Anthem for Wednesday (1971)

Notes from Neil:

The idea of recording an album occurred to me after hearing a home recorded album by Malcolm Turnbull, Marita Eastley and Beverly Discroll. They were high school students from Ulverstone whom I had met through the Church Coffee Shop Scene on the North West Coast. Their disc had been pressed by the AAVR Transcription Service.

In 1969, a friend and distant cousin, David Wilcox told me about Nick Armstrong, a sound engineer from the ABC who was setting up a recording studio in Hobart. David arranged a meeting with Nick, which led to “Anthem for Wednesday” being recorded in his flat in Stanley Street, Sandy Bay. I would save up the cost of a session, then fly from the coast down to Hobart on a Friday night after work, in a little eight seater, commuter aircraft. There was always some floor-space available for me at a little flat in View Street, Sandy Bay, thanks to Pam Jakins and Felicity Propsting. I would then spend Saturday recording, and hitch hike back to Burnie on the Sunday. (Back then that took all day)

It was very much a first album and it shows. While some of the songs, for example, “Goodness How the Years Have Flown”, “Marianne” and “Long Ago in Pastoral Days,” number amongst my best compositions, others like “So Long Mama” and “The Kill” make me cringe, all these years later.

John Russell, a very accomplished Hobart Musician, was enlisted by Nick to provide bass and piano backing to some of the tracks in my absence. This involved a lot of patience, following the vagaries and erratic timing of a bedroom singer who had never worked with backing musicians before. John’s work gave the album a lift. The sparse piano work on “Marianne” for example, was very atmospheric and complemented the song perfectly.

It was very much a low budget production. The vinyl discs were pressed in New Zealand. I couldn’t run to the cost of covers and the finished product was released in mid 1971 in white paper bags with a black and white photo insert.


Side One
1. Anthem for Wednesday

A pantheist anthem with overtones of Robert Ardrey’s “Territorial Imperative.”
It is a song about the power of Nature to outlive and replace anything that man can do to it. It resonated with deeply held personal convictions then and it still does.

2. Goodness How the Years Have Flown

A song about similarities between the swinging sixties and the roaring twenties – both eras now further back in the past than I care to think about.

3. The Way I Love

An early instance of my sordid liaison with Country Music.

4. Oh So Tired

A little vignette about a person haunted by his past – written before I had a past to be haunted by. The song is a study in guilt.

5. So Long Mama

Moving right along.

6. Long Ago in Pastoral Days

A wistful, nostalgic song that helped to create an inner pastoral landscape where many subsequent songs were also located. This landscape was partly derived from my grandparents’ farm at Scotchtown, my apple picking days on the Tasman Penninsular and in the Huon Valley and countless euphoric, idealistic journeys through the Tasmanian countryside between the North West Coast and Hobart.

Side Two

1. The Kill

An intense little number with no basis in fact, that smacks a little of Dylan’s “Hollis Brown”.

2. Luther Chase that Pig

A rollicking but purely fictional hillbilly opus about pigs. My dear friend Louise Dunham assures me that there are some people in Melbourne who think this is an authentic Tasmanian folk song. Some people will believe anything.

3. Seasons

A little canticle about the seasons. A lot of my friends and companions were writing songs and poems in a similar vein at the time – the best example being John Lavery’s exquisite “The Wizard of Winter”.

4. Nellie Spencer

A fictional vignette about a prostitute fallen on hard times. This was one of the first of my serious songs that I was game to play to other people.

5. York Street Blues

After my first gig in Hobart at the Ad Lib Club, I was invited to sleep on a floor in a little flat at 29 York Street. At the time, I was harbouring an affection for Nellie, a dear friend from Ulverstone, who was then living the student life in the big city.

6. Rosie Lee

A brief and saucy little ditty that I’m fairly sure I had written before I’d heard “Her Majesty” at the end of the “Abbey Road” album.

7. Marianne

This goes straight to the heart of that pastoral landscape that I referred to earlier. Like a lot of the songs I wrote at that time, it came out of nowhere like taking dictation. I feel quite paternal, or should that be maternal, about most of my songs, but I retain a particular affection for “Marianne”.

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