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THE MASTERS APPRENTICES

Proto-Prog • Australia


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The Masters Apprentices biography
THE MASTERS APPRENTICES is an Australian band, citing 1965 as their formative year. Their history started the year before though, with the formation of The Mustangs. Featuring Mick Bower (guitar), Rick Morrison (guitar), Brian Vaughton (drums) and Gavin Webb (bass), they made a name for themselves playing cover tunes by acts such as The Shadows and The Ventures. When The Beatles toured Australia in 1964 that style of music went out of fashion though, and after adding vocalist Jim Keays to their ranks, the band started rehearsing their own material.

Come 1965 and The Mustangs started establishing themselves as a popular live act, now pursuing a distinct beat influenced style of music. By the end of 1965 they had built themselves quite a following in their local base of Adelaide. They renamed themselves as The Masters Apprentices late in the year - the name a homage to the masters of the blues apparently - and the arguable highlight of the year for the band was a TV appearance on the Good Friday show as well as landing the third place in the band contest Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds.

In 1966 it was time to record a demo tape, and later in the year two tracks from the demo were issued as a single, sporting the tune Undecided and the A side. The single was given lots of attention in their local Adelaide scene, and towards the end of the year in Melbourne too - with one impressed DJ stating The Masters are to Australia what the Rolling Stones are to England, and The Doors are to America.

A second single, Buried and Dead, was issued towards the end of the year, and the band also recorded several other tunes at that time, which would eventually end up on their debut album. Early in 1967 the attention they got from the Melbourne scene made the band realize that it would be a good move relocating there. Vaughton decided that he would stay behind in Adelaide though, and was replaced by Steve Hopgood (drums) following the move.

The Undecided single sold well in Melbourne, eventually peaking at #9 in the local charts, and the band got themselves further attention with their second single Buried and Dead, for which they also made a promotional film - one of the first rock videos ever made in Australia. This lead to the band being picked up by Astor Records, who issued their self-titled debut album.

At this point in time The Masters Apprentices were introduced to the recent psychedelic rock movement, as w...
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The Master's ApprenticesThe Master's Apprentices
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THE MASTERS APPRENTICES discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE MASTERS APPRENTICES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.29 | 5 ratings
The Masters Apprentices
1967
2.29 | 5 ratings
Masterpiece
1970
3.77 | 22 ratings
Choice Cuts
1971
3.93 | 15 ratings
A Toast to Panama Red
1972
3.50 | 2 ratings
Do What You Wanna Do
1988

THE MASTERS APPRENTICES Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.15 | 4 ratings
Nickelodeon
1971

THE MASTERS APPRENTICES Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Fully Qualified - Songs From A Golden Age
2006

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

2.00 | 1 ratings
Jam It Up! A Collection of Rarities 1965-1973
1986
4.31 | 4 ratings
Fully Qualified: The Choicest Cuts
2006

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

THE MASTERS APPRENTICES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Choice Cuts by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Choice Cuts
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by billwilly

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).
 Jam It Up! A Collection of Rarities 1965-1973 by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1986
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Jam It Up! A Collection of Rarities 1965-1973
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by sl75

— First review of this album —
2 stars This album gathers four non-album b-sides, and six tricks that had not been released up to that point, along with some minor tracks from the debut album and Masterpiece. It was aimed specifically at collectors, those who already had all the original albums, as well as those existing compilations which collected their single a-sides.

The previously unreleased material consists of three tracks recorded for TV in 1965 (covers of "Bye Bye Johnny" and "Black Girl (In The Pines)", as well as the Mick Bowers original "Poor Boy"), two unreleased (indeed unmixed) tracks which I assume date from around the time of Masterpiece ("Tears of Sorrow" and a cover of "Willie & The Hand Jive"), and the final track "Freedom Seekers", the only known recording of the final 1973 lineup of the band (with Denny Burgess replacing both Keays and Wheatley). Two of the b-sides date from the 1960s ("Four years of Five", "Tired Of Just Wandering"); "Jam It Up" was the b-side of "Turn Up Your Radio", and "New Day' was the b-side of "Future of Our Nation' (and also appears on some pressings of Choice Cuts).

Like any full-career retrospective of the Masters Apprentices, it covers their many stylistic wanderings, from garage R&B, to gimmicky psychedelic pop, to prog-tinged hard rock. The first side of the album is almost entirely in garage R&B vein, while the majority of side two represents their gimmicky pop phase. Their late phase - the phase generally of most interest to people on this site - is represented by the last three tracks. Of those:

- "New Day" is an acoustic ballad, with vocals somewhat imitative of Van Morrison.

- "Jam It Up" is the real find here. It's more well-known flipside was a somewhat awkward transitional piece, one foot in their gimmicky pop past, one foot in their hard rock future. "Jam It Up", by contrast, is one of the heaviest things they ever recorded, a 6-minute heavy blues very much in the vein of Led Zeppelin (a little too much actually - it sounds very similar to "Whole Lotta Love" in several places), with some great guitar from Ford, and Keays doing his best Plant Impersonation (and apparently just as famously intoxicated as he was while recording the a-side).

- "Freedom Seekers" is an acoustic-based track similar in style to "Because I Love You". I think I would have liked this a lot, if my overpriced secondhand copy of this album wasn't so badly scratched that it jumped literally every two seconds...suffice to say that it doesn't continue the prog experiments of the previous year's Panama Red album.

This is the classic collectors'fans-only record. The casual fan will buy Fully Qualified, or a similar compilation focusing on their hits. The prog-leaning casual fan will seek out Choice Cuts and A Toast To Panama Red (and maybe Nickelodeon), and probably best avoid any other record. But the committed fan, one who already owns all the original albums, will need this album to complete their collection

 Choice Cuts by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Choice Cuts
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Fully Qualified: The Choicest Cuts by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2006
4.31 | 4 ratings

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Fully Qualified: The Choicest Cuts
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by sl75

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.
 A Toast to Panama Red by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.93 | 15 ratings

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A Toast to Panama Red
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by sl75

4 stars A Toast To Panama Red largely follows in the same riff-based heavy rock direction as it's predecessor, but with more psychedelic elements, and more proggy grandiosity. The 2-part "Games We Play" is the major track, the opening section contrasting contemplative acoustic verses with heavy guitar passages, before we ramp up the grandiosity with a choir and narration. The sturm und drang approach is also used to good effect in "Love Is", with it's fanfare-like opening giving way to a 6/8 acoustic ballad, eventually lifted by a horn arrangement; and again in "Beneath The Sun" where a mellow ballad suddenly meets an unexpected key change and a somewhat heavier second section (this section also featuring an instrument I can't identify - sounds like a xylophone making bird calls or something...). Even the songs with no obvious change of mood seem somewhat unsettled. "Answer Lies Beyond" gets most of the way through it's running time before the main riff is finally introduced, up to that point basically jamming away on the same chord underneath a two-note melody (but if that makes it sound boring, it's not at all). I'm still trying to figure out what metre "The Lesson So Listen" is in - it sounds like the drummer is ignoring the rest of the band and keeping a straight 2/4 while the others go off on other tangents. "Thyme To Rhyme" is a pretty acoustic ballad with some very strange psychedelic noises going on in the background. "Melodies of St Kilda" is another heavy track which dramatically changes tempo halfway through". "Southern Cross" is the track that bears the most resemblance to the previous album, being a comparatively simple two chord rocker with Doug Ford given plenty of room to solo. It's overall a less accessible album than Choice Cuts - you understand why it didn't sell anywhere near as well, generate any hits, or why fewer of it's tracks are included on compilations - and in some ways a less successful album overall; but this is the band at their most ambitious and experimental, and therefore at their most interesting.
 Nickelodeon by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Live, 1971
3.15 | 4 ratings

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Nickelodeon
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by sl75

3 stars Recorded during their return tour of Australia in 1971, Nickelodeon presents five tracks not featured on any other albums, and just one familiar song - their contemporary hit "Because I Love You". For the most part they are firmly in Zeppelin-style heavy blues rock mode, but with considerably less inventiveness than they displayed on Choice Cuts. "Future of our Nation" and "Evil Woman" are your typical early 70s heavy rockers consisting of basically a single simple riff played at plodding tempo - in the latter case, dragged out for a 20 minute jam, although the band at least come up with a few new ideas late in the improvisation. "When I've Got Your Soul" and "Fresh Air By The Ton" are basically extended blues jams, especially the latter. "Light A Fire Within Your Soul" breaks the mould of the album, being a much lighter mellower piece, but it's still basically three chords and one line of lyrics. "Because I Love You" suffers in comparison to the studio version basically due to the limitations of their equipment. Disappointing in comparison to the studio albums of the time, but still a mark of how far the band had progressed from their early days.
 Choice Cuts by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.77 | 22 ratings

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Choice Cuts
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by sl75

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.
 Masterpiece by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
2.29 | 5 ratings

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Masterpiece
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by sl75

2 stars I'm happy the Masters Apprentices are on this site, but proto-prog is the wrong place for them. They actually spent the 1960s jumping on every bandwagon except prog - garage R&B, psych pop, and hard rock - while other bands such as Levi Smiths Clefs, Tully, Tamam Shud, Copperwine, Sons of the Vegetal Mother, and even (briefly) the La De Das and Chain did more to get the prog ball rolling locally. The Masters finally caught up with developments when they released Choice Cuts in 1971 - admittedly they caught up in great style, releasing a couple of the best albums to come out of the Australian scene in the early 70s, but they were hardly the pioneers.

Masterpiece was recorded in late 1969, with a couple of single sides from 1968 also thrown in. It captures them at the height of their psychedelic pop period, and is basically a collection of very gimmicky songs with very gimmicky production, the biggest gimmick of all being the use of annoying orchestral interludes to link the songs on side one. If you need an international comparison, then they were probably aiming for something like Forever Changes or Odessey And Oracle or The Who Sell Out - it's not proto-prog unless you want to argue that the use of orchestra makes this Australia's answer to Days Of Future Passed. Nevertheless, it has it's entertaining moments, and on it's own merits probably deserves three stars - but not on a prog site.

 The Masters Apprentices by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
2.29 | 5 ratings

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The Masters Apprentices
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by sl75

2 stars The people who make these decisions have chosen to categorise Masters Apprentices as 'proto-prog', but in truth they were latecomers to prog, even by Australian standards. They began in the mid 60s as one of Australia's best R&B/garage-punk bands, set apart by the rapidly maturing songwriting skills of original rhythm guitarist Mick Bower. This album catches them towards the end of their garage stage. Like most Australian albums of the period, it is a collection of previously recorded single sides, and a few hurriedly recorded filler tracks. The filler includes five cover songs, generally the lowlights of the CD, particularly the dreadfully insincere cover of "My Girl". The remainder of the album is made up of Mick Bower originals - four previously released single sides which represent their hard-edged garage-punk side, and three newer songs which show a more sophisticated pop side (including "But One Day", which maybe sounds a little bit too much like the Yardbirds' "Still I'm Sad"). Not a strong album, and not even remotely prog - on it's own merits, as a garage/R&B record, it probably deserves 3 stars, but for a prog site, it gets only 2.

There is apparently a later version of this album floating around which leaves off some of the covers and includes a few later single sides - the track listing on this site appears to reflect that version. It's probably a stronger album for those changes. The Aztec re-release restores the original track order, but adds their subsequent 1967-8 single sides as bonus tracks, including the classics "Living In A Child's Dream" and "Elevator Driver". It also includes a bonus CD of demos and rehearsal recordings from 1966,

 Fully Qualified: The Choicest Cuts by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2006
4.31 | 4 ratings

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Fully Qualified: The Choicest Cuts
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by 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.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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