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Tully - Tully CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.74 | 10 ratings

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4 stars Tully were arguably Australia's first authentic progressive rock group, and this debut album an important landmark in the local development of the genre. They had a distinctive sound, eschewing guitar, with the lead taken by Michael Carlos's keyboards (piano and Hammond in particular, often double tracked) and Richard Lockwood's mastery of many wind instruments. (Yes, I know they're not the only band with that instrumental configuration - but they don't sound anything like Van Der Graaf Generator.) They drew strongly on modern jazz and psychedelic influences, they could get into serious freak out territory sometime, but they also displayed a delicate, pastoral side, in slower more atmospheric pieces with dominant flute and piano, and an unusual harmonic sense. The easiest comparisons are with Procul Harum (particularly when Carlos doubles Hammond and piano), and early King Crimson (particularly the pastoral side of that band, although they have their Schizoid Man moments too), but they don't sound like copyists of anyone. For me, the highlights of the album are generally the more pastoral moments ("La Nave Bleu", "The Sun Is Shining", "Love", "You Are The World", "The Paradise of Perfect Silence" despite the slightly cheesy recitation), or those pieces where Carlos really goes nuts on the Hammond ("Just About Time") - the closing piece, "Waltz To Understanding", falls into both categories, so is a particular favourite. Opening track "You Realise You Realise", with it's slow anthemic verse devolving into a rushing instrumental passage, is their creditable attempt at a Schizoid Man moment. I'm less impressed with the various pastiche songs on the album (one of the more annoying trends in the psychedelic era) - the Dixieland pastiches "Do You Ever Think Of Nothing" and "Sleepy Head Red", or the hymn-like "Love's White Dove" - or the pure freak out moments like "Phssst" or "Lace Space" - but I'm willing to forgive those because the rest of the album is so strong. I wish someone would release this on CD.

2014 Update: Someone (Chapter Music) has finally released this on CD. Jubilation! One criticism of the outcome - on the original vinyl, side 1 ended with Lockwood's recitation of "The Paradise of Perfect Silence", which was then followed by a perfect silence as the needle lifted from the record - leaving you to contemplate that silence for as long as you wished until you got up to turn the record over. On the CD, Lockwood has barely finished speaking when the drums roll in to begin "Sleepy Head Red" - I find it spoils the mood somewhat. The CD also includes a bonus track, an early recording of "Yesterday", recorded at a time when Tully wrote little original music, instead playing stretched-out and re-arranged covers of pop standards (something they would have begun doing during their collective previous tenure with Levi Smith's Clefs - that band's 1970 album Empty Monkey covered similar territory). It's an interesting historical inclusion.

sl75 | 4/5 |


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