The great thing about this blog is that it allows me to lift the lid on periods of Australian rock n roll that are either largely forgotten, or people are unaware of – such as the 1989 Hush reformation.
The kings of the Australian seventies glam rock scene was undoubtedly Sydney’s Hush. They had the best songs, and a durability that saw them last from 1971 until 1978. The classic Hush line-up was Les Gock, Keith Lamb, Chris Pailthorpe and Rick Lum. Les Gock was an amazing sounding heavy rock guitarist. He looked cool too, and was as good, if not better, than any glam guitarist that the US or England had to offer at that time. As frontman, Keith Lamb looked great, and had a strong and distinctive vocal delivery. Yet in the Rockbrat’s opinion, it was the rhythm section of Hush that carried the sound. Rick Lum was a rock solid bass player, and in Chris Pailthorpe, Hush had a drummer who probably didn’t get the musical credit he deserved, mainly because the media were content to focus on his toothy appearance.
Whilst a number of people would be aware that Hush had its most celebrated reformation in 2006 for the Countdown spectacular, where they proceeded to blow all others off stage (although the ageless Rick Springfield ran a close second) the Rockbrat has fond memories of seeing the Rick Lum version of Hush 21 years ago. Although not the classic line up, in Rockbrat’s opinion, this line up played a set of killer hard rock and were a great live unit. Yet they were only around for a brief moment in time, and then gone.
My two favourite Australian bands of the 1970’s were Hush and TMG. I can still recall spinning the 45’s of ‘Maneater’ and ‘Rocking Gypsy King’, so it goes without saying that I embraced the 1989 reformation, and saw the band on several occasions across Sydney, including gigs at the Sydney Cove Tavern, Tiffany’s at Blacktown, and even Mittagong RSL. Yet it was at Sheila’s at North Sydney on Thursday the 2nd of February, 1989 that the Rockbrat first saw the band, which also was the very first show of the tour. Rick Lum’s Hush lasted for only a few months. As a fan of Australian 70’s rock, the Rockbrat lapped it all up. It was great to see Rick back on stage performing so many era defining songs.
1990 saw the first of the ‘seventies revival periods’ in Australian music, with bands like TMG, Masters Apprentices and JPY etc out on the road again, yet Rick Lum’s HUSH preceded all that. The band was a good one too, with the flamboyant Scott Abrahams on vocals. Abrahams first came to the Rockbrat’s attention in 1987 via the ‘Thunda From Down Under’ Australian heavy metal compilation LP. Abraham’s was very much the metal front man, with a semi glam image, high vocal range and flashy playing. He was a good choice for front man. The lead guitarist Terry Batu, bass player David Caruana, and drummer Peter Morley were all from the Sydney band Target, who released a single in 1985 called ‘Time & Space’. Batu had also served time in late 70’s Canberra hard rockers Cobra. Batu’s lead guitar work and slide playing was solid and authentic to the original tunes, which h they needed to be, for when you are filling Les Gock’s shoes, the crowd expected the so! ngs to be true to the originals, particularly the solos. From memory he never fluffed a note. To add to the challenge, Batu wore an eye patch, which I would have assumed made the challenge a little more difficult. As I said, he never missed a note. Batu was very much the “Stratocaster” player, in the Jeff beck and Tommy Bolin mould. That’s a good thing my friends.
The Rockbrat’s brother, also a big fan of Australian rock, often bootlegged bands on his trusty tape recorder. We were dedicated rock fans and couldn’t get enough of the pub rock circuit. He recorded dozens of gigs, (only ever for personal enjoyment), and as the years have rolled by, these bootleg recordings have become genuine Oz rock artefacts. One such recording he made was of Hush at Sheila’s at North Sydney. I hadn’t listened to this cassette since 1989, and last weekend I blew the dust off it and threw it in the tape player and you know something? This band cooked! I forgot just how great a live band they were. Sheila’s had a reputation as a bit of a meat market, a pick up joint for old bags and other assorted desperates, yet the Rockbrat was only there for one thing – to get rocked!
The set comprised a bunch of solid hard rock originals, a couple of choice covers, and several Hush standards. The band opened with ‘Get Rocked’, and also played killer versions of ‘Get The Feeling’, ‘Rocking Gypsy King’, ‘Rough Tough ‘n’ Ready’ and ‘Walking’. My favourite Hush song ‘Maneater’ was a highlight of the set. Heavy riffing, and great soloing by Terry Batu. In 1973, NYC had bands like the New York Dolls and Kiss, in London they had Bowie and T-Rex, Sydney had HUSH, and make no mistake, ‘Maneater’ is equal to anything those bands released in ’73. This song is classic hard rock, a much underrated glam classic. The bands two most famous songs, (and most successful songs chart wise) were both covers, ‘Glad All Over’ and ‘Boney Moroney’. They both sounded great live, yet in the Rockbrat’s opinion, the best songs from this set were the lesser known originals. These songs included the melodic ‘Hard Times’ with its hooky riff and catchy chorus, and ‘Power Of Your ! Eyes’, again, very catchy mid tempo melodic hard rock, akin to say Night Ranger. Both feature some tasty guitar work from Batu and highlight Scott Abrahams higher vocal range. The ballad ‘Golden Cage’ was another highpoint, allowing Abrahams to really push his voice. This is a quality song, like all the other originals that were aired live. (I would like to know if these were originals, and if so, who wrote them and whether they were demoed by the band or not. If not, they should have been. They still sound great 21 years! There were a couple of Bad Company songs thrown in for good measure, being ‘Feel Like Makin Love’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy’. The band encored with Joe Walsh’s ‘Rocky Mountain Way’, which really allowed Terry Batu to come into his own on slide guitar. A great way to close the set.
Some questions remain though. Do you remember the 1989 Hush reunion? Whatever happened to Scott Abrahams ? Did this line up of Hush ever demo or record any material? If so, let us know. The Rockbrat interviewed Chris Pailthorp in 1995 for an article which appeared in Vicious Kitten Fanzine. You can read that here
The Rockbrat also has several rare Hush items that will be unearthed in future postings so stay tuned! Terry Batu still gigs throughout NSW. With influences such as Tommy & Phil Emmanuel and Tommy Bolin, (all faves with the Rockbrat), it gives you some idea of his style and sheer calibre. A very underrated player and if you get the chance to see him, do it. Check out terrybatu.com. Rick Lum has a cool Hush page which you can check out