13 March 2015
Without much dispute, "The Missing Links" are the wildest group Australia has ever produced. They were also pioneers; the first true rebels of Australian Rock, the first Australian band known to use feedback, the first Australian band which can be labelled "punk". They were wild on stage and record, but they were also irreverent innovators.
"The Missing Links"' are widely acknowledged as the first Aussie band to deliberately use feedback as part of their music, and they were almost certainly the first local band to use reverse tape effects on record.
They were one of the first bands to tap into the tough new blues/R&B style being pioneered by "The Rolling Stones", "The Pretty Things" and "The Yardbirds". They were writing and playing their own extraordinary original material, plus a selection of highly idiosyncratic covers of acts as diverse as "Bo Diddley", "James Brown" and "Bob Dylan".
"The Missing Links" Mk I was founded by guitarist "Peter Anson" and drummer "Danny Cox" (ex-Zodiacs). They advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald, and immediately recruited bassist "Ronnie Peel" and lead guitarist "Dave Boyne", both from Port Macquarie and ex-members of surf band "The Mystics". It was during these weeks that they picked up second vocalist "Bob Brady", a workmate of "Dave Boyne"'s.
Once they were ready to perform, the process of finding a venue was facilitated by the convenient fact that "Peter Anson"'s older brother Cliff was road manager for "Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs", fast becoming the most popular Beat group in Australia.
Their debut Parlophone single, "We 2 Should Live" / "Untrue" (Parlophone A 8145, Australia 1965) was released in March 1965.
Unfortunately, it was at this point that the original line-up began to fall apart.
Guitarist "Dave Boyne" was was the first to leave. He was replaced by one of the band's close associates, ex-"The Mystics" guitarist "John Jones".
Drummer "Danny Cox" was next to go, and he was replaced by a wild young New Zealander called "Andy James".
"The Missing Links"' line-up over these months changed repeatedly, and according to "Peter Markmann", it's possible that the band actually ceased to exist for a few weeks in mid-1965. First they lost "Peter Anson", who left to form his own band, "The Syndicate".
"Dave Longmore" was brought in to replace Anson and although he was only a member for a short time, he's generally credited with introducing the use of feedback as a major element of the Links' sound.
He quit after only a few weeks and joined "The Torquays".
Longmore's place was quickly and ably filled by a hot young guitarist called "Doug Ford".
"Chris Gray", a long-time Links associate, and one of their part-time roadie/drivers, also played keyboards and harmonica, and he became the next member.
Whoever was responsible, within a couple of weeks they had assembled an even wilder outfit than the original. The final members of the new line-up, who joined in late June/early July 1965, were bassist "Ian Thomas" and drummer "Baden Hutchins" from "The Showmen". Within weeks, the new Links were signed to the Philips Records, and in August they piled into the Philips studio in Clarence St and began recording tracks for an album.
Conditions were cramped and primitive, and they recorded after-hours, without a producer, using the building's lift well as the echo chamber. Although the songs were apparently cut with little rehearsal, and some were virtually made up on the spot, the sessions produced some of the seminal artefacts of 60s Australian Rock.
At the end of the month, the first single by the new line-up was released. "You're Driving Me Insane" / "Something Else" (Philips BF 213, Australia 1965) a wild, pile-driving original by "Baden Hutchins": was totally unique in Aussie Rock in 1965, and still grabs you by the ears today.
This song is HEAVY in every sense of the word. It's rightly regarded as one of the greatest Australian Rock recordings ever.
"You're Driving Me Insane" is firmly rooted in blues and R&B, also predates whole slabs of Sixties Rock which were yet to come. The buzzing guitar feedback and echo-laden "Farfisa Compact Organ" anticipates "Pink Floyd" by a good two years; "Doug Ford"'s slashing guitar work is pure heavy metal, and there's a strong Psychedelic feel to the whole affair. The b-side "Something Else" is a fun, high-energy cover of the "Eddie Cochrane" classic.
The third single, released in October, was perhaps the most outrageous of all.
"H'Tuom Tuhs 1" / "H'tuom Tuhs Part 2" (Philips BF 231) is in fact the band's version of "Bo Diddley"'s "Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut". It is surely one of the earliest uses of reverse tape in Rock history, beating "The Beatles"' "Tomorrow Never Knows" on vinyl by a good twelve months. Now one of the rarest of all Australian 45s, with only a handful of copies known to exist.
In mid-December the classic "The Missing Links" LP (Philips PD 199, Australia 1965) was released. Although the band were unhappy with the mix, it remains one of the primal Australian albums of the 60s. It comprises a selection of the group's blitzkrieg originals, including the single a-sides, and a re-recorded version of "The Missing Links" Mk I's "All I Want".
Vocals were mostly by Andy, but all the other members except Hutchins sang on at least one track. The other tracks, which also showed some of the diversity of their influences, were terrific covers of songs like "Bob Dylan"'s "On The Road Again", and "Shel Talmy"'s "Bald Headed Woman". And of course there were both the forwards and backwards versions of "Bo Diddley"'s "Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut".
As "The Missing Links"' split was announced in April, Philips Records released their swansong, Unchained EP ("I'll Go Crazy" / "Don't Give Me No Friction" / "One More Time" / "Wooly Bully", Philips PE-31, Australia 1966), which ranks alongside "H'Tuom Tuhs" as one of the rarest of the rare. It contained four previously unreleased tracks, all covers.