Saturday, June 22, 2013

Various Australian Artists - The GTK Tapes Vol 1 & 2 (1994)

(Various Australian Artists 1969-75)
"GTK is a pleasant little island in an ocean of A B.C" declared former This Day Tonight production assistant Ric Birch when he became, in August 1969 the youngest producer of a national television program in Australia. It was more than pleasant - it was truly revolutionary. In a country where 'pop music1 was dismissed by the mass media as a sort of teen disease useful only for scandal headlines, this perfectly positioned ten minute stab - at 6 30pm, just before Bellbird, four nights a week -abruptly introduced middle Australia to an emerging rock counter-culture, without a screaming girl in sight.
GTK did not dispense the hits of the day, nor. with any great frequency, the hit acts. Certainly the nightly viewers -always devoted and dismayed in equal parts - were served up the readily familiar likes of Zoot, Axiom, Doug Parkinson In Focus, Autumn, Jeff St John, Sherbet, Country Radio, the La De Das, Blackfeather, Billy Thorpe, Chain, Hush, Max Merritt & The Meteors, Russell Morris, Daddy Cool, Spectrum, and Flake, but they were also exposed to new, challenging contemporary acts such as Company Caine, Captain Matchbox, Pirana, Tamam Shud, Bakery, Sun, Third Union Band, Syrius, Glenn Cardier, Kahvas Jute. Band of Talabene No Sweat, Gungan Dim; Mother Earth, Human Instinct, Langford Lever, Duck, Jeannie Lewis, Friends, Wendy Saddington (RIP 21-06-2013), Wild Cherries, Band of Light, Gary Young's Hot Dog, Moonstone, Mighty Kong, Home, Buffalo, King Harvest, Headband and Carson
And the music was just part of it. In between the exploratory sounds were interviews, reports and, sometimes, just meandering snatches which brought long haired freaky people into the nations lounge rooms - dancers, poets, film makers, photographers, fashion designers, painters, actors and suffers.
It has to be said that there was a deathly seriousness about much of it. A rock-is-art stance which set itself in opposition to the bubblegum, teen idol face of the 'pop scene1 The counter-culture was too young and too self-conscious to trust itself with levity, so a certain ponderous tone was inevitable
If you make allowance for that, the GTK years - to late 1970 under Birch and from January 1971 to November 1975 under producer Bernie Cannon, with odd episodes produced by Bruce Wilson, Albie Thorns and Bernard Eddy -constitute the most precious and astonishing repository of rare (often pncelessly so) Australian rock recordings by the most important OZ Rock acts of an era when a once totally derivative music scene took a bold leap into the unknown.
"I lived the whole thing" recalls Cannon "It wasn't a job it was a way of life and I think that the people who watched it every night understood that it had the strongest impact upon country kids because it was really their only contact with what was going on. Under Cannon, GTK continued to offer the unexpected and the imaginative and the store of rare performances grew. There wasn't a rule that you couldn't come on and plug your new hit but my policy I suppose like Ric's, was if you couldn't cut it live you couldn't appear. We tended to get more serious bands and they often played things from their sets that they didn't have to hassle with at eight o'clock on Monday morning when most musicians can't talk let alone play. I think that most of the bands we used really appreciated the freedom to let loose a bit and do things they certainly couldn't do on happening '71. I suppose they were also aware that television at that time didn't have the technical capacity to reproduce them to record standard and maybe some of them didn't want to risk playing their swish new single live for us!"
Tony Romeril, leader of often-used GTK band Autumn concurs "Bernie always wanted to be one step ahead to be original and give the bands and the song some space. But, no it wasn't always easy when you were in your van going off to the Gore Hill studios at 7AM after finishing your last set at Whisky Au Go Go at 3 AM'"
The first two volumes of The GTK Tapes contain a wonderfully diverse array of repertoire - experimental blows, convenient covers, works in embryo, fave raves and songs that would have been recorded if the band had managed to stay together. The common factor is that none of the tracks (save Doug Parkinson In Focus' Do Not Go Gentle, which turned up on the Stone film soundtrack performed quite differently by Doug) are songs officially recorded by those acts. They all would have been welcome recordings at the time had they eventuated but almost a quarter of a century down the line they are still valid and fascinating representations of Oz Rock in between the screams and international recognition
[Linear notes by Glen. A Baker]
Review From Rolling Stone magazine - December, 1994
by Bruce Elder 
ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING questions about rock releases is: "Does history have any inherent interest or merit, or should all music be evaluated on the quality of songs and musical performances
There is, for example, no doubt that these two releases are important historical documents, GTK (which stood for "Getting to Know") pre-dated Countdown and was a brief, nationwide, 10-minute spot at 630pm, four nights a week. It was positioned just before the ABC soapie Bellbird and lasted from 1969 to 1975. Because it tended to feature alternative acts, and because it often recorded performances, the GTK Tapes have become a fascinating social document of the outer reaches of pop and rock in those years.
The question in 1994 is — does anybody really care? Glenn A. Baker can write sleeve notes declaring that the GTK Tapes "constitute the most precious and astonishing repository of rate (often pricelessly so) Australian rock recordings ever uncovered , but this begs the questions: Priceless to whom? and precious to whom? Mr Baker may feel that the Zoot performing Lennon and McCartney's I'm Only Sleeping is beyond his financial resources, but it is hard to imagine many others in Australia who would bid such an item into some imaginary financial stratosphere
It is true that, if you are interested in rock musk in Australia between 1969 and 1975, these two CDs are valuable documents. That, however, presupposes that in 1994, you think lots of basic blues and R&B, cover versions of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (there are six on the two CDs) and believe extended guitar and drum solos are relevant and interesting.
This was not a great period for music It was too self-consciously arty, the clothes were immeasurably silly (bell bottoms et al), the uniform was long hair and beards, and, disturbingly, few of the musicians from the era have any kind of career left in 1994.

It is hard to find genuinely exciting and extraordinary performances on these two CDs. Most of the covers sound like very mediocre versions of the originals. The La De Das version of Chuck Berry's "Around and Around" is pedestrian and a shadow of the Rolling Stones' incomparable version, which they are clearly trying to imitate. Blackfeather's version of "Gimme Shelter" is more impressive. Autumn's version of Neil Young's "The Loner" is surprisingly good.
Some of the originals are obviously derivative of overseas styles. The Tamam Shud track, "America", sounds so much like early Jethro Tull it is almost uncanny. It's just missing the flute. Similarly, the end of Wind Cherries' "God (Guitar Overdose)" sounds like something Pink Floyd rejected around the Saucerful of Secrets period.
Of the others, who but a philistine locked in a terminal timewarp would really want to hear Doug Parkinson crucifying Dylan Thomas' beautiful "Do Not Go Gentle", with a raucous rock/R&B version of the poem, which culminates in a truly awful drum solo. And does anyone really need six versions of the GTK theme?
For many people, rock musk is the soundtrack to their adolescence. This music was the soundtrack for an awful lot of rather hip, plugged-in baby-boomers. To those outside the demographic, these recordings will only have them scratching their heads in disbelief and saying, "That's what those old hippies meant when they said you had to be there.

When I came across this review in Rolling Stone, I was outraged. Mr. Elder may write for Rolling Stone, but his review clearly shows an immature lack of appreciation of earlier periods of music and fashion. I would guess that he was probably a young journalist who couldn't see past his nose let alone two decades.
I would suggest that you have a listen to these historical recordings and I like Glenn A Baker think that they are priceless gems which truly document the roots of our wonderful Aussie Rock.
The post itself was sourced from the Midoztouch website (with thanks to the original uploader) and are MP3 rips (320kps) taken from CD.  Full album artwork and booklets are included.along with scans of the offending magazine article. If you enjoy these recordings and want more, then you can grab the next two volumes (Vol.3&Vol.4) on my blog also.

Vol 1. Track Listing
01 - GTK Theme (Sherbet)
02 - I'm Only Sleeping (The Zoot)
03 - Do Not Go Gentle (Doug Parkinson In Focus)
04 - Sweet Little Angel (Carson)
05 - 1967 (Company Caine)
06 - GTK Theme / America (Tamam Shud)
07 - GOD / Guitar Overdose (Wild Cherries)
08 - GTK Theme / Country Lady (Freshwater)
09 - Gimme Shelter (Blackfeather)
10 - Around And Around (La De Das)

11 - My Boogie (Healing Force)
12 - Over The Ocean (Ticket)
13 - Gassin'/ GTK Theme (Pirana)

GTK Tapes Vol 1 Link (143Mb)

Vol 2. Track Listing
01 - GTK Theme (Sherbet)
02 - The Loner (Autumn)
03 - Midnight Train (Flake)
04 - Celest Atlantis (Flying Circus)
05 - Same Old Country Song (Axiom)
06 - Honky Tonk Women (The Cleves)
07 - GTK-Theme-Strawberry Fields (Syrius)
08 - Tomorrow Never Knows (Blackfeather)
09 - Bye Bye Blackbird (MsAskills Marauders)
10 - Flip Flop and Fly (Company Caine)
11 - Caroline-GTK Theme (Doug parkinson and Focus)

GTK Tapes Vol 2 Link (150Mb)


  1. Great Blog. Just found it when looking for Flying Circus material, photos etc. The Friday On My Mind blogsite isn't available for GTK Tapes 3&4. Do you have them? Do you have Flying Circus' Frontier EP? Bill

    1. Here is a link to the Flying Circus EP (thanks to Deutros at MidozTouch2)
      I'll add the GTK Tapes Vol 3&4 to my blog soon

  2. What if I were a robot? Bill the Robot .. OOOPs!

  3. Thank you very much for the link and the GTK's. Bill the ... nearly gave the game away again!