Notes from Neil:
In 1973, along with David Paulin, Ian Paulin and Mike Raine, I left Tasmania to try to become a superstar in Sydney. After varying degrees of success and/or failure, we all ended up back in Tassie.
After a period of disillusionment, I started writing songs again, including several on piano. I became desperate to record a third album, my “Sergeant Peppers” no less. While Punk and New Wave came and went, I toiled away at University, with no spare cash to spend on recording.
By this time the folk scene had become almost exclusively Anglo/Irish. Through no fault of its own, the common populus now had very little interest in the work of contemporary singer songwriters. An exception to this was Ian Paulin who released two very striking albums of his own work at this time with Nick Armstrong, who now had an eight track recorder.
In 1981, I lodged once more in the bosom of the Tasmanian Public Service where I remained until 2010. This meant that I could once again afford to record. By then, Nick Armstrong had set up Spectangle Studio in George Street North Hobart. In the time it took to record the Album, a long term relationship came and went and Ginger Mick, a splendid marmalade and white cat, one of the best friends I ever had, lived and died. The album bears his name. Ginger instead of Pepper.
The cover, an Escher styled tessellation of ginger cats and white cats, was a bright idea I had that my then partner Jacquie, to her immense credit, was able to realise on paper.
For this Album we had a small nucleus of a backing band. Garry Byrne on drums, Mike Raine on bass and myself playing piano or guitar. During the twelve or so years it took to record “Ginger Mixture”, an interesting array of people passed in and out of my acquaintance and contributed session work.
1. Office Girl Morning
A rock and roll fantasy about a deluded bureaucrat and his dream girl, written years before I became a deluded bureaucrat!! John Russell’s screaming guitar continues seamlessly from his work on “Said the Blackbird” ten years earlier.
2. The Lovers Complaint
Just a fun piece. One of the first I wrote on piano. Celia Sprockett played the Harpsichord. We couldn’t get her forte piano through Venezuelan Customs.
3. Are You Receiving Me?
A song about alienation in a relationship. Unlike “Office Girl Morning” this one probably was unwittingly prophetic. Alex Myers did the soaring, ethereal vocal at the conclusion.
4. Poor Forgettable Me
My Death in Venice, a whimsical piece about a lovelorn but conceited hero (the first of a number). The tune came to me in a supermarket – the lyrics in the bath of an art deco flat in Launceston. Linsey Pollak, a very gifted musician from Sydney kindly contributed the very atmospheric, period clarinet.
5. The Man in the Moon
This is a moody piece about the debilitating effects of obsessive compulsive disorder and the anger and frustration it generates. Not without some cathartic optimism however. As well as playing bass, Mike Raine contributed the excellent growling guitar in the chorus.
6. Daffodil Station
This song was inspired by the magical Winter and Spring of 1967, working at the Burnie Railway Station and travelling by train on Saturdays to Ulverstone. With Mike and David and other members of their visionary Brumida performing arts organization, and flowers in our hair, we rehearsed our dreams in the old Catholic Church Hall. The song also returns to the pantheist cosmology of earlier years. Gary Berryman played twelve string guitar and Linsey Pollak played the eastern sounding tarragoto.
7. Open Your Heart
This song was a delayed response to the murder of John Lennon.
John Russell, who had just put down the guitar track on “Office Girl Morning”, volunteered the lovely lead guitar for this piece as well.
8. Jogging with the Bronte Sisters
Inspired by the sight of three studious looking girls in tracksuits and spectacles on the bus home from work one night. I am forever in their debt.
9. The Jim Pike Song
This is a tribute to the great jockey and his love for the legendary Phar Lap. Peter Grayling played cello and, some years later, Margaret Baker put down the violin tracks. While listening to an early version of the song and washing the dishes one night, I was surprised and delighted to hear my then three year old daughter Amy singing along with the chorus.
10. Home with the Milkman
This song describes an imagined walk at night from downtown Burnie up the View Road hill and down to my Parents, home in West Park Grove, the place where most of my best songs were written. It is a song of homecoming in a physical, spiritual and cosmological sense. Linsey Pollak provided multiple saxophones.
(Extract from the Maracaibo Mercantile Gazette October 1990)
In the course of my numerous journeys round the world I have chanced to spend a great deal of time in the jungles of South America. I would like to tell you now of a remarkable phenomenon I witnessed during a recent journey up the Amazon to participate in a snooker tournament.
Modern technology has made many inroads in that part of the world, but I was particularly surprised to see a profusion of record bars everywhere I looked. CDs, vinyl discs and tapes were all available. The work of a wide variety of artists was on offer but far and away, the most sought after album was “Gardner’s Ginger Mixture” by Neil Gardner.
Previous tours of the Amazon by this obscure Tasmanian artist had been unsuccessful, but all that changed when his twelve year old single “The Lover’s Complaint” rocketed into the Brazilian Top 40 at number 39 with a bullet. With every new day hundreds of tribesmen would emerge from the rainforest humming snatches of the catchy melodies.
The album is being put to a great variety of uses. The CDs are broken up into fragments and worn around the neck in opossum skin bags, to ward off evil spirits. The vinyl discs when ground to powder, provide a useful alternative to powdered iguana liver as a laxative. Apparently Julio Iglesias albums have a more potent laxative effect, but “Gardner’s Ginger Mixture” has a sweeter flavour and a more prolonged sense of euphoria after the event.
Needless to say, being my father’s daughter, I hastened to acquaint myself with the source of this musical phenomenon and to secure a controlling interest.
The album consists of ten songs, written by Neil Gardner, that move from a position of frenetic insecurity to one of lively optimism. Some people have said that it is music Van Gogh would have ripped his other ear off to have written, while others haven’t said that.
The album contains one song concerning the Bronte Sisters. I know Charlotte personally, having met her once at the races. I tried to find out what she thought about the song but she and her sisters were unavailable for comment.
If you wish to purchase a copy of this album simply contact me at
Love and kisses