Wednesday, 3 September 2014
The Hoax is Over...
In 1967, Billy Thorpe had an epiphany. He'd worked out his audience was starting to change. No longer were teenage girls screaming themselves hoarse at his gigs. A new breed of music fan was starting to appear at his inner-Sydney residencies. A tougher, hard-drinking, self-medicating type of bloke, brutalized by experiences in an (ultimately) unwinable war in Asia. These guys didn't want to hear Thorpie chirp his way through "Over The Rainbow". These guys were fans of a new, harder sort of music, by performers with strange names like Jimi Hendrix and Cream, with loud guitars, even louder clothes, and wild haircuts.
After declaring bankruptcy in 1968, he decided to try and start again in England, thanks to a lifeline from ex-pat Aussie and former Epstein-protege Robert Stigwood, who was managing Cream and The Bee Gees at the time. He had six weeks of shows booked in Melbourne to complete before he left, but ended up staying for 6 years.
Forming a new band of Aztecs with Paul Wheeler, Warren Morgan, and Lobby Loyde, the band became an extremely loud jamming blues band. He grew his hair long, wore dirty jeans and T-shirts and turned up the amps to deafening levels. Initially, audiences and promoters alike reacted violently, but soon after, the cult of the "Sharpie" was born and the band were embraced by them.
After an initial single issued by Festival in 1969, the band reconvened in September 1970 to cut an album. Rumour has it that the band got completely out of their collective gourds on psychedelics and told the engineer just to keep tapes rolling until they were done. "The Hoax is Over" is the result.
Issued late in 1970, the album sold respectably but didn't set the charts alight.
The original album had four songs over a running time of just over 51 minutes. 3 originals, one cover. The opening track is a cover of the Johnny "Guitar" Watson track "Gangster of Love". In its original form, its duration was around 2 minutes 45 seconds (2:45). When Steve Miller covered it on his LP "Sailor", 1 minute 23. In the hands of the Aztecs on acid, it rolls on for an epic 24 minutes and 30 seconds. Drum solos and manic Lobby Loyde soloing are part and parcel of this, and they completely go to town on this. It's all kinds of awesome. The two short tracks are "Goodbye Baby" and "Truth", clocking out at just over 4 minutes each and break up the tedium. Especially after "Born In Mississippi", a slow blues jam which drags on for a lethargic 19+ minutes.
The album has been out of print since the 1970s and vinyl copies these days are rarer than rocking horse do-do. Most copies that still exist are thrashed to the point of unplayable. If they are in good nick, they sell for well over $100. There was talk of a reissue by Aztec Music but nothing has eventuated as of yet. Here's hoping...
For the time being, take a listen to the album below via YouTube. Enjoy!