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Chapter Music is thrilled to present the first ever reissue of the self-titled debut album by Sydney’s famed prog-psych giants Tully.
Originally released in June 1970, Tully is the final release in Chapter’s series of official Tully reissues, which takes in surf soundtrack Sea Of Joy (1971), final album Loving Is Hard (1972) and Peter Sculthorpe-composed rock opera Love 200 (released on 2010 CD Live At Sydney Town Hall 1969-70).
In 1970, Tully had the Australian music world at their fingertips. They formed in late 1968, after a large section of hardworking R’n’B show band Levi Smith’s Clefs broke away to focus on more adventurous material. By early ‘69 they’d become easily the most hyped band in the nation, feverishly acclaimed for their towering rock dynamics and extended flights of jazz-inspired improvisation.
US-born keyboardist Michael Carlos played a Hammond organ with two huge Lesley speakers, while drummer Robert Taylor used two kick drums for extra percussive drama. Richard Lockwood experimented restlessly on clarinet, flute and saxophone, eventually developing an amplified clarinet set-up, deepening and distorting his tone through an octave pedal and a massive Lenard amplifer.
At first they were a kind of idiosyncratic cover band, playing 25 minute versions of Beatles hits (their unreleased version of Yesterday is included here as a bonus track), or their own take on Albert Ayler’s free jazz classic The Bells. But they soon expanded into their own material, and were adopted as the ultimate consciousness-expanding experience in late 60s Australia. Excitable Go-Set journalist Adrian Rawlins called them “the greatest musicians in the western world.”
The first rock-based band to perform at Sydney Town Hall, Tully sold out repeated concerts there through 1969, became the house band for love-rock musical Hair, and even had their own six part ABC TV series named Fusions. They headlined Australia’s first musical festival Pilgrimage For Pop, and outraged the classical establishment with their Love 200 performances.
By mid 1970 an album was eagerly awaited, an the resulting debut is one of Australia’s most forward-thinking and ambitious of the era. Opening track You Realize You Realize bursts through the speakers with all the fabled power and exuberance of the band’s live shows, while La Nave Bleu follows with delicacy and restraint. A full church choir uplifts Love’s White Dove, while Phsssst is five minutes of submerged organ drones, chanting and studio games. Lace Space must be one of the few drum solo tracks on a 60s/70s psych album capable of holding a modern listener’s interest, and the album finishes with thunderous concert favourite Waltz To Understanding.
The album made it to number 6 in the national charts, but within months of its release, Tully had changed into something almost unrecognisable from their original form. They merged with folk-psych sirens Extradition, lost singer Terry Wilson and drummer Taylor, and decided to continue on drummer-less. Their subsequent records were serene, solemn and impossibly beautiful, but without the incendiary power of their first incarnation, audiences deserted them in droves. By the end of 1971, Tully were no more.
Reissued for the first time in 44 years, Tully documents a moment when anything seemed possible, and the band made music that perfectly summed up this sense of wonder and infinite potential.