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Down Under Duo
And the Great Australian Identity Crisis of 1970
Popular music – and
Prog is certainly no exception in this case – is filled with band
breakups. Whether derived from public
spats, or “creative differences”, music groups go through lineup changes with
casual regularity. Most of the time we
think about one or more members leaving a group: Waters with Pink Floyd, David
Jackson with VDGG, anyone not named Squire with Yes. But in 1970s
Guitarist Mike Rudd and bassist Bill Putt recorded more than a dozen studio albums together, but remarkably, only twice did they record multiple times under the same group name. The story begins in 1969 when the two formed the group Spectrum with various other revolving members. In 1971 the album Spectrum Part One was released containing a laid back mix of psych and prog styles, notable for some long building organs and deep bass lines. By their second album, Spectrum assumed an alter-ego known as Indelible Murtceps, which recorded two other studio albums in the early 1970s: Milesago in 1972 and Testimonial in 1973. All this information I gleaned from the Spectrum Part One liner notes after the album was released on CD in the early 2000s.
At this point, this was all I knew about the Spectrum/ Murtceps story, other than a mention that Rudd and Putt had later formed a group named Ariel a few years after the Spectrum dissolution. This second point had been forgotten until I came across an Ariel CD a couple years later, and perusing the back cover, recognized the Rudd and Putt names on the credits. Ariel produced four studio albums of their own – A Strange Fantastic Dream in 1974 (similar to Spectrum Part One, but with additional Reggae and Country influences), Rock ‘n’ Roll Scars in 1974, Goodnight Fiona in 1976 and Aloha Ariel in 1977.
Now this flash of recognition between Ariel and Spectrum may have been interesting for a few minutes, but it soon passed. After Ariel, Rudd and Putt went on to record together with five other identities including Instant Replay, Mike Rudd and the Heaters, WHY, No. 9 and Burwood Blues Band. I thought there was nothing left to say about the Rudd and Putt history….
LOOK WHAT TURNED UP ON THE BACK OF THIS ALBUM…
Until I happened across still another Australian Prog Recording – this one much more underground than the others I had already heard. In 1973, an album called The Star Suite was released by an outfit calling themselves Patch. The album consists of four long tracks – Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The edition I have only has a handful of notes on the back cover, and it wasn’t until the third or fourth time listening to the album that I noticed Mike Rudd was credited with writing three of the songs. I recognized Rudd instantly, then went back through the other credits to see who else might have been involved. Sure enough Bill Putt played bass on one of the tracks. There is almost no other information I’ve found on this Patch album. It even remains unmentioned on Rudd and Putt’s own website.
I can only speculate that there is more prog history to uncover with this pair of musicians. Rudd supposedly wrote and recorded a rock opera in the mid-70s about the time of Ariel called The Jellabad Mutant, but details on this remain scarce. What do you think are the odds Putt also was involved in this effort in some form or another?
The Rudd/Putt Timeline:
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