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Spectrum Part One

Spectrum

℗ 1971 Harvest Records SHVL 601

℗ 2013 barin.livejournal.com BR LLJ 49457 1

Spectrum • 1971 • Spectrum Part One

When latter-'60s psychedelic rock became the progressive rock of the early '70s, Melbourne's Spectrum was at the forefront of the Australian response. The group was formed from the ashes of Party Machine, which split up when singer and songwriter Ross Wilson left to join former Australian group Procession in London. Bass player Mike Rudd switched to lead guitar, and continued Party Machine's leaning toward lyrical satire.

EMI Australia added Spectrum to the company's global progressive Harvest label roster (Pink Floyd, Deep Purple etc.), and found amongst the group's experimental repertoire a melancholy, uncomplicated song called 'I'll Be Gone,' released as the group's first single. In May 1971, 'I'll Be Gone' reached number one nationally, changing the group's fortunes dramatically. Prior to its release, Spectrum had struggled for gigs (promoters found them 'too progressive') and the hot-shot young drummer Mark Kennedy, which was part of the band's live appeal, lost patience and left. Some observers thought the loss of the flashy and busily impressive drummer would be a blow and Spectrum wouldn't survive, but 'I'll Be Gone' ensured the group's survival. Kennedy was replaced by the less explosive, more sympathetic Ray Arnott. Mike Rudd, in the meantime, refused to allow 'I'll Be Gone' to be included on the album Spectrum Part One. It didn't fit with the innovative roaming style of the rest of the music on the album, more along the lines of progressive rock akin to post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd and Traffic.

Spectrum's follow-up single 'Trust Me' was an attempt to replicate their hit's commerciality, written and sung by the new drummer. But with the help of a second ambitious double album, Milesago, Spectrum had become one of Australia's first concert bands, preferring venues where they could use elaborate light shows. Step by step, Spectrum was becoming an event band. It became increasingly hard for them to present themselves at their optimum at the regular gigs, which were bread and butter for any working band in Australia in the '70s. To keep Spectrum's performances special, Mike Rudd invented an alter ego, Murtceps (Spectrum spelled backwards) with, apart from 'I'll Be Gone,' a repertoire all its own. Most important was the fact that the Indelible Murtceps was a stripped-back version of Spectrum, with no lightshows and a portable electric piano instead of the weighty Hammond organ allowing the band to play anywhere and often. Murtceps released its own singles and album.

The difficulty facing Spectrum's music and lineup defections caused Rudd and bass player Bill Putt to decide it would be simpler to put an end to Spectrum/Murtceps altogether. They started again with a new group, a new set of songs, and a new name, Ariel. Spectrum's final performance on April 15, 1973, was recorded as the double album Terminal Buzz.

The Rudd/Putt partnership endured through various bands and personal dilemmas until 1995 when they reinstated their Spectrum career with an independently released album, Living in a Volcano. They continue to perform under a variety of names but predominantly still call themselves Spectrum, although the most-recent version is more structured and song-oriented than the classic version of the group. Now 'I'll Be Gone' fits perfectly.

'I'll Be Gone itself has become one of the classic Australian radio hits. There have been a number of cover versions. In 1974, Manfred Mann recorded a version for the rest of the world.

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