Golden Miles – Australian Progressive Rock 1969-1974

Exemplary compilation of Oz Rock’s glory years

For anyone who is well familiar with the Australian progressive-rock scene of the late ‘60s early ‘70s, then Golden Miles – Australian Progressive Rock 1969-1974, issued on the Raven label, is essential. And even for those who weren’t there, but are interested in the alternative Oz music world, when spliffing and riffing went hand in hand together, may well find this 2CD compilation an intriguing, entertaining, not to mention educational document.

All the obscure bands are here, from Carson to Friends, along with a few groups not even I have heard of. Yet what this compilation confirms is that there was no shortage of prog-rock pioneers in the antipodes.

Things kick off with Bakery’s heavy charged “No Dying In The Dark,” then Carson’s “Travelling South,” a song so good one has to wonder how they never received wider international exposure. “Lotus 1,” by the band of the same name (minus the 1), is about as prog as it gets, while Healing Force’s “Golden Miles” is a wondrous slice of hemp-rock at its best.

We have some blues-jazz courtesy of Bulldog, a band who obviously really knew their stuff, followed by “Melodies of St. Kilda/Southern Cross” by the immortal Masters Apprentices, a band who in their own way truly put Oz Prog on the international map.

“Lady Sunshine,” by the legendary Tamam Shud, could be off The Beatles’ White Album (yes it’s that good), although what is remarkable is just how the quality keeps on appearing, track after track, band after band.

Whether it’s The Wild Cherries’ (with Lobby Loyde) “I Am The Sea,” or Piranha’s Santana-inspired guitar-percussion excursion on “Here It Comes Again”, pretty much every track’s a winner. Fans of AC/DC might be fascinated to hear a young Bon Scott singing lead vocals on Fraternity’s “Seasons Of Change” (Bon also plays the flute).  And that’s just the first CD!

On the second CD we pretty much have the who’s who of Australian rock, in the form of Daddy Cool (“Make Your Stash”), Spectrum (“Superbody”), Madder Lake (“12lb Toothbrush”), and Lobby Loyde’s The Coloured Balls (“Human Being”). Hard-rock pioneers Buffalo are represented by a rousing “’Til My Death” (Black Sabbath eat your heart out), while McKenzie Theory manage to warp space and time on the addictive “Extra Terrestrial Boogie.”

Both Ian McFarlane and Glenn A. Baker, two of Australia’s premiere rockipedias, contribute excellent liner notes, so as to give the listener an historical backdrop on the period. But clearly it’s the music which speaks for itself. And what music it is. Nearly two and a half hours of mind-expanding compositions the likes of which the Oz culture will never see again.

For anyone even remotely interested in prog-rock, Golden Miles is a formidable compilation of psychedelic leftovers from an age when music was perhaps a little more organic than it is now.