Share AWAKE - Ticket (Aztec Music)
This album would be cool even if one of the band members wasn't the spitting image of Derek Smalls. For every Spinal Tap story there are a dozen tales of New Zealand cult bands and here is one of them.

It's tempting to run down big NZ cities if only because the term "big NZ cities" is an oxymoron by almost any standard, but in the late '60s their Australian counterparts were probably equally cloistered and boring. The parallels between the alcohol-free, Auckland stamping grounds of Ticket and the Mafia-controlled, sly grog night-spots of Sydney and Melbourne are as obvious as a hippy's hygiene habits. You could use pills to join the dots between the two places. So Ticket did.

For every scene there's someone in authority only too willing to drive it underground and Ticket did their time in the provinces, working up long sets of out there jams. The abridged versions of their songs made it to vinyl and created quite a stir. Fair enough.

This is prog rock that's a notch above the usual. Prog rock is usually pretty odious. Wanky and puerile are two words that spring to mind. Flute is another. "Awake", on the other hand, reverberates with energy and funked-up rock rhythms. "Highway Of Love" could be early Blue Oyster Cult without mirror shades. Guitarist Eddie Hansen was (and probably is) a gifted player and Derek Smalls - sorry Trevor Tombleson - has that soaring, soulful thing down pat.

"Dream Chant" is the eight-minute opus and the second single from "Awake". Aztec Records gives us the whole album (seven songs) and append two more 45s, the loping blues "Stoned Condition" (echoes of Matt Taylor on the vocal) and the strutting "Mr Music" (James Brown on weed.)

As you might guess, "Country High" mixes the musical metaphors just a touch but works out for the best. Tombleson's vocal chases the guitar line in "Angel On My Mind", a song that clearly could have done with judicious editing but is OK all the same. It's still better than "Over The Ocean", which Ticket played on Australian TV show GTK circa 1971.

This might be music and production that's identifiably of a time but that's exactly the point. It is what it is and sounds great. You'd be able to buy a house on Sydney Harbour before you'd afford the original out-of-print LP, so why not drop $25 on this? Dropping a tab optional. While you're at it, why don't you get a haircut? - The Barman


 

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