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FRATERNITY

Eclectic Prog • Australia


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Fraternity biography
From the ashes of LEVI SMITH'S CLEFS - an Australian R&B outfit going back as far as 1963 - bassist Bruce HOWE, guitarist Mick JURD, the keys of John BISSET and drums of Tony BUETTEL formed FRATERNITY in 1970 as a response to the worldwide art rock boom. Singer Bon SCOTT (of future AC/DC fame) was inducted after his group The VALENTINES disbanded and with LSC alum John FREEMAN replacing BUETTEL on drums, the band was complete. On their strong reputations as musicians and after early live shows drew rave reviews from the Aussie press, Sweet Peach Records helped FRATERNITY record their debut 'Livestock', a soulful take on the semi-classical prog of the time with a gritty sound and organic production. The album was released a year later in June of '71.

During the interim, new members Sam SEE [FLYING CIRCUS] supporting on guitars & keys and harmonica player 'Uncle' John AYERS joined the band at their retreat outside Adelaide, Australia. After a series of countrywide gigs, time passed and fresh ideas became scarce. That summer the debut was released but drew little positive notice and the group were dropped by Sweet Peach in late 1971. With the help of a financier, a second album 'Flaming Galah' was issued by RCA in April 1972 and featured a much less arty blues-rock approach. During the winter of '72 the band's name was changed to FANG after moving to England. Eventually they broke-up, most of the members moving back to Australia. In 1974, Bon SCOTT survived a motorcycle accident and joined AC/DC shortly after, making him unavailable for the FRATERNITY reunion in '75. Future COLD CHISEL vocalist Jimmy BARNES took SCOTT's role briefly and in 1976 the group again changed its name, this time to SOME DREAM and in '78 became MICKEY FINN.

Despite a shaky past, forgotten status and a persistent cold shoulder from both the prog and classic rock camps, FRATERNITY was a good little band whose only flaw was a lack of discipline and focus. But 'Livestock' is a very pleasing soupçon of vintage progressive rock in the vein of ARGENT, the MOODY BLUES, PROCOL HARUM and GREENSLADE.


- Atavachron (David) -

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FRATERNITY discography


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

3.41 | 6 ratings
Livestock
1971
3.00 | 5 ratings
Flaming Galah
1972

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

FRATERNITY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

FRATERNITY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.25 | 3 ratings
Complete Sessions 1971 - 72
1997

FRATERNITY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

FRATERNITY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Complete Sessions 1971 - 72 by FRATERNITY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
3.25 | 3 ratings

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Complete Sessions 1971 - 72
Fraternity Eclectic Prog

Review by sl75

3 stars Most of Australia's progressive/underground bands from the early 1970s are lucky if anyone acknowledges they ever existed, let alone if they can keep their albums in print. Fraternity ensured they would not be forgotten for some time by installing Bon Scott as their frontman, thus ensuring that their albums would long be tracked down by obsessive AC/DC fans wanting to learn about their hero's pre-history. This is both blessing and curse. The blessing is their material has remained in print, in the form of this compilation. The curse is that the discussion of their place in history is dominated by those AC/DC fans and their musical values - and AC/DC's neanderthal thudding rawk is the antithesis of progressive music.

Hence this CD is credited to "Bon Scott and Fraternity" instead of just "Fraternity". Hence the extensive liner notes are written by Bon Scott's biographer, an AC/DC fan. They therefore focus on Bon's role, rather than the rest of the band, and treat it as a journey on the way to AC/DC. As you can guess, it is far from complimentary. Fraternity's music is dismissed with all the usual putdowns - 'ponderous', 'overwrought', 'pompous', 'pretentious', 'esoteric' - while the biographical sketch does its best to paint the band as lazy and out of touch with reality. The whole package is such a massive insult to anyone who might be genuinely interested in Fraternity (as opposed to an AC/DC completist), that one wonders why Raven bothered to release it. Finally, the album includes grabs from two radio interviews with Bon. Both are from the late 1970s by which time Bon had made the big time with AC/DC. Neither of them mention Fraternity. For a Fraternity fan, they have no legitimate reason to be there, but this compilation is not being marketed to Fraternity fans.

Now at least one charge made against the band - that they were lazy - is well-deserved, as this compilation makes clear. Both of Fraternity's albums are included in full, and the first thing one notices are the almost identical track listings - Fraternity hardly managed to write any new material in time for the second album (recorded two years later), so they simply recycled most of the first album with minimal rearrangement. As such, disc one of this compilation has most of the essential material, while disc two has the lesser quality rearrangements and a handful of less interesting new songs. I've split the difference between the two albums and given this compilation three stars.

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 Flaming Galah by FRATERNITY album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.00 | 5 ratings

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Flaming Galah
Fraternity Eclectic Prog

Review by sl75

3 stars What a lazy second effort. Four of the ten tracks are re-recordings of tracks from the first album, and a fifth is a re-recording of a single they released a year earlier. Despite having augmented the band with two extra players, the arrangements mostly do not differ substantially enough to justify the recycling. (The one exception is "Canyon Suite", which gives Uncle John Ayres the opportunity to display a musical sensitivity not often associated with the harmonica.) As for the new tracks? They show the band moving away from prog in favour of a much straighter rock style. They're okay, but this is a big letdown after Livestock Still three stars - if you haven't already heard Livestock, you'll probably enjoy this, since there's still enough prog content in the recycling of "Raglan's Folly", "Seasons of Change", "You Have A God" and "Canyon Suite"

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 Livestock by FRATERNITY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.41 | 6 ratings

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Livestock
Fraternity Eclectic Prog

Review by sl75

4 stars My copy of Livestock is a plain-label CD release that adds three tracks apparently not from the original album - the two parts of "The Race" bookend the CD, and the original single version of "Seasons of Change" is the second track. That particular configuration of 11 tracks balances the album out perfectly, so credit to whoever put that edition together - pity the band didn't think of it themselves. Anyway...

Fraternity took influences from a few different directions, and that's reflected in this album - in contrast to the proggier moments, there is the Stephen Stills-like title track, and The Band-like "Summerville", and some poppier moments like "Cool Spot" and "Jupiter Landscape" (though the latter still has a slightly proggy keyboard part). These tracks are strong in their own right, and the diversity adds to the strength of the album. On the proggier side: "Raglan's Folly" is the best track, with it's unpredictable chord structure, several changes of mood, and surprising recorder-driven conclusion. The instrumental "Grand Canyon Suites" (not a direct rip-off of Copland, although you'll hear some allusions) is also pleasing, with it's sweeping melody swapping between the organ and guitar. "You Have A God" is more bombastic. "It" unfortunately is the weakest track, several minutes of atonal noodling before it finally finds a song - and it closes the album. (This is why having "The Race part two" at the end on my CD version works very well indeed).

Overall, one of the stronger albums to come out of the Australian prog scene in the early 1970s.

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 Livestock by FRATERNITY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.41 | 6 ratings

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Livestock
Fraternity Eclectic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Excited by the new directions of the 1970s but still with a foot in their soulful past, Australian cave-dwellers Fraternity sprang from rhythm&blues outfit Levi Smith's Clef. Led by bassist Bruce Howe, the quartet soon had a singer in future hard rock legend Bon Scott and produced this low key but impressive debut in 1970 (released '71). Scott's hungry rock heart can be heard trying to break through but his skills as an artist and performer would truly blossom in 1974 after joining AC/DC. Still, Livestock is as good as much ilk of the period with the warm fugue organ of John Bisset, Mick Jurd's tasteful guitar and the tension of a band with an appetite for something bigger than them. Make no mistake; except for a few pop numbers, this is prog through and through. Dated and yellowed at the edges like a library book you took out and never returned when you were ten, but prog.

The title cut dances and funks like the Brady Bunch kids on mushrooms-- floral shirts & bellbottoms everywhere on this tragedy somehow put up front followed by considerably better 'Summerville' where Bon Scott's sneers and snarls start to emerge, raising an otherwise bland period piece. Finally the party gets started with 'Raglans Folly', the conspicuous prog markers from John Bisset's organ and subtle dynamics of the band. Out of place 'Cool Spot' is generic and whiney but 'Grand Canyon Suites' revives the art and grinds along, perhaps giving this debut the meandering reputation it had but showing rather interesting ventures into some very strange space without coming completely apart. Lovely 'Jupiter's Landscape' next, a real forgotten beauty of a tune, the band at a highpoint of emotion with Scott's distinctive voice and phrasing wonderful here. Procol Harum-esque 'You Have a God' is nice, and eight-minute 'It' is a chance for the guys to stretch out and improvise, coming together halfway through to become an actual song.

Gritty, inconsistent and occasionally verging on silly, Fraternity were, like many acts of the era, quite easily chewed to bits and swallowed by the very movement they wanted to be a part of, not to mention by an unforgiving press. The follow-up to Livestock was in a blues-rock vein and after a long drawn out demise, the band went their separate ways and Bon Scott made music history with the Young Brothers. Recommended? Only if you can't get enough dusty old prog when no one really knew what they were supposed to be doing or how to do it, played by musicians who were better than anyone cared to notice.

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