S P E C T R U M
The Official Biography
bands, Spectrum, The Indelible Murtceps and Ariel were highly
respected in the ‘70s and inspired many of today's popular
music icons. Spectrum's 1971 national number one hit, I’ll
Be Gone (Someday I'll have money), still features on radio
playlists and inspires crowds to sing along all around the country.
Spectrum was formed in 1969 and today still features founder-member
and principal songwriter Mike Rudd on vocals, guitar and blues
harp. Drummer Peter ‘Robbo’ Robertson joined Mike
and Bill in 1997 when they’d decided to resume the Spectrum
name and keyboardist Daryl Roberts joined a few years later,
evoking the original organ-based Spectrum line-up. Bassist Broc
O’Connor joined Spectrum after Rudd’s long-term
musical partner Bill Putt’s unexpected death in 2013.
Mike Rudd and Bill Putt's early bands played alongside such
legendary ‘70’s artists as Deep Purple, Manfred
Mann, The Kinks, Joan Armatrading, Leo Sayer, Garry Glitter
(!) and Marc Bolan, but probably their most celebrated tour
was the Aquarius Festival of University Arts nation-wide tour
with Daddy Cool in 1971. Spectrum, Murtceps and Ariel also played
all but one of the legendary Sunbury Festivals between 1971-4.
Ariel recorded at London’s famous Abbey Road Studios in
the ‘70s (Rock & Roll Scars) and artists
as diverse as John Williamson and Manfred Mann (see the discography)
have recorded versions of Rudd’s I’ll Be Gone.
In 2001, thirty years after it was a number one hit, I’ll
Be Gone was honoured by being included in the APRA’s
list of the top Australian songs of the last 75 years (it came
in at No.13). I’ll Be Gone was featured in the
ABC TV’s A Long Way To The Top series and the
band was included on the fabulously successful Long Way
To The Top tour, which toured the nation in 2002.
Spectrum released five albums up until 1973, including Spectrum
Part One and the double album Milesago, followed
by The Indelible Murtceps’ quirky Warts Up Your Nose.
Ariel released a similar number of albums including A Strange
Fantastic Dream and Rock & Roll Scars, (the
latter recently reissued by Aztec Records).
After Ariel’s break-up in 1977 other bands followed, notably
Mike Rudd and the Heaters (The Unrealist) and the ambitious
WHY project, which incorporated synchronised (with an erratic
drum machine called Weird Harold) video projection into their
live performances. In 1983 the band spent some time recording
at Klaus Shulze’s* I.C. studio in West Germany and travelled
round Europe filming their experiences to use in their live
shows. * Check
out the Klaus
Then, in 1995, after a ten-year hiatus from playing live, Mike
and Bill re-emerged as a duo with an acoustically skewed new
CD, Living on a Volcano (three-times the Herald Sun’s
critics’ choice) that saw the pair maturing as songwriters,
producers (and engineers) and instrumentalists.
Later in the ‘90s, Mike and Bill teamed up briefly with
Crowded House's drummer, the late Paul Hester, another long-time
Spectrum fan, which culminated in an appearance on ABC TV’s
Hessie’s Shed. In 1999, Spectrum released Spill
- Spectrum Plays The Blues, a CD that revisits Rudd and
Putt’s (British) blues roots. Spill features
such famous guests as Men at Work’s Colin Hay, (who says
of Rudd and Putt ‘those guys are my heroes’), and
ace blues harpist Chris Wilson, another unabashed Rudd /Putt
fan. The second highly entertaining Spectrum Plays the Blues
CD, No Thinking, features musical guest, long-time
buddy Ross Wilson amongst others.
As well as Ariel's Rock & Roll Scars, Aztec Music
has re-issued two seminal Spectrum albums, Spectrum Part
One and the acclaimed double album, Milesago,
which has reminded '70s aficionados and music critics alike
what an important band Spectrum was in the Australian rock scene.
The live recording of Ariel’s final performance, Ariel
Aloha – More From Before has also been re-issued
on Sandman Records. More recently still Spectrum has embarked
on releasing the Breathing Space series of EPs and
is well past the point of releasing the fourth in the series.
Work was in progress to complete a blues album, It’s
a Lottery dedicated to the late Bill Putt, but that could
also be on the back-burner.
Over the past few years Spectrum has played the Port Fairy Folk
Festival, the Goulburn Blues Festival, the Dandenong Ranges
Folk Festival, the Queenscliff Music Festival, the Sydney Opera
House, the Tamworth Country Music Festival (!), the Healesville
Sanctuary Unplugged Concerts, the Arts Centre Lawn Concerts,
the Melbourne Zoo Concerts, the Bridgetown Blues Festival in
WA - as well as the odd gigs in NZ and California.
Mike & Bill memorably guested with the late Billy Thorpe
playing I’ll Be Gone at the Tsunami Benefit at
the Myer Music Bowl, and Spectrum played at the Lobby Loyde
benefit, as well as the Melbourne International Music &
Blues Festival, the Canberra Blues & Rock Festival and the
Thredbo Music Festival, (the two live tracks on the No Thinking
CD were recorded at Thredbo), and the 2009 Byron Blues
Festival. In 2014 Spectrum Plays the Blues played the Sydney
Blues & Roots Festival.
In the last few years Mike has also enjoyed a parallel solo
career with appearances on the ABC's Specks and Specks and
SBS' RocKwiz TV shows, the latter with a much talked
about duet with Jess Cornelius of the Roy Orbison classic Crying.
Mike's also made cameo appearances on the Morning of
the Earth stage show (with Ariel guitarist Tim Gaze) and
Ross Wilson's Five Decades of Cool show, both culminating
with the Byron Blues Festival appearances.
Mike's also been involved with a couple of reunions in New Zealand
of his first band, Chants R&B, and the resultant Rumble
& Bang documentary has been shown at the 2012 NZ Film
Festival featuring live footage from the 2010 gigs in Christchurch
as well as previously unseen footage from the early '60s and
a host of interviews with most of the original members of the
band and fans.
Lately Mike has been diversifying even further, first playing
solo gigs (simply as Mike Rudd) and then creating The Mike Rudd
trio, with two of the best credentialed players in the country
to accompany him. Piano-accordionist, George Butrumlis, (Black
Sorrows, Zydeco Jump) and bassist Jeremy Alsop, (The Lovers,
Allan Zavod) play essentially Mike's solo repertoire whenever
and wherever they can, which so far includes the Adelaide Fringe
for the past two years running and the 2018 Seddon Festival.
He's also got an occasional classic cover duo with Spectrum
bassist, Broc O'Connor, naturally called Mick 'n' Broc.
In 2018 Spectrum has returned to being the concert band it was
famous for being in the first place, with its repertoire comprised
of the most famous songs from the Spectrum/Murtceps/Ariel eras.
The band is expanded to include guests, including former Arielist
Glyn Mason and more recently the Madders' Brenden Mason.
The basic four-piece unit has recently been rebranded Mike Rudd's
Indelibles (incorporating Spectrum Plays the Blues) and could
be considered as an ingenious Mike Rudd tribute band or even
the contemporary equivalent of The Indelible Murtceps. The Indelibles
have a far broader remit, playng material from Chants R&B,
WHY, The Heaters, the Breathing Space CDs plus brand
new songs (and the blues) as well as Spectrum/Murtceps and Ariel
material. (There is also Mike Rudd's Three-Piece Suit to consider,
the slightly more economical in all senses trio version of The
Anyway, playing live is what The Indelibles is all about - Mike
and Bill played alongside each other since 1969 (!) and understandably
there seemed to be some kind of empathetic communication on
stage that drummer Peter 'Robbo' Robertson, keyboardist Daryl
Roberts and Bill’s replacement on bass guitar, Broc O’Connor
seem to share. The Indelibles switch seamlessly from blues,
to rock, to almost ambient music without losing focus. Newer
songs, like Xavier Rudd is Not My Son, Rocket Girl
and Silicon Valley slip right into the eclectic Indelibles'
mix, before the audience is treated to a guided tour of Spectrum
classics, including such weird and wonderful tracks as Fly
Without Its Wings, the Crab Saga, We Are Indelible
and much, much more (never forgetting I’ll Be Gone
of course). In the Spectrum Plays the Blues set, even the most
predictable blues classics come alive with Rudd’s distinctive
vocals and harmonica playing..
The end result is that Spectrum still exists, albeit in multiple
guises. Mike Rudd solo or surrounded by his long-term musician
friends, Robbo, Broc and Daz, (not forgetting Masons' Glyn and
Brenden and George and Jeremy) is enthusiastically received
wherever he plays and obviously still enjoys what he does as
much as his audiences. See and hear him and his bands - and
to choose your favourite outfit to play for you.