WHATEVER IT’S WORTH
(Pacific Theatre Encore)
Here’s a one-album encapsulation of the explosive energy that charged Sydney’s music scene in the late 1960s. The musicians’ idiomatic mobility – flowing freely between rock, jazz, blues and R&B – infused their playing, fuelling a dynamism further ramped up by the thousands of US servicemen swamping Kings Cross, on leave from Vietnam. Col Nolan & the Soul Syndicate, one of the era’s great Oz bands, had a residency in the Cross when this was recorded in 1968, and all their vitality is caught on this beautifully remastered vinyl reissue.
Nolan, who died last year, was this country’s finest Hammond organist, whether creating psychedelic swirls, choppy funk or massive, swelling chords. John Sangster brings his unique spark to the drumming, a young Col Loughnan blazes away on tenor, Jimmy Doyle’s guitar playing swerves between classy and thrilling, and the band is completed by John Allan’s understated bass. Beyond playing originals, they reworked some unlikely covers – Angel of the Morning, Ode to Billie Joel, Green, Green Grass of Home and (less successfully) By the Time I Get to Phoenix – that would have packed the dancefloor. A gem.