MILESAGO Feature Article
by Harley Parker

     The world was a different place in 1969 when I first went to the Thumpin' Tum. You had distinct groups of people who like various styles of music and in each group there were a range of venues with different dress codes to suit these different groups of Aussie Band Worshipers.
     The Thumpin' Tum probably had a lower social dress code than some but when it came to the music and the people who went there, it was first class. So out of the 4 venues in the city of Melbourne that had the same range of bands - Berties, Sebastians, Thumpin' Tum & Traffic - Berties had the best dress code and Traffic the least. Of course there were places outside of the city like T. F. Much Ballroom in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy and the Kinema Theatre, Bridport St, Albert Park which were great venues but lack the immediacy of the city venues.
     Powerhouse, which was longside Albert Park Lake had a severe dress code and awful music [bands like Dove !!]. I worked with a guy who went to Powerhouse and when he talked about it, it sent shivers down your spine, [aarrgh! - it still does]. I meant to say he wore corduroy, I was lucky to have jeans without any holes in them. Although to be truthful I did have a pair of jeans that had a piece of material tacked to bottom of them, I wasn't totally uncool.
    Now if you pick up your copy of the Sept 1971 Go - Set, you will find venues such as Opus 70, South Side Six, Impulse, Impact these venues had bands such as Town Criers, New Dream, The Vibratones, The Sect etc, and tried out Daddy Cool and Lotus. Generally however the music was……………………. My record player would refuse to play that kind of ???, it just has been trained with an discerning ear but some record players like things like Ross D. Wylie's - "Here Comes The Star"
- aarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

     The mid 1970's saw the end of an era, as pubs were allowed to open later, which gave us the pub band with the smell of toasted ham & cheese sandwiches being replaced by the smell of beer. This lead to people going to venues for the beer rather than the music, and therefore the music changed to suit the new scene and therefore the Australian progressive rock music was replaced by basic rock. In 1970 there were pubs, but most dance venues were alcohol free. So you would, in the case of the Thumpin' Tum first go to the Oxford and then on to the Tum after 10 o'clock, missing the first act, Yes folks the music started at 8:30 p.m.



 Stillwater - 1971


     The Thumpin' Tum was located at 50 Little Latrobe Street, Melbourne, half way between Elizabeth & Swanston Streets on the north side of the street. It was a 2 storey bluestone venue with the stage situated at he rear of the ground floor, where the bands had access via a back lane. The dance floor was not huge, but it was bigger than the other city venues and at least twice the size of Sebastians. The second floor was accessed from the foyer via the stairs along the left-hand wall. This was the solialising floor, the party floor, the coffee bar, the place to met friends, the place to eat toasted ham & cheese sandwiches and it was the place where later on we were to hear folk music.

 


     The décor was a mixture of Art Nouveau posters, a large John Lennon & Yoko Ono picture used as a back drop for the folk groups and dry flower arrangements commonly known as thistles. The first floor was tastefully painted matt black and as it was the 1970's this meant Tiffany light shades.
It is a sad fact that we all still have Tiffany light shades in our homes today -
well I do !

    Over the P.A. came music to fill in the moments waiting for the bands to restart. Three songs even today still remind me of those days at the Tum:
1 - Donovan's, You going to need somebody on your bond.
2 - Carole King's, It's too late & So far away.
I don't know why, it's just these 3 but that's all I remember.
One also shouldn't forget the INCENSE, it was around like fresh air isn't today. The whiff of incense I have to say is just a memory as it sends my son mental [asthma], life was a lot simpler then.

 

 

     The entertainment wasn't just live bands and records, there were Magic Acts by Jeff Crozier and movie nights. On these nights people brought along blankets, sleeping bags and cushions to sit, lay or rest on while watching Epic Movies after the bands had finished; Bonnie & Clyde, 2001 a space odyssey, a perfect end to a night out. These nights were very popular with the dance floor packed with bodies enjoying the comforts of a concrete floor, cushions [or a warm body] were a minimum requirement.

     There were also party nights and fancy dress nights, when a license was required for the beverages used on the premises, all to attract more patrons to the Tum no doubt.

 

Some people don't know when they have had to much.


<--
My brother Brad & the sheep skin coat he lived in.


Carson - 1971

 

Dannie Davidson - 1971


Bones - 1971

 
Wendy Saddington - 1971

     The Tum at first didn't seem a place for a lot of female singers until later when the coffee lounge and folk groups started but Wendy Saddington, early on, fitted in with her own style of music and personality. I was changing a roll of film in my camera one night sitting in the middle of the dance floor, when a shout of "Get Out Of The [email protected] Way" came from behind. As I scrambled out of the way, a fast moving wheel chair being pushed by a female singer, who often performed with Jeff St. John, breezed past narrowly missing some very expensive camera gear and me.

     Billy Thorpe recently said that Lobby Lloyd was Australia's consummate guitarist and I had the privilege of seeing Lobby Lloyd play at the Tum many times. But no more importantly than a period of about 10 weeks when he played every Sunday night for a good 2 to 3 hours each night; it was a breath taking display of guitarmanship, one I'll never forget. The only thing was, being a Sunday night, not many people ventured out to witness what was a moment in Australian music history that is sadly never going to be repeated again and worst of all, well and truly forgotten.

 
Lobby Lloyde - 1971

 

     The early 1970's were a time of lengthy solo's in every band and the organ solo suited this electronic rock age with well known bands like Spectrum to lesser known bands like Dafiduk performing there wizardry. Dafiduk did a wonderful version of 'You Keep Me Hanging On' which certainly transported you to another planet, but that was the time, the music was meant to send you off without any drug or alcoholic help. It wasn't just organ solos it was guitar solos, drum solos, you name it, it was soloed. It was a time when both the individual members of the band and the band performing as a unit had to perform well or they wouldn't survive.

 
Charlie Tumahai [Healing Force] - 1971

     Healing Force, what can one say about this wonderful musical band, that only lasted 12 months? Famous for
"Golden Miles," but they were a band who did a 2 hour set and every number was brilliant. If you saw them live you are one of many who were privileged with a shear magical experience. They have to rank high in my favourite top 10 Aussie bands, behind probably only Spectrum and Kahvas Jute.

     An early shot of Captain Matchbox pre- drums, electric bass and about the time of
"My Canary Has Circles Under it's Eyes"

 

     The band of the early 70's has to be SPECTRUM, no other band came close. From 'Superbody' to 'The Crazy Song'; a cascading wall of music that just flows through your body and deadens the nervous system, like no other band can achieve. What can I say just go out and buy the CD 'Ghosts: Post-Terminal Reflection'.
You could also e-mail EMI Records and demand all Spectrum records be put on CD. E-mail your local Member of Parliament, every one, the world needs to be told.

 

    So how should I remember those years so long ago
but seem to be, only yesterday.
           - The music, yes the music
           - The people, yes the people
           - The décor, yes the décor
           - The ambience, yes the ambience
         Yes, definitely Yes

 
Harley Parker - checking the till, 1971

    The Thumpin' Tum by January 1972 closed forever and I moved on and settled at Sebastians [was this when I tacked that material onto my jeans? Maybe to up the dress code a notch - nah!] It was also in January 1972 that there was to be the start of another event that hasn't totally been forgotten
- 'Sunbury ' but that's another story.

 

Spectrum - Sunbury 1972


 

 Who played the drums
without shoes on, and
in which band
did he play in at the Tum ??

  
ANSWER

 Who are these 2 gents and
why were they seen frequenting
the Tum so often ??

  
ANSWER

 

 

 A Christian name will do ??

Hint: she made great
toasted ham & cheese sandwiches.

  
ANSWER



This article and all photographs © 2000 Harley Parker. Text and images used by permission.

MILESAGO says sincere thanks to Harley for sharing his unique memories of this great era of Aussie music.



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