The Complete Steve & The Board - Steve & The Board (Playback Records)
They were around for only a year and were well short of being a household name in Australia by the time they played their final note in 1967, but Steve & The Board left a handy collection of recordings in the wake. Legacy label Playback has applied love and diligence to this historical release and more power to them for preserving Australia’s musical past.
Steve & The Board played beat pop, pure and simple. Some of it carries the aroma of a stab at the charts, other songs shows broader love for the hard-edged R&B of the times. Most Australian bands in the mid-‘60s were in the thrall of the British Invasion that had hit the USA and Steve & The Board were no exception. Their recordings aren’t world beaters but have vibrancy and some occasional grit.
You might know their track “I Want” from the “Down Under Nuggets” compilation. You might not know that Steve & The Board backed The Bee Gees on many of their earliest recordings and that drummer Colin Petersen was a child film star who played Smiley in the Chips Rafferty movie of the same name. Petersen and Geoff Bridgeford would go on to be full-time sidemen for the Brothers Gibb.
Most members found fame and relative fortune by getting out of Dodge and hoofing it overseas. Kipner went on to write songs for Christina Aguilera and Olivia Newton-John while bandmate Carl Keats did the same for Status Quo and Ringo Starr.
Steve & The Board might go down as the first Aussie band to suffer the slings and arrows of being accused by their peers of not paying their dues, thanks to singer Steve Kipner being the son of A&R man/mover and shaker Nat Kipner. As the voluminous liner notes point out, that’s far from being fair comment. Although Dad undoubtedly opened doors, The Board boys worked the same ridiculous schedule of multiple gigs a night as their detractors, and starved as much as most. They also played on all their own recordings.
“I Want” stands out and there’s similar snarl in the cover of the Pretty Things’ “Rosalyn” and the muscular, chugging “Now I’m Older”. Most of Steve & The Board’s output is neat pop and not bad in that context. There’s a lot to like amongst these 16 tunes and they only occasionally fall into triteness (“Good For Nothing Sue”.) If “I Call My Girl Hinges, ‘Cause She’s Something To Adore” isn’t a dad joke of substantial proportions I’m Rodney Rude.
On the product side, Playback has done a fantastic job mastering The Board’s output of an LP and a couple of singles. The music family jumps out of the speakers with a magnificent mono punch. The 32-page booklet is overflowing with research and is so chunky you’ll probably tear it when you slip it in and out of the jewel case.