28th September, 2018
Hello Riff Raffers,
“Here I stand before you Lord with my life’s work in my hands. Lord you come in judgement to see if I go up or down. Smoked some dope and joined a four piece band that’s as bad as I’ve been.” (Matt Taylor)
Chain’s follow up single to their number one hit, ‘Black & Blue’ was the sensational ‘Judgement’. Released in July 1971 by the ‘classic’ Chain line up of Matt Taylor (vocals and harmonica), Phil Manning (guitar) and the rhythm section of Barry ‘Big Goose’ Sullivan (bass) and Barry ‘Little Goose’ Harvey (drums). They would perform together for a meagre eleven months.
This harmonica driven, high powered blues rock tune was based on a guitar ‘wah wah’ riff formulated by exceptional guitarist Phil Manning. It would become the impetus for my lifelong passion for the most owned instrument in the world. Like many of the Chain songs it was rehearsed once and developed as a ‘blow’ on stage where each member added input to create the final arrangement as we know it today.
Matt says the song means more to him today that it did way back then. “Heaven knows where it came from.” Not sure if Matt was being funny, but certainly that’s where the the lyrics could have been derived. It is one of their hits that is seldom played live today. It is in the key of ‘A’ (cross harp in ‘D’) and sung in the highest register which Matt’s voice struggles with. There is an inferior recording in ‘G’ (cross harp in ‘C’) which Matt likes, but the band doesn’t. Sometimes when Matt plays solo he does a version in ‘E’ (cross harp in ‘A’). Matt stated, “I’m less into technique, but more into melodies. When I play a solo at some stage they will fall into a melodic pattern. As the singer I know the melody and I try to make it that when the vocals come in its had a really nice push from the harp, I call them counter melodies.”
Matt mimics the ‘wah wah’ riff on the ‘gob iron’ with a unique and intricate chordal 234 hole rhythmic draw and I particularly like the way he resolves the final pattern with a draw on hole one, the fifth, which is an octave lower than where he jumps to next the half step bend up to the clean draw on hole five, the flattened seventh of the blues scale.
It is the authors view that ‘Judgement’ was better than their first hit and if the band had remained intact to promote the tune live it would have reached greater heights on the charts. It still managed to peak at number two here in Melbourne. An unusual video clip supported the single. Phil Manning commented, “The video was meant to represent a band with a manager raking in the money while we were stoned or something along those lines anyway. The manager was played by our roadie of the time, Clive ‘Jiva‘ Lawler.” I love the connectedness of the band through touching index fingers and Big Goose arriving with a few chips wrapped in newspaper. Judge for yourself here https://youtu.be/7qAHPi2LLKQ.
A fantastic version of ‘Judgement’ appeared on the ABC’s ten minute television program GTK (Get To Know), which was broadcast before ‘Bellbird’ that preceded the seven o’clock news. After the break up of the classic Chain line up Matt recruited Lindsay Wells (guitar), Charlie Tumahai (bass) and Laurie Pryor (drums) from Healing Force. Another short lived outfit that produced an outstanding hit of their own, the progressive rock tune, ‘Golden Miles’. It is this band that played live on GTK. Check out my production of an instrumental version of the tune with this band. Hear here https://soundcloud.com/sheppa59/judgement-matttaylor-instrumental .
Also for you Chain and harmonica buffs, back in 1971 Matt used a two hundred watts double column ‘PA’ with eight speakers. He was after magnification rather than amplification. Jiva, Chain’s roadie would turn the ‘PA’ down when Matt was playing the harmonica to reduce feedback and when he sang he would pump it back up again. Matt also played the Hohner ‘Super Vamper’, Australia’s version of the ‘Marine Band’.
I have posted another song of Matt’s on YouTube, ‘Roberta’ with Greg ‘Sleepy’ Lawrie backing on guitar.
Cheers for your Peepers