lindsay bjerre - The I-94 Bar
Tamam Shud back on stage at Byron Bay's Great Northgern Hotel. Al Heeney photo
The Northern New South Wales Australian coastline has changed dramatically over the last 50 years.
Remember the pilgrimage of holiday time, with caravans lined up on the Pacific Highway…the tribe of kids in the backseat of the Kingwood (or Ford Falcons) bellowing out of boredom on the inteminable drive north? Then there was the weekend pilgrimage of surfers with their Sandman panel vans. Followed, of course, by the night drive back to work to Monday. It was a long trip back down to Sydney with car headlights on high beam, dodging speeding semi-trailers with speed-driven truckies, in-between stopovers at the Oak Milk Bar or the Big Banana.
Dotted along the NSW coast, from Hornsby to the Gold Coast, are memories. Of stop-overs at Frangipani-lined caravan parks, or pitstops at the homes of relatives. Memories marked by places like Foster, Nambucca Heads, Coffs and Byron. Sleepy little towns that were bursting at the seams on long weekends and Chrissie holidays.
This is a mind-blowing album on several fronts.
Firstly, because Tamam Shud formed almost 50 years ago: and could be last Australian band still standing from the ‘60s (certainly from the alternative and underground.) I cannot think of anyone else. The album features two of the founding members, Lindsay Bjerre (vocals and guitar) and Peter Baron (bass) from 1967; and two more members who were there four years later, in Tim Gaze (guitar) and Nigel MaCara (drums) from the ”Morning of the Earth” soundtrack era.
Historically, Tamam Shud was the first Australian band to put out a an album full of original compositions when “Evolution” was released late in 1968: There is not one Australian band that I can think of with original members, from their heyday; that has come up with a new album nearly 50 years later so the release of this on vinyl is an historical event.
It’s perfect timing for a re-issue of this Oz psych-surf-prog classic. Tamam Shud is back playing the occasional show (one of which, in Sydney on September 9, we have an association with) and a new recording, “Eight Years Of Moonlight”, is in the LP racks.
“Evolution” came out in 1969 and was a milestone in the history of Australian recording. It’s hard to believe (cue: cultural cringe) but it was the first LP of all-original compositions to be released in this country.
The soundtrack to a Paul Wizig surf movie of the same name and the band played the songs they’d composed while the film was projected onto a studio wall. Where the new record really did take eight years (off-and-on) to record, “Evolution” was put to tape in less than three hours.
We are not kind to our musical legends in Australia.
The Yanks and the Poms put up plaques and statues at a place where a musical legend bought a hamburger. In Australia, we seem to keep our legends and pioneers in vaults as cherished diamonds that are rarely spoken about. Except for a few who want to document our past and celebrate the unique scene, our music has to be sought out like hidden treasures.
When I look at the local ’60s underground legends, a few names crop up. In Melbourne, there was Lobby Loyde, once with The Purple Hearts in Brisbane and then later fronting the Wild Cherries.
And in Sydney we had Lindsay Bjerre (pictured right) with his bands, The Sunsets and Tamam Shud.