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live reviews

Mike Rudd with George Butrumlis

The Westernport Hotel San Remo 23.6.24
With a chill in the evening air and the setting sun glittering on a sedate ocean, we set forth on our short coastal drive to San Remo. On entering the venue a big crowd had already assembled in the front bar. We ventured through to the lounge and sunk deep into the leather sofa by a crackling log fire while tucking down an early meal. When Mike and George fired up we left our cosy surroundings for the front bar where we were lucky enough to secure a couple of stools.
They set the standard high opening with a Beatles cover, She’s A Woman. From there they never looked back priding themselves on how hard they attacked Mike’s extensive back catalogue. Mike rolled out version number 1 (guitar version) of IBG (I’ll Be Gone), then the calypso Jamaican Farewell and a wonderful ten minute version of Superbody that exhibited Mike’s newly founded looping abilities. The hypnotic bass riff was seasoned with ethereal notes from both his guitar and recorder. I’d misremembered his prolific skills on the woodwind instrument
There was more delicacies from his various outfits, Spectrum, Indelible Murtceps, Ariel, the Heaters and brilliant arrangements of more recent material (ageing as I write) that he and Bill (Putt) had penned from the ‘Living on a Volcano’ album (Having A Wonderful Time, San Andreas, [I Cannot] Look At The Moon and Almost Hollywood). Mike and George consummated the wonderful evening with another version of the classic IBG this time with the harmonica, rhythmical clapping and reasonably in tune backing vocals from the congregation.
I have witnessed many of Mike’s projects over the journey, but this was a first. The combo was smooth as single grain whiskey, George Butrumlis (original Black Sorrows member and Zydeco Jump founder) blended his virtuosic skills on the piano accordion with Mike’s voice, guitar and harmonica with such an ease that the mixture provided a tasty musical delight. Back to our seaside shanty guided by the bright light of a large, orbicular, silvery moon.

Phil Sheppard 23.6.24 Harmonica Riff Raff


I'll Be Gone (but not yet) - Bruce Jenkins' review of Spectrum's Thornbury show

Mike Rudd's 50th Anniversary show at the Thornbury Theatre 11.5.19
The silver-haired gentleman in the skull motif shirt may have had an iPad to remember the set list, but the singing was strong and the words tumbled out like freshly minted coins. The band were great—tight and energetic—and their fearless leader even managed a few quirky dance steps during an uptempo number.
At a time when musical icons seem to be shuffling towards the afterlife with somber regularity, seeing and hearing Mike Rudd celebrate a fifty year career milestone was a welcome tonic. You could even say it was inspiring. Do not go gently into that good night, rock-the-hell-out!
In fact the energy on stage seemed to contrast unfavourably with the docile, elderly audience filling the Thornbury Theatre and Ballroom last Saturday night. Sitting around circular tables with a glass of Chardonnay or a boutique beer, we looked and behaved as if uncertain whether being out so late was really such a good idea. Thank heavens for a few sprightly fifty-somethings who boogoolooed over in the corner. Several times I wanted to get closer to the stage, to let the energy infiltrate my middle-aged soul, but only managed some rhythmic head-nodding and swaying in my seat. Rudd and Co. deserved more as they raced through an amazing career in a hundred or so minutes.
Mike Rudd’s legendary dry humour was in evidence as he introduced the set. “I’ve managed,” he observed, “To create a fifty year music career with just one hit.” More on that hit later, because for openers Spectrum—providing the multi-hued cord running through the concert—played the B-side of their 1971 hit single, “Launching Place, Part II”. Having always loved this song, I was instantly in heaven… or perhaps on a sun-scorched hill gazing at the tangled pile of bodies attending one of Australia’s earliest outdoor festivals.
In addition to the classic “I’ll be gone” single, in 1971 Spectrum produced not only their debut album (Spectrum Part One), but a second double-LP of original material, Milesago. Talk about prolific. Both albums are full of quirky songs, often arranged as free-wheeling progressive excursions. Using more contemporary categories, you could call it “Stoner Prog”. “Play a song that I know” is a wry comment on audience confusion, while “Make your stash” (written by Daddy Cool frontman Ross Wilson) is a bare-faced steal from “Jupiter: The bringer of jollity” by Gustav Holst (and an amusing comment on the challenges facing the recreational drug user).
Then we charged into the infectious boogie of “We are indelible”. The Indelible Murtceps were Rudd’s attempt to engage a wider audience with more focussed songs. The live album Terminal Buzz opens with this stomper, setting the tone for that particular classic 70s live double.
For this particular concert, Mike Rudd was joined by singer/songwriter Glyn Mason who was a key part of one of Ariel’s manifestations. Hearing the two songs where he sang lead really marked the shift towards a more pop-orientated sound.
Then we raced for home, with the tongue-in-cheek “Disco dilemma” and the catchy (but dark) “Jamaican farewell” leading into a full-bodied audience sing-along for the anthem “I’ll be gone”.
Choosing the salacious “Esmeralda” as the encore seemed a slightly cheeky move on Mike’s part, yet the audience responded enthusiastically to its bouncy jive and were smiling broadly as they carefully navigated the handsome staircase leading back down into the Thornbury night. No bones were broken or hips displaced; a good time was had by all.

Bruce Jenkins Vinyl Connections 18.5.19

Mike Rudd's RetroSpectrum – Adelaide Review
The GC – Showroom One: The German Club Wed 17.2.16
Anyone expecting to see a retired rock star wheeled out for one last lap of honour is in for a number of surprises tonight. Spectrum are still a working band and have visited Adelaide several times over the last decade or so. Their material often includes three distinct categories of songs – new material – yes, new material, blues standards, and what Mike calls RetroSpectrum – the older songs that Spectrum were known and revered for amongst a certain age group. Tonight we are given a mixture of all three.
Mike has often joked that he is lucky to have only had one hit song. It means he is not trapped into having to play ‘the hits’ in every show. As long as he includes that one song, he is free to do what he likes. That’s not quite true. They may not have been huge sellers but he has a large back catalogue of much loved songs and fans will want to hear their favourites.
The first surprise comes when he opens the show with THAT song – I’ll Be Gone. Not saved up for a climactic ending or for the encore, as might be expected. And he performs it as it was originally written – without the signature harmonica line, stripped back for voice and acoustic guitar.
It is another surprise that in a show entitled RetroSpectrum the set list is heavily weighted towards Ariel songs, particularly from the Strange Fantastic Dream album. Once again these stripped down versions of songs like Jamaican Farewell on acoustic guitar are a revelation. His rendition of Confessions Of A Psychopathic Cowpoke is reminiscent of Loudon Wainwright III in full manic flight.
Along the way there are many stories about mistakes made, and people he has met or worked with, such as Ross Hannaford and Max Merritt. Soul Man, his tribute to Merritt, is one of the newer songs presenting another highlight.
Mike announces that he will do an a Cappella song he recently tried at a wedding, if the audience will clap along to set the rhythm. It turns out to be I’ll Be Gone again, this time without any guitar, but with the signature harmonica. Of course the audience sing along. Clever.
Towards the end of the show a chap called Geoff who is almost tall enough to be Bill Putt joins Mike on double bass, with a fake walrus moustache to complete the gag. Add in some loop pedal and recorder and we are given a classic early Spectrum version of Superbody. Unexpectedly it is over to newer material to provide the finale – a gorgeous (I Cannot) Look At The Moon, and a final message from Bill hits the spot! Lyrics found in his car after his death have become It’s A Lottery. An encore is required, and it’s back to the blues classics, Smokestack Lightning and Good Mornin’ Little Schoolgirl.
Tonight has presented a way forward for Mike in the future. Spectrum will hopefully remain a working band for years to come. These stripped back acoustic concerts, with loop pedal and some minimal backing, are another way for him to bring these songs to our appreciative attention.

Adrian Miller

Spectrum Plays The Blues (and more) at the Lomond Hotel

Lomond Hotel Sat. 10.7.04
As soon as I got to the Lomond I realised that there was going to be something extra to Spectrum's set and I'm not just talking about a drum kit! Having seen Bill and Mike along with Jenny on congas as Robbo's replacement I thought I knew what to expect, but I was mistaken. Robbo brought an extra energy and edge to what I thought was an already perfect band.
As I walked through the door I was greeted by Bill's friendly smile and he waved me over. (Early again, in time for the soundcheck again). I talked with Bill for a while, acting as smooth as I could. I mean, this is a band that I have adored since birth (thanks Dad) and the bass guitarist knows my name! I took the only two seats available at the time, and then Bill called me over and pointed out that this couple or that couple would be leaving shortly, so we'll get more seats for the remainder of the party. It was just as well that we found a table of seats, because we were unaware we were sitting in theirs! Whoops, sorry boys, we were just keeping them warm for you. Anyway we found a table right next to the stage where I sat there cool calm and collected waiting for the show to start. Not! I kid you not, if someone had asked me to stand up and move whilst Robbo and Bill set up right next to me, it would've been impossible.
The gig got underway at 9:30 pm. The first song on the list was I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now, and it was a fantastic way to open and a song that the crowd (myself included) loved. It was followed by the upbeat tune that has been stuck in my head since the first time I heard it - Dreaming, and it was sensational. A mellifluous instrumental came after Dreaming, called Jenwah, and like the next song, Little By Little, it was penned by Bill Putt. The song after that was San Andreas off the Volcano album, and was a funky blues rock tune where Robbo looked like he was in drummer's heaven. On Broadway hadn't been played for ten years, but the upbeat tune was no problem for the boys, and they tore though it, just like they did with Rocket Girl. Mike chanted then "It's coming, It's coming, it's coming" before bursting into I Play My Guitar, which Bill, Mike and Robbo clearly enjoyed playing as much as the audience enjoyed hearing it. Mike went off! He was shifting from side to side and jumping around a little bit. This song closed the first fantastic set that saw Mike deal with guitar adjustments (and other issues that I'm not allowed to raise) several times, and Bill cheekily help Robbo out on drums by hitting his cymbals at the end of each song.
During the second set, Spectrum played a fantastic version of the Van Morrison classic Baby Please Don't Go which was, like all covers performed by Spectrum, as good as the original (if it wasn't, the world would know about it!) and then Mike stomped through Hoochie Coochie Man. The whole audience was then Sitting On Top Of The World with this set. Help Me was the next song which Mike took great delight in blowing in the microphone throughout. Mike stopped to talk about the Thredbo Blues Festival, and explained to anyone who hasn't been that it is "like an island. once you're in, you can't bloody well get out!" Summertime was the next song, and it was performed to absolute perfection and was fantastic.Good Mornin' Little Schoolgirl was a great tune that ended with a "Yeah!" from Robbo. The last song in this set was So Low, but the audience were feeling very high (without taking any illegal substances, because we don't advocate that). The crowd sang along to the bluesy tune before the break in which I picked up a copy of the new No Thinking CD and a T-shirt for a very cheap $40. I won't bore you with the details as to what went on during the quick break taken by the boys in which they mingled with the audience.
After the break the band went back thirty years and took the audience with them for the sensational hit I'll Be Gone. The audience clearly enjoyed this song and as Spectrum's most famous single, it shook the walls. The next song was Going Home, but no one was going anywhere, not when I Heard It Through The Grapevine, was the next song. For the whole set the audience loved what they heard and this version of the Marvin Gaye classic was no exception and it lifted the roof as did Brunswick Street, in which Mike took delight in pulling faces at Bill - and I started laughing.
That was the last song... or so they thought. The audience loved Spectrum so much (and who wouldn't) that everyone called for an encore, which was Rock & Roll Scars and brought the house down. I won't go in to the details of what was said from each band member when I asked them to sign two T-shirts and a CD, but Robbo had me in stitches with more impersonations, this time of me. (Here's a tip for those who want to get on Robbo's good side; bring him coloured pens! I wanted a black T-shirt signed, and he had so much fun with them).
The Lomond has had its walls shaken, roof lifted and I swear I saw some of the plaster crumble off, but even if it did fall to pieces from Spectrum's playing, it was miraculously rebuilt overnight so that Spectrum can play there again on the 28th of August.

Alana Galea 22.7.04

Mike, Bill and Jenny at The Basement Discs

The Basement Discs lunchtime concert Fri. 25.6.04
Another week, another concert
I guess you guys must be thinking. Well quite frankly, yeah. I went to go and see Spectrum last friday at basement discs in the city. Once again another band not everyone will be familiar with. So here's a little intro. Spectrum formed in the late 60's (yes, the bands I'm going to see are getting older) with the hit song "I'll be gone" (which features a harmonica lick that, in my opinion makes the song) after 30 years of line up changes (now with Bill Putt, Mike Rudd and "Robbo") and name changes Spectrum are still recording and playing live with a sensational refreshing blues sound that those not even that interested in blues music have come to appreciate.
Now for the review:
Having skipped class to go and see Spectrum was an exciting experience (being the goody- two-shoes that always does what she's told), and because I had never been to Basement before, it was a little nerve racking trying to find the place, but as I finally got in there and walked down the corridor to the entrance to see Bill Putt smile at me as I came in. I was early, heaps early. they were still doing a soundcheck. Anyway after, walking around trying to look like I'm not watching the boys run through a quick soundcheck, they then leave for a quick coffee, and I buy a few CD's to kill time (or attempt to). I sit down on the couch that's there as they come back.
Mike Rudd starts off by saying that Robbo got married on the Thursday and decided to take a honeymoon, so was replaced by Jenny. He continiued to talk about the wedding and then started with a different version of the hit "I'll be gone", which, (strangly for someone that likes to stick to the original, I loved) and it was a great way to open the show. The second song they played was a catchy tune called "I wonder", which was performed superbly. Mike then commented that his fighting weight was about ten stone and is now rapidly approaching 14. Seriously though Mike, no one noticed until they were told. All that was obvious was a change of hairstyle and colour. What does this have to do with anything? some people may be thinking, The next song performed was called "Superbody" which was about a guy that thought he was "bullet proof".
After that they played an unrecorded up-beat song called "Dreaming", which has become a new fave. After that their was a quick discussion about the new CD, "No thinking" as well as a quick background on the band. There was also talk of a live performance at village on the green and the heaters there, then Bill subtly hinted "I can't remember anything" and Mike stopped (hmm, wonder what that was about) Then they tore though Creedence hit "heard it on the grapevine". I will concede that I have been the first person to tear down an artist for what I considered an inadequate remake but this one, much to my surprise was great! and dare I say, as good as the
Mike then spoke about blues and how he thought it was like pop, so he put different songs together for "no thinking" and said that "they benifited from being together". The next song to be performed was "Look at the moon" and Mike declared it to be "space blues". The session was ended with "When I play my guitar" another unrecorded tune, with a latin feel about it which was cool.
Next came the "Meet n Greet" session with the boys to which I managed to score the play list off Mike and got my CD signed and a photo with them. I was talking to bill and had a quick photo with him before it was time for me to leave.
Before I left something strange happened. Mike turned the tables on me who had been taking photos like there's no tomorrow, and decided to take one of me for the site (www.mikeruddbillputt.com). After a quick chat it was time to leave and I will definitely be going to see them again in a few weeks.
I think that is the cool thing about the australian pub musicians, they are accessible. There is something there to cater for all music tastes and they are not afraid to talk to fans and have there photos taken with them. Another thing is that they are cheap. I came away happier than some Justin Timberlake fans, paid nothing and got to meet the people whose music I have always loved as opposed to the complaints that I have read in the paper.

Alana Galea 30.6.04

Spectrum on the Long Way To The Top tour

The people who can still sing and reach beyond cabaret kitsch include Normie Rowe (hardly surprising given his long career in musicals), John Paul Young (but then Love Is In The Air is not exactly demanding) and, amazingly, Spectrum's Mike Rudd, who looks nothing like the hairy young man who originally fronted the band. He sang the sublime hippie anthem I'll Be Gone as though he was still twentysomething and searching for adventure was still an option.

Bruce Elder Sydney Morning Herald September 16 2002

Spectrum and friends at the St Kilda Army & Navy Club

I'll Be Gone is something Mike and Bill are yet to say to each other. In an industry where anything over three minutes can be deemed an eternity, a partnership of 30+ years is as unique as it is remarkable. Mike Rudd and Bill Putt; the names flow together like Sam n' Eric in "Lord of the flies", or Keiff and Mick from those lordly "Stones".
Rudd and Putt have played their distinctive brands of music under varying sobriquets. Spectrum, Ariel, The Indelible Murtceps and their eponymous Mike Rudd and Bill Putt, being their better known offerings. Spectrum, Mark 2, sees them regularly teaming up with drummer Peter "Robbo" Robertson.
Mike Rudd has always stood slightly apart from conventional perceptions of the music industry. I'll be Gone, recorded in the guitar dominated era of 1971, is the only hit song of that time which does not have a guitar, other than bass, in its arrangement. Blessed with the face of a thespian and the wit of a detached observer of life's quirks, Rudd has managed to merge street cred and musical and intellectual depth into the one body of work.
Putt is Rudd's perfect bookend. Nothing like Rudd physically, Putt is blessed with his own brand of separateness and observation. Together they are like wise, inscrutable elders creating their world.
The third point to Spectrum's triangle, "Robbo,' manages with his drumming to caress, rather than fill, the space born from the guitar lines of the two journey men.
The guitar sits at the centre of Spectrum’s music. Rudd plays acoustic guitar like an acoustic player, electric guitar like an electric player and sings like a singer rather than a guitarist with a microphone in front of them (Sounds simple but few have managed it),
Putt's guitar work, whether on six string nylon or bass, is hypnotic.Two interpretations of minimalism - only Rudd and Putt can manage that most incongruous of oxymorons.
Sunday evenings see Mike Rudd don his understated Peter Allen shirt (another oxymoron) and strut his stuff with Putt and "Robbo" at St. Kiilda’s Naval and Military Club in Acland St. Regular guest members include Enza Pantano (vocals) and Martyn Sullivan (bass). Colin Hay would be there if he could; LA is a bit far away, but you can hear him on Spectrum’s Spill CD.
Spectrum’s two most recent CD’s, Living on a Volcano and Spill – Spectrum Plays the Blues, should be bought together and listened to one after the other. They are both fantastic bridges to the minds, moods and music of Mike Rudd and Bill Putt. Their mix of original songs and blues classics makes you feel good about the past, present and future.

Rocky Dabschek

Spectrum at Sturt St Blues

Spectrum delivered the class act that was anticipated. Mike, Bill and Robbo demonstrated to the large appreciative crowd that they are consummate musicians. They retain all the best aspects of their original stuff and evolve into other genres with skill, mastery and amazing results. So good were they that a couple of ladies in the audience were knocked off their feet and leglessly bumped their ways down the stairs to street level on their bums - nothing at all to do with alcohol. The CD, Spill - Spectrum Plays the Blues, sold like hot cakes. Many memories of a great night will be relived as it is cranked up on home stereos. Be on the alert for when Spectrum next appears on our Gig Guide - it is imminent!

Sturt St Bluesletter April 2000

Ariel's CD Release at Capers Cabaret

Some of my friends declare that I never left the ‘seventies. Not true – I have taken down the Skyhooks poster from my wall. I no longer have my hipster flairs, (dammit – and they’re back in fashion again). My burgundy platform shoes and frilly shirts went to the op shop years ago. Thankfully, “Hey, Man” has all but disappeared from my vocabulary. But, I do have some regrets. I never did get to freak out at any of the Sunburys and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get that Ronnie Wood-just-out-of-bed hairstyle to work for me. Fortunately, my musical tastes have matured – still rock and blues but more contemporary not necessarily retro.
Sometimes – just sometimes though - an excursion back to my roots is a cleansing and rejuvenating experience and this is one of those times. The reason – legendary Aussie ‘seventies band, Ariel have just released not one, but THREE CD’s on the market at the same time. (Tom Waits could only manage two at once). The name ARIEL may not have as great an impact on the collective musical memory as other bands of the era but as a charismatic rock outfit, they definitely had the goods. Yet, when they came together in 1973 they were destined not to crack the all important singles market in a major way, (except for the catchy reggae track, Jamaican Farewell). They were nevertheless instrumental in advancing the Oz progressive rock/blues sound. Somehow, they just didn’t quite reach the heights of greatness they probably felt they could ultimately achieve.

Jeff Turnbull - www.jeffscrossroadblues.com
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