Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs – Long Live Rock And Roll (Long May It Move Me So)

Previously unheard Aztecs in their prime

In the 1970’s, The Sidney Myer Music Bowl was to Melbourne what Madison Square Garden is to New York.  Nowhere near as vast of course, but an important locale for live music nevertheless. In those days, one could sit on the grass with their esky, sipping beer in the sun while watching the latest pop/rock groups perform in front of a wide outdoor crowd.

On 12th March 1972, during the annual Moomba Festival, no less than 200,000 people turned up at ‘The Bowl’ to see pub-rock pioneers The Aztecs, who were the headlining act. Led by the charismatic Billy Thorpe, The Aztecs had forged a reputation as one of the loudest, boldest, ballsiest rock and roll band on the planet.

The set list is pretty much what anyone could come to expect from the group at that time. “Be Bop A Lula” and “CC Rider” are both super-charged and super-amped, with powerful vocals and playing by all involved. Thorpe was never the most sophisticated of guitarists, but he was no slouch either when it came to heavy riffing, enough to easily give Tony Iommi a run for his money any day.

As it was in those days, when it came to writing new material, a band would often stay up all night jamming, until they had completed at least one tune, and my guess is that Thorpe’s “Long Live Rock N’ Roll” was the result of this process. The song itself is perhaps one of the greatest ‘lost’ songs Thorpe and the Aztecs never got around to recording. As a composition it isn’t all that different from most other numbers written by the band, however if the listener could imagine Deep Purple jamming with Canned Heat circa 1969, then this is probably what it would sound like.

Thorpe’s anthemic “Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy” is given a typically enthusiastic rendering, which must have undoubtedly got everyone in the audience going (including a one Molly Meldrum).

Now due to there being only four tracks from The Sidney Myer Music Bowl included here, the album has three songs also recorded in 1972 at Melbourne’s Festival Hall, just before the group were due to depart for London. On this occasion the Aztecs play the previously unheard “Let Yourself Go,” and “Believe It Just Like Me,” the former being a tough, moody, hard-rock Viking-like workout, in the vein of “Momma,” while the latter is more akin to “Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy,” hence it’s release as a single.

The CD concludes with a rousing version of the old classic “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” thus ending what is overall an extremely satisfying listen.

None of these recordings were ever intended for commercial release, hence their historical value to either those who were there in attendance, or anyone born after the fact. Mastered by original Aztec drummer Gil Matthews, Long Live Rock And Roll (Long May It Move Me So) provides another piece in the nostalgic puzzle of arguably Oz rock’s finest era.

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