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4 stars By the time Tully recorded their second album, they'd lost the two members who were not followers of Meher Baba (their original singer and drummer), decided not to replace the drummer, and instead taken on two members of the prog-folk group Extradition. As a result, their music turned even more to the pastoral side, and lost nearly all remaining heavy rock elements. Sea of Joy is the soundtrack to a film - most of the tracks are therefore short functional snippets rather than complete-sounding pieces. Taken separately, they may seem to be a weak collection of pieces. Taken as a whole, the album succeeds in conjuring a meditative atmosphere, and a feeling of connectedness to nature. The weakest moment on the album is "Syndrone", a few minutes of faux-Indian noodling and percussion jamming. The best moments are: - any piece where Richard Lockwood has a flute solo ("Trinidad", "Thank You") - nearly any piece where Michael Carlos is on Hammond ("Sea of Joy" parts 1 & 2, "Brother Son" - not so much "Cat- Clarinet Mit Orgel" where he spends too long improvising on the same stepwise chord progression) - most especially, any piece foregrounding the gorgeous voice of Shayna Stewart ("Trinidad", "Thank You", "Softly Softly", "Down To The Sea").
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Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Among the important bands of the Aussie 70's Rock scene, Tully were formed in 1968 in Sydney by bassist Jon Blake, keyboardist Michael Carlos, multi-instrumentalist Richard Lockwood and drummer Robert Taylor, all of who played in Levi Smith's Clefs Blues Rock band, joined shortly after by singer Terry Wilson.Although Blake quit in 1969 and the band struggled with a few bassists before settling with Ken Firth, their growing fame led to the ''Hair'' release in 1970, a musical performed by Tully plus four additional musicians, and their Psych/Folk-oriented debut the same year.As they were closely associated with the act Extradition, guitarist Colin Campbell and female singer Shayna Stewart joined them in 1971, at a time when Terry Wilson and Robert Taylor had left Tully.The new core recorded ''Sea of joy''in 1971, a work created as the soundtrack of the film of the same name by Paul Witzig.The album was released on Harvest.

As Tully were actually a quite laid-back styled band with strong psychedelic and rural sources of inspiration, the abscence of a drummer resulted to an album with a Library Music atmosphere at moments, which still holds some great music quality.The concept of a soundtrack release helped the band explore some new territories outside their ordinary fields and they really shined in most of the displayed pieces, which contain jazzy and pre-New Age touches among the standard psychedelic and folky moods.Michael Carlos and Richard Lockwood appear to be the main leading instrumentalists, providing dreamy organ and atmospheric synth lines (the first) and a great, flexible use of flute, sax and clarinet (the second) in ethereal and imaginative soundscapes.A trully atmospheric album, which obtains even a nice lyrical value via Shayna Stewart's nostalgic vocals (tunes from first-period RENAISSANCE come to mind).As expected, ''Sea of joy'' is often driven by the acoustic guitars of Colin Campbell, but the music easily escapes from the typical sound of Psych/Folk bands of early-70's.Some Classical piano preludes, some nice jazzy work on wind instruments and the versatile execution of Michael Carlos on keyboards are enough to label this work as pretty daring for the time, even if its dynamics are held down.

Tully originally disbanded in 1972 after the album ''Loving is hard'', but a second incarnation was fronted by drummer Robert Taylor in Perth around 1976, when he teamed up with guitarist Andrew "Frizby" Thursby-Pelham and bassist John "Bass" Walton, in a line-up which featured also singer Bill Tahana for a short time.Reputedly this Tully formation expored more Fusion-tinged territories, but folded as well in 1978, when Walton started to deal with serious health issues.

Dreamy but original Psych/Art/Folk Rock.Not for fans of highly energetic or complex music, but definitely a priority for lovers of atmospheric, well-worked soundscapes.Recommended.

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Posted Sunday, June 1, 2014 | Review Permalink

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