Rudd's RetroSpectrum –
GC – Showroom One: The German Club Wed 17.2.16
Anyone expecting to see a retired
rock star wheeled out for one last lap of honour
is in for a number of surprises tonight. Spectrum are
still a working band and have visited Adelaide several
times over the last decade or so. Their material often
includes three distinct categories of songs – new
material – yes, new material, blues standards, and
what Mike calls RetroSpectrum – the older songs
that Spectrum were known and revered for amongst a certain
age group. Tonight we are given a mixture of all three.
Mike has often joked that he is lucky to have only had
one hit song. It means he is not trapped into having to
play ‘the hits’ in every show. As long as
he includes that one song, he is free to do what he likes.
That’s not quite true. They may not have been huge
sellers but he has a large back catalogue of much loved
songs and fans will want to hear their favourites.
The first surprise comes when he opens the show with THAT
song – I’ll Be Gone. Not saved up
for a climactic ending or for the encore, as might be
expected. And he performs it as it was originally written
– without the signature harmonica line, stripped
back for voice and acoustic guitar.
It is another surprise that in a show entitled RetroSpectrum
the set list is heavily weighted towards Ariel songs,
particularly from the Strange Fantastic Dream
album. Once again these stripped down versions of songs
like Jamaican Farewell on acoustic guitar are
a revelation. His rendition of Confessions Of A Psychopathic
Cowpoke is reminiscent of Loudon Wainwright III in
full manic flight.
Along the way there are many stories about mistakes made,
and people he has met or worked with, such as Ross Hannaford
and Max Merritt. Soul Man, his tribute to Merritt,
is one of the newer songs presenting another highlight.
Mike announces that he will do an a Cappella song he recently
tried at a wedding, if the audience will clap along to
set the rhythm. It turns out to be I’ll Be Gone
again, this time without any guitar, but with the
signature harmonica. Of course the audience sing along.
Towards the end of the show a chap called Geoff who is
almost tall enough to be Bill Putt joins Mike on double
bass, with a fake walrus moustache to complete the gag.
Add in some loop pedal and recorder and we are given a
classic early Spectrum version of Superbody.
Unexpectedly it is over to newer material to provide the
finale – a gorgeous (I Cannot) Look At The Moon,
and a final message from Bill hits the spot! Lyrics
found in his car after his death have become It’s
A Lottery. An encore is required, and it’s
back to the blues classics, Smokestack Lightning
and Good Mornin’ Little Schoolgirl.
Tonight has presented a way forward for Mike in the future.
Spectrum will hopefully remain a working band for years
to come. These stripped back acoustic concerts, with loop
pedal and some minimal backing, are another way for him
to bring these songs to our appreciative attention.
Plays The Blues (and more) at the Lomond Hotel
As soon as I got to the Lomond I realised
that there was going to be something extra to Spectrum's
set and I'm not just talking about a drum kit! Having
seen Bill and Mike along with Jenny on congas as Robbo's
replacement I thought I knew what to expect, but I was
mistaken. Robbo brought an extra energy and edge to what
I thought was an already perfect band.
As I walked through the door I was greeted by Bill's friendly
smile and he waved me over. (Early again, in time for
the soundcheck again). I talked with Bill for a while,
acting as smooth as I could. I mean, this is a band that
I have adored since birth (thanks Dad) and the bass guitarist
knows my name! I took the only two seats available at
the time, and then Bill called me over and pointed out
that this couple or that couple would be leaving shortly,
so we'll get more seats for the remainder of the party.
It was just as well that we found a table of seats, because
we were unaware we were sitting in theirs! Whoops, sorry
boys, we were just keeping them warm for you. Anyway we
found a table right next to the stage where I sat there
cool calm and collected waiting for the show to start.
Not! I kid you not, if someone had asked me to
stand up and move whilst Robbo and Bill set up right next
to me, it would've been impossible.
The gig got underway at 9:30 pm. The first song on the
list was I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now, and
it was a fantastic way to open and a song that the crowd
(myself included) loved. It was followed by the upbeat
tune that has been stuck in my head since the first time
I heard it - Dreaming, and it was sensational.
A mellifluous instrumental came after Dreaming,
called Jenwah, and like the next song, Little
By Little, it was penned by Bill Putt. The song after
that was San Andreas off the Volcano album, and
was a funky blues rock tune where Robbo looked like he
was in drummer's heaven. On Broadway hadn't been
played for ten years, but the upbeat tune was no problem
for the boys, and they tore though it, just like they
did with Rocket Girl. Mike chanted then "It's
coming, It's coming, it's coming" before bursting
into I Play My Guitar, which Bill, Mike and Robbo
clearly enjoyed playing as much as the audience enjoyed
hearing it. Mike went off! He was shifting from side to
side and jumping around a little bit. This song closed
the first fantastic set that saw Mike deal with guitar
adjustments (and other issues that I'm not allowed to
raise) several times, and Bill cheekily help Robbo out
on drums by hitting his cymbals at the end of each song.
During the second set, Spectrum played a fantastic version
of the Van Morrison classic Baby Please Don't Go
which was, like all covers performed by Spectrum, as good
as the original (if it wasn't, the world would know about
it!) and then Mike stomped through Hoochie Coochie
Man. The whole audience was then Sitting On Top
Of The World with this set. Help Me was
the next song which Mike took great delight in blowing
in the microphone throughout. Mike stopped to talk about
the Thredbo Blues Festival, and explained to anyone who
hasn't been that it is "like an island. once you're
in, you can't bloody well get out!" Summertime
was the next song, and it was performed to absolute perfection
and was fantastic.Good Mornin' Little Schoolgirl
was a great tune that ended with a "Yeah!" from
Robbo. The last song in this set was So Low,
but the audience were feeling very high (without taking
any illegal substances, because we don't advocate that).
The crowd sang along to the bluesy tune before the break
in which I picked up a copy of the new No Thinking
CD and a T-shirt for a very cheap $40. I won't bore you
with the details as to what went on during the quick break
taken by the boys in which they mingled with the audience.
After the break the band went back thirty years and took
the audience with them for the sensational hit I'll
Be Gone. The audience clearly enjoyed this song and
as Spectrum's most famous single, it shook the walls.
The next song was Going Home, but no one was
going anywhere, not when I Heard It Through The Grapevine,
was the next song. For the whole set the audience loved
what they heard and this version of the Marvin Gaye classic
was no exception and it lifted the roof as did Brunswick
Street, in which Mike took delight in pulling faces
at Bill - and I started laughing.
That was the last song... or so they thought. The audience
loved Spectrum so much (and who wouldn't) that everyone
called for an encore, which was Rock & Roll Scars
and brought the house down. I won't go in to the details
of what was said from each band member when I asked them
to sign two T-shirts and a CD, but Robbo had me in stitches
with more impersonations, this time of me. (Here's a tip
for those who want to get on Robbo's good side; bring
him coloured pens! I wanted a black T-shirt signed, and
he had so much fun with them).
The Lomond has had its walls shaken, roof lifted and I
swear I saw some of the plaster crumble off, but even
if it did fall to pieces from Spectrum's playing, it was
miraculously rebuilt overnight so that Spectrum can play
there again on the 28th of August.
Alana Galea 22.7.04
Bill and Jenny at The Basement Discs
Basement Discs lunchtime concert Fri. 25.6.04
Another week, another concert I guess you guys
must be thinking. Well quite frankly, yeah. I went to
go and see Spectrum last friday at basement discs in the
city. Once again another band not everyone will be familiar
with. So here's a little intro. Spectrum formed in the
late 60's (yes, the bands I'm going to see are getting
older) with the hit song "I'll be gone" (which
features a harmonica lick that, in my opinion makes the
song) after 30 years of line up changes (now with Bill
Putt, Mike Rudd and "Robbo") and name changes
Spectrum are still recording and playing live with a sensational
refreshing blues sound that those not even that interested
in blues music have come to appreciate.
Now for the review:
Having skipped class to go and see Spectrum was an exciting
experience (being the goody- two-shoes that always does
what she's told), and because I had never been to Basement
before, it was a little nerve racking trying to find the
place, but as I finally got in there and walked down the
corridor to the entrance to see Bill Putt smile at me
as I came in. I was early, heaps early. they were still
doing a soundcheck. Anyway after, walking around trying
to look like I'm not watching the boys run through a quick
soundcheck, they then leave for a quick coffee, and I
buy a few CD's to kill time (or attempt to). I sit down
on the couch that's there as they come back.
Mike Rudd starts off by saying that Robbo got married
on the Thursday and decided to take a honeymoon, so was
replaced by Jenny. He continiued to talk about the wedding
and then started with a different version of the hit "I'll
be gone", which, (strangly for someone that likes
to stick to the original, I loved) and it was a great
way to open the show. The second song they played was
a catchy tune called "I wonder", which was performed
superbly. Mike then commented that his fighting weight
was about ten stone and is now rapidly approaching 14.
Seriously though Mike, no one noticed until they were
told. All that was obvious was a change of hairstyle and
colour. What does this have to do with anything? some
people may be thinking, The next song performed was called
"Superbody" which was about a guy that thought
he was "bullet proof".
After that they played an unrecorded up-beat song called
"Dreaming", which has become a new fave. After
that their was a quick discussion about the new CD, "No
thinking" as well as a quick background on the band.
There was also talk of a live performance at village on
the green and the heaters there, then Bill subtly hinted
"I can't remember anything" and Mike stopped
(hmm, wonder what that was about) Then they tore though
Creedence hit "heard it on the grapevine". I
will concede that I have been the first person to tear
down an artist for what I considered an inadequate remake
but this one, much to my surprise was great! and dare
I say, as good as the
Mike then spoke about blues and how he thought it was
like pop, so he put different songs together for "no
thinking" and said that "they benifited from
being together". The next song to be performed was
"Look at the moon" and Mike declared it to be
"space blues". The session was ended with "When
I play my guitar" another unrecorded tune, with a
latin feel about it which was cool.
Next came the "Meet n Greet" session with the
boys to which I managed to score the play list off Mike
and got my CD signed and a photo with them. I was talking
to bill and had a quick photo with him before it was time
for me to leave.
Before I left something strange happened. Mike turned
the tables on me who had been taking photos like there's
no tomorrow, and decided to take one of me for the site
(www.mikeruddbillputt.com). After a quick chat it was
time to leave and I will definitely be going to see them
again in a few weeks.
I think that is the cool thing about the australian pub
musicians, they are accessible. There is something there
to cater for all music tastes and they are not afraid
to talk to fans and have there photos taken with them.
Another thing is that they are cheap. I came away happier
than some Justin Timberlake fans, paid nothing and got
to meet the people whose music I have always loved as
opposed to the complaints that I have read in the paper.
on the Long Way To The Top tour
people who can still sing
and reach beyond cabaret kitsch include Normie Rowe (hardly
surprising given his long career in musicals), John Paul
Young (but then Love Is In The Air is not exactly
demanding) and, amazingly, Spectrum's Mike Rudd, who looks
nothing like the hairy young man who originally fronted
the band. He sang the sublime hippie anthem I'll Be
Gone as though he was still twentysomething and searching
for adventure was still an option.
Bruce Elder Sydney Morning Herald September 16 2002
and friends at the St Kilda Army & Navy Club
is something Mike and Bill are yet to say to
each other. In an industry where anything over three minutes
can be deemed an eternity, a partnership of 30+ years
is as unique as it is remarkable. Mike Rudd and Bill Putt;
the names flow together like Sam n' Eric in "Lord
of the flies", or Keiff and Mick from those lordly
Rudd and Putt have played their distinctive brands of
music under varying sobriquets. Spectrum, Ariel, The Indelible
Murtceps and their eponymous Mike Rudd and Bill Putt,
being their better known offerings. Spectrum, Mark 2,
sees them regularly teaming up with drummer Peter "Robbo"
Mike Rudd has always stood slightly apart from conventional
perceptions of the music industry. I'll be Gone,
recorded in the guitar dominated era of 1971, is the only
hit song of that time which does not have a guitar, other
than bass, in its arrangement. Blessed with the face of
a thespian and the wit of a detached observer of life's
quirks, Rudd has managed to merge street cred and musical
and intellectual depth into the one body of work.
Putt is Rudd's perfect bookend. Nothing like Rudd physically,
Putt is blessed with his own brand of separateness and
observation. Together they are like wise, inscrutable
elders creating their world.
The third point to Spectrum's triangle, "Robbo,'
manages with his drumming to caress, rather than fill,
the space born from the guitar lines of the two journey
The guitar sits at the centre of Spectrum’s music.
Rudd plays acoustic guitar like an acoustic player, electric
guitar like an electric player and sings like a singer
rather than a guitarist with a microphone in front of
them (Sounds simple but few have managed it),
Putt's guitar work, whether on six string nylon or bass,
is hypnotic.Two interpretations of minimalism - only Rudd
and Putt can manage that most incongruous of oxymorons.
Sunday evenings see Mike Rudd don his understated Peter
Allen shirt (another oxymoron) and strut his stuff with
Putt and "Robbo" at St. Kiilda’s Naval
and Military Club in Acland St. Regular guest members
include Enza Pantano (vocals) and Martyn Sullivan (bass).
Colin Hay would be there if he could; LA is a bit far
away, but you can hear him on Spectrum’s Spill
Spectrum’s two most recent CD’s, Living
on a Volcano and Spill – Spectrum Plays
the Blues, should be bought together and listened
to one after the other. They are both fantastic bridges
to the minds, moods and music of Mike Rudd and Bill Putt.
Their mix of original songs and blues classics makes you
feel good about the past, present and future.
at Sturt St Blues
delivered the class act
that was anticipated. Mike, Bill and Robbo demonstrated
to the large appreciative crowd that they are consummate
musicians. They retain all the best aspects of their original
stuff and evolve into other genres with skill, mastery
and amazing results. So good were they that a couple of
ladies in the audience were knocked off their feet and
leglessly bumped their ways down the stairs to street
level on their bums - nothing at all to do with alcohol.
The CD, Spill - Spectrum Plays the Blues, sold
like hot cakes. Many memories of a great night will be
relived as it is cranked up on home stereos. Be on the
alert for when Spectrum next appears on our Gig Guide
- it is imminent!
Sturt St Bluesletter April 2000
Release at Capers Cabaret
of my friends declare
that I never left the ‘seventies. Not true –
I have taken down the Skyhooks poster from my wall. I
no longer have my hipster flairs, (dammit – and
they’re back in fashion again). My burgundy platform
shoes and frilly shirts went to the op shop years ago.
Thankfully, “Hey, Man” has all but disappeared
from my vocabulary. But, I do have some regrets. I never
did get to freak out at any of the Sunburys and no matter
how hard I tried, I couldn’t get that Ronnie Wood-just-out-of-bed
hairstyle to work for me. Fortunately, my musical tastes
have matured – still rock and blues but more contemporary
not necessarily retro.
Sometimes – just sometimes though - an excursion
back to my roots is a cleansing and rejuvenating experience
and this is one of those times. The reason – legendary
Aussie ‘seventies band, Ariel have just released
not one, but THREE CD’s on the market at the same
time. (Tom Waits could only manage two at once). The name
ARIEL may not have as great an impact on the collective
musical memory as other bands of the era but as a charismatic
rock outfit, they definitely had the goods. Yet, when
they came together in 1973 they were destined not to crack
the all important singles market in a major way, (except
for the catchy reggae track, Jamaican Farewell).
They were nevertheless instrumental in advancing the Oz
progressive rock/blues sound. Somehow, they just didn’t
quite reach the heights of greatness they probably felt
they could ultimately achieve.
Jeff Turnbull - www.jeffscrossroadblues.com