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The Masters Apprentices - Fully Qualified: The Choicest Cuts CD (album) cover

FULLY QUALIFIED: THE CHOICEST CUTS

The Masters Apprentices

Proto-Prog


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AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
5 stars "Stop what you're doing and just listen to us!"

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 compilation is the definitive and the best showcasing everything the band did to make them famous Australian icons of classic prog rock. 'Fully Qualified' features all the singles from Poor Boy to Love Is.

The great thing about the album is it is a chronological history of the band. From 1966 are the singles Poor Boy, Undecided, Wars or Hands of Time and Buried and Dead from the debut self titled album. MA were a singles band in their early lineup from 1967 to 1969 and all these are featured, some never before released on CD, and treasures such as the psychedelic Elevator Driver, Think About Tomorrow Today and Living In a Child's Dream are here, direct from the single version.

From 1971's "Masterpiece" are 5:10 Man, A Dog, A Siren & Memories, and the instrumental How I Love You.

"Choice Cuts" was released the same year and was the first great MA album. It featured the chart topping infamous Because I Love You 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 it builds to the memorable mantra that is recognisable in Oz 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. It features on Oz advertisements also. An indispensable Aussie treasure.

Turn Up Your Radio was also popular enough to feature on an advertisement campaign but is more remembered for its zany wild screaming and frenetic sax. This was a raucous song that most Australians have heard in one form or another. The words are straightforward and demanding "Stop what you're doing and just listen to us!" it also features homages to Bill Haley with "1,2,3 o' clock, 4 o' clock rock!... We're gonna rock!", cue the echo machine and then the blasting saxes crank it up again. The lyrics are based on 50s jukebox jargon and it's really all about the sound of rock n' roll and its effect on us the listener, "everybody's doing what they learned a long time ago, listen to the music and turn up the radio". Ok, fair enough. It's a definitive blockbuster that radio stations loved, even using it as an anthem. The film clip is a queasy zoom-in zoom-out 70s black and white blitz.

Also from "Choice Cuts" are Rio de Camero, a Latin America sound alike with a great instrumental break and a huge hit for the band; Easy to Lie with a great bass line that drives it along and it sounds psychedelic with filtered vocals and phasing guitars; Michael, a strange one with excellent guitar work from Ford and emotive vocals; Death of a King, a tribute to Martin Luther King with a slice of prog; Our Friend Owlsey Stanley III, an off kilter track with wild phased guitars and a weird structure that is psych prog at its best; and Song for a Lost Gypsy, another strange one that changes time sigs and features an exceptional lead break. That means there are only 3 tracks from "Choice Cuts" not found on this compilation, making this a must if you have not got "Choice Cuts".

From "A Toast To Panama Red" in 1972 are two treasures from their proggiest material, Love Is, a track that boasts some imaginative use of brass and acoustic flourishes, with an excellent lead break and estranged lyrics that are well sung with multilayered harmonies; and Thyme to Rhyme, a soft melancholy acoustic guitar driven piece.

The final track is an unreleased curio Wild, Wild Party from a rehearsal in 1966 remastered for this release in 2006.

Overall, this is the best compilation of MA and it coincides perfectly with the DVD release of the same name that features most of these tracks with the band performing on promos, TV specials and live concert footage with interviews. I recommend this compilation as the best place to start for those interested in discovering some great Aussie prog related classic rock. This is the best album of the band, 2 CDs of solid singles, rare and well loved, all the best tracks from "Choice Cuts", and therefore deserved of masterpiece status.

Report this review (#281382)
Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I actually don't think this is the definitive compilation, though I'm not sure that there is one. For a completist, it is missing a couple of a-sides ("Linda Linda" and "Future of our Nation", although these are at least both available on other albums), and most of the b-sides, many of which do not appear on other albums. It does have all their major hits, and a pretty good selection of album tracks from Choice Cuts (and a couple from Panama Red - none from the earlier albums that weren't also released as singles). It also has the single version of "How I Love You", as opposed to the album version that has appeared on other compilations - the single was an instrumental with the melody played by guitar, the album version still had the melody played by guitar while Jim Keays recited the lyrics instead of singing them, which had the effect of magnifying their cheesiness. So it's a convenient compilation to own if you want all their major songs on CD, but if you're a completist, you're going to be looking for other compilations (the Milesago website lists one titled "Jam it Up: A Collection of Rarities" which seems to have all the missing single sides plus a few other tracks). And if you're particularly interested in the prog side of Masters Apprentices, you're better off tracking down copies of Choice Cuts and A Toast To Panama Red, rather than settling for any compilation.
Report this review (#725317)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2012 | Review Permalink

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