Pirana

Pirana was an Australian Latin jam-rock band from Sydney that released the 1971–72 albums Pirana and Pirana II on Harvest.

Members: Tony Hamilton (vocals, guitar), Stan White (keyboards, 1970-71), Keith Greig (keyboards, 1971-72), Jim Duke-Yonge (drums, percussion, 1970-73), Phil Hitchcock (bass, 1974), Andrew McCue (keyboards, flute, 1973), Richard McEwan (guitar, vocals, 1972), Paul Spetter (drums, 1973), Graeme Thompson (bass)


Background

Pirana sprung from Gus & The Nomads, a Sydney beat group led by rock wild-man Gus McNeil. In 1970, three Nomads — guitarist Tony Hamilton, bassist Graeme Thompson, and drummer Jim Duke-Yonge — linked with keyboardist Stan White. McNeil produced their new band, which purveyed Latin jam-rock akin to Santana and the recent UK groups Paladin and Skin Alley.

They signed with the Australian branch of Harvest, the recently established progressive division of EMI. Before their first album, Pirana backed singer–songwriter Greg Quill (as auxiliaries of his backing band Country Road) on his 1971 Harvest release Fleetwood Plain.


Pirana

Pirana released their self-titled debut album in 1971 on Harvest.

Each side closes with a lengthy number (“Time Is Now,” “Stand Back”) by Tony Hamilton, who plays timbales and splits vocals with Stan White, who plays piano and Hammond organ.

White composed the albums balance: three short tracks and the lengthier jams “Elation” and “Sermonette.”

A1. “Elation” (9:23)
A2. “Sermonette” (5:51)
A3. “Time Is Now” (6:22)
B1. “Find Yourself a New Girl” (4:00)
B2. “The River” (4:33)
B3. “Easy Ride” (3:43)
B4. “Stand Back” (10:05)

Gus McNeil produced Pirana in sequence with Fleetwood Plain and 1971 titles by Company Caine, Extradition (Hush), and Hungarian jazz-rockers Syrius. The engineer, John Taylor, also worked on Hush and subsequent titles by Tully and Ted Mulry.

Pirana is housed in a gatefold with a black-and-white skeletal outer-spread by Julian Eddy and tinted photo-negatives of each member by Warren Penney. The band’s location sound engineer, Howard Page, states in the liner notes: “Like prodigal children, at birth, they were destined to be great.”

“Find Yourself a New Girl” backed “Here It Comes Again,” a Hamilton-penned May 1971 a-side that reappeared on their second album.


Live Events, Lineup Change

Pirana promoted the album on package tour headed by Deep Purple with Free and Manfred Mann Chapter Three. The tour hit four cities in five nights (May 16-20), culminating with a show before 30,000 attendees at the Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.>

In December 1971, Pirana released a non-album single.

A. “I Hope You Don’t Mind”
B. “Funny Games”

Stan White composed both sides but left soon after for popsters The Going Thing. Pirana hired keyboardist Keith Greig.

In late January 1972, Pirana played the Sunbury Music Festival, a three-day weekend event (29–31) with sets by Blackfeather, Carson, Chain, Highway, The La De Das, Spectrum, Tamam Shud, MacKenzie Theory, SCRA, Wendy Saddington, Max Merritt & The Meteors, and Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs.

A two-record document of the event, Sunbury 1972, appeared on His Masters Voice. It features fourteen numbers, including Pirana’s performance of the Santana classic “Soul Sacrifice.”


Pirana II

Pirana released their second album, Pirana II, in November 1972 on Harvest. Tony Hamilton wrote the album’s seven proper songs, which include the single “Here It Comes Again” and the lengthy deep-cuts “Pir’ana,” “I’ve Seen Sad Days,” and “Thinking of You.” Each side contains a group-credited interlude.

Pirana II features each member on percussive sundries (timbales, tambourine, congas). Musical guests Phil Hitchcock and Gavin Hamilton play additional percussion (cowbell, gyro). Graeme Thomson plays the Fender electric bass; also played on select passages by Tony Hamilton.

A1. “Pir’ana” (6:33)
A2. “Then Came the Light” (4:15)
A3. “I’ve Seen Sad Days” (6:11)
A4. “Persuasive Percussion” (0:55)
B1. “I’ve Got to Learn to Love More Today” (2:18)
B2. “Jimbo’s Blow” (1:01)
B3. “Thinking of You” (8:00)
B4. “Here It Comes Again” (2:52) is the 1971 a-side with organist Stan White.
B5. “Move to the Country” (2:58)

Sessions took place with Kiwi soundman Peter Dawkins, who also produced 1971–72 titles by the New Zealand acts Blerta, Farmyard, Lutha, Quincy Conserve, and Serenity. Pirana II was engineered by English-Australian soundman Martin Benge, who worked on subsequent Harvest titles by Lizard and Patch.

Pirana II is housed in a gatefold illustrated by Brian Malone, whose artwork depicts a distant temple with foreground shrubs and butterflies, which form optical illusions. The inner-gate shows a candid live pic and a clustered group-shot of Pirana inside an eye (inside a drum).


Later Activity

After the completion of Pirana II, Tony Hamilton cleared out for guitarist Richard McEwan. Over the next year, Keith Greg made way for keyboardist Andrew James and Graeme Thompson stepped down for bassist Phil Hitchcock. This lineup gigged through late 1974 without any new recordings.

Jim Duke-Yonge (as Jimmy Tonge) filtered through multiple bands (Corroborree, The Anne Kirkpatrick Band, Bullamakanka) while Greig co-founded The Brucelanders, a precurssor to The Reels.


Discography:


Sources:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *