McPhee

McPhee was an Australian post-psychedelic hard rock band from Sydney that released a self-titled album in 1971 on Violet’s Holiday.

Members: Faye Lewis (vocals, percussion), Tony Joyce (guitar), Jim Deverell (keyboards, vocals), Benny Kaika (bass), Terry Popple (drums)


Background

McPhee formed in Sydney in 1970 when guitarist Tony Joyce and Kiwi keyboardist Jim Deverell teamed with native singer Faye Lewis, English drummer Terry Popple, and Maori bassist Benny Kaika.

Joyce and Deverell were session partners for numerous acts, including Fifties rockers The Delltones and onetime teen idol Digby Richards (a later country singer). In the mid-Sixties, they played with Little Sammy & The In People, a Sydney club band with future Tully members Jon Blake and Michael Carlos.

Lewis worked as an uncredited session singer and fronted Luke’s Walnut, who replaced Tully months beforehand as the pit band for the local production of Hair.

Popple arrived months earlier from London, where he cut two albums on Island Records with Tramline, a blues-rock band that launched the career of guitarist Micky Moody (Juicy Lucy, Whitesnake).

McPhee hit the Sydney club circuit with a setlist of originals and covers of Spooky Tooth and Brian Auger & The Trinity. They linked with Martin Erdman, an English-born producer who ran Sydney’s World of Sound studio and the associated labels du Monde and Violet’s Holiday.


McPhee

McPhee released their singular self-titled album in 1971 on Violet’s Holiday. Side A features covers of Spooky Tooth (“The Wrong Time”), Neil Young (“Southern Man”), and Richie Havens (“Indian Rope Man”). Side B tackles The Beatles (“I Am the Walrus”) and Delaney & Bonnie (“Superstar”).

McPhee also contains an uptempo rocker by bassist Benny Kaika (“Sunday Shuffle”) and an epic number by guitarist Tony Joyce (“Out to Lunch”).

Reedist Ken James (a sideman of Kiwi jazz pianist Judy Bailey) guests on alto saxophone (“Superstar”) and flute (“Out to Lunch”). McPhee features backing vocals by Shauna Jensen of label-mates Flake.

A1. “The Wrong Time” (6:35) originated on Spooky Tooth’s 1970 fourth album The Last Puff.
A2. “Sunday Shuffle” (3:22)
A3. “Southern Man” (5:50) originated from Young’s 1970 third solo album After the Gold Rush.
A4. “Indian Rope Man” (7:14) originated from Haven’s 1968 third album Richard P. Havens, 1983. McPhee’s version (with guest conga player Larry Durea) draws from the 1969 cover by Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger & Trinity.
B1. “Superstar” (5:04) originated as “Groupie (Superstar),” a 1969 b-side by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, co-written with their keyboardist Leon Russell, who got the idea from his backing vocalist Rita Coolidge.
B2. “I Am the Walrus” (8:00) is based on Spooky Tooth’s Last Puff arrangement of the 1967 psychedelic Beatles single.
B3. “Out to Lunch” (10:38)

Erdman co-produced McPhee in succession with titles by The 69ers, Autumn, Flake, Frog Hollow, King Fox, Odessa, and Toby Jugg. McPhee is one of three full albums on Violet’s Holiday, which pressed 500 copies of the title (SVHL-934391) between 1971–72 albums by Flake (How’s Your Mother, SVHL-934-365) and the T-Kiwi’s (SVHL-934384).

McPhee appeared in a single sleeve with a green–purple (on black) illustration of a squirting striped power cord connected to a puddle with eyes. The back cover features a monochrome group photo of the scruffy five-piece with liner notes by keyboardist Jim Deverell.

Violet’s Holiday lifted “Sunday Shuffle” as a single (b/w “Southern Man”).


After McPhee

McPhee disbanded soon after the album’s release. Popple returned to the UK and re-linked with Moody in Snafu, a rustic-rock band fronted by Bobby Harrison, the original drummer of Procol Harum. Kaika joined the post-Copperwine backing band of Jeff St. John. Joyce moved to Darwin and played in the Aboriginal bands Dogboy, Life On Mars, and Under the Spell of Trees.


Discography:

  • McPhee (1971)

Sources:

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