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Tully - Live At Sydney Town Hall 1969-70 CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.92 | 4 ratings

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3 stars The inclusion of Peter Sculthorpe's "Love 200" makes this an essential release not only for anyone interested in this era of Australian prog, but also anyone interested in Australian classical composition. Although "Love 200" was frequently performed by Australia's professional orchestras in the early 1970s, with several different bands reprising Tully's role (including Copperwine and Fraternity), it has languished in obscurity ever since - no recording was issued until now, and the score is not easily available (it is one of the few Sculthorpe works that you will not find at the Australian Music Centre).

There have been many prog/orchestral collaborations. "Love 200" is unusual among them in that the conception came from the classical side of the fence - it was conductor John Hopkins' idea to pair the SSO with a rock band, and Peter Sculthorpe wrote the piece without any direct input from Tully. This has some benefits and drawbacks. The great benefit is that the orchestral writing is interesting for a change - instead of the usual 19th century cliches, Sculthorpe gives us the kind of post-Penderecki avant-garde string writing he had been exploring in his recent compositions such as the Sun Music series. On the other hand, he's not so comfortable writing rock music, and the two band sections are somewhat more conservative in their musical language. I'm not sure how much scope Tully were given to improvise - Michael Carlos and Richard Lockwood still manage to make their presence felt, but it's a much more restrained performance than we are used to from Tully. Formally there is no great integration between band and orchestra, instead they alternate sections. After a brief orchestral introduction, the band play "It'll Rise Again", then the orchestra takes over, singer Jeannie Lewis joining them to perform "The Stars Turn", the band then take over for a third section, and the orchestra supply the briefest imaginable coda. Vocalists Terry Wilson and Jeannie Lewis make some distracting moaning sounds in between verses in the weaker third section, but are otherwise in great voice, particularly Lewis, who shows her flexibility by switching to a legit classical technique for "The Stars Turn" - I can think of very few other contemporary singers who could pull off such a credible classical performance. So overall, not up there with Sculthorpe's best work, or Tully's for that matter, but an important piece of Australian music history, and a work that stands up very well in comparison to most other prog/orchestral collaborations.

"Sights and Sounds of 69" is half an hour of mostly free improvisation recorded at Tully's Town Hall concerts. Occasionally it is interesting, but most of it is noodling. I rarely bother to listen to this track all the way through. I regard track 1 as essential and track 2 as completely inessential, so therefore will split the difference with a three star rating

sl75 | 3/5 |


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