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MACKENZIE THEORY

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Australia


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MacKenzie Theory biography
Born in the Melbourne music scene of early 1970's Australia, MACKENZIE THEORY played a brand of instrumental jazz-rock not unlike that of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA tempered by ITS A BEAUTIFUL DAY. The MACKENZIE THEORY sound was centred on the inventive and fiery guitar playing of Rob MacKenzie teamed with the electric viola of the classically-trained Cleis Pearce.

As well as MacKenzie and Pearce, the the initial MACKENZIE THEORY line-up was rounded out with the recruitment of bassist Mike Leadabrand and drummer Andy Majewski. The band took the name MACKENZIE THEORY as recognition of its alignment to Rob MacKenzie's theories on music and his philosophies on the link between the music and life. In September of 1973 there were changes to the MACKENZIE THEORY line-up when Mike Leadabrand and Andy Majewski left the band and were replaced by Paul 'Sheepdog' Wheeler and Greg Sheehan, respectively. At the same time Peter Jones came into MACKENZIE THEORY on electric piano, adding a new dimension to their sound.

After burning brightly for a short period, things were all over for MACKENZIE THEORY by the middle of 1974 after Rob MacKenzie was awarded a study grant from the Australian Council for the Arts, and he and Pearce decided to head to the UK Kingdom to pursue study options. While in the UK and later in the USA, Rob MacKenzie had the opportunity to work the likes of Peter Gabriel, Pete Townshend, members of Brand X and Mike Bloomfield.

Rob MacKenzie was last known to be residing in the USA and playing lead guitar for rock 'n' roll revivalists SHA NA NA. Cleis Pearce continues to play music in Australia as well as having achieved success in the visual arts arena.

The first recorded work of MACKENZIE THEORY appeared on the 1973 Sunbury Music Festival triple live album "The Great Australian Rock Festival Sunbury 1973". After failed attempts to create a studio album, the highly acclaimed MACKENZIE THEORY debut set "Out Of The Blue" was recorded live-in-the-studio before a small audience and released by Mushroom Records in July 1973. In 1974 a farewell concert for MACKENZIE THEORY was recorded at Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne, which was later released by Mushroom Records as the second MACKENZIE THEORY album "Bon Voyage". MACKENZIE THEORY also featured as an artist in the 1974 Sunbury Music Festival recording "Highlights of Sunbury '74, Part 2", plus the band has appeared from time to time on compilation releases. One notable compilat...
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Out of the BlueOut of the Blue
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Out of the Blue by MACKENZIE THEORY (2010-01-19)Out of the Blue by MACKENZIE THEORY (2010-01-19)
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MACKENZIE THEORY discography


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MACKENZIE THEORY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MACKENZIE THEORY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.31 | 17 ratings
Out Of The Blue
1973
3.46 | 8 ratings
Bon Voyage
1974

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MACKENZIE THEORY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Out Of The Blue by MACKENZIE THEORY album cover Live, 1973
3.31 | 17 ratings

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Out Of The Blue
MacKenzie Theory Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars MACKENZIE THEORY was the project of one Rob MacKenzie, guitarist extraordinaire. They were an Australian band and they released two albums back in the day. This record "Out Of The Blue" was released in 1973 and recorded live in studio before a small audience. We get a smattering of applause after each song. It's an all instrumental affair with the guitar and electric viola dominating the sound. The viola is played by classically trained Cleis Pearce and man she can shred. They sound like a cross between MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and the DIXIE DREGS. The guitar is complex and often sounds like an acoustic guitar to my ears. With that sound of viola and guitar usually taking turns leading the way this comes across as kind of one dimensional to my ears. I was hoping after many, many spins I would feel different but I don't.

"Extra Terrestrial Boogie" opens with guitar, bass and drums and there's almost a reggae vibe at first but it's brief. Viola comes in over the top and here we go. It settles before 5 minutes then it kicks back in hard quickly with a faster tempo. "O" has some outbursts with viola helping out before it calms right down with some strummed guitar. Viola to the fore after 3 minutes as it builds.The guitar starts to solo after 5 minutes but it will trade off with the viola.

"Opening Number" has some interesting guitar work, complex is the word as the drums and bass help out. Viola's turn before 3 minutes and check out the fast paced and fluid sound of the viola 6 minutes in. "New Song" is my favourite although the bonus track of this song done live tops it. Some viola expressions only to start then guitar and a full sound after 1 1/2 minutes. The viola is back after 2 minutes as the rest of the band continue. Some outbursts around 3 1/2 minutes followed by a calm with picked and strummed guitar. I like the viola 7 minutes in, my favourite section including the bass and drum work. The guitar and depth of sound impresses before 9 minutes.

"Out Of The Blue" has this faint sounding guitar intro that is blown away a minute in by a full sound and a faster tempo. Contrasts continue. Some ripping viola and guitar on this one. "World's The Way" is brighter sounding as we get this uptempo and catchy sound. A calm a minute in with picked and strummed guitar. Nice. The tempo shifts often as the guitar and viola take turns leading the way. A great way to end the album.

Despite many spins this just doesn't click with me. Yes it's an impressive performance by all involved but I'm just not warming up to it. I don't find this very jazzy either, just my opinion. Check it out though if you like hear some top notch playing.

 Bon Voyage by MACKENZIE THEORY album cover Live, 1974
3.46 | 8 ratings

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Bon Voyage
MacKenzie Theory Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sl75

3 stars A live recording of Mackenzie Theory's final concert before Rob Mackenzie left the country (on an arts fellowship). It's still in much the same vein as the earlier album - compositions based on fairly simple chord patterns, over which Mackenzie and Cleis Pearce jockey for position as frontliners. The main change is the addition of Peter Jones on electric piano - his presence frees up Mackenzie from needing to double in the accompanying role all the time, as well as providing an additional solo option at times (and his playing is generally more musical, if less energetic, than the established frontliners). The band has a new rhythm section as well - Paul Wheeler (ex Aztecs, no doubt relieved to be playing something more interesting than a thumped out version of Ooh Pah Doo Pah), and drummer Greg Sheehan. They make their presence felt in the grooving "C Thing" (featuring a solo from Sheehan) and "Supreme Love".
 Out Of The Blue by MACKENZIE THEORY album cover Live, 1973
3.31 | 17 ratings

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Out Of The Blue
MacKenzie Theory Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sl75

3 stars Mackenzie Theory were certainly unique in the Australian context, as an all-instrumental group, playing mostly improvised music, with an electric viola sharing lead duties with guitar. The music isn't dreadfully sophisticated though - most of the pieces revolve around long repetitions of a few set chord changes, with only a couple of pieces ("Opening Number" and "Out Of The Blue") featuring riffs that go beyond the ordinary - over the top of this, guitarist Rob Mackenzie and violist Cleis Pearce jockey for position. Both of them seem to favour playing as fast as possible - in Pearce's case, often at the expense of intonation or melodic comprehension - and one often gets the feeling that they're not really listening to each other. Having said that, there are some genuinely exciting moments on this record ("Out of the Blue", with it's shock-value dynamics, slightly convoluted main riff, and relatively short running time, is the highlight for me). Maybe the album would have been stronger if they'd been allowed more time and budget to work things out in the studio, instead of recording the whole thing 'live in the studio' in one night.
 Out Of The Blue by MACKENZIE THEORY album cover Live, 1973
3.31 | 17 ratings

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Out Of The Blue
MacKenzie Theory Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

3 stars Out of the blue is also out of the dark ...

Very interesting instrumental album from this australian band named MACKENZIE THEORY. Recorded at a studio in front of a small audience you can feel the live character - a special sort of spontanity. During (only) 45 minutes, because of the original LP format, we have some similiarities to the Mahavishnu Orchestra because of Pearce's viola playing - she is sometimes Jerry Goodman like but mostly very unique. The album is dominated by Rob MacKenzie's compelling guitar work which also is a little bit spacy. Exploring this you are listening to a dynamic performance - complex songs with a mix of slow melancholic and highspeed racing parts. Recommended Jazz Rock/Fusion - 3.5 stars

 Bon Voyage by MACKENZIE THEORY album cover Live, 1974
3.46 | 8 ratings

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Bon Voyage
MacKenzie Theory Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Fancy Pants

4 stars Appropriately titled, "Bon Boyage" was the farewell album of MACKENZIE THEORY, marking the end of a fantastic but relatively obscure musical venture from Rob Mackenzie and Cleis Pearce. Recorded live in 1974, "Bon Voyage" also features a new rhythm section of Paul Wheeler and Greg Sheehan, with the addition of pianist Peter Jones.

The album opens with the superb 'Clouds,' building on Mackenzie's ethereal and dreamy chord sequences overladen by Cleis Pearce's signature viola-work. After a great solo from Mackenzie, things change pace with the band opting for more of a straight-ahead funk/rock approach. Jones adds some subtle but nice electric piano throughout that perhaps could have been used in "Out of the Blue."

The next two tracks, as implied by their names, are essentially improvisations in A and C. Though they're solid pieces, they don't hold the listener's attention quite like 'Clouds' or 'Supreme Love' (The C Thing in particular tends to drag).

The final track of the album, as Mackenzie notes at the beginning "needs no introduction." An interpretation of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," it successfully showcases Mackenzie's phenomenal guitar work.

Though I prefer their debut "Out Of The Blue" to this, this is still a great effort and comes highly recommended if you liked "Out of the Blue" or fusion in the vein of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA. Pearce really shines and sounds like none of her contemporaries of the time, such as Jerry Goodman or Michael Urbaniak. Rob Mackenzie's style is also astoundingly unique to say the least, and I always find myself wishing he had done more of the same kind of thing after MACKENZIE THEORY. Blistering at times and beautiful/spacey at others. Great improvisation too.

This is actually my first review on progarchives, so I wanted to pick an artists that was special to me.

4.3 of 5.

 Out Of The Blue by MACKENZIE THEORY album cover Live, 1973
3.31 | 17 ratings

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Out Of The Blue
MacKenzie Theory Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by T.Rox
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A raw sound captured live-in-the-studio!

After failed attempts at an out and out studio album Australian outfit MACKENZIE THEORY recorded its debut album "Out Of The Blue" live-in-the-studio in front of a very small but appreciative audience in Melbourne back in 1973.

"Out Of The Blue" is an all instrumental affair where the listener is taken on a pulsating, often fiery musical journey as the guitar playing of band leader Rob MacKenzie intertwines with the electric viola of Cleis Pearce, all the time being chaperoned by a fairly low- key rhythm section in Mike Leadabrand on bass and Andy Majewski on drums.

The music on "Out Of The Blue" shifts from the very jazzy to fairly hard rocking and goes to a number of places in-between, truly fusing these two main musical influences.

For me the stand out track is the opener "Extra Terrestrial Boogie", but having said that all six tracks are great to listen to and the longer ones feature some great improvising.

"Out Of The Blue" is recommend for those with an interest in the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA style of jazz-rock or "Night Of The Living Dregs" era DIXIE DREGS. 4 out of 5 stars from the Dinosaur.

Thanks to Dick Heath for the artist addition.

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