Rudd's RetroSpectrum – Music
From The Spectrum / Ariel / Indelible Murtceps
Songbook – Adelaide Fringe Review
GC – Showroom One: The German Club Wed 17.2.16
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
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 – No
Thinking Album Launch
ABC dig - Brian Wise 12.7.04 The
Prahran Club Sun.11.7.04
Thirty years ago it might have been
big news that Spectrum was launching
a new album. It would have been even bigger
news that it was comprised mostly of cover
versions and titled Spectrum Plays The Blues
- No Thinking!
But these days such news hardly raises a
blip on the mainstream media radar. Perhaps
the only way it might have made the papers
or television would have been if the venue
for the launch was the target of a terrorist
Devoted fans (most of whom seem to be middle-aged
men) knew about the event, as did discerning
radio listeners. Yet the general public
remained blissfully unaware that while they
were watching the latest instalment of Big
Brother and waiting with baited breath to
see who was evicted, a couple of Australian
rock legends were still around and surviving
pretty well, if not indeed thriving.
Maybe the evening's venue - The Prahran
Club - was chosen for the nostalgia it evokes.
Whatever the reason (and I suspect the word
'economical' might pop up somewhere) it
was a stark contrast with just about every
other album launch that has occurred this
year, and most other years recently come
to think of it.
Anyone can hire a trendy bar with over-priced
exotic drinks, fancy finger food that runs
out just before the waitress gets to you,
thudding background music that prevents
casual conversation and furniture designed
by people who are never likely to actually
use it. To find somewhere memorable is a
more difficult exercise.
Plays The Blues (and more)
at the Lomond Hotel
Another enthusiastic review from cub reporter
Alana Galea, whose first ever review appeared
a couple of weeks ago on this page.
(see the Basement Discs review
Lomond Hotel Sat. 10.7.04
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
Every now and then, something happens in
this game that still manages to surprise
and delight even this jaded old palate.
I was sent this review by a young girl who
happened to come across us playing at the
Basement Discs' 10th anniversary lunchtime
concert on Friday June 25th - which conveniently
doubled as a promotional in-store for the
No Thinking CD. It's raw and unedited, but
the enthusiasm is unrestrained and refreshing.
I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
The Basement Discs lunchtime concert Fri.
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
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
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.
Alana Galea 30.6.04
on the Long Way To The Top
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
Bruce Elder Sydney Morning Herald September
and friends at the St Kilda
Army & Navy Club
Be Gone 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 "Stones".
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" Robertson.
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
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