Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
The Masters Apprentices - Choice Cuts [Aka: Master's Apprentices] CD (album) cover


The Masters Apprentices


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With Choice Cuts a progressive and psychedelic sound begins to surface for The Masters.

A note: There may be some confusion about this album with European readers. Choice Cuts was released in Europe as 'The Masters Apprentices', sometimes with a heavily cropped version of the Hipgnosis designed cover. It is a totally different album to the Astor release under the name 'The Masters Apprentices' from 1967.

Choice Cuts represents a number of firsts for the Masters Apprentices: the first album the group has recorded where the intention was to go into a studio and record a complete album (the others being collections of work over a few years amalgamated into albums); the first of two albums recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studios; and the first to feature the Masters line-up that would be considered the 'classic line-up' - Jim Keays, Doug Ford, Glenn Wheatley & Colin Burgess.

With the new line-up and the production guidance of Jeff Jarratt (an engineer on a number of The Beatles recordings and Pink Floyd's 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn') the Masters recorded an album that was influenced by much of the new music they were exposed to while in the UK. These influences included King Crimson, Hendrix and Free from the heavier end of the music spectrum, and Donovan and Van Morrison from the acoustic end.

Choice Cuts is by no means a true progressive album, however it does step away from the beat sound of the past and migrate into progressive areas. "Michael" and "Easy To Lie" are a couple of tracks with a progressive edge. Both make use of some smouldering guitar from Doug Ford that reminds me of Uriah Heep's guitar sound. These are supplemented by the somewhat psychedelic "Our Friend Owsley Stanley III" (a direct reference to the LSD culture of the period), the tribute to the slain Martin Luther King with "Death Of A King", and "Song For A Lost Gypsy".

The hits from the Choice Cuts album are the ballad "Because I Love You" and the Latin- influenced "Rio De Camero". "Because I Love You" features Jeff Jarratt playing piano of the legendary white grand piano belonging to Paul McCartney, and has become an Australian classic over the years. "Rio De Camero" was written at the last minute to give the album another few of minutes playing time, however it did not become a hit until 1974 when it was released as a single to support the Masters "Best Of" album 'Now That It's Over'.

Overall Choice Cuts presents this incarnation of the Masters Apprentices as a competent and cohesive playing unit. It is an important album that showed that Australian artists could venture overseas, learn from their experiences, and translate that into music with a fair level of success.

While not rating high as a progressive album, the Dinosaur is giving Choice Cuts four stars. Why? Because of the influence Choice Cuts had on those artists that followed by giving belief that great albums could be made by Australian artists. This included the next Masters album, an outright progressive album in the form of 'A Toast To Panama Red'.

Report this review (#260099)
Posted Saturday, January 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Masters Apprentices the Aussie prog 70s icons have created many singles in their illustrious career and of course there are a plethora of compilations, but this studio album is more or less the type of track listing found on compilations such as 'Fully Qualified'. In fact there are only three tracks on this that are not on "Fully Qualified".

'Because I Love You' is a chart topper that is featured on every compilation in existence on the band. It begins with innovative acoustic guitar that is lilting and beautiful, then Keays croons, 'its because I love you not because we're far apart...' and of course it build to the memorable mantra that is recognisable in pop culture, 'Ooh, Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be yeah'. It repeats over and over at the end of the song and sticks in the brain. Everything about the track works and it will always be synonymous with the band's eclectic style. An indispensable Aussie treasure.

Rio de Camero is a Latin America sound alike with a great instrumental break and a huge hit for the band.

Easy to Lie has a great bass line that drives it along and it sounds psychedelic with filtered vocals and phasing guitars.

Michael is a strange one with excellent guitar work from Ford and emotive vocally.

Death of a King is a tribute to Martin Luther King with a slice of prog.

Our Friend Owlsey Stanley III is an off kilter track with wild phased guitars and a weird structure that is psych prog at its best.

Song for a Lost Gypsy is another strange one that changes time sigs and features an exceptional lead break.

In any case this is one of the best albums with some of their greatest tracks. I recommend this as an excellent starting point but there is so much more the band produced that are as good, if not better, than this album. "Fully Qualified" is the one to get, a compilation certainly, but the best document of the band featuring everything great on "Choice Cuts", 7 tracks, and all their unreleased singles.

Report this review (#265015)
Posted Monday, February 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's hard to believe this is the same band that recorded "Undecided", or even the same band that recorded Masterpiece just a year earlier - the development is just astonishing. The band are so much more fluent in their playing, and so much more ambitious in their compositions. Seems the time they spent in London, and the influences to which they were exposed, did them a lot of good. For the most part, they've gone in the direction of riff-based heavy rock, a la Led Zeppelin. "Easy To Lie", "Catty" and "Song For A Lost Gypsy" are emblematic. The opening sequence of "Rio De Camero" and "Michael" are the most impressive in this vein - if you pay close attention you can hear that they are still based on fairly simple chord changes and the usual modal scales, but the interplay between the instruments makes them sound considerably more complex and thrilling. "Our Friend Owsley Stanley III" is probably the most proggy, with it's irregular metres and slight Jethro Tull overtones. "I'm Your Satisfier" is a fairly simple blues rock tune bearing the most resemblance to their previous work (it pretty much takes up where "Think About Tomorrow Today" left off). "Because I Love You" has deservedly remained a radio favourite. "Song For Joey" is a brief acoustic guitar solo. There are times where their influences are worn too closely, for me the major issue is Jim Keays' vocals. His natural range is baritone, and earlier records stuck mostly to a middle tessitura. However, here he often seems intent on imitating Robert Plant, and his forays into the high tenor range do not sound comfortable. Some pressings have an additional track "New Day" (although it is not always identified as a separate track - on my CD it is part of "Song For Joey". This is a short acoustic ballad with Jim Keays abandoning his Robert Plant impersonation in favour of a Van Morrison impersonation. At least this time it's his comfortable range. An excellent album - one of the best Australian albums of the period.
Report this review (#722281)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Masters Apprentices play a style of prog-tinged hard rock which borrows from a range of sources - a bit of Jethro Tull there, a dash of Deep Purple there - but to my ears never quite convincingly work these together into a cohesive sound of their own. Production values are decent thanks to the group having access to Abbey Road Studios for the recording this time, and it has a more or less cohesive sound thanks to being recorded consciously as an album rather than being a compilation of tracks from singles like the group'd previous releases, so it's a competent enough affair, but not interestingly so.
Report this review (#1096969)
Posted Sunday, December 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars A remarkable album from this band from Australia. This album brings me lots of memories. I was introduced to this band by a friend of mine when I was at college. At the time I had no idea who they were. As soon as I listened to this album I knew it would be a favourite of mine. I like heavy prog sound and this album takes the best of that subgenre in play. Most of the songs have the power of good guitar riffs and solos and high pitched voices. They maintain the essence of psychedelia but bring forward the darker sounds, blues rock, folk and country elements that define heavy prog. Among my favorite songs are: Our Friend Owsley Stanley III, which has folk elements similar to Jethro Tull but with a heavier sound; Because I Love You is a fantastic acoustically driven song in the vein of Uriah Heep's "Lady in Black"; Death of a King is another wonderful song with excellent changes, mainly in the voices. The rest of the songs are totally the pure essence of heavy prog. An album that is enjoyable from the very first second. Definitely a must for lovers of bands such as Uriah Heep, Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple and many more who appeared in that period (from late sixties towards mid seventies).
Report this review (#1555902)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2016 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Australia's THE MASTERS APPRENTICES won a free boat trip in late 1969 to England and spent a few months free from touring duties and any pressures of releasing the second album as all the material was recorded and ready for release. This gave the band the opportunity to refresh their creative mojo and given that London was ground central for the burgeoning prog and hard rock scenes back around 1970, these Aussies became smitten with the wealth of musical expressions that London offered and spent their time in the UK advancing their art form beyond the cheesy playing catch up garage rock / pop of their first two albums. The results amounted to a massive leap in creativity which finally found the band latching onto its own style and place in the greater music scene.

Totally impressed with the superior recording studios and music scene in general, the band ended up staying in London and soaked in the sounds of everyone from King Crimson, Jimi Hendrix and Small Faces to the psychedelic folk sounds of Donovan and Free. With an arsenal of fresh tracks to work with, the band landed in Abbey Road studios and recorded, mixed and mastered the newest album in only a month and then CHOICE CUTS (released simply as "Masters Apprentices" in the UK) came out in 1971, just a year after the anachronistic predecessor "Masterpiece." Sounding primarily like a 70s boogie rock style of hard rock, the band still retained a whiff of their earlier psychedelic leanings as well as a mix of folk based songs such as the single "Because I Love You," which made use of the acoustic guitar in the style of Led Zeppelin. While the band was aiming to strike it big in the UK, the single only charted in its native Australia.

The album opens with the Latin flavored shuffle groove of "Rio de Camero" and then followed by the acoustic ballad "Michael" which showcases THE MASTERS APPRENTICES' continuation of a variety of styles that range from heavy to soft however this time around the tracks flow together smoothly and the album as a whole feels cohesive. "Easy To Lie" and "Catty" showcase the band's boogie shuffle abilities with heavy rockin' guitar riffs and nice leads. Jim Keays vocal style had improved remarkably since the last album and on this album sounded something like a mix of Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Free's Paul Rodgers. Likewise some of the grooves were right out of the Free playbook as well. In fact the band had crafted an interesting sum of influences that went into a style of their own making. Overall the tracks came out extremely melodic with the instrumental interplay lights years beyond the album of a mere year prior.

"Death Of A King" is a tribute to the great Martin Luther King Jr. and the track sounds like an usual mix of the Groundhogs and Zeppelin's acoustic side with perhaps a touch of Van Morrison. "Song For A Lost Gypsy" goes for a heavy blues rock and funk style with a contrasting falsetto vocal performance. "I'm Your Satisfier" is a fun little boogie number that rock the jew's harp and all! "Song For Joey - Part II," wait! Where was part one?!! It's nothing more than an acoustic outro that ends the album. Despite all the rave reviews from the critics the band really didn't make much of a splash with CHOICE CUTS most likely due to the glut of fresh prog and harder rock clogging the record stores in 1971 London. Whatever the case the album remained an obscurity until collectors rediscovered it in the 1980s and it became an underground favorite.

It's really hard to believe that this is the same band that released the outdated "Masterpiece" just one years prior. CHOICE CUTS may not have been the most original sounding album on the scene during 1971 but it did stand out in a few ways. First of all the percussion was more dynamic and varied than most hard rock album as it utilized Latin rhythm styles and likewise the diversity of guitar licks and leads made this a more varied album than the typical blues based hard rock band of the early 70s. While not exactly prog, the influences did creep in with tones and textures and the desire to make the chord progressions a bit more spiced up than usual. Basically a folk-tinged heavy psych album, CHOICE CUTS delivered the goods where previous endeavors had failed. Against all odds, THE MASTERS APPRENTICES had come of age but unfortunately that wasn't good enough for any kind of breakthrough success. The band would push on for one more album and then call it quits. This is probably their crowning achievement.

Report this review (#3031218)
Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2024 | Review Permalink

THE MASTERS APPRENTICES Choice Cuts [Aka: Master's Apprentices] ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of THE MASTERS APPRENTICES Choice Cuts [Aka: Master's Apprentices]

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.