• Cream of The Crate: CD #25 - CamPact: Psychedelic Pop 'n Soul 1967 - 1969


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      "Cam-pact or, Camp Act? the music was just as a high quality regardless of the name. We know the truth, and they weren't meant to be Cam-pact!"


      CD Cover

      This is number twenty five in the series of retro-reviews of Cd albums in my collection.

      The series is called,
      "Cream of The Crate (CD's)", and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.


      CD review #25 is a Melbourne group that had all the hallmarks of being an incredibly successful and long-living group, except it didn't work out like that! The group is the Melbourne outfit, Cam-pact. More on the group later but this CD is titled Psychedelic Pop 'n Soul 1967 - 1969 and was released by Keith on the Missing Link label (Link 032) in 2002.

      Note that the conventional label for the group was Cam-pact but, we know the truth, and it was never meant to be Cam-pact. The boys decided on the name Camp Act, but the record label wasn't apparently having any of it! There is no doubt about it, the full story of this remarkable group is still to be told, but I will touch upon it.



      The on-line repository of music history - Milesago, reports that Keith had this to say about the name.

      "There it was on the wall of the men's public toilet at Her Majesty's hotel in Toorak Road, South Yarra. "Be modern, be camp" someone had scrawled and in a flash we had our group name. John Pugh, Bob Tregilgus, Mark Barnes, Chris Stockley and myself had been rehearsing, for a solid month or so, sans name, our "soul group with teen appeal". In a moment of idiocy and after a few drinks at the trendiest pub in the trendiest stretch of Melbourne we had it, for better or for worse. "The Camp Act" (as it was initially) was fairly fitting in the sense we were all extremely heterosexual but also fairly fey. Of course some were more fey than others."

      "Barnes in particular cultivated the sweet little boy act but underneath was a cuttingly cruel tease of both sexes with an acid tongue and a razor sharp mind. A few months later he and Stockley would perform a lingering mouth to mouth kiss in our first film clip to accompany the song "Something Easy" just outside Her Majesty's. It only just made the cut as they came out of the clinch but the intention was clear. We wanted to get somewhere by shock tactics mild for today but wild for the time."

      The group had up to 12 members during it's all too short life, and while there are 6 forms of the group, the first three were recognisably the best, and the most creative. Certainly with the departure of Glass and Stockley in late 1969, really saw the beginning of the end for the group.


      A balcony in Carlton, Melbourne (circa 1967)
      Left to right - Mark Barnes, Chris Stockley
      Keith Glass, John Pugh & Robert Lloyd

      1967
      Mark Barnes (bass)
      Keith Glass (guitar, vocals)
      Robert Lloyd (aka Bob Tregilgus) (drums)
      John Pugh (guitar, violin, harmonica)
      Chris Stockley (guitar/vocals)

      1968
      Mark Barnes (bass)
      Greg Cook (organ, guitar)
      Trevor Courtney (drums)
      Keith Glass (guitar/bass/vocals)
      Chris Stockley (guitar/vocals)

      Late 1968 - mid 1969
      Greg Cook (org/guitar)
      Trevor Courtney (drums)
      Keith Glass (bass, vocals)
      Chris Stockley (guitar/vocals)



      Photo of the top four outside The Stokehouse at a beach stomp (courtesy Keith)
      L to R: Trevor, Keith, Chris & Greg

      Late 1969
      Bill Blissett (organ, vocals)
      Trevor Courtney (drums)
      Chris Lovfen (bass)
      Russell Smith (guitar, vocals)

      1970 (i)
      Ray Arnott (drums, vocals)
      Bill Blissett (organ, vocals)
      Chris Lovfen (bass)
      Russell Smith (guitar, vocals)

      1970 (ii)
      Ray Arnott (drums, vocals)
      Cliff Edwards (bass)
      Russell Smith (guitar, vocals)



      It was the lineup from 1968 - 1969 that can be considered as the "Cam-pact" recording period and in my mind, the best period. However the beginning really started before the group even formed. Keith, Chris and Robert were together in a number of groups prior to Cam-pact, including The Roadrunners, Delta-Set and the 18th Century Quartet (1966 - 1977). Also in the "Quartet" was John Pugh and I believe that part of the genesis of Cam-pact can be traced back to the "Quartet", and the familiarity the members had with each other going back to The Roadrunners and Delta Set.


      Pugh, Barnes,Glass,Lloyd & Stockley

      In 1964 Mark Barnes, playing bass with The Sound and The Moppa Blues, became friends with Chris, Robert and Keith. There are various on-line listings showing Barnes playing with the Roadrunners and Delta Set, but my recollection of that time (having been in The Sound & Moppa Blues), that Mark was never a member of those groups, but the strong relationship, particularly with Chris, was forming.


      The story goes that they approached David Flint, of Melbourne disco the Thumpin' Tum for an audition and he was impressed enough to offer them a gig and take over their management. Their first gig was in March 1967, and the group was soon working solidly, including a regular gig at the Tum. Robert Lloyd and John Pugh left the band in late 1967 and Robert was replaced by Trevor Courtney (formerly of NZ bands Chants & R&B, with Mike Rudd), and Pugh by Greg Cook (ex-Silk'n'Dreams).


      John Pugh

      Robert Lloyd went on to play with Carnival, Extradition, and Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues, before striking out on his own and writing and performing his own material; Pugh went on to play in several well-known bands including James Taylor Move, The News, The Avengers, Healing Force, Ray Burton Nightflyers and the Renee Geyer Band.


      Robert Lloyd

      This led to the second version of Cam-pact consisting of Barnes, Cook, Courtney, Glass and Stockley and this lineup became the best known and most successful of all the lineups.

      It wasn't long after that the paths of Cam-Pact and Geoffrey Edelsten crossed. Now Edelsten, whose family owned the Edels record retail chain provided a real "in", for him and for all his faults (and there were many), Edelsten, who founded Edelsten's Hit Productions, used his charm and forged a relationship with Festival Records. Edelsten signed Cam-Pact to record a single and their debut release "Something Easy" / "Michael" came out in February 1968 and rose to the middle of the Melbourne Top 40. This was the beginning of a short buy powerful period of live performances and great recordings.

      By late 1968 Mark Barnes had experienced enough. He was struggling with his own demons and the rest of the group were becoming upset at his behaviour and as a result left in late 1968. Instead of bringing yet another member in, Keith Glass switched to bass. Then in mid-'69 both he and Stockley left. The group had come close to really making it, but I suspect both Keith and Chris knew that Cam-pact had just about run its course and besides, better things awaited both of these skilled musicians.

      Keith successfully auditioned for the cast of the first Australian stage production of Hair, and Chris was recruited to join (supergroup) Axiom. They were replaced by Chris Lofven and Russell Smith.

      Post Glass and Stockley it seems to me that the group kept going mainly to fulfill contractual obligations, and besides, there was still an audience and that meant work. But the most creative time for the group was over.



      Singles Releases

      Mar. 1968
      "Something Easy" / "Michael" (Festival FK 2195)

      May 1968
      "Drawing Room" / "I'm Your Puppet" (Festival FK 2364)

      Sep. 1968
      "Good Good Feelin' " / "It Won't Be Long" (Festival FK 2538)

      Jun. 1969
      "Potion Of Love" / "Cry My Heart Out" (Festival FK 3005)

      Sep. 1969
      "Zoom Zoom Zoom" / "Getting Myself Together" (Festival FK 3125)




      So we come to the CD.

      The Singles
      1) Something Easy (1968)
      2) Michael (1968)
      3) I'm Your Puppet (1968)
      4) Drawing Room (1968)
      5) And It Wont Be Long (1968)
      6) Good Good Feeling (1968)
      7) Potion of Love (1969)
      8) Cry My Heart Out (1969)
      9) Zoom Zoom Zoom (1969)
      10) Getting Myself Together (1969)

      Demos & TV tracks
      11) Wasted On A Fantasy (1968)
      12) You Don't Have to Break It to Me Slowly (1968)
      13) Monkey Time (1968)
      14) If I Promise (1968/69)
      15) Duke of Earl (1968/69)
      16) We Can Have a Love (1968/69)
      17) By the Time I Get to Phoenix (1968/69)
      18) Going Home (1968/69)
      19) I'm Your Puppet (demo) (1968)


      CD Rear Cover

      There is no booklet pe se but a two sided fold out consisting of four panels on each side, with some colour and black & white photos and liner notes from group founder - Keith Glass.





      I have picked out four tracks, and I must say a most enjoyable task it was. The obvious choice for three tracks were to lift one from each of the first three singles, but then came the decision, which side, or putting it another way, which track from each single, and this was a problem because unlike most singles of the day, the Cam-pact singles has two "A-sides". The material is great, the arrangements are fantastic and the musicianship of a high quality.

      I thought I'd be clever and check out YouTube, and use whatever tracks did not have a live clip, which I would feature further below. What I didn't allow for was the fact that sadly there is only one track of the 'best' line-up (1968-1969) available.

      So, back to the 'hard' choice and first up is Something Easy. I chose this because whilst "Michael" is probably a better known track, Something Easy was written by Glass and Cook and it certainly does show the skill and talent that these two were developing.


      Greg Cook

      The track is an uptempo track with quite a 'soul' feeling about it and it does feature not only the unique vocal style of Keith but the ability of the others to provide great backing harmonies. In retrospect the lyrics are not as strong as Keith would write in later compositions, but it has one really good feature - the beat! The introduction of the brass backing, I suspect by producer Pat Aulton, certainly compliments the richness of the vocal arrangements, and the 'hook' - "It's gotta be easy" (and variations), certainly did encourage the listener to sing along.


      Something Easy

      So the next track was equally as difficult to choose because both sides of that second single were incredibly strong. We have the more 'ballad' style of "I'm Your Puppet" (the James and Bobby Purify hit), Vs the 'psychedelic' "Drawing Room". So again I draw on the fact the Drawing Room was written by Keith and so is deserving of examination.

      By the late 60's the move by groups to move away from covers had really begun to gain pace. The search for the 'grail' of a home-grown/home-written hit was on most groups minds, and they were starting to come thick and fast as our groups really got their 'chops' together and with a confidence that was shining through acceptance by their fans and the general listeners. It was no surprise that Cam-pact, for all their brilliance at re-interpreting Soul & R&B classics, recognised they had to write and record their own material.

      "Drawing Room" really is a masterpiece of composition, delivery as well as production/engineering.

      What makes it even more amazing is that it is actually a re-work of the track that Keith actually wrote and recorded with the 18th Century Quartet. Frustration was beginning to show through and is best exemplified by what Keith wrote in an earlier article, when he said, ".... we simply threw everything at it as a frustrated reaction to never getting the studio sound we wanted. At last Chris could turn his amp up, up, up. It also signifies we'd become caught up in the early prog-rock mania. The pure soul time was gone, the rules were out the window and we hadn't even taken any serious drugs yet."

      I don't know how the members of the group would feel about this statement, but in many ways I believe this was a high point in their writing and production. As Keith alluded to, this was not a 'soul/pop' song - this was a full-on "experience"! It met and in many ways exceeded the listeners expectations. You need to consider as you listen to the track, that with venues like the TF Much Ballroom (and its successor Much More) were hosting functions that were built around the growing demand for venues/experiences and music to supplement the growing social use of drugs.


      Chris Stockley

      So what Cam-pact did was to throw their hat into the ring of psychedelia with "Drawing Room". I think it has it all. From the opening embryonic 'electronic' warble, the guitar riffs, crashing cymbals, and the energy that seems to be driven by Stockleys fantastic guitar work. Keith wrote a simple but very effective set of lyrics and, the delivery is spot on! Then add the strings and the solid bass/drum bottom end and you have it all! Oh, wait, the backing vocals that the group became synonymous with are not less effective and then there is the flanging of the final bars, just to complete the experience.

      I love this track!

      It's so quiet
      in my drawing room,
      not a sound has been made since you left there.

      It's so peaceful
      in my drawing room,
      when I stay inside no-one can stare.

      Why did you do it? (Come on & tell me)
      Why did you break my heart? (Why did you have to break my heart)
      Will you ever, ever return

      To my drawing room
      I just can't leave it,
      I've got no reason to go outside.......


      Drawing Room


      With the third single I had a break - "It Wont Be Long" has a video clip! So do check it out at the end of this review.

      So it was around the time of the production of their third single that Mark's rapidly growing reputation for being unreliable was beginning to seriously impact upon the group, and he was suddenly, out! Keith took over playing bass and they cut their next single as a quartet, with Potion of Love (produced by Pat Auton) which was a soul track recorded by the Ambers in 1967.



      The track was in many regards a return to their love for the 'soul' style of music, where they lay down an easy-going, very relaxed groove. The track really suited Keith's voice and again, allowed the group to showcase their harmony abilities. the addition of the flute adds to the 'low impact' but groovy feeling.

      As strange as it sounds, a good analogy for the group and indeed as represented by this track, is it was almost like the bright glow you get when a light is about to burn out. The group and this track were burning bright with quality, but sadly after the release the group began to dim, and the track never received the recognition it should have.


      Potion of Love

      Finally, I allow myself to have the indulgence of choosing the final track, because the track is an all time favourite of mine that I believe the group covered really well.

      Duke of Earl is a very well known track that was written by Gene Chandler and originally performed by him and will probably forever remain the best version. Yet, it has been covered so many times, none the least by Daddy Cool, whose version came a few years after Cam-pact recorded it.


      Trevor Courtney

      I do remember that this track was often featured in their stage performances and no wonder, as Keith indicates it was a favourite live track by the group.

      I do like the Cam-pact version and while never released as a single it is fantastic that it appears on this album. Alright, so sometimes the harmonies are not rock solid, but hell it actually has that 'live' feeling about it.


      Duke of Earl

      So that about wraps up this retro-review of a group whose existence lasted only for about three years, although two years represents the groups really creative period. They weren't quite a 'super-group' but they were a 'superb group', whose contribution both on stage and in the studio left an indelible mark on our history of music.

      I think it is appropriate to leave the last words to Keith, who summed it all up so well when he said, "...those times were between the pure 'beat' days when it was exciting just to pick up an instrument and the emerging big Australian rock sound of the seventies which really got going with outdoor festivals and licensed premises.

      Cam-Pact wouldn't have been at home there. We really belonged in the so-called 'disco's' such as The Thumping Tum, The Catcher, Berties, Sebastians and the list goes on. The Rococo period of the swinging 60's, complete with frilly shirts, tight pink trousers and ambivalent sexuality
      ."


      Keith Glass

      The group sits comfortably just below those 'top-line' groups such as Little River Band, Daddy Cool & Spectrum, but only just below. On one hand we could try and imagine what might have been if . . . but on the other hand, Axiom and Little River band without Stockley would have been unimaginable, the stage show of Hair would definitely been lesser without Keith and I could go on, but music and groups are both fickle and are often fated to go down paths that circumstance chooses rather than the groups themselves.

      The CD Psychedelic Pop 'n Soul 1967 - 1969 is available if you shop around, and it is worthy of purchase. A few sites that seem to have it in store are:

      CD Universe
      CDbaby
      Farniente Records



      VIDEO - YouTube has only one clip of the best known version of Cam-pact.


      It Won't be Long



      Previous Cream of the Crate Albums

      If you are interested in checking out the first fifty vinyl albums reviewed, just click HERE




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