam Shud did not end with Thomas' production interference. We want to stress here that these problems have nothing whatsoever to do with Albie Thoms -- they are, as far as we know, entirely the fault of the record's producer and the record label concerned.

As indicated below, Shud has apparently never been paid for their share of the album. The recording was a direct deal between the record label (Warner Brothers) and the production company, Isis, who were supposed to pass on royalty payments to the various artists involved. These profits, it appears, never made it past first base. Adding insult to injury, we understand that Warners have repeatedly fobbed off enquiries by the group - even going so far as to claim that they couldn't locate the original contract! The record producer/s consistently refuse to talk with the band, and after nearly 30 years, Tamam Shud are yet to see a single cent from the sale of the album. This is a shameful state of affairs, and while we at MILESAGO would be delighted to hear an explanation from the parties concerned, we would be even more delighted if they finally did the right thing and paid Tamam Shud what they are owed.

Tim Gaze recently recalled the recording of the MOTE tracks for Albie Thoms' Morning Of The Earth website:

"It was a big deal for us to be asked to put some music up for MOTE - I was pretty excited anyway - Lindsay had written two tracks -- 'Bali Waters' and 'Sea The Swells' -- and for some reason, one of mine, 'First Things First' was also chosen. Don't know exactly who chose the music, but I think we got involved through David Elfick. We recorded the tracks at Channel 9 in Melbourne - TCS it was called and it was all done 'live' - except for vocals. The Shud was 6 piece at that stage with Lindsay Bjerre (guitar and vocals) Peter Barron (bass) Nigel Macara (drums and vocals) Larry Duryea (percussion) Richard Lockwood (saxes, clarinet, and flute and vocals), and Tim Gaze (guitars and vocals).

The recording of these songs pretty well went down 2nd or 3rd take because we were playing so much all the time, that we were pretty comfortable with them. This music relied on feel -- that was it's magic, and playing 'live' as a band was how it was done. There was seperate tracking done in those days as well, here and there, but mostly just the band at once. I think 'Evolution', the Shud's first album was recorded all in - just set up in the studio and hit the red button.

A couple of points -- when it came time to come back and do the vocal sessions for these songs -- ( Bali Waters was an instrumental except for backing chorus harmony 'oohs' and 'aahs' - nice effect ) -- Lindsay had throat trouble that day, and we decided that I would sing 'Sea The Swells' instead, but Lindsay always sang it when we played 'live'. Also, with First Things First, some kind of executive decision must have been made, because when we finished those sessions, it was my vocal that was on that song, and a couple of months later when we went to the opening of the film in Sydney, First Things First starts playing, and there's Broderick Smith singing my song! Nice job too! First we'd heard of it ... but, hey that's showbiz!

Nigel Macacra and I were also asked to do session work on that soundtrack. On the MOTE theme, he plays drums, and I play bass and acoustic guitars. I think we also did a similar thing on Day Comes and Open Up Your Heart'. It was as I say a really good thing to be involved in, and the acclaim the film and soundtrack has received over the years makes me feel proud to have been able to contribute with our original music and with my favourite band, Tamam Shud.

Oh yeah... it was the first soundtrack in Australian music history to pick up a gold record for sales. Some body must have made a motza out of the sales, but as artists, the people who contributed their talent and skills will just have to be satisfied with having been involved, because as far as I know, no artist royalties were ever paid."

Shud plugged away on the live circuit through the first half of 1972, playing the Mulwala Festival in April, and making more trips to Melbourne in May and July. Bjerre announced the imminent breakup of the group in August 1972, brought about by management problems, "fear of musical stagnation" and especially the frustration of not being able to record another LP. They played their final shows in Melbourne on September 1st (Sebastians, with MacKenzie Theory and Toads) 2nd (Garrison, with Madder Lake) and 3rd (Sebastians, with Blackfeather and Carson).

 

After Tamam Shud

Lindsay Bjerre pursued a different musical direction, forming the Albatross with Peter Barron, Richard Lockwood, and ex-Country Radio drummer Kim Bryant. After Albatross, he travelled overseas, and on his return he embarked on a solo career as Bjerre. He had a one-off hit national hit with the quirky single She Taught Me How To Love Again in the mid-70s, assisted by a film-clip which was given heavy exposure on Australia's national pop TV program Countdown . Baron moved on to the Bilgola Bop Band, which later became the nucleus of the successful 80s band Moving Pictures.

Gaze, Macara, George Limbidis (bs) and Philip Pritchard (gtr) formed a new band, Sailing, which was later renamed Miss Universe. Gaze and Macara then shifted to Melbourne and worked briefly with Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford on their post-Daddy Cool project which eventually became Mighty Kong. They then briefly formed a power trio with bassist Steve Hogg (ex-Bakery) before moving on to the first version of Ariel.

Tim remains one of Australia's most respected and sought-after guitarists, and has worked in a succession of fine bands, including The Stevie Wright Band, his own Tim Gaze Band and a stint in Rose Tattoo. He also produces and has his own studio in Sydney. Tim still plays regularly; he is now a permanent member of The Bushwackers, and leads with his own superb blues band Tim Gaze & The Blues Doctors, which features harmonica legend Jim Conway (Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, Backsliders) and guest players such as bassist Chris Bailey (The Angels, GangGajang) and Tim's old Kahvas Jute bandmate .

Nigel Macara also returned to work with Ariel in 1975 and later played with Air Supply, before reportedly becoming the manager of record store. Zac Zytnic apparently left the music business in the mid-70s and now lives to the north coast of NSW. Larry Duryea seems to have disappeared from the music scene.

Tamam Shud reformed in 1994 with the lineup of Bjerre, Gaze, Barron and Macara. They recorded a strong album of all-new material, Permanent Culture for Polydor, with songs by Bjerre and Gaze, and they undertook a national reunion tour, including TV appearances. The first single, Stay (which features some scorching slide guitar by Tim) was very well-received and had extensive national radio airplay, notably on 2JJJ; they made several great live TV performances to promote it, including spots on Hey Hey It's Saturday, The Footie Show and a blistering performance on the ABC's Recovery. In spite of the success of Stay the album sadly didn't chart as well as was hoped, and the group were dropped by Polydor; after their tour finished in April 1995 they broke up.

- DK


Discography

Apart from the recent Permanent Culture CD, Tamam Shud is shamefully hard to come by. Of the older recordings, only the Morning Of The Earth soundtrack is available on CD and it can still be found on LP second-hand. The two original Tamam Shud LPs are rare indeed, and worth a small fortune. Lady Sunshine, from Evolution, was anthologised on the Raven progressive compilation Golden Miles in 1994. Surely this superb band.is long overdue for a definitive anthology of


Singles

?/69  Evolution / Lady Sunshine CBS BA221706

?/70  Stand in the Sunlight / I Love You All  Warner  (cat. no unknown).

1/72  Got A Feeling/My Father Told Me  Warner  WBA4007

7/94  Stay / Election Day / The Fire  Polydor  853221-2

?/94  Shakin' Out the Stones / What's Your Problem  Polydor  853902-2


EP

Bali Waters Warners EPW 207 1970
Bali Waters/Got A Feeling/My Father Told Me

Lindsay Bjerre - songs, guitar, vocals
Peter Barron - bass
Larry Duryea - congas
Tim Gaze - guitar
Kevin Stevenson - reeds
Richard Lockwood - sax, flutes
Nigel Macara - drums


Albums

?/69  Evolution (LP) 1969 CBS SBP 233761

Music Train
Evolution
I'm No One
Mr Strange
Lady Sunshine
Falling Up
Feel Free
It's a Beautiful Day
Jesus Guide Me
Rock on Top
Slow One And The Fast One
Too Many Life
[Lindsay Bjerre]

"The sound of the Shud is heavy. The vocal of the Shud is incidental. Lindsay wrote all the tracks on Evolution. Zac plays lead. Peter plays bass. Dannie drums."

10/70  Goolutionites and the Real People  (LP) WEA WS200001

Goolutionites and the Real People
They'll Take You Down on the Lot
I Love You All
Heaven is Closed
A Plague
*Stand in the Sunlight
Take a Walk on a Foggy Morn
Goolutionites Theme
Part I
Goolutionites Theme Part II
[All songs by Lindsay Bjerre except *words by Kevin Platt, music by Lindsay Bjerre]

Lindsay Bjerre - all songs, vocals, rhythm guitar
Peter Barron - bass, fuzz bass
Tim Gaze - lead guitar, piano
Dannie Davidson - drums

Producer - John Bromell
Engineer - Maurice Wilmore
Studio - United Sound, Sydney

5/72 Morning Of The Earth - soundtrack [WEA]

Tamam Shud contribute 3 tracks:

Sea The Swells
Bali Waters
First Things First

Other tracks by G. Wayne Thomas, Brian Cadd, Hannagan and John J. Francis

Produced by G. Wayne Thomas

8/94   Permanent Culture (CD) Polydor 523442
Why Do I Love You? [Bjerre]
Stay [Bjerre]
Shakin' Out  the Stones [T. Blackburn-T.Gaze]
I Wanna Be your Life [Bjerre]
It's My Time [Bjerre]
Ain't No City Bjerre, Lindsay
The Dispossessed [Bjerre]
Kids in Cars [Bjerre]
Temptation [Bjerre]
Upside Down [Gaze]
 


References


Links

Tim's Music Shack - the official Tim Gaze website