Axiom (Australian band)
|Genres||Rock, Country rock|
|Associated acts||The Twilights, The Groop, Cam-Pact, Valentines, Little River Band, The Dingoes|
|Past members||Doug Lavery|
Axiom's formation was a by-product of the annual Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds in which the top Australian bands of the day performed in front of judges for the prize of a paid return trip to London. In 1967 The Twilights were the first winners, the next year The Groop. Both found it difficult to settle back to the grind of the Australian pop scene after tasting the London big time. Neither band had made anything but the smallest dent in London (The Twilights being given a song by the Hollies, while The Groop's "When I Was Six Years Old" was recorded by Manfred Mann's Paul Jones), but it was enough to leave the lingering thought amongst band members, "What if..?"
The Groop broke up in late 1969, by which time The Twilights had already split and singer Glenn Shorrock had moved into management. A plan was hatched to form a new group out of the two groups' frontline remnants; there was some controversy surrounding the break-up of The Groop, with Go-Set magazine hinting that Cadd and Mudie had split the band to join Axiom without telling the other members about the new group. Twilights' songwriter and guitarist Terry Britten was supposed to join Shorrock and The Groop's piano player and chief songwriter Brian Cadd in the new band, but when Britten chose to go to England instead, his place was taken by The Groop's Don Mudie, who in the latter stages of The Groop had formed a strong songwriting partnership with Cadd. The group was completed by Cam-Pact guitarist Chris Stockley, and Valentines drummer Doug Lavery. Immediately dubbed a supergroup, the band asked fans to suggest a name and settled on Axiom.
After signing with EMI's Parlophone label, Axiom buried themselves in the recording studio. In December 1969 the group released their first single, "Arkansas Grass", heavily influenced by The Band's "Music From Big Pink". Though the single's title superficially appealed to international markets, and its Civil War theme reflected Cadd's current obsession with the music of The Band, it was in fact a coded anti-Vietnam war song – and in that respect addressing a very Australian concern, since Australian men were at the time being drafted to fight in that war. "Arkansas Grass" reached No. 7 in December 1969.
Midway through the recording of the LP, which was released under the title Fool's Gold, drummer Don Lebler (The Avengers) replaced Doug Lavery. Axiom left Australia for the UK in April 1970 after signing a publishing deal from Leeds Music, with the local music press reporting that they had received record deal offers from both Apple Records and the Decca label. As a parting gift they left their second single, "A Little Ray of Sunshine", inspired by the birth of the child of a couple that the group knew – not by the birth of Cadd or Mudie's child, as has often been incorrectly reported. The single reached No. 5 in April 1970. "A Little Ray of Sunshine" has become one of the Australian songs most often still played on radio and was even celebrated with its own stamp in Australia Post's 1998 Australian Rock stamp series.
In their absence the band's debut album Fool's Gold was released, one of the first true "albums" in Australian music. Apart from the "Arkansas Grass" single it was also one of the first attempts in Australian pop to write songs about the Australian landscape, and using Australian place names. It is also notable as one of the first Australian albums on a major label to be self-produced by the recording artist/s and also featured one of the first uses of the didgeridoo in Australian popular music. The songs were all of high quality as were the production values. Fool's Gold reached No. 18 in June and still stands as one of the best albums of the period, however it never reached its full commercial potential because Axiom were not around to promote it. A third single failed to chart. In Australia Axiom were signed to Ron Tudor's independent production company. They left Australia with Tudor's approval to try to secure a worldwide recording contract: he would not stand in their way.
Although many of the songs on Fool's Gold featured Australian references, Brian Cadd revealed years later that the track "Ford's Bridge" had a very different origin:
- " ... we wrote a song, which must have been all the stuff that I had left in my head from 'Arkansas Grass', which I called 'We Can Reach Georgia by Morning'. We had done some rough mixes and somebody played some of them to Stan Rofe and Rofe got right off his bike about it and said that it was absolutely unconscionable for us to use Georgia and why couldn't we use an Australian name? So I succumbed to the browbeating of everybody, and we found in the atlas a place in Northern Queensland called Fords Bridge, which had the right meter for the words ... I never really got over that. It really hurt me, It annoyed me ... I just got very annoyed with the parochialism. When it reached out and touched me and made me change a word in a song. I hated it."
In England Axiom signed a three-year recording contract with Warners, cemented by a single "My Baby's Gone" produced by Shel Talmy of early Who, Kinks and Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" fame. The band completed a second album, If Only, recorded at the iconic Olympic Studios in London. Although some former members were later critical of what they felt was Talmy's overproduction of the record, in a 2000 interview with Richie Unterberger, Talmy still spoke highly of both group and LP:
- "Warner Brothers hired me to record them. Super-duper band. It was a super album. Two weeks before the album was to be released on Warner, they decided to break up. And they did, and Warners said, "Bye!! If you think we're promoting this album, you're out of your fucking minds!" I was real pleased with that album. It was fun to do, they were talented, the songs were great."
By the time the album was released the band had already broken up and as Talmy indicated, it effectively vanished without trace.
Glenn Shorrock remained in England where he performed as lead vocalist of the extraordinary band Esperanto, eventually returning to Australia in 1974 to join the nascent Little River Band. Brian Cadd returned to Australia and launched a hugely successful solo career. Don Lebler remained in the UK to become a member of The Mixtures. A couple of years later Chris Stockley became part of The Dingoes. In October 2010, Fool's Gold (1970) was listed in the book 100 Best Australian Albums.
- Glenn Shorrock – vocals, guitar
- Brian Cadd – vocals, piano
- Don Mudie – bass
- Chris Stockley – guitar
- Doug Lebler – drums
- "Arkansas Grass" / "Samantha" – Parlophone (December 1969) AUS No. 7
- "A Little Ray of Sunshine" / "Ford's Bridge" – Parlophone (April 1970) AUS No. 5
- Fool's Gold – Parlophone (July 1970)
- "Father Confessor" / "Time & Time Again" – Warner Reprise (July 1970)
- "My Baby's Gone" / "Hold The Phone" – Warner Reprise (January 1971) AUS No. 8
- If Only... – Warner Reprise (September 1971)
- "Fool's Gold" / "Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" – Parlophone (April 1971)
- Debbie Kruger, Songwriters Speak: Conversations about creating music (Limelight Press, 2006, p. 109)
- Richie Unterberger – The Shel Talmy Interview (2000)
- O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9.