Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: Aug 26, 2021
Format: Audio CD
Label: Aztec Music
AZTEC RECORDS continues the Expanded CD reissue programme of landmark Australian albums with the classic 1974 LP from the masters of jazz-rock fusion! – MACKENZIE THEORY. Bon Voyage presents MacKenzie Theory in their favoured element, their last concert recorded live in front of a captivated audience.
In December 1973, guitarist Rob Mackenzie was awarded a travel and study grant by the Australian Arts Council, under the auspices of Gough Whitlam’s incumbent Labor government. Mackenize had been playing in bands since the mid-1960s, most prominently in jazz fusion band MacKenzie Theory whose mind-blowing performances had made them the heroes of the Australian Underground rock scene of the day. Their appearances at the T.F. Much / Much More Ballroom and the Sunbury festivals were legendary. The band’s debut album, the live-in-the-studio Out Of The Blue, had gained them an even greater following.
Mackenzie and electric viola player Cleis Pearce had only recently recruited a new rhythm section of veterans Paul ‘Sheepdog’ Wheeler (bass; ex-Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs) and Greg Sheehan (drums; ex-Blackfeather), but they decided to take advantage of the travel grant to head to the UK. Melbourne’s Dallas Brooks Hall was booked for the band’s farewell appearance, 15 May 1974. Mushroom Records arranged for engineers Graham Owens and Colin Stevenson to be on hand with the T.C.S. mobile 8-track machine to record the concert.
By the time Bon Voyage appeared, Mackenzie and Pearce were living in London. To the initiated it only offers a superficial glimpse into the band’s live power. Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing album with epic tracks ‘Clouds’ and ‘Supreme Love’ at times sweet and dreamy, at others frantic and chaotic. ‘The “A” Thing’ glides on a forceful groove and ‘The “C” Thing’ is sprightly and funky.
“The band’s music was predominantly improvisational.” Mackenzie explained. “Every gig would be different. The only constant was the bass. Everything else over the top – my guitar, Cleis’ electric viola – was improvised. So we had a basic structure for the songs and then we’d work around that. It was almost like a psychedelic jam band. The first line-up of the band was inexperienced in some ways. When Paul Wheeler from the Aztecs and Greg Sheehan joined for the second line-up it was a much more professional band, more consistent. But that doesn’t mean that the first line-up wasn’t any good. There were some nights when that line-up was just as good as the second.”
This deluxe CD version is packaged in a 4 panel digi-pak. Digitally remastered audio by Gil Matthews, it sounds better than ever, with a colour booklet, rare photos and liner notes by Ian McFarlane is a must-have for fans of Jazz-Rock Fusion.