Broderick Smith is one of Australia’s best-loved singers and a man whose influence is inexorably linked to the history of blues, boogie, country rock and pub rock in Australia.
In 60s Melbourne upfront of the Adderley Smith Blues Band, Brod hollered a hard and pure form of blues on a club scene that was primarily pop and soul influenced. Upfront of Carson in the early 70s he helped define the sort of endless boogie that made the Sunbury Festival famous.
Up front of the Dingoes a few years later, he helped forge a tough brand of earthy country rock that would cast a strong influence over many a pub rocker including the likes of Richard Clapton, Stars, Australian Crawl and, most notably Cold Chisel, whose catalog is littered with gems – including the likes of “Khe Sanh” and “Flame Trees” - that convey the same rootsy songcraft and sense of a uniquely Australian place as Dingoes classics like “Boy On The Run” and “Way Out West”.
In the early 80s Brod’s Big Combo kept that 70s pub rock flame alive with a soulful sound that worked an Australian vision of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band and Graham Parker & the Rumour into an economic sound that belied the band’s name and, in classic songs like “My Father’s Hands” and “Faded Roses”, perhaps pre-empted some things that Paul Kelly would do with the Messengers.
Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2009 with the Dingoes, Brod has been an iconic yet somehow distant figure in Australian music for over 50 years. Distant because he’s a private man who never liked the industry bullshit. Brod has always been in it for the music, and when the spotlight faded somewhat, he still stuck with the music. And not in a Countdown Spectacular kind of way. Whether that meant solo shows down at the local, or a sporadic succession of fine but usually overlooked solo albums, or work accompanying Sydney blues outfit the Backsliders, or paying tribute to great Australian singer-songwriter Greg Quill on a tribute album produced by the mutual musical partner Kerryn Tolhurst, Brod has always has kept his hand in, even though he long ago left Melbourne for regional Victoria.
This month has seen Brod receive a bit more of the respect he’s still not had his fair share of, in the form of a high prole new album Man Out Of Time - produced by Tex Perkins’ recent touring partner Matt Walker, a fine and unique musician who Brod first helped out back in the 90s - and a superbly presented autobiography of the same name.
Man Out Of Time the album is a treat, and at times reminiscent somewhat of his old mates Greg Quill & Kerry Tolhust’s early 70s band Country Radio. It’s Brod’s first album since 2009’s Unknown Country (not counting the fabulous and outlandish album he made with his son Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – check our story on that here), and it will not disappoint any fans.
Man Out Of Time the book is a revelation and more; a beautiful 396-page hard-back coffee-table type tome beautifully printed and bound and featuring over 600 images – photographs, poster art, clippings, paintings and more – that illustrate the story. And what a story it is; very much a history of Australian rock music of the 60s and 70s and beyond, told by one of its wiliest protagonists, in a voice that wry and true. Brod’s fans will love it, but beyond that, fans of so many important periods of Australian music – the 60s blues boom, the early 70s festival and progressive scenes, the early days of pub rock and beyond - will find it captivating.
To celebrate Man Out of Time – the album and the book – ILYOS presents some of the book’s great images, and a track from the album. We also asked Brod to provide us with 10 tracks that had a particular influence on him over the years - to get a deeper sense of his musical taste - so we’ll show you those too, with a bit of commentary from the man himself. We’ll finish off with a couple of classic tracks from the Dingoes, as filmed by the ABC back in the day.
So enjoy it all, and if you’re in Melbourne in the coming days, you can catch Brod at the Man Out of Time launch events, listed here.
For more info on the book, check out his publisher Starman Books here.
And, to reacquaint yourself with the Dingoes classic first album, you can check it out on Spotify...
ILYOS asked Brod to choose and tell us about 10 tracks that deeply connect with him. Here’s what he came up with.
“East West” - Paul Butterfield Blues Band, from East West
The Paul Butterfield Band really went to town on this long instrumental and started investigating music other than straight Blues. It’s almost Indian in its approach. Still influences the young today when they hear it.
“Someday Baby Blues” - Sleepy John Estes
I heard this around 1965/6 and was blown away with Mr Estes’ crying style of singing and Hammie Nixon’s harp playing. Recorded at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis in the early thirties.
“Mannish Boy” - Muddy Waters
This original recording by Muddy Waters made my hair stand on end when I was young which was always a good sign!
“Spanish Harlem” - Ben E. King
I loved that Spanish American beat and Ben’s voice was so evocative and also so male - unlike a lot of singers at the time.
“Up On The Roof” - The Drifters
Rudy actually sounded like a street kid up on a roof somewhere with his girlfriend and the pigeons. It sounded real - unlike other versions.
“California” - Joni Mitchell
From the album Blue. An extremely sensitive and fragile record with Joni pouring out her heart on every track. From the Golden Age of very late 60s/early 70s songwriting.
“Out of Time” - Chris Farlowe
Farlowe’s voice had a poignant and lilting pathos to it within the gruff soul exterior. Again, very masculine.
“Reedy Lagoon” - Lionel Long
I liked the imagery in this song and Lionel had a crooning folk style that was appealing. Australian words are good!
“Poverty” - Bobby Bland
A tough no-nonsense vocal from Bobby that again gives you a working man feel to a great track.
“At Last” - Paula Kelly and the Modernaires with Glenn Miller
The original and best version of this song. Recorded in 1942. Very warm and lovely. Etta James in the fifties did a better version than Beyonce but I prefer the Modernaires version. However, having said that I will always be indebted to Beyonce for producing the film Cadillac Records about a lot of my favourite blues artists and a thinly disguised Chess Records story, romanticised of course. I never thought it would be done in my lifetime.
As promised, we’ll finish off with a few great old Dingoes tracks, with Brod up front, including the never released track “Road Away”. Enjoy.