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Rob Greaves

Cream of The Crate - Record #37: Masters Apprentices

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"A fitting climax to one of Australia's finest achievements on record"(Stan Rofe)

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The album cover

This is number thirty seven in the series of albums I'm featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection. The series is called, "Cream of The Crate", and they represent vinyl 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 their is something unique about the group or the music.

The Masters Apprentices were variously described as what the Rascals meant to America, and even the Stones to Britain. Big claims that can still be debated today, but what cannot denied, is the impact they made upon the Australian music scene.

The album, "Masterpiece" was released by EMI in 1970 and a re-release came out years later. However, what I prize about my copy, is that it is one of the rare genuine copies that was actually produced by the World Record Club (W.R.C - S5141), that came out with the green record label and the gold pattern on the cover. A re-release later on saw it come out in a black and white cover.
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In fact Googling this album title and this pressing will bring up the following comment.
"Rare limited edition mail-order only release, for World Record Club members". Rare or otherwise, the album is a curious mixture of pop, what could pass for bubblegum and some raging good music!

The lineup consisted of:
Doug Ford- lead guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, vocal
Glenn Wheatley- bass, tambourine, marraccas, vocals
Colin Burgess- drums, percussion, vocal
Jim Keays - vocal, percussion

Chiffons - backing vocals 5:10 Man
other musicians
Gavin Webb - bass guitar
Peter Tilbrook - guitars, bass

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Keays, Wheatley, Ford & Burgess
(Left to right
top to botton)

Track Listing

Side 1.

Masterpiece 4:02
Who Do You Think You Are 3:07
Barefoot When I Saw Her 3:58
St. John's Wood 2:00
5.10 Man 2:34
A Dog, A Siren & Memories 3:11

Side 2.

Linda Linda 2:43
Isabella 2:35
Captivating Voice 2:03
Piece Of Me 2:15
Titanic 3:32
How I Love You 3:07

In reviewing this album, Ian McFarlane wrote in the now defunct "Freedom Train", Musically, several of the tracks, such as Titanic , How I Love You , St John's Wood and Barefoot When I Saw Her - stand out, but others such as Captivating Voice , Masterpiece and Isabella are pretentious.

Two tracks Linda Linda and Piece Of Me are just plain bad. Part of the problem lays in the fact that the band are concerned with making the obligatory profound musical statement (the first side had all the tracks segued into one another in the manner of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's, each linked by a short orchestral piece). As a result the album comes over as all solemn and self consciously arty, and is totally overblown."

What I find strange is not that McFarlane was so over the top with his review (pretentious even?), but that he left out two of the best tracks on the album in his review.

5:10 Man is a genuine red hot track, a statement of how the alternate scene at the time saw those who wanted a foot in both scenes, the so called 'straight scene' and, the 'alternate' scene. What makes it red hot in my mind, or rather to my ears, is the composition of the track and the energy with which it is played. In my mind a classic "Masters" track of energetic, high classic rock (I don't mind if you classify it as pop)!

I disagree with McFarlane that Linda, Linda is just plain bad. Yes it could almost sit within the bubblegum genre, but when I think back at some of the bubblegum tracks of the period (like 'Yummy, yummy,yummy, I got love in my tummy!), it stands out! Maybe McFarlane simply didn't like the 'megaphone' approach to the track, which was the Masters attempt to emulate the sound of the 1930's, a' la' Rudy Vallee. Whatever, listening now it actually is quite infectious, so it gets a tick from me.

Linda, Linda

Personally, I would have put Isabella into the plain bad category, Masterpiece by name, but not by nature. Look there is nothing wrong with the playing on this track, but it really is not much more than a warm up 12 bars, with some good guitar work.

Then other track McFarlane left out is "A Dog, a Siren and Memories". Look it's a bloody tear jerker, a ballad, but it has good harmonies and a good string section and some nice acoustic guitar work.

A Dog, a Siren and Memories

I agree with McFarlane about St Johns Wood. On one hand, like "Linda Linda", it could be classified as a 'bubblegum/pop' type track, but it is infectious, well constructed, well played and very well sung.

St Johns Wood

The album in this form of pressing does bring a pretty dollar. I found two copies for sale, one for just on $100.00Au (plus postage), and the other for $179.00Au (plus postage). If the pressing is not important to you, there are copies of the re-pressing with the alternative cover, for about $30.00Au.

There is little doubt that the Master Apprentices (who would eventually grow up to become the Masters) were a great Aussie band. They had their genesis in Adelaide but their popularity really soared when they came to the East Coast. Were they among the really greats? Well, they never had a #1 hit, IF that is a measurement.

Personally, I look back at them with great fondness, with tracks like "Living in a Child's Dream", "Elevator Man", "5:10 Man", "It's Because I Love You", "Think About Tomorrow Today" and "Turn Up Your Radio", it could be argued even without a #1 - they paid their dues. They came second to the Groop in the Hoadleys Battle of the Sounds in 1967, but for all their hard work, and changes in line-up, I believe they only rate toward the top of the second rung of great Australian bands, behind groups such as the Easybeats and the Twilights who deserved to be in the top level.

Despite that, a collection of Australian music is utterly incomplete without a Masters Apprentice's album, two is highly desireable.

VIDEOS - there is no shortage of video's on Youtube to choose from but not many from this album. So I have included the one live track of music from Masterpiece I could find, and, it's the best track. I have also included one of their most classic tracks of all times recorded in 1970 and released one year later.

5:10 Man

It's Because I Love You

Previous Cream of The Crate Albums

#1 – Howling Wolf: Real Folk Blues

#2 – Otis Redding: Otis Blue/ Otis Redding Sings Soul

#3 – Dr John The Night Tripper: Gris Gris

#4 – Spectrum: ROYGBIV

#5 – Son House: The Real Delta Blues

#6 – Cruisin ‘61

#7 – Live At The Station Hotel

#8 – Crosby, Stills Nash & Young: Déjà Vu

#9 – Moon Mullican: Rock it to the Moon

#10 – Billy Thorpe: Time Traveller

#11 – Bobby and Laurie: Cum Sum Ambulant (Hitch Hiker)

#12 – Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland

#13 – The Beatles: The Beatles Collection

#14 – Johnny O’Keefe: 20th Anniversary Album

#15 – Jimmy Cliff (and others): The harder They Come (The Soundtrack from the movie by the same name)

#16 – Frank Zappa: Roxy and Elsewhere

#17 – Junior Walker & The All Stars: Roadrunner

#18 - The Moonglows, Flamingos & The Orioles: Jump

#19 - King Federal - Rockabillys: Various Artists

#20 - Max Merritt and The Meteors: Max Merritt & The Meteors

#21 - Planet Gong: Camembert Electrique

# 22 - Earth, Wind & Fire: Head To The Sky

#23 - Ellen McIlwaine: We The People

#24 - The Easybeats: Absolute Anthology

#25 - Rainbow Generator: Dance Of The Spheres

#26 - Martha and the Vandellas: Greatest Hits

#27 - Buddy Holly: A Rock and Roll Collection

#28 - The Who: Quadrophenia

#29 - Elvis: The legend (1954 - 1961)

#30 - Col Joye: Let's Rock With

#31 - The Yardbirds: For Your Love

#32 - Eddy Cochran: The Singles Album

#33 - Rainbow Generator: Tranceformer

#34 - Rainbow Generator: Tranceformer

#35 - Jackie Wilson: Jackie Sings the Blues

#36 - Cream: Wheels of Fire: In The Studio

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