Finch (Australian band)

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Also known as Stillwater, Contraband
Origin Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Genres Hard rock, pub rock
Years active
  • 1972 (Stillwater)
  • 1973 (1973)–1978 (1978) (Finch)
  • 1978 (1978)–1979 (1979) (Contraband)
Labels Picture, Rainbow, Eagle, CBS/Epic, Portrait
Associated acts AC/DC, Skyhooks, The Angels
Past members see Members list below

Finch were an Australian hard and pub rock band, initially forming as Stillwater in 1972. By 1973 they had changed their name with the line-up of Peter McFarlane on drums, Owen Orford on lead vocals, Bob Spencer on lead guitar, and Tony Strain on bass guitar. They won a 2SM/Pepsi Pop Poll, earning a contract with Picture Records to release their debut single, "And She Sings" in January 1974. Their first album, Thunderbird, appeared in May 1976. In March of the following year Spencer left to join Skyhooks and the group went through various line-ups to settle with McFarlane and Orford joined by Mark Evans (ex AC/DC) on bass guitar. Their second album, Nothing to Hide, was issued in March 1978. Upon attempting to enter the international market they changed their name to Contraband by October that year. They issued a self-titled album in May of the next year but disbanded later in 1979.


Stillwater formed in 1972 in Sydney as a hard rock band and by the following year had changed their name to Finch.[1][2] The line-up of Finch was Peter McFarlane on drums, Owen Orford on lead vocals, Bob Spencer on lead guitar, and Tony Strain on bass guitar.[1][3] They won a 2SM/Pepsi Pop Poll, earning a contract with Picture Records.[1] The group released their first single, "And She Sings", in January 1974 while Spencer was still in high school.[1] Finch contributed to the soundtrack album for the surfing film, Drouyn (August 1974), which featured world champion, Peter Drouyn.[4] Finch's tracks, "Sail Away", "Lady of Truth" and "Roses" were used in contrast to "jazzy incidental material".[1] The Canberra Times' Michael Foster noted the "sound is no less compelling, and perhaps is more evocative because it is less insistent on the one beat and theme".[4]

The band worked in the pub rock circuit and released a self-financed album, Thunderbird, in May 1976 on Eagle Records.[1] It was produced by John Zulaikha (Buffalo), Brian Todd (their manager) and the band.[5] Tony Catterall of The Canberra Times felt it was "not without its merits" as the group "are always at least exuberant", however "[it] suffers sadly from a lack of originality (Free, Status Quo and Black Sabbath influences abound), naivety in the lyrics and poor production".[5] Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, noted the group "had a good deal of English-flavoured blues and hard rock buzzing around in their systems".[1] In December they released a single, "Short Changed Again", which peaked at number 29 on the Sydney chart.[1] As the single gained notice their distribution company foundered.[6]

Late in 1976 Finch moved to Melbourne and supported a national tour by Supernaut.[1][6] In March 1977 Spencer left to replace Red Symons on guitar in Skyhooks.[1][3] Tony Strain left the band at the same time.[1] From April to July the band went through nine different members (including Sam Mallett, Skeeta Pereira, Gary Quince, and Graham Thompson) before Peter McFarlane and Orford were joined by Mark Evans (ex AC/DC) on bass guitar, Graham Kennedy on guitar and vocals, and Chris Jones on guitars.[1][3][6] The band signed to CBS / Epic Records and issued the single, "One More Time" in October.[6] They started recording material for their second album, Nothing to Hide, in the following month.[6] Dave Hinds (ex-Marshall Brothers, Rabbit) replaced Chris Jones (who joined Feather) on guitar and vocals in December.[1][3]

The band adopted a more hard rock style, and the next single, "Where Were You?" reached number 14 in Melbourne and number 33 in Sydney in February 1978.[1] Nothing to Hide (March) was produced by Peter Dawkins (Dragon) and provided a second single, the title track (May).[1][3] The Canberra Times' Luis Feliu opined that they continued to provide "punchy rock and roll and a bit of R and B, the British way ... However, Finch's style has now become overworked to the point of being uninteresting".[7] Finch signed with CBS's United States subsidiary label, Portrait Records.[1] Due to a Dutch band also called Finch, the Australian group were renamed as Contraband.[1]

In October 1978 Portrait issued Contraband's debut single, "That's Your Way" and Barry Cram (ex-Pantha, Avalanche, Russell Morris Band) replaced McFarlane on drums, who joined Swanee.[1][3] In May the following year an album, Contraband was released, which was also produced by Dawkins.[1][3] Some interest was generated in the US but the album was not successful in Australia. It provided two singles "Rainin' Again" (March 1979) and "Gimme Some Lovin'" (July) – which is a cover of The Spencer Davis Group 1966 single.[1] Earlier Finch material was re-released under the Contraband name.[3] However Portrait dropped them later in the year and they broke up.[1][3]


Listed alphabetically:[1][3][8]

  • Barry Cram – drums (1978–79)
  • Mark Evans – bass guitar (1977–79)
  • David Hinds – guitar, vocals (1977–79)
  • Matt Hughes – organ (1973)
  • Chris Jones – guitar (1977)
  • Graham Kennedy – guitar, vocals (1977–79)
  • Peter McFarlane – drums (1973–78)
  • Sam Mallet – guitar (1978)
  • Owen Orford – vocals (1972–79)
  • Sketa Pereira – guitar (1977–78)
  • Gary Quince – guitar (1977)
  • Bob Spencer – guitar (1973–77)
  • Tony Strain – bass guitar (1973–77)
  • Graham Thompson – bass guitar (1977)



  • Drouyn soundtrack LP – 3 tracks only: "Sail Away", "Roses", "Lady of Truth" (Rainbow Records, October 1974)
  • Thunderbird LP (Eagle, May 1976)
  • Nothing to Hide LP (Epic, February 1978, re-issued on Portrait under band name Contraband)
  • Contraband LP (Portrait, May 1979)


  • "Out of Control" (Picture Records - picture disc, April 1974)
  • "Stay" (Eagle, April 1976)
  • "Short Changed Again" (Eagle - picture cover, December 1976)
  • "One More Time" (Epic, November 1977)
  • "Where Were You" 7" (Epic, February 1978, re-issued on Portrait under band name Contraband) #25 AUS
  • "Nothing to Hide" 7" (Portrait, May 1978)
  • "That’s Your Way" (Portrait, October 1978)
  • "Rainin' Again" (Portrait - picture cover, May 1979)
  • "Gimme Some Lovin'" 7" (Portrait, June 1979)

Other appearances

  • Long Live the Evolution compilation LP – 1 track only: "Short Changed Again" (2JJ, released late 1977, recorded live-in-the-studio December 1976)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Finch'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-768-2. Archived from the original on 15 June 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Events and Venues". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). National Library of Australia. 19 May 1982. p. 26. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Holmgren, Magnus; Ellison, Mark. "Finch/Contraband". Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b Foster, Michael (13 January 1975). "Turntable: Good Tracking on Australian Surfing". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). National Library of Australia. p. 9. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b Catterall, Tony (16 August 1976). "Record Reviews: Different Approaches to Heavy Rock". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). National Library of Australia. p. 1 Section: Sporting Section. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e Veitch, Harriet (2 November 1977). "Latest Finch". The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982). National Library of Australia. p. 97. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  7. ^ Feliu, Luis (21 April 1978). "High, Loose and Easy". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). National Library of Australia. p. 23. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  8. ^ Spencer, Chris (1989). Who's Who of Australian Rock (2nd ed.). The Five Mile Press. ISBN 0-86788-213-1.