Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Allusions - Anthology (1966-68)

The Allusions - Anthology (1966-68 aussie, pretty beat rock with garage sparkle)



 The Allusions was a Sydney-based quintet that burst out of nowhere in 1966,

scoring a couple of major hits in Sydney. Although they disappeared into

obscurity after their short career ended, this is a band that deserves much more

recognition.

The Allusions formed in late 1965, its members drawn from several other

accomplished Sydney groups, and boasting four singers. Their leader, singer-

guitarist-composer Mike Morris, had previously played with Dennis & The

Dellawares; Terry Hearne had been the bassist in popular instrumental group The

Dave Bridge Trio, led by ace gutarist and Joy Boys founder-member Dave Bridge.

Terry Chapman and Kevin Hughes had both been members of the early '60s

Sydney surf band The Midnighters.

Within a short time of forming, The Allusions were signed to Robert Iredale's

Leopold Productions, one of Australia's first independent record production

companies (which had also recently signed Max Merritt & the Meteors) and their

recordings were issued on EMI's Parlophone label. It's possible that their rapid

signing came about because Robert Iredale was already familiar with Morris'

talent -- it's known that The Dellawares provided backing for The Bee Gees on

some of the trio's early recordings, which Iredale had produced.

The Allusions shot to prominence in early 1966 with their captivatingly melodic

version of the old Rick Nelson hit "Gypsy Woman", backed with "Fever (Burns My

Brain)", a Mike Morris original. The single proved a disc-jockey's dream, securing

solid airplay on Sydney's 2SM and 2UW, registering impressive sales and peaking

at #12. The Allusions' reading in turn inspired The Saints to record the song as a

single B-side in 1981.

With this hit under their belt, the group was given the opportunity to record two

original songs (both penned by Morris) for their mesmerising follow-up. "The

Dancer" / "Roller Coaster Man" developed the polished sound and strong

harmonies of their debut, and echoed The Beatles' "I'm Happy Just To Dance

With You". The A-side, the song for which they are best remembered, fared even

better than their debut, making the Sydney Top Ten (#9) and giving great hopes

for this 'mysterious' outfit among punters and pundits alike. However, because of

the parochial nature of radio and the pop scene at the time, The Allusions' chart

success was limited entirely to Sydney, and their Singles made no impact

whatsoever in Melbourne.

Morris' impressive songwriting ability and the success of the two singles

persuaded Iredale to finance the recording of a full album -- a comparitively rare

occurrence at that time for a new and relatively unproven group. The original LP

is now a sought-after rarity, with copies changing hands for as much as $50;

copies with the older-style black Parlophone label are particularly sought-after.

Happily all the tracks from this rare gem of mid-Sixties OzPop have been included

in the complete Allusions Anthology, recently released by Canetoad Records (see

below).

The LP contains a variety of material, mixing originals by Morris with covers such

as Smokey Robinson's "Shop Around". Some commentators have been rather

critical of the album, reserving particular scorn for the song "I Believe", but Chris

Spencer opines that "it's not as bad as some make us believe, and doesn't sound

out of place on this collection".

Terry Chapman quit the band in July 1966, not long before their third single was

recorded, apparently unhappy with the Beatles-ish direction in which Morris was

taking them. He went on to join one of Australia's first psychedelic groups, The

Knack, which included drummer Craig Collinge, formerly of The Librettos and

later of Procession. Chapman's replacement was Bruce Davis, who had worked

with Morris in The Dellawares.

Their third single "Looks Like Trouble" (Oct. 1966) didn't chart, although the

follow-up "Roundabout" (another Morris original, released in March 1967)

managed to scrape into the bottom of the Top 40. An EP, The Dancer, followed in

April, compiling the A-sides from the first three Singles, plus "Roller Coaster Man".

According to Vernon Joyson, some time during 1967 The Allusions also recorded

as the (uncredited) backing band for Digger Revell on his LP To Whom It May

Concern. Another Allusions curiosity from this period is a promotional single --

which the group recorded under the pseudonym The Telemen -- the A-side of

which was a version of the theme from the popular TV sitcom My Name's

McGooley, What's Yours?.

The Allusions released two more Singles, "Seven Days Of Rain" (July 1967) and

"Mr Love" (February 1968), but neither was successful. Between these two

releases, Mike Morris left the band in late 1967, and he was replaced by John

Spence. The Allusions continued as a four-piece until October 1968, when Terry

Hearne quit to join Digger Revell's backing band. Mike Morris then rejoined, to

raise money for an overseas trip, but by this time the momentum of their early

success had dissipated, and in the face of changing trends they split for good in

early 1969.

Not much is known about what happened to the members after their brief spell in

the limelight; what little we have gleaned comes from Vernon Joyson's entry on

the band in his book. Mike Morris worked with a number of local country-rock

bands after returning to Australia. Terry Hearne was reported to be still playing

with Digger Revell in the 1990s, although that was presumably ended by Digger's

arrest conviction on charges of marijuana cultivation and trafficking, and his

subsequent incarceration. Sadly, drummer Kevin Hughes committed suicide in

1975.

The Allusions left behind a fine batch of records that are highly sought after by

collectors of quality sixties Aussie pop. The evidence we have is that they could

indeed "rock out" -- exemplified by the spirited cover of The Kinks' "I Gotta Move"

on the LP, which arguably rivals the original -- along with strong similarities to

other early beat-boom merchants like The Zombies and The Searchers. They

used "I Feel Fine"-style guitar feedback too, before it was remotely de rigeur.

If this band will be remembered at all though (and they should be), it would be for

their extremely tight and inventive sound, those complex vocal harmonies, and

their mastery of the three-minute beat-pop single idiom.
by Paul Culnane
Tracks
1. Gypsy Woman - 2:19
2. Fever (Burns My Brain) - 2:29
3. The Dancer - 2:02
4. Roller Coaster Man - 2:12
5. Looks Like Trouble - 2:41
6. Ninety Seven Cigarettes - 2:23
7. Roundabout - 3:10
8. I'll Be Home - 2:13
9. Seven Days Of Rain - 1:58
10.Two Of A Kind - 2:43
11.Mr Love - 2:40
12.And She's Mine - 2:35
13.I Gotta Move - 3:36
14.Blue Tomorrow - 1:59
15.In My Solitude - 2:43
16.Shop Around - 2:42
17.Lady Of Leisure - 2:12
18.Out Of Order - 2:06
19.I Believe - 2:23
20.Theme From 'My Name's McGooley' - 2:00
21.Stop Gently - 1:52

The Allusions
*Terry Chapman - Bass, Vocals (1965 - July 1966)
*Bruce Davis - Bass, Vocals (July 1966 - Early 1969)
*Terry Hearne - Lead Guitar, Vocals (1965 - Oct 1968)
*Kevin Hughes - Drums
*Michael Morris - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals (1965-Late 1967, October '68 - Early '69)
*John Shaw - Piano, Organ, Vocals
*John Spence - Guitar Late (1967 -)

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