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News March 8, 2021

Russell Morris donates Rubes live tape for Support Act’s Roadies Fund

Russell Morris donates Rubes live tape for Support Act’s Roadies Fund

Russell Morris is the 13th artist to throw his support behind Support Act’s Roadies Fund, donating a tape from a 1982 show of his band, The Rubes, at the Melbourne Palladium.

It is the latest in the Desk Tape Series, created by the Australian Road Crew Association (ARCA) to raise funds to provide financial, health, counselling and wellbeing services for roadies and crews in crisis. They are released on ARCA’s Black Box Records through MGM Distribution and on all major streaming services.

Russell Morris and The Rubes Live at the Palladium 1982, taped by sound engineer Mark “Ramjet” Williams, shows him re-establish his solo career after years abroad.

When he first exploded onto the scene in the ‘60s, it was with hits written by others – including Joe South’s ‘Hush’, Johnny Young’s ‘The Real Thing’ and Raymond Froggart’s ‘Rachel’.

“Being a pop star was a wonderful place to be, until I realised I had painted myself into a corner and I lost control of my life,” he admitted.

“I decided to sink or swim, and I needed to sing my own songs to have a ring of truth.”

The self-penned ‘Wings of An Eagle’, ‘Sweet Sweet Love’ and ‘Mr America’ continued his run of hits.

‘Wings of An Eagle’ was inspired by Morris’ love for ancient mythology, and how First Nations groups, Native Americans and early Romans believed an eagle took the spirits of the dead to the heavens. ‘Sweet Sweet Love’ was inspired by a photo of his then-wife Paula on the wall of a freezing London bedsit while trying for UK success.

In the 1980s, he returned to Australia to reboot his music career.

The Rubes consisted of acclaimed keyboard player Bruce Haymes (a geophysicist who turned down a lucrative job in a mining company as he was an environmentalist), guitarist Max Chazan, late bassist Spiro Philipas and drummer Rick Puchala.

Morris said: “They were really good players. What struck me when I heard Live At The Melbourne Palladium was how fast we were playing.

“Those were the times I guess, you had to go rat-tat-tat to get people jumping up and down.”

As Live At The Palladium shows, Morris’ writing remained high quality, with ‘Roar Of The Wild Torpedoes’, ‘Surprise Surprise’, ‘So Tough’, ‘Thunderground’, ‘In The Heat Of The Night’ and ‘One Way Street’. However, radio was refusing to play his music. “They thought I was old hat,” he said.

Interestingly, while ‘Roar Of The Wild Torpedoes’ remains in his current set, fans have gone back and rediscovered those gems after Morris’ multi-platinum renaissance with his 2012-2015 blues & roots trilogy Sharkmouth, Van Diemen’s Land and Red Dirt – Red Heart.

His return to favour came after he decided to write for himself.

“In the ‘80s, I was chasing the pied piper. I was desperate to get The Rubes up and running with some big hit albums, so we could cut back on the roadwork and not get overexposed and I could pay the guys the same amount of money,” Morris said.

“But many writers fall into the trap of looking at what is happening, and you try and chase it. It’s like trying to catch a boat that’s already left port.

“So I went back to what inspired me in the first place – simple songs like those on the first Rolling Stones album and by those legendary US blues players like John Lee Hooker.

“One day I saw a faded newspaper photo of the criminal Thomas Archer, which virtually spoke to me, ‘Write a song about me.’ It was a real accident but it brought me back out of the wilderness.”


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