LP: October 1975, EMI-Brigadiers, EMCJ(L) 11512,
CD: February 2010, Fresh Music, freshcd170
- Avenue * (T McCully) [4.00]
- 1623 * (R Wilson) [2.07]
- You (T McCully) [2.54]
- I Walked Alone (R Wilson) [3.32]
- Carbon Canyon (R Black) [2.47]
- Blues In C Minor (T McCully) [5.15]
recorded live at UCT in August 1975
- Step On Easy (T McCully) [2.40]
- Guinevere * (T McCully) [3.10]
- Goodbye Lonely Blues (T McCully) [2.55]
- The Plague (R Wilson) [2.55]
- In The Quiet Hours (R Wilson) [3.14]
- Forgot How To Smile (R Black) [2.35]
- Shingles (R Wilson) [3.40]
Bonus tracks on 2010 CD re-issue:
- Carnival (3.13)
- Got a good reason (2.51)
- I'm waiting (4.35)
- Inside (3.52)
- Rainbow Illusion (3.29)
- Gunpoint (2.54)
- Shamrock (2.50)
A selection of music reflecting different ages written and produced by McCully Workshop.
- Mike McCully: Drums, vocals
- Tully McCully: Vocals, bass, guitar
- Richard Black: Lead guitar, vocals
- Richard Wilson: Electric violin, mellotron, electric piano
- Leon Morten: Organ, synthesizer
Ages was released in 1975 and reflected musical styles from the different ages of music and various influences can be heard: Uriah Heep, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, etc. The vocal harmonies are superb throughout. '1623' is a wonderful violin-led instrumental and the keyboard-dominated 'Guinevere' reached #10 on the LM Radio charts and the band even appeared on the very early days of South African TV playing this hit song.
Original album information supplied by Neil Daya from Vibes in N1 City, Cape Town in 1999.
Liner Notes for 2010 CD re-issue (uncut)
is very much an album of its time, and it is also timeless. Released
in October 1975, 'Ages' has many varied influences, and has a wide
pop, folk, rock and blues appeal.
1965, the McCullagh brothers, Tully (born Terence on 31st May 1953)
and Mike (born Michael on 7th April 1947) started as a folk-rock trio
with Richard Hyam and called themselves the Blue Three. After a few
personnel- and name-changes, they settled on McCully Workshop as they
used to rehearse in Mrs McCullagh's garage.
debut album 'McCully Workshop Inc.' was released in June 1970 and
included the hit single 'Why Can't It Rain'. 'Inc' has been referred
to as: "'Sgt. Pepper' influenced psychedelic music blended with
R&B, garage punk tunes. Great songs, lovely vocals, strong
harmonies, great distorted guitar work."
the 'Inc' album there was a deliberate move to do something different
and progressive. The musical vibe at the time of the 'Genesis' album
in 1971 was very brass influenced with bands like Chicago, Blood,
Sweat & Tears and Traffic pushing the boundaries of Jazz and
Workshop spent the next three to four years changing line-ups and
playing live gigs. They moved away from the Brass-Rock sound of the
'Genesis' album and embraced the keyboards sounds which were becoming
more popular then. The band went into Advision Studios in Long
Street, Cape Town with Tully as engineer and producer. 'Ages' was
recorded using a Studer 1 inch 4 track recorder.
The Recording Of Ages
is a sort-of concept album”, remembers Mike McCully. In the early
70's, the promise made by the improvisational bands in the late 60's,
like Cream, Iron Butterfly, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and many
others, had started to bear fruit.It was a time of rock music
becoming really heavy and progressive, but also a time of the
Singer-Songwriters and Folk Rock.
themes, Lord Of The Rings and 'Dungeons and Dragons' styles were the
order of the day. Keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman had released an
instrumental album about the 'Six Wives Of Henry VIII', Ritchie
Blackmore's Rainbow had sang about 'The Man On The Silver Mountain'
and Uriah Heep celebrated 'The Magician's Birthday'.
McCully says that when McCully Workshop used to perform live around
that time, the set list would include their arrangements of classical
pieces like Bach's 'Toccata in D Minor', Grieg's 'Hall Of The
Mountain King' and Strauss' 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' (better known
as the theme to '2001: A Space Odyssey)' alongside 'Every Little
Thing' by The Beatles and 'The Man From Afghanistan' by Curtiss
Maldoon. Quite an eclectic mix.
asked about his favourite song on the 'Ages' album, Mike McCully says
without hesitation: 'I Walked Alone'. “This song had very difficult
drumming, and I was influenced by Jim Keltner at the time. And the
drumming on 'Guinevere' features double-tracked triplets”,
continues Mike, “and live I used to play this with four sticks (a
la John Bonham) for audio and visual effect.”
album opener, 'Avenue' is a bass-driven rock track, which echoes
'Salisbury'-era Uriah Heep, whilst 'Carbon Canyon' is an uptempo
Steve Miller Band-influenced blues boogie with rollicking piano and
cool guitar licks from Richard Black (born 9th
December 1946) who had been playing
guitar with various bands since the mid-60s. He had been in a rock
power trio, Elephant, with George Wolfaardt (Abstract Truth) and
Savvy Grande (Suck) and he brought his impressive rock credentials
into McCully Workshop as a replacement to Bruce Gordon.
also brought his flute-playing skills to the 'Ages' album, and the
flute adds an extra dimension to the Focus-inspired instrumental
'Shingles'. 'Step On Easy' is influenced by Country Folk Rock, and
would not have been out of place on a Stealers Wheel album. 'Blues In
C minor' was recorded live at the Students Union Hall at the
University Of Cape Town. It is a tongue-in-cheek improvisational live
blues jam with Tully trying out his best Louis Armstrong
impersonation. “It was a spoof song”, says Tully, “I would make
up different lyrics every time I sang it”. Leon Morton's
organ-playing shines on this song.
Lake and Palmer were a big influence on the recording sessions.
Keyboardist Leon Morton loved Keith Emerson, Mike McCully rated Carl
Palmer as a top drummer, and Tully McCully is a singing bassist, just
like Greg Lake. Leon Morton used an Elka Rhapsody string synthesizer
(also used by artists like Jean-Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream)
extensively on the 'Ages' album, and the epic chords on 'The Plague'
are thanks to this instrument.
Wilson's violin playing can be heard on a number of tracks on 'Ages'
including a few of his own compositions. '1623' and 'Shingles' are
among Tully's favourite songs on the album.'Great medieval sounds,
mixed in with Irish jigs”, says Tully. “They were very much in
the style of that hit single 'Jig-A-Jig' from 70's prog-rock band
East Of Eden. We even used to play that song at our live
Wilson was also a classically-trained pianist and his playing can be
heard prominently on 'Guinevere'. This song is a powerful prog-rock
ballad that reached the LM Radio Top Ten. The vocal harmonies of
Crocodile Harris can be heard on this track and it was performed live
during the early days of South African TV.
Workshop always prided themselves on their vocal harmonies, and were
influenced by bands such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Yes,
The Beach Boys, Uriah Heep, The Moody Blues and The Beatles. “We
were always well-rehearsed with our vocal harmonies”, remembers
Tully. 'Forgot How To Smile' was penned by Richard Black and Tully
wanted to try something different with the vocals, so he put them
through a guitar phase pedal!
subject of strange effects, the echo chamber for this album was the
18 by 12 foot corrugated iron water tank on the roof of the studio
building. “We put a speaker on one side, and two mikes on the
opposite side to create echo and reverb effects” says Tully. “Then
one day a storm came and blew the water tank across the road on top
of the building next door!” Unperturbed they strung cables across
and continued to use it.
Leon Morton left to pursue a career in
banking, and Richard Wilson formed the Wright Brothers with Crocodile
Harris and they had a hit with Tully's compositon 'Silver Bird'.
Rupert Mellor joined on keyboards and
their biggest hit 'Buccaneer' lay just around the corner.
A new McCully Workshop album titled
'Work-In-Progress' is due for release in 2010.
35 years after 'Ages' the Workshop is
still open for business.