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14 Jan 2017

Cleves “Cleves” 1971 Australia N/Z Psych Prog Rock


Cleves “Cleves” 1971 mega rare Australia N/Z Psych Prog Rock

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkiIc-xr7k4


The Cleves rare and highly regarded 1971 album has assumed the mantle of one of the most sought after artefacts from Australias progressive rock era. Alongside the other titles in Vicious Sloths re-issue series, this album makes for great listening. Three family members from New Zealand band The Clevedonaires relocated to Sydney and formed The Cleves in ‘68/'69. As one of a number of quality Sydney pop bands they had two singles, as well as an EP 'Music From Michael’ released by Festival on the progresssive Infinity label. Along with the Bee Gees-like 'Don’t Turn Your Back’, the EP featured songs recorded for the soundtrack to the “Michael” episode of a short film anthology titled “Three to Go”. All the songs on the EP had been segued together to form a thematic whole, and combined certain elements of the British music hall tradition (as espoused by The Beatles) with a more esoteric pop flavour a la The Move. By late 1970, the band was persuing a more diverse musical path. Issued on Infinity in January 1971, 'Cleves’ is a prime example of where psych-pop gave way to a more progressive aesthetic. The album is dominated by lengthy tracks, atmospheric organ / guitar interplay and tight vocal harmonies. Gaye Brown’s spirited vocals are in the manner of Dutch band Earth & Fire, highly regarded songstress Julie Driscoll and Affinity’s Linda Hoyle. Tracks like 'Work Out’ and 'Time Has Come’ are based on a pop framework but are swelled by soaring fuzzed out leads, and Cressida-like keyboard passages. The highlights include an impressive rendering of the George Gershwin chestnut 'Summertime’ (shades of Janis Joplin), then dynamic 'There is a Place’ and the more reflective 'For A Time’. Before the album appeared the Cleves played backing on a sugary pop single with Sydney DJ Donnie Sutherland and after a couple of line-up changes left for America in October 1971, where they became known as Bitch. The band issued three singles for Warner Bros. before slippping from view. Mastered from the original tapes, and with the 'Music From Michael’ EP as an added bonus, this CD comes in the original artwork with added liner notes……


The Cleves’ only album was competent but uninspiring, typical early-'70s progressive rock, all the material original save an eight-minute cover of “Summertime.” With most of the songs hovering between five and seven minutes, it was given to long, not entirely purposeful vamps on organ and guitar, grinding out repetitive, basic hard rock riffs. The vocal sections were very much of-the-time hippie-oriented messages that aimed to uplift and reflect – nothing to object to in and of themselves, but hardly profound, and often naïve. Sometimes it’s a little like hearing the hardest-rocking, most sophisticated parts of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s arrangements, without the songs of CSNY’s caliber. Other styles of the day also get a peek, from Creedence Clearwater Revival-style roots rock (“Waterfall”) and humming sustain guitar (“Keep Trying,” “Time Has Come”) to Lee Michaels-style organ (“For a Time”). Unfortunately, the album is not as good as the far more superior influences it uses as reference points…….. by Richie Unterberger…


This is by request. Although The Cleves’ album was highly rated by some and sought after, I do not feel much comfortable with progressive music and this one doesn’t make an exception. But the two bonus tracks are pretty good pop with hints of psychedelia. I think other people are happier with them than I am. The band was originally from New Zealand and relocated at Sydney. This reissue was released on Vicious Sloth Collectables (Vicious Sloth Collectables VSC009 / 1998)…


The core members of The Cleves were New Zealand born Gaye Brown and her brothers Ron and Graham. All three studied music and formed their own group while in their teens. After adding local lad Milton Lane (rhythm guitar) they became The Clevedonaires ca. 1964. The band’s name was taken from their home town of Clevedon, just south of Auckland. According to Bruce Sergent, Lane was replaced by Rob Aicken a few months later, although Vernon Joyson’s listing for the group suggests that he came in later. 

The Clevedonaires originally played “lightweight folksy music”, covering acts like The Seekers, Donovan and the Byrds, and playing church halls and school dances around the South Auckland area. By 1965 they had toughened up their style and were covering tracks by The Who, The Small Faces and The Beatles. Gaye had now started playing organ, allowing Rob Aicken to switch to bass, and they started working the Auckland club circuit. 

In 1966 Auckland promoter Benny Levin signed them to his Impact label. “How You Lied” / “Rooftops And Chimneys” came out in 1966, and “He’s Ready” / “Lost Women” and “Funny How Love Can Be” / “Don’t Ask Me What To Say” in 1967. To promote the singles, the band appeared on local TV shows The We Three Show and C'Mon. Their final Impact single, a cover of Donovan’s “Sunny Goodge Street”, backed by the Small Faces’ “Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire” was released in 1968, just before they relocated to Australia. 

Now renamed The Cleves, they were one of several polished Sydney pop bands of the period (e.g. The Executives, The Affair, Aesop’s Fables, The Clik) who featured tight harmonies, sophisticated arrangements and relatively light, pop-oriented repertoire. The Cleves’ first Australian single appears to have been a promotional recording made for the Marionette Theatre of Australia’s long-running children’s production of The Tintookies. This enduringly popular children’s show was based on Peter Scriven’s 1946 book Little Fella Bindi and The Tintookies. (Scriven also created and performed the puppets for the Sixties TV series Sebastian The Fox and the 1968 short film The Painter). The single was issued on the Marionette label in 1968. 

In 1969 the group signed with Festival and issued two singles, “Sticks and Stones” / “Don’t Turn Your Back” (September 1969) and “You and Me” / “Cassie” (May 1970), plus two EPs, A Taste of Energy and Music from Michael on Festival’s newly formed 'prog’ subsidiary Infinity in 1970. Music From Michael was a sixteen-minute, ten-part suite recorded for the soundtrack of the “Michael” episode of the three-part Australian film Three to Go. “Michael”, directed by Peter Weir, won the Grand Prix at the 1970 AFI Awards and it has recently been included on the DVD release of four short films by Peter Weir. (Another segment, “Toula” featured music by Graheme Bond and Rory O'Donohue). Along with the Bee Gees-like track “Don’t Turn Your Back”, the EP featured songs recorded for the soundtrack, segued together to form a thematic whole, which “combined certain elements of the British music hall tradition (as espoused by The Beatles) with a more esoteric pop flavour a la The Move”. 

By this time the band was heading in a more progressive musical direction, and they recorded their highly regarded LP, produced by Richard Batchens, in late 1970. Just before it was released (as part of Infinity’s first batch of releases in January 1971) The Cleves backed Sydney DJ Donnie Sutherland on a bubblegum pop single with the outlandish title “Bonnie Bonnie Bonnie Na Na Kiss Him Goodbye” (b/w “I Don’t Mind”) which came out on Martin Erdman’s Violet’s Holiday label. 

The LP, the highly collectable Cleves has been described by Ian McFarlane as “a prime example of where psychedelic pop gave way to a more progressive aesthetic”. The album is dominated by “longer tracks, atmospheric organ/fuzzed guitar interplay and tight vocal harmonies (similar to UK bands on the Vertigo label like Cressida and Affinity)”. The highlight was their impressive reading of the George Gershwin classic “Summertime”. The album has since become one of the most collectible artefacts of Australia’s progressive rock era. 

“Gaye Brown’s spirited vocals are in the manner of Dutch band Earth & Fire, highly regarded songstress Julie Driscoll and Affinity’s Linda Hoyle. Tracks like 'Work Out’ and 'Time Has Come’ are based on a pop framework but are swelled by soaring fuzzed out leads, and Cressida-like keyboard passages. The highlights include an impressive rendering of the George Gershwin chestnut 'Summertime’ (shades of Janis Joplin), then the dynamic 'There is a Place’ and the more reflective 'For A Time’.” – Ian McFarlane 


After the album came out The Cleves were joined for a short time by guitarist Vince Meloney (guitar; ex-Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Bee Gees, Fanny Adams). Not long after, Ace Follington (ex-Chain, Country Radio) subsequently replaced Graham Brown on drums. In October 1971, The Cleves moved to the UK (minus Meloney who had by then formed Flite with Leo De Castro) where they became known as Bitch. Before breaking up the band issued three singles, “Laughing”, “Good Time Coming” and “Wildcat”. These were apparently released on the Anchor label, distributed by Warner Brothers in the USA. What became of the group members after this time is not known….Milesago…



In New Zealand we knew them as the fresh faced pop band The Clevedonaires. In 1968 they were booked to entertain the Anzac troops in Vietnam. The Viet Kong’s Tet Offensive soon put a stop to that just days before they were to leave. With all of their gear packed and no bookings, they headed for Australia where they shortened their name to The Cleves and went on to become one of the hottest prog psych bands in Sydney. 

1971 saw the release of their critically acclaimed self titled debut album. Soon afterwards they decided to try their luck in the booming UK glam scene where they changed their name once again, this time to the more confrontational Bitch. 

With only enough money to last a few months they took a huge gamble by pooling all of their money and hiring the legendary Speakeasy Club in London for a one night showcase. Guests were invited from all of the major labels and surprisingly they all turned up. By the end of the night there were two major labels bidding but WEA clinched the deal with a winning offer of a £10,000 contract. 

The album was recorded at Apple Studios, George Martin’s AIR Studios and Morgan Street Studios. Tony Ashton and Carly Simon’s guitarist Jim Ryan produced, bringing in Madeline Bell and Doris Troy to provide backup vocals on two tracks. Completed in 1973 but shelved due to management upheavals at the label, this incredible slice of gritty glam goodness has remained unreleased….until now! 

Real Groovy and The Cleves are proud to present a double vinyl album featuring their 1971 album The Cleves alongside the unreleased 1973 UK album they recorded as Bitch. This is your chance to hear New Zealand’s best kept musical secret. …


The core members of The Cleves were New Zealand born Gaye Brown and her brothers Ron and Graham. All three studied music and formed their own group while in their teens. After adding local lad Milton Lane (rhythm guitar) they became The Clevedonaires ca. 1964. The band’s name was taken from their home town of Clevedon, just south of Auckland. According to Bruce Sergent, Lane was replaced by Rob Aicken a few months later, although Vernon Joyson’s listing for the group suggests that he came in later. 

The Clevedonaires originally played “lightweight folksy music”, covering acts like The Seekers, Donovan and the Byrds, and playing church halls and school dances around the South Auckland area. By 1965 they had toughened up their style and were covering tracks by The Who, The Small Faces and The Beatles. Gaye had now started playing organ, allowing Rob Aicken to switch to bass, and they started working the Auckland club circuit. 

In 1966 Auckland promoter Benny Levin signed them to his Impact label. “How You Lied” / “Rooftops And Chimneys” came out in 1966, and “He’s Ready” / “Lost Women” and “Funny How Love Can Be” / “Don’t Ask Me What To Say” in 1967. To promote the singles, the band appeared on local TV shows The We Three Show and C'Mon. Their final Impact single, a cover of Donovan’s “Sunny Goodge Street”, backed by the Small Faces’ “Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire” was released in 1968, just before they relocated to Australia. 

Now renamed The Cleves, they were one of several polished Sydney pop bands of the period (e.g. The Executives, The Affair, Aesop’s Fables, The Clik) who featured tight harmonies, sophisticated arrangements and relatively light, pop-oriented repertoire. The Cleves’ first Australian single appears to have been a promotional recording made for the Marionette Theatre of Australia’s long-running children’s production of The Tintookies. This enduringly popular children’s show was based on Peter Scriven’s 1946 book Little Fella Bindi and The Tintookies. (Scriven also created and performed the puppets for the Sixties TV series Sebastian The Fox and the 1968 short film The Painter). The single was issued on the Marionette label in 1968. 

In 1969 the group signed with Festival and issued two singles, “Sticks and Stones” / “Don’t Turn Your Back” (September 1969) and “You and Me” / “Cassie” (May 1970), plus two EPs, A Taste of Energy and Music from Michael on Festival’s newly formed 'prog’ subsidiary Infinity in 1970. Music From Michael was a sixteen-minute, ten-part suite recorded for the soundtrack of the “Michael” episode of the three-part Australian film Three to Go. “Michael”, directed by Peter Weir, won the Grand Prix at the 1970 AFI Awards and it has recently been included on the DVD release of four short films by Peter Weir. (Another segment, “Toula” featured music by Graheme Bond and Rory O'Donohue). Along with the Bee Gees-like track “Don’t Turn Your Back”, the EP featured songs recorded for the soundtrack, segued together to form a thematic whole, which “combined certain elements of the British music hall tradition (as espoused by The Beatles) with a more esoteric pop flavour a la The Move”. 

By this time the band was heading in a more progressive musical direction, and they recorded their highly regarded LP, produced by Richard Batchens, in late 1970. Just before it was released (as part of Infinity’s first batch of releases in January 1971) The Cleves backed Sydney DJ Donnie Sutherland on a bubblegum pop single with the outlandish title “Bonnie Bonnie Bonnie Na Na Kiss Him Goodbye” (b/w “I Don’t Mind”) which came out on Martin Erdman’s Violet’s Holiday label. 

The LP, the highly collectable Cleves has been described by Ian McFarlane as “a prime example of where psychedelic pop gave way to a more progressive aesthetic”. The album is dominated by “longer tracks, atmospheric organ/fuzzed guitar interplay and tight vocal harmonies (similar to UK bands on the Vertigo label like Cressida and Affinity)”. The highlight was their impressive reading of the George Gershwin classic “Summertime”. The album has since become one of the most collectible artefacts of Australia’s progressive rock era. 

“Gaye Brown’s spirited vocals are in the manner of Dutch band Earth & Fire, highly regarded songstress Julie Driscoll and Affinity’s Linda Hoyle. Tracks like 'Work Out’ and 'Time Has Come’ are based on a pop framework but are swelled by soaring fuzzed out leads, and Cressida-like keyboard passages. The highlights include an impressive rendering of the George Gershwin chestnut 'Summertime’ (shades of Janis Joplin), then the dynamic 'There is a Place’ and the more reflective 'For A Time’.” – Ian McFarlane 


After the album came out The Cleves were joined for a short time by guitarist Vince Meloney (guitar; ex-Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Bee Gees, Fanny Adams). Not long after, Ace Follington (ex-Chain, Country Radio) subsequently replaced Graham Brown on drums. In October 1971, The Cleves moved to the UK (minus Meloney who had by then formed Flite with Leo De Castro) where they became known as Bitch. Before breaking up the band issued three singles, “Laughing”, “Good Time Coming” and “Wildcat”. These were apparently released on the Anchor label, distributed by Warner Brothers in the USA. What became of the group members after this time is not known…….



From the small agricultural community Clevedon in New Zealand, arrives the Brown siblings (in Sydney, Australia) and their band Cleves (trimmed from their initial moniker of Clevedonaires). Sister Gaye provides the bluesy female vocals, making them a natural fit for the Post psychedelic, proto progressive with female vocals list. Musically, electric guitar and Hammond organ dominate, and most of the music is sublime - with an emphasis on melodic songwriting and strong psychedelic oriented jams. While big name bands are within easy reach (Jefferson Airplane et al...), I personally hear that unique European take on the sound, especially Mad Curry (Belgium) and Goliath (England). Only misstep is the album closer 'Waterfall' which is the only track that resembles their rural background. Not an album for those who like to use the word "dated" in their reviews, but for those who actually immerse themselves into the period in which it was released, there are many rewards to be found. 

Originals are very scarce and fairly expensive. Discogs doesn't even have it listed, as they must be presuming it is an archival release. But there's been plenty captured from ebay. The only CD is the now rare Vicious Sloth release (it's since been booted in Eastern Europe, so be careful!), which comes with some nice liner notes, a 45 single, and the near 17 minute Music from Michael EP (1970). The LP reissue has just recently surfaced. Bitch is Cleves Ver 2.0, and who only had a couple of singles to their name. It's a double album, with Bitch receiving a full LP, so guessing most of that album is archival. I haven't heard it at this point. As an aside, the original Cleves artwork does a disservice to Gaye Brown. As you can see in scan #2, and if you look for images on the Google, she's a very pretty lady - with a look similar to Katie Holmes or even Susan Dey in her prime....






Rob Aicken (bass) 1965-? 
Gaye Brown (vocals, organ) 
Graham Brown (drums) 1964-1971 
Ron Brown (guitar) 
Ace Follington (drums) 1971-? 
Milton Lane (rhythm guitar) 1964 
Vince Meloney (guitar) 1971 





















Discography 

Singles 

as The Clevedonaires (NZ) 
1966 
“How You Lied” / “Rooftops And Chimneys” (Impact IR-1008) 
1967 
“He’s Ready” / “Lost Women” (Impact IR-1019) 
1967 
“Funny How Love Can Be” / “Don’t Ask Me What To Say” (Impact IR-1027) 
1968 
“Sunny Goodge Street” / “Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire” (Impact IR-1036) 

as The Cleves 

1967 
“Tintookies 2000 (The Push Theme)” / “Endings Happy” (Marionette PRS-2189) 
1969 
“Sticks And Stones” / “Don’t Turn Your Back” (Festival FK-3306) 
1970 
“You And Me” / “Cassie” (Festival FK-3489) 

as Bitch (UK): 

1971 
“Laughing” / “House Where I Live” (Anchor)

1973
“Good Time Coming” / “At The Party” (Anchor K-16235)
1973
“Let A Little Love Come In” / “Minstrel Song” (Anchor)

EPs
1970
A Taste Of Energy (Infinity MX-36307)
1970
Music From Michael (Infinity)


Lp`s
Jan. 1971
Cleves (Infinity SINL-934031)
Produced by Richard Batchens
Reissued by Vicious Sloth Collectibles (VSC-003) CD 







Tracklist 
A1 Work Out 7:05 
A2 There Is A Place 5:00 
A3 Keep Trying 5:04 
A4 Time Has Come 5:00 
B1 Summertime 7:35 
B2 Wait For A Moment 3:20 
B3 For A Time 6:00 
B4 Waterfall 4:58 



johnkatsmc5, welcome music..