Number of Discs: 2
Release Date: September 19, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Label: Aztec Music
Barrie McAskill was the lead singer, band leader and driving force of one of the greatest progressive soul / R&B institutions in the annals of Australian rock and pop history: Levi Smith's Clefs.
Their sole LP, the pioneering heavy soul classic Empty Monkey, has been a much requested title in our reissue series, as it meets both collector’s requirements: not only it is very collectable, it is a bona-fide Aussie classic (possibly the best Aussie 70’s LP you’ve never heard).
McAskill encouraged his band members to improve as musicians, and for them to move on as the urge arose (not unlike an antipodean John Mayall). Accordingly, up to 60 musicians passed through the band including former and future members of: Tully, Aztecs, Fraternity, SCRA, The Groove, Jeff St. John & the Id and La De Das. Between 1966 and 1971 (first as The Clefs, then Levi Smith’s Clefs – and later, McAskill’s Marauders), the band released one LP, a handful of singles and an EP – all collected here, along with some live-in-the-studio rarities.
Whilst searching for the masters, we lucked upon the master tapes of, not only their Empty Monkey, but many of their singles and EP tracks – PLUS the master tapes of Empty Monkey: The First Sessions from late 1969. This live run-through, recorded in the early hours of the morning – straight after a gig – was originally thought “too loose” to release, so the band were allowed to record it again. Listening to it today, it is an unexpected delight, a testament to the live power of the band. The only known copy was a warped and scratched acetate, so the remastered version from the original masters is a revelation. It is, in fact, different enough and, more importantly, so magnificent, that we had no choice but to expand our release from one to two CD’s!
So, for the first time anywhere – the complete Empty Monkey sessions – remastered from the original tapes plus a further 13 bonus tracks.
Digitally remastered by (one-time member of The Clefs: Gil Matthews). Deluxe 8 panel digi-pak, double CD, a 24 page booklet with many rare photos and liner notes by Ian McFarlane.