Come & See The Real Thing – A Quick History Of Oz Psych

Come & See The Real Thing – A Quick History Of Oz Psych


It was a product of the ‘60s, but it never really went away. It evolved into Prog Rock, and then reappeared after punk took things back to their raw beginning again with the ‘60s revival of the ‘80s. A new form appeared in the ‘90s psychedelic trance scene, which was an offshoot of the dance/club scene (and new forms of drugs of course!).

These days it’s a product of both old and new approaches to music (and to record collecting – what’s called ‘crate digging’), and it fosters an eclectic, DIY mentality that is perhaps as much a result of DJ culture – old records and mashing things up – as it is a love of guitars, analog gear, and drugs or general craziness.

ILYOS presents a quick history of Oz Psychedelic Rock in 14 easy lessons!

Master’s ApprenticesLiving In A Child’s Dream” (1967) 

In 1967 it was de rigueur for every R&B and pop band to drop a bit of acid – or pretend they had. The Master’s did it more convincingly than most Aussies with this classic Mick Bower tune, and of course, they would onto explore strange new territories well into the early ‘70s.

Twilights 9:50” (1967) 

While one hardly thinks of Glenn Shorrock as a ‘head’ these days, the Twilights were pretty convincing with this psychedelic business as well. Also from 1967, “9:50” was the B-side of “What’s Wrong With the Way I Live” and recorded right at the epicentre of all this, Abbey Road in London.

Tamam ShudMr. Strange” (1969) 

Psychedelia is already moving into other forms of progressive rock by 1969, and one of Australia’s great early prog bands was Tamam Shud, who’d previously been known as the Sunsets and were as immersed in surf culture as in music. And there were obviously a lot of psychedelic drugs on the surf scene “Mr Strange” is one of many highlights of their great Evolution album, which has just been released on CD – with all the Sunsets stuff for good measure – by Aztec. Check out our recent catch up with Lindsay from Tamam Shud here.

Russell Morris   “Part Three Into Paper Walls” (1969) 

The Real Thing was actually a big studio confection from the brain of young Ian Meldrum, heaped on a song written by the guy who would shortly start Young Talent Time. That said, it was a great record and deserving of its iconic status, even if it does sound a bit more ‘67 or ‘68 than ‘69. “Part Three Into Paper Walls” is the not as well remembered but mind blowing sequel – the “Real Thing” single was Parts One & Two split over two sides, and this is Part Three.

Sons of the Vegetal Mother “Love Is The Law” (1970)  

For this writer, the pinnacle of Australian psychedelia is this track – which was barely released at the time – from a short-lived Melbourne band that featured all four members of Daddy Cool, together with Mike Rudd of Spectrum. It’s hard to believe it after hearing this stretched out progressive piece, but Daddy Cool actually formed as a side project to the Vegetals. DC did return slightly to this style on their second album Sex, Dope, Rock'n'Roll: Teenage Heaven with such tracks as “Make Your Stash”.  

Wild CherriesGod” (1971) 

A short-lived late-period line-up of Lobby Loyde’s band, shortly before he formed the Coloured Balls, performing a piece that would become synonymous with the latter band. For all the sharpie associations that came with the Coloured Balls, Lobby was a hippy at heart and a spiritual guy, and “God”, although it’s title supposedly stood for Guitar Over Dose or Guitar Over Drive, certainly finds Lobby reaching for the sky.

Blackfeather Seasons of Change” (1971) 

Beautiful song from singer Neale Johns and guitarist John Robinson, from an album named after an H.P Lovecraft short story At The Mountains of Madness. Neale gave it to Fraternity to record, so there were two competing versions, although Fraternity singer Scott also played recorder on the original apparently.

CybotronRaga In Asia Minor Pt.1” (1977)  

Amazing electronic/experimental outfit from Melbourne inspired by Germany’s  "kosmische musik". Cybotron formed in 1975 but we definitely living a few years earlier in their minds. Jim Keays of the Master’s Apprentices and Gil Matthews of the Aztecs were occasional collaborators.

TYRNAROUNDColour Your Mind” (1986) 

Lesser known contemporaries of Sydney’s Moffs and fellow Melbourne outfit the Bo-Weevils, Tynraround came alive in the ‘60s revival of the ‘80s but remained unknown at home, despite receiving international raves. “Colour Your Mind” is a wonderful revisitation of 1967.

The Church – "Under The Milky Way" (1988) 

Oft-tagged being part of the ‘60s revival, the members of the Church new their early ‘70s music as well as the earlier stuff, and by the release of their seminal Starfish album in 1988 they were trying to find transcendence through modern sounds.

Third Eye – "The Real Thing

Ollie Olsen was one of the founders of the punk-era electronic/synthesiser scene in Australia, but by 1990 was chasing more mind expanding pursuits. It was a bold move to take on one of the country’s most iconic tracks, but they made it work. 

Tame ImpalaReality in Motion” 

Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker reckons there’s no current Australian psychedelic scene and he’s probably right, although his on endeavours are perhaps making the world think otherwise. Tame Impala have taken Aus Psych into the Top 10 of the Billboard Album chart, and Kevin was even employed by Mick Jagger for a recent remix, but older generations – fans of earlier psychedelic music -at home have paid them scant attention. Have a listen now and help to change that. The video is more Aussie psych & surf.

PondYou Broke My Cool” 

Even a Tame Impala offshoot is making waves internationally! What’s in the water in Perth anyway?

King Gizzard & The Lizard WizardPeople Vultures”  

The current contenders, King Gizzard are making waves worldwide with a crazy DIY work ethic that’s seen them pump out 11 albums and a feature length film since 2012. Brod Smith’s son is the band (they’ve even made an album with Brod), and they have a brilliantly fun anything goes spirit that makes them hard to resist. They’ve got a lot of great tracks, but for it’s killer riff, great message and unbelievably great video, “People Vultures” is the one.


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