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21 Sep 2016

Ariel “Rock & Roll Scars” 1975 Australia Prog Rock





Ariel “Rock & Roll Scars” 1975 Australia Prog Rock
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The Time: October 1974; The Place: Festival Hall, West Melbourne; The Scene: I was 15 years old and had taken my first girlfriend to see Hush, the La De Das and Stevie Wright in concert. Four guys ambled on stage unannounced and plugged in. The bass player had an enormous walrus moustache. I recognised him and lead singer Mike Rudd from Spectrum, and this was their new band Ariel. I already knew and loved their hit from 1973 ‘Jamaican Farewell’. 

They proceeded to play a set of dynamic hard rock, all nimble riffs and adroit time shifts framed by a series of loud and biting yet fluid lead guitar solos from Harvey James, and the intensity of it all made my head spin with excitement. I can’t remember the actual songs they played, but the experience was such that I became an instant convert. When the Rock & Roll Scars album appeared in April 1975 I thought the title had a decadent ring to it and I bought it immediately. 

Hard edged yet melodic songs like 'Keep on Dancing (With Me)’, 'We Are Indelible", 'Men in Grey Raincoats’ and 'I am the Laughing Man’ gave me many hours of listening pleasure. I was always intrigued by the album’s sub-title, almost inconspicuously noted on the bottom of the front cover: Before the Mutant. 

Many years later Mike Rudd was to explain to me the significance behind that, and thus was revealed one of the great mysteries of Australian rock'n'roll. When Harvey James and John Lee had replaced original Ariel lead guitarist Tim Gaze and original drummer Nigel Macara respectively in early 1974, Rudd had begun rehearsing the band for album number two. 

The new record was to have been an ambitious science fiction concept album called The Jellabad Mutant. Ariel demoed the new material but the EMI executives rejected the concept out of hand. Abbey Road Studios in London was already booked, but here was the band left without any songs! All of which is why the new album consisted mostly of re-recorded versions of old Spectrum and Ariel material, with only three new songs thrown in for good measure. 

The EMI suits should have let the visionary Mike Rudd play out his grand concept and record the album he had wanted. But then again, we would never have had the Rock & Roll Scars album, would we? I’ll leave you with that little slice of irony. Now, just turn the music up real loud and enjoy! 
by Ian McFarlane 
(Ian McFarlane is the author of The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop)… 

The magnificent 1975 album by ARIEL – Rock & Roll Scars which has been expanded by the addition of the legendary demos for the unreleased The Jellabad Mutant. This title continues to explore the works of the visionary and redoubtable Mike Rudd, with Aztec having previously reissued the landmark Spectrum albums Part One and Milesago on deluxe, digitally remastered CDs 

The musical journey that took Mike Rudd from R&B fanatic with 1960s garage / punk champions Chants R&B through the 1970s glory days of Spectrum and Ariel onto elder statesmanship of the Australian music scene, is surely one of the most remarkable in this country. This is the man who gave the nation the enduring #1 hit single ‘I’ll Be Gone’, a song that has become so ingrained in the collective Australian psyche as to be accepted unconditionally and universally, surely the sign of a truly great composition. 

The Jellabad Mutant was never issued at the time and the demos are all that remain of Rudd’s grand sci-fi concept album which provides a fascinating glimpse into those far off, heady days. Tying all the pieces together, Aztec has added extra tracks such as the non-LP singles ‘Yeah Tonite’ and ‘I’ll Take You High’, plus live versions of ‘Rock & Roll Scars’, ‘I Can’t Say What I Mean’ and the 10-minute ‘Mutant Medley’. This double CD with Digitally Remastered sound by Gil Matthews, colour booklet and liner notes by Ian McFarlane is a must-have for fans of Classic Aussie Rock. …. 

Lovingly re-mastered Ariel album dedicated to the memory of the late Ariel drummer John Lee, with the bonus inclusion of the single Yeah Tonight. 

Some people think this is the definitive guitar band that Rudd and Putt had to this point - which is not saying much as it was the only guitar band they had to this point. 

It is true to say that the re-interpretations of the Spectrum /Murtceps material compare favourably with the originals, and the superb Abbey Road / Air Studios sound fairly leaps out of the speakers. 

Ariel’s first album A Strange Fantastic Dream made the national Top 10 and garnered praise from legendary English DJ John Peel. 

His endorsement resulted in EMI arranging for the band to record their next album at Abbey Road Studios in London. Only problem was, the band had broken up! 

Gaze, Macara and Mills were out, leaving Rudd and Putt to pick up the pieces, which they promptly did, hiring ex-Dingoes drummer John Lee and guitarist Harvey James (ex- Mississippi) for Ariel, Mk ll. 

Buoyed by their pending trip to the UK, the four musicians convened in Sydney to record 'The"Jellabad Mutant’, Rudd’s projected science-fiction concept album, in preparation for the demos to be polished at Abbey Road prior to the album’s release. 
What release? EMI Australia rejected the demos as 'unsuitable’ on the eve of Ariel’s arrival in London. 

So here they were, booked into Abbey Road (oh yeah, EMI had also slashed their budget, giving them one week to record and one more to mix) with nothing new to record and with a band that was barely months old. 

As he had done many times before and would continue to do throughout his 40-year career, Rudd rose to the occasion delivering the vibrant 'Rock & Roll Scars’, made up of re-recorded versions of Spectrum and early Ariel material with three new songs he’d somehow had time to write. 

Blessed with an exceptional lead guitarist in James, Rudd arranged many of the songs to accommodate his first keyboardless band. 

'Keep on Dancing’ (a Top 20 single in Australia), 'Rock & Roll Scars’, 'Real Meanie’ and 'Men in Grey Raincoats’ are brilliantly conceived guitar, bass and drums rock'n'roll, full of diving rhythms, enthusiastic vocals and fiery guitar solos. 

Of the older songs, Spectrum’s 'I’ll Be Gone’, with its Tommy Steele meets the Goons intro, 'Launching Place Part ll’ (Part I was 'I’ll Be Gone’ B side), 'We Are Indelible’ and 'What the World Needs (Is a New Pair of Sox)’ fit comfortably into their new guise. 

What a treat to be able to revisit these two essential albums, re-mastered with additional sleeve notes from Ariel’s original producer Peter Dawkins. …. 

Line-up: 
Mike Rudd - lead vocals, guitars, harmonica 
Bill Putt - bass 
Glyn Mason - guitars, vocals 
Harvey James - guitars 
John Lee - drums 

Tracklist: 
1. Keep on Dancing (With Me) 
2. (I’ll Be Going) I’ll Be Gone 
3. Rock & Roll Scars 
4. Real Meanie 
5. Men In Grey Raincoats 
6. Launching Place Part II 
7. We Are Indelible 
8. What The World Needs (Is A New Pair Of Socks) 
9. Red Hot Momma 
10. Some Good Advice 
11. I Am The Laughing Man 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..

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