Saturday, October 24, 2009

Space Farm - Space Farm (1972)

(New Zealand 1971-73)
This is a very rare recording by a great Kiwi psychedelic rock / blues band from the early 70's.
In February 1971, when the Underdogs, whom at that time consisted of Harvey Mann, Glen Absolum and Neil Edwards, released their "Wasting My Time" album, and it failed to sell in great numbers, Neil Edwards decided to leave the group and join Human Instinct. (see Midotouch for Underdog's LP)
Harvey and Glen added a new bass guitarist, Billy Williams, and to beef up the sound, Bob Gillett was added on saxophone. Also required was a new name, so they became the Australasian Rock Squad.
Bob Gillett had been playing with Breeze prior to joining. Billy Williams came from Classic Affair.
In September 1971, Bob Gillett decided to become a part-time member of the group, so they rechristened themselves Space Farm.
Space Farm only recorded one album for Zodiac. It was self-titled and released in 1972. This album was re-issued on the Little Wing label in 1989 under the name "Going Back To Eternity".

The album was largely ignored by the public, but Space Farm continued to pull crowds and they remained at the forefront of the underground movement until their demise in 1973. Towards the end of the band, there had been drastic changes within. Harvey began to forego drugs and alcohol and these changes were reflected in his song writing and performances. After the group ended, Harvey took a sabbatical and when he returned to the scene it was as a member of the Krishna faith. He later joined Living Force with Glen.
Billy Williams joined Ticket and Blerta before heading to Australia and great success in a number of Australian groups. In 2000 Ascension Records released their original album on CD.
Interesting if not wholly convincing. Space Farm were a trio of likely Kiwi pot heads from the early seventies. This album has some great moments. The musicianship in places is quite superb, Harvey Mann was an obvious talent and his guitar playing gets right out there in places. At times, you can hear a distinct 'Hendrix' influence in his playing and the production affects in the title track liken themselves to those found on 'Electric Ladyland'. In fact, 'Flying' has a riff very similar to Hendrix's 'Ezy Rider'. My favourite track is by far the excellent live blues track 'Gypsy Queen' and one can't help but compare Harvey's blues work to that of Stevie Ray Vaughan and L.J Hooker. Simply magical stuff here.
However, whoever the singer was (Harvey perhaps?), tends to let down the group somewhat. I felt slight twinges of awkwardness listening to the singer at times and the psychedelic lyrical content is a little weak at times. That being said though, I still kinda dig this band and highly recommend you have a listen. OK, they're no Split Enz or La De Das but they certainly deserve more recognition than what they have received (or should or say not received) in the past. Pity they didn't get a chance to record more material.
Rip included here was taken from remastered CD at 256kps and includes full album artwork, including the German 'Going Back To Eternity' alternative cover.
Track Listing
01. Space Farm
02. Homeward Bound
03. Infinity Way
04. Waking Dream
05. On The Loose
06. Flying
07. Gypsy Queen (Live)
08. Wheel
09. Lover Not A Dancer
Band Members:
Harvey Mann (Guitar)
Billy Williams (Bass Guitar)
Glen Absolum (Drums)
Bob Gillett (Saxophone)
Space Farm Link (90Mb) New Link 01/10/2013


  1. As the younger brother of the Space Farm album's artist, Archie Bowie, I was introduced to this group of talented artists at a young age and to this day still listen to The Underdogs, Space farm and Living Force. A history of how these musicians grew through the influences of drink, drugs and finally religion(Krishna), producing incredibly good albums along the way, very privileged to have seen them play live in all three genres. For more NZ musical history, google Audio Culture and wander and listen to samples of New Zealand music history. Thanks for posting this. Davie

    1. Thanks for dropping by Davie.
      When you say Space Farm album's artist, I assume you are referring to the Cover Artwork? In which case, I applaud Archie for his 'amazing artwork'.

    2. Sorry for the delay in reply,
      yes Archie was a founding member of The Underdogs with Harvey Mann and loves to paint, Archie was responsible for screen printing posters for their tour dates in NZ and still has his original 3ft X 3ft painting of Space Farm, check out arb0nz on youtube. Davie Bowie

  2. Archie is an ace artist and exhibited with us in an exhibition with Lou Rawnsley titled Old Dogs, New Tricks.We want to contact him to invite him to exhibit with us again in a group show for NZ Music Month. We've lost his contact details though so would be grateful if anyone could let him know we'd love to be in touch with him. Linda from Depot Artspace

  3. I feel I should point out the the version of the Space Farm LP released under the name "Going home To Eternity" is an alternative version of the LP with a rerecorded vocal by Murray Grindlay who was also a member of the Underdogs, I personally prefer the original release