When Brian Medlin, convenor of the Politics and Art course in 1975, suggested that some people might like to co-operate on a music project, three people raised their hands.
John Schumann, Michael Atkinson and Verity Truman were as yet unacquainted. It came to light later that Michael thought John was a loudmouth, John thought Michael was wet, and neither of them had really noticed Verity because she was very quiet.
They immediately fell into a deep and meaningful relationship with each other and wrote about eight songs. They performed the songs to the class and met such a strong and positive reaction that Michael, John and Verity decided to accept some of the invitations that followed to play at various gatherings.
At a function held by the Progressive Art Movement, Chris Timms, a former student of Flinders University Philosophy, offered his services as a violinist. A friend from university, Steve Brown, suggested the name Redgum and for want of anything better the quartet adopted it.
Redgum started on the South Australian campus circuit. The strikingly original material and the uncompromising delivery won them a small but very supportive following. A campus tour of Melbourne was organised and during that hectic week, the ABC recorded some of their songs. Community radio 3CR taped the band and played the songs regularly to a responsive listenership.
The band returned to Melbourne several times during 1976 and 1977, sometimes sponsored by 3CR, sometimes by progressive groups, to play concerts, rallies, benefits and the odd pub. Redgum quickly established a sizeable and quite general audience.
Back in Adelaide, Redgum performed "live to air" for 5UV, the radio station attached to the University of Adelaide. At folk concerts, union nights, rallies and benefits, Redgum would appear sporadically in Adelaide until their self-produced show 'One more boring Thursday night in Adelaide' established them outside of campuses. This show was part of the Festival of Arts Focus program in 1978 and was listed by The National Times as an attraction not to be missed.
It was shortly after this, and numerous enquiries in Adelaide and Melbourne as to the availability of tapes, that 3CR asked Redgum's permission to run off tapes for the people who had asked for them. On hearing that there were two hundred people listed as wanting copies the band decided to make an album.
The sales of the album "If You Don't Fight, You Lose" surprised everyone concerned. It became Larrikin Records' best seller and received airplay on most on the non-commercial stations around the country.
On the strength of the album, Redgum ventured to Sydney and Newcastle. They played a number of shows for the Amalgamated Metal Workers and Shipwrights Union, a concert at the Balmain Town Hall and a couple of folk clubs.
It is interesting to note that all this time, Michael, John, Chris and Verity all held full time jobs in Adelaide. Michael was teaching part time and studying, Verity had disappeared into the bowels of the Public Service,
Chris was Academic assistant at the South Australian School of Art and John was an English and Drama teacher at Marion High School. Trips interstate were made on weekends and in school holidays. This madness persisted until December 1980.
The bands trip to Melbourne in 1980 saw Dave Flett playing bass and Gordon Mclean drumming. In Adelaide, Chris Boath played bass and Geoff Gifford played drums.
During the middle of 1980 Redgum began work on 'Virgin Ground', their second album. It was released late in 1980 and, like its predecessor, it met strong critical acclaim.
Michael, John, Chris, Verity and Chris Gunn made a number of important decisions regarding the bands future in 1981. The five friends decided to give up full time employment in favor of Redgum. Tom Stehlik, an Adelaide drummer was recruited and with Dave Flett Redgum passed the sixth month mark as a professional band.
The band's third album, 'Brown Rice and Kerosene', introduced the single "100 Year On" / "Nuclear Cop". The title is taken from the first track on the LP, and the album was released around the time Redgum changed from a part-time band to a full-time job for its members.
As noted on a sticker on the cover, the song "Liberal Values" was to have been included on the album but was removed for legal reasons, and as far as I know still unavailable.
The Redgum Songbook 'Stubborn Words, Flagrant Vices' was also published in 1981.
In May 1982, long-serving member Chris Timms left the band to be replaced by Hugh McDonald (violin, guitar, vocals). The 12-inch EP 'Cut to the Quick' was released in September 1982 and contained four tracks.
By 1983 Redgum was one of the biggest crowd-pulling bands on the Australian scene. The live album 'Caught in the Act' produced the classic song "I was only Nineteen (A Walk in the Light Green)" which reached #1 and stayed in the top 40 for four months.
By 1984, the Redgum line-up comprised Schumann, Truman, Atkinson, McDonald, Stephen Cooney (bass,didgeridoo, mandolin, banjo), Michael Spicer (piano) and Brian Czempinski (drums).
Redgum's fifth album, Frontline, was released in August 1984. A compilation album 'Everything's Legal Anything Goes' was released in November 1984.
Redgum toured the UK and Europe in the latter half of 1985 and released a compilation album in a number of territories. The band was well received on the festival circuit and earned itself a strong and loyal following in London during its time there.
In may 1986, co-founder John Schumann surprised fans by leaving the band. He signed with CBS as a solo artist and he recorded the album 'Etched in Blue' at the Music Farm in Byron Bay in 1987. Schumann's touring band included Mal Logan, Louis McManus, David Dharamaesena, Mark Peters and a trio of backing vocalists Deborah Paul, Melinda Pike and Nicky Schultz.
In the meantime, Truman, Atkinson, McDonald and Spicer continued on as Redgum, recording the album Midnight Sun. Redgum's final single was 'Roll it on Robbie/Empty Page' which reached #34 in May 1987. Michael Atkinson left Redgum in 1987. His departure precipitated the bands' break-up soon thereafter [taken from http://www.schumann.com.au]
1981 was the year Redgum went full time as the band members gave up their day jobs to pursue the band. It was also the year that their 3rd Lp was recorded and released. I remember hearing about this during an interview on 4zzz, the album was just released it was a promotional thing and they played the single "100 years on".
I still love the song, a modern take on "Waltzing Matilda", it takes us to the heart of John Schumann's songwriting genius, his ability to tell a yarn. This is my favorite Redgum album, its the songs that do it and sure there's a bit on clumsy left rhetoric, but I can forgive it, the brilliance in some songs more than makes up.The sound is less folk like, introducing things like synthesizers, yet not sounding commercial.
The epic "Where you gonna run to now" exposes Schumann's fears for the future and a strong environmental stance that was unheard of at the time. And "The Federal Two Ring Circus" is and very funny take on our political system, but "Your OS Trip" seems a little too bitter.
The truly greatest track however is the Schumann penned "The Last Frontier." Here he captures a young man pilgrimage to the heart of Australia [review by Bob at Striped Sunlight Sound]
The rip was taken from a long out of print CD at 320kps and includes full album artwork from both CD and LP (thanks to Grado at Midoztouch for Vinyl scans). The bonus track "I Was Only 19 (A Walk In The Green)" is also included (a recording taken from a radio broadcast, where John Schumann talks a little about his 'anti-war' anthem before the track is played - thanks to Sunshine at Midoztouch)
01. 100 Years On
02. Lear jets over Kulgera
03. Caught in the act
04. Yarralumla Wine
05. Where Ya Gonna Run To
06. Brown Rice and Kerosene
07. The Federal Two-Ring Circus
08. Your O.S Trip
09. The Last Frontier
10. Paramatta Gaol 1843
11. I was Only 19 (Radio broadcast / Interview)
Michael Atkinson: Guitars, keyboards, vocals
John Schumann: Vocals, guitar
Chris Timms: Vocals, violin
Verity Truman: Vocals, flute, tin whistle, saxophone
David Flett: Bass
Trevor Courtney: Drums and percussion
Mark Gillespie: Guitar on "Last Frontier"
Redgum Link (84Mb) New Link 10/01/2020