Tully

Tully was an Australian folk-psych band from Sydney that released a self-titled 1970 album on Columbia, followed by the 1971 Harvest album Sea of Joy and the posthumous collection Loving Is Hard.

Members: Jon Blake (bass, 1968-69), Michael Carlos (keyboards), Richard Lockwood (flute, saxophone, clarinet, piano, 1968-72), Terry Wilson (vocals, guitar, flute, 1968-70), Robert Taylor (drums), Graham Conlan (bass, 1969), Murray Wilkins (bass, 1969), Ken Firth (bass, 1970-72), Colin Campbell (guitar, 1971-72), Shayna Stewart (vocals, 1971-72), Andrew “Frizby” Thursby-Pelham (guitar, 1976-78), John “Bass” Walton (bass, 1976-78), Bill Tahana (vocals, 1977)


Background

Tully formed in late 1968 as an off-shoot of Levi Smith’s Clefs, a Sydney R&B group with keyboardist Michael Carlos, reedist Richard Lockwood, drummer Robert Taylor, and Kiwi bassist Jon Blake.

Carlos and Blake first interacted in Little Sammy & The In People, a local mid-sixties club band. Blake’s career stretched back to 1959 as a member of The Dee Jays, the backing band of Aussie rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Johnny O’Keefe. He then had a brief stint (1960–61) in The Chessman, an instrumental group that cut two singles on His Master’s Voice. As the new British sounds conquered Australia, Blake did 1964–65 stints with Jimmy Sloggett Five and fellow New Zealand transplants Max Merritt & the Meteors.

The nucleus of Tully joined The Clefs soon after singer Barrie “The Bear” McAskill took the reins from future Groove frontman Tweed Harris (the name ‘Levi Smith’ was a reference to Four Tops singer Levi Stubbs). Despite their scant output, The Clefs (like John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers) served as a training ground for dozens of up-and-coming rock musicians, including future members of Fraternity and SRC.

With McAskill’s blessing, Carlos and Blake set off in a psychedelic direction with Lockwood and Taylor, a child prodigy drummer and three-time talent-contest winner from age eleven. 


UBU Underground Dance

They made their live debut as Tully on January 4, 1969, as part of the UBU Underground Dance, a series of “head music” events at Paddington Town Hall organized by the light-show collective UBU, which also handled live visuals for Tamam Shud. The opening act for this Dance was The Id, the pre-Copperwine outfit of singer Jeff St. John. (Paddington subsequently banned the event over objections to the hippie attendees.)

Soon after the event, Tully became a five-piece with Terry Wilson, a guitarist and flutist who became their singer. They started a residency at Caesar’s Disco, a pop-oriented Sydney venue that canned Tully after one month because patrons couldn’t dance to the band’s “head music.”

In February 1969, Tully played two further UBU Underground Dance events at the AMP Pavilion with Tamam Shud (2/7) and the Nutwood Rug Band (2/21). UBU News promoted them with the tagline “Life is the Blood of Tully.”

Meanwhile, they established a multi-month residency at the Adams Apple disco on Sydney’s Oxford St. On April 11, Tully teamed with UBU and the Human Body (a theatrical troupe) on Alexander Nevsky’s Homecoming, an event benefiting the National Art Students Union. The Homecoming (named after the Russian medieval prince, 1221–1263), featured music by Tully and the Art Students Pop Orchestra.

UBU’s chief competitor, psych light-show specialist Roger Foley-Fogg (aka Ellis D Fogg), picked Tully as the banner act for the Fogg’s Lightshow Concerts, which packed the Elizabethan Theatre in Newtown, where the band mixed originals with a cover of Procol Harum‘s “A White Shade of Pale,” accompanied by dim-lit dancers.


Fusions

In June 1969, ABC-TV commissioned Tully for Fusions, a mini-series created by producer Bill Munro. The series premiered on August 1 with lighting by UBU’s Aggy Read, who collaborated with Tully on the first two episodes; most notably on a fifteen-minute improvisation segment titled “Tully’s Bicycle.”

Fusions ran for six episodes and featured singer Wendy Saddington as a musical guest. (Munro went on to produced the 1974 cult bushranger series Flash Nick From Jindivick.>)


Hair

Meanwhile, Tully’s act at Adam’s Apple disco impressed Harry M. Miller, an Aukland-born Sydney music mogul who assigned them as the house band for the Australian production of Hair, the American counter-culture musical composed by Galt MacDermot with lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado.

The Australian Hair premiered on June 4, 1969, at Metro Theatre on Kings Cross, where Tully (billed as “Tully + 4”) performed with four additional musicians, including trumpeter Keith Hounslow, and veteran jazz percussionist John Sangster. Tully frontman Terry Wilson joined the Hair cast for signature number “Aquarius.”

Spin Records issued An American Tribal (Australian Cast Recording), a recording of the Tully and the Australian Hair cast with vocal arrangements by music director Patrick Flynn. The album divides the musical’s numbers into seven suites. The album appeared in a gatefold with liner notes by Denis O’Brien.

Tully served as the house band through early 1970, when Miller replaced them with a band called Luke’s Walnut. Midway through the stint, Tully co-founder Jon Blake cleared for a sequence of bassists: Graeme Conlan (formerly of Kiwi psychsters The Second Thoughts), Murray Wilkins (a future Will Upson sideman), and Ken Firth, who joined in 1970 as their permanent bassist.


Love 200

On February 14, 1970, Tully performed the final night of the Sydney Proms concert series with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The event marked the world premiere of Love 200, an opus for orchestra and rock band by Tasmanian composer Peter Sculthorpe with lyrics by Tony Morphett.

ABC recorded a studio rendition of Love 2000, performed by Tully with the SSO and singer Jeannie Lewis. Around this time, Wilson moonlighted in Jeannie’s backing band, Gypsy Train.


Tully

Tully released their self-titled debut album in July 1970 on EMI Columbia (INL 34726).

Tully features three songs (“Just About Time,” “Waltz of Understanding,” “You Are the World”) by keyboardist Michael Carlos and two (“Love,” “Phsssst”) by percussionist Robert Taylor, who co-wrote  “La Nave Bleu” with guitarist–bassist Ken Firth.

Reedist Richard Lockwood wrote the remaining tracks, including “The Paradise of Perfect Silence” and the bookends “Do You Ever Think of Nothing” and “You Realize You Realize.”

A1. “Do You Ever Think of Nothing” (5:11)
A2. “Just About Time” (2:34)
A3. “La Nave Bleu” (3:35)
A4. “Love” (3:32)
A5. “Love’s White Dove” (4:23)
A6. “The Paradise of Perfect Silence” (2:36)
B1. “Phsssst” (4:57)
B2. “Sleepy-Head Red” (1:38)
B3. “The Sun is Shining” (4:24)
B4. “Waltz of Understanding” (6:36)
B5. “You Are the World” (3:16)
B6. “You Realize You Realize” (4:02)

Tully appeared altered on the EMI Studios Sydney label (YTX.1207/8) and a second Columbia issue (SCXO-7926) with a shuffled tracklist and an additional Taylor composition (“Lace Race”) on Side B. Later CD releases of Tully follow the alternate thirteen-song running order.

“Lace Race” (3:29)

Sessions took place at Sydney’s EMI Studios with David Woodley-Page, who engineered Tully in sequence with 1969–70 albums by Flying Circus, The La De Da’s, and White Wine. Tully appeared in a gatefold cover with red-orange pallet-stroke art and a lyrical inner-gate with a silhouetted hilltop group photo and an image of a ladybug on green tubes.

Tully peaked at No. 8 during its eight-week stay on the Australian albums chart.

Purportedly, Carlos purchased the first commercially available Moog synthesizer in Australia.


New Lineup

In late 1970, Lockwood and Firth partook in sessions for Hush, the singular album by Sydney folk-psychsters Extradition. Tully bonded wuth Extradition over mutual hippie values. By the time Hush appeared in June 1971, Extradition’s Colin Campbell and Shayna (Karlin) Stewart joined Tully.

In December 1970, Tully lost Terry Wilson and Robert Taylor, who both felt alienated by the band’s devotion to Meher Baba (famous in rock circles as the spiritual guru of Pete Townshend). Rather than replace the two members, Tully continued as a drummerless band fronted by Shayna Stewart.

In May 1971, Tully moved to EMI’s progressive Harvest division and released a standalone single: “Krishna Came” backed with “Lord Baba.”


Sea of Joy

Tully released their second album, Sea of Joy, in June 1971 on Harvest. It’s the soundtrack to the name-sake surf film by director Paul Witzig, who twice commissioned Tamam Shud for earlier surf films.

Sea of Joy features five songs by Colin Cambell, including “I Feel the Sun” and “Down to the Sea.” Richard Lockwood wrote the two-part title piece and co-wrote “Cat-Clarinet Mit Orgel” with Michael Carlos. Ken Firth submitted “Pseudo-Tragic-Dramatic,” “Softly, Softly,” and “Brother Sun.”

Michael Carlos plays keyboard on most tracks and shares bass duties with Ken Firth, who alternates the guitar slot with Colin Cambell.

A1. “Sea of Joy (Part 1)” (4:27)
A2. “Pseudo-Tragic-Dramatic” (1:12)
A3. “Follow Me” (3:50)
A4. “Cat-Clarinet Mit Orgel” (4:01)
A5. “Trinidad” (3:13)
A6. “I Feel the Sun” (5:40) features Witzig on gong and gamelan
B1. “Thank You” (3:22)
B2. “Syndrone” (6:46) features Carlos on sitar
B3. “Softly, Softly” (4:31)
B4. “Brother Sun” (3:16)
B5. “Down to the Sea” (3:38)
B6. “Sea of Joy (Part 2)” (2:30)

Tully self-produced Sea of Joy, which appeared in a white cover with a green-wave photo by Tex Wilson.


Breakup

Between the completion and release of Sea of Joy, Michael Carlos left Tully and rejoined Levi Smith’s Clefs.

Tully continued for several months but disbanded by autumn. Richard Lockwood joined the final lineup of Tamam Shud before they too disbanded.

In 1972, EMI unvaulted Tully’s stockpiled material on Loving Is Hard, recorded over the two prior years.

A1. “Love Can Make You” (4:47)
A2. “Loving Is Hard” (5:49)
A3. “Song for Shayna” (3:43)
A4. “The Real You” (2:43)
A5. “Poco a Poco” (3:50)
B1. “Ice” (7:25)
B2. “Rest Beloved” (3:14)
B3. “Sunshine Blues Again” (3:24)
B4. “This Tree” (5:09)


Post-Tully

Wilson and Taylor formed Space, an unrecorded band purportedly conceived as a classical–rock hybrid akin to early Electric Light Orchestra. Space included cellist Adrian Falk and members of Tamam Shud (pianist Bobbt Gebert) and Blackfeather (bassist Ian Rilen). Due to their background, the band was sometimes billed as “Tully In Space.”

Robert Taylor retained right to the Tully name. In 1976, he formed a West Coast lineup that gained traction around Perth with a setlist of originals and covers in the jazz-rock vein of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck’s recent output. Despite their popularity in the local muso community, this Tully folded with no recordings after the forced retirement of bassist John Walton due to illness.

Michael Carlos partook in album sessions by Jeannue Lewis, Jon English, and (with Tully colleagues Shayna Stewart and Ken Firth) Ross Ryan. In 1972, Carlos served as musical director of the first Australian adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar.He was an early user of the Fairlight CMI digital synthesizer.

Ken Firth did stints behind Richard Clapton and ex-Easybeats singer Stevie Wright. In 1974, he co-founded The Ferrets, a country-rock band that scored hits with “Don’t Fall in Love” and “Janie May.”

Terry Wilson had multiple short-term stints and sang for three years (1976–79) with Wasted Daze, an early Aussie punk band with two songs (“Roadrunner,” “Mona”) on the 1978 Suicide Records comp Lethal Weapons, which also contains early recordings by The Boys Next Doror (pre-Birthday Party) and X Ray Z.

Richard Lockwood oversaw the CD reissues of Tully’s catalog. He died of cancer in September 2012, just after completing the two-disc solo collection In the Doorway of the Dawn: The Chronicles of a Song, Vol 1&2, 1972-2012.


Discography:

  • Tully (1970)
  • Sea of Joy (OST, 1971)
  • Loving Is Hard (1972)

Sources:

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