Since the late sixties and early seventies, Chain has been the most influential blues/rock band in Australia. They have put an indelible stamp of an Australian style on blues music that no other act has done. Although they individually and collectively learnt the music of the American greats and were influenced by the British blues of the sixties, they interpreted blues in a way no-one had done before… and they were different in other ways too!
Their chart success in 1971 was generated by their following, not a record company push. They became known for their dedication to original music and were, in a sense, a reaction to the mindless copying of overseas acts that so many Australian bands indulged in at the time. (There were a few very notable exceptions of course)
They also became an iconic symbol for the working class, performed songs that represented the feelings of the anti-Vietnam War movement, and were more suited to the alternative life-style people of the late sixties / early seventies than the mainstream pop world.
Chain formed in late 1968 in Melbourne, Australia with members of the ‘Beat’n’Tracks’ adding
Wendy Saddington as singer. The band immediately captured the imagination of the vibrant underground music scene of the day with their musicianship and cohesion, the result of dedicated rehearsal and an original attitude.
The lineup changed over a period of time until by 1970 original member Phil Manning (guitar and vocals), bassist Barry Sullivan and Drummer Barry Harvey were a loud brash trio and living in Brisbane.
With the joining of Matt Taylor (Phil had worked with Matt previously in the Bay City Union) on vocals and harmonica the band took on a tougher, bluesier edge and returned to Melbourne, on the way stopping in Sydney and recording what today has become one of the classic songs in Australian rock music history.
‘Black’n Blue’ smashed the charts and went to number one in Melbourne as Chain created incredible interest with their totally original take on blues/rock.
Another single ‘Judgment’ (no 2 on the charts) and a gold album were unprecedented for any blues-based band at the time, yet the lineup lasted only 11 months before changing yet again. Matt Taylor recorded an album of his songs with the members of Chain and had a huge hit with ‘I Remember When I Was Young’, another classic song from that era.
Although there have been a number of members pass through the band, the ‘Black’n Blue’ lineup is the one their audience hold most dear, as well as being the most commercially successful.
For more than the past decade the lineup of Matt Taylor, Phil Manning, Barry Harvey and Dirk Dubois (bass) has been a constant one.
Matt Taylor continues to front Chain in his entertaining laconic style, and collectively the band has the relaxed cohesion that comes from a lifetime of playing.
They are still as original as ever and are credited with establishing ‘Oz Blues’ as a bonafide stylistic variation of its American father.
Chain is honoured at each year’s ‘Australian Blues Festival’ (Goulburn, New South Wales) with the presenting of ‘Chain Awards’ to the various winning performers, albums and producers.
‘Toward the Blues’ is still on general release and probably the longest permanently available rock/blues album in Australia.
Recent albums are ‘The First Thirty Years’, a live recording, and ’Sweet Honey’ which is another totally original offering.
They are a great live act and the experience of seeing and hearing Chain is something anyone interested in the roots of blues in Australia should have…. In fact, it is really a ‘must’!