|MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975||Groups & Solo Artists|
Laurie Pryor (drums)
Charlie Tumahai (vocals, bass)
Mal Logan (organ)
Lindsay Wells (guitar)
Lindsay Wells (bass, guitar)
Ray Findlay (bass)
John Pugh (guitar)
Joe Tattersal (drums)
Mal Capewell (sax, flute)
Gus Fenwick (bass)
The legendary Healing Force was something of a 'supergroup', and its history interscts with several other important bands of the period, notably King Harvest and Friends. They made only one single, but it is still widely regarded as one of the flagship Australian progressive rock releases of the early '70s. All the members had a wealth of experience -- Pryor had been the drummer in the The Twilights; Charlie was from Nova Express; Logan was from The Rebels and Wells had been a member of Perth's prog-rock pioneers Bakery.
The first lineup formed late in 1970 and began playing in Adelaide over the '70/'71 Christmas period. They played at several early rock festivals including Launching Place. In April 1971, they signed with Robie Porter's new Sparmac label. Midway through 1971, they expanded to a five piece with the addition of John Pugh (ex-18th Century Quartet) on guitar.
In July, they released their brilliant single. The 'A' side, "Golden Miles", by Lindsay Wells, is one of the most admired Austraian progressive rock recordings of the period, and indeed rock historian Ian McFarlane named his magazine after it and rates as the best Australian progressive recording of the era. It was deservedly successful and spent nineteen weeks in the Melbourne charts, barely missing out on entering the Top 30. It features rippling Hammond organ by Logan with a beautiful melody line and a dramatic chorus, highlighted by the soaring vocals of the late, great Charlie Tumahai. The flip-side, another Lindsay Wells composition, was heavier but almost as good. It has never been commercially released but it has been included on the first CD in the trade-only CD-R compilation series Obscured But Unscarred. Just before the single hit the charts, Charlie quit to join Chain and the group returned to a four piece. Pryor left soon after and was replaced by Joe Tattersall (ex-Barrelhouse), but then Lindsay also left and the band fizzled out.
In November 1972, Healing Force reformed with Logan, Pryor and Pugh, plus newcomers Gus Feniwck (bass) and Mal Capewell (ex-Company Caine) on reeds. This version performed at the Sunbury Pop Festival in January 1973, with Charlie rejoining especially for the show. One track from their set, "Erection", was included on the Mushroom Records Sunbury '73 album. They disbanded shortly afterwards, during preparations for a planned LP, leaving their considerable promise sadly unfulfilled.
After Healing Force:
- Mal Logan had a short stint in The Dingoes, filling in for Chris Stockley during his enforced absence from the band (he had been shot and wounded at a party in late 1973), after which he joined The Renee Geyer Band.
Joe Tattersal spent some time with Ayers Rock and later joined Stylus;
Gus Fenwick played with the Bootleg Family Band
Mal Capewell joined Chain and also played with a later lineup of Company Caine
Tumahai and Logan both joined the shortlived Alta Mira in 1973, then Tumahai briefly played with Friends before joining Mississippi. He travelled to the U.K. with them and stayed there after the group returned to Australia. For most of the later 1970s he was the bassist and co-vocalist in Bill Nelson's Be Bop Deluxe. He returned to New Zealand in the eighties and joined The Herbs, and also did much work on behalf of his local Maori community until his sudden and unexpected death from a heart attack in December 1995.
Lindsay Wells headed back to Perth and played with poular local band Fatty Lumpkin, then returned to Melbourne and joined Ray Brown's One Ton Gypsy and a later lineup of Blackfeather. He eventually returned to Perth, where he remained active on the local blues scene for many years.
"Golden Miles" is the opening title track on Raven Records' 1994 2-CD compilation of Australian progressive rock; it also featured on the LP Sizzling
70's, Vol. 2;
"Erection" was included on the Sunbury 1973 live album. This was recently compiled into a 2CD set with highlights from Sunbury '74, released on Michael Gudinski's Liberation Blue label. These recordings are of enormous historical importance, but the recent CD must be strongly criticised for its shamefully poor quality. The second CD of Sunbury '74 recordings has clearly been transferred directly from LP, without any attempt at noise reduction, and many of the tracks are marred by very obvious surface noise. In an age when high-quality, low-cost digital recording systems are available to even domestic users, it is deplorable that that Liberation has chosen to released such an obviously sub-standard product to the public.
"Golden Miles" / "The Gully" (Sparmac SPR 009)
References / Links
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock (Outback Press, 1978)
Australian Encyclopedia of Rock & Pop (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
Joyson, Vernon et al
Dreams, Fantasies & Nightmares: Australia (Borderline Books, 1995)
Spencer, Chris, Zbig Nowara and Paul McHenry
Who's Who of Australian Rock (Five Mile Press, 2002)