We are the measure of all things. And the beauty of our creation,
of our art, is proportional to the beauty of ourselves, of our souls
– Jonas Mekas
Morning Of The Earth
Written by lloyd bradford (brad) syke
It's been years since I last sat beneath the gaudy, gilt ceiling of the State Theatre. Too long. And a Sunday night means it takes that little bit extra to get me out. But what could be more enticing than unbridled nostalgia, in the form of a screening of Albie Falzon's seminal cult classic, Morning Of The Earth, to a live soundtrack by many of the original artists (Mike Rudd, G. Wayne Thomas, Brian Cadd, Tim Gaze, Terry Hannigan, Peter Howe, Brod Smith, Lindsay Bjerre, et al) and a few notable ring-ins, like Lior and the ironically-named Ol' Man River.
With slick-as musical direction by Jamie Rigg and arrangements by Guy Noble, plus the aforementioned, there wasn't much that could go awry. And nothing much did, apart from the muddy, lyric-obscuring, over-amplified mix (which was enough). So, all those feelings of freedom as a possibility, inklings of peace as predictable and love as inevitable were revived, to the tunes of the title track; the infectious and moving Open Up Your Heart; Simple Ben; Making It On Your Own; Sure Feels Good; In The End It All Depends On You.
Back to the very early 70s, when cars were red and convertible, girls were tanned, voluptuous and bikini-clad, we shaped our own boards and our own destinies. Well, in our dreams. That, of course, being the point of such an evening: to relive, for a moment, some groundbreaking culture. Yes, culture, of the most egalitarian, accessible kind.
Of course, on its release, in '72 (quite a year, with Sunbury, to boot), not even the makers would've or could've predicted iconic status for this humble surf-flick. it was Falzon's first time; he had nothing more than an inspiration to produce something beautiful. It wasn't a new idea to make a film of this type. But what was revolutionary was the idea to do away with narration, other than of a musical kind. G. Wayne Thomas was approached by Falzon and producer, David Elfick; the rest, as they say is history. Brian Cadd, a pop-rock god of the day, was a key collaborator and, like the film itself, the musical development was completely organic, spontaneous and unplanned. And, like the film, noone could've predicted the success or impact.
The soundtrack went platinum, platinum, platinum; at a time when gold was the customary commodity for recording success. Out of it, emerged veritable anthems, like John J. Francis' Simple Ben, which has remained & retained its integrity as an earnest ode to alternative lifestyles.
It's heartening to see artists like Lior, so far removed, temporally, from the context of the film and music, totally getting it. His commitment, especially, was as palpable as, say, Mike Rudd's; a man who still knows how to exploit his distinctive vocal instrument, to the max.
There are strong murmurs of country-soul and prog rock, while the words worship this third rock from the sun in a way ripe for revival:
The forces of the universe
And the elements of space,
Conjured up your being
Your size, your time, your shape.
You were created
With all the beauty they could call,
And earth, you surely are
The measure of them all
Noone let the side down; the band, including luminaries like Victor Rounds on bass and Sunil da Silva on percussion, as well as a full string section, cooked and Taman Shud's Tim Gaze, as well as intergalactic session guitarist Mark Johns, were on fire. Brian Cadd looks suspiciously and uncannily like Santa Claus and he still knows how to ring all the bells on his pianistic sleigh.
There was a time, it seems, when we had time to dream; to sit on a beach and look out to sea. Now, we couldn't do that; not without our mobile ringing, or iPod blaring. We are not only consumers, but consumed. Not with shaping our own boards, catching the perfect wave, making a beautiful film, or writing a heart-rending song, but acquiring more. 1972 might as well be 1872, in terms of its proximity to life as so many of us now live it. Thank God we can go back, in our collective memories, consciousness and conscience, if only for an evening. Am I too naive and idealistic, even after all these years, to believe, if we could rekindle and harness the something of the spirit of that year and this film, we might be on a different, none too disastrous social and environmental course?
Back to stark reality. As of now, I'm anticipating the merch: CDs; DVDs. I can't see Chuggy missing that boat and I'll be catching it as well, like the perfect wave I never, all those years ago. But one shouldn't be too cynical about the odd shark that might lurk in murky waters, since there was genuine and palpable philosophy underpinning this project and, I think, there still is. Arguably, best summed-up by a quote, from Jonas Mekas, that's come to symbolise and encapsulate the film itself:
'We are the measure of all things and the beauty of our creation, of our art, is proportional to the beauty of ourselves, of our souls.'
But, perhaps, the final words should go to Falzon, from way back when:
'The film has no commentary. The songs are the statements, the information the viewer will hear. They are songs of the sun, moon, sky and sea. They are the songs of people, places and ideas. They are songs of freedom, peace and waves.'
—lloyd bradford (brad) syke
Just a quick note to say thank you very much for the seats to Morning of the Earth- my husband and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, he now wants to give up the Sydney mortgage and move to a tree house near Angourie to "live to surf".
7.30 Report - Australian Broadcasting Corporation
I hope you have great day after big film and music live. It has impressed me very much. Because we Japanese doesn't have such like surf culture based on life in early'70.
I will have 5 pages for MOTE on Blue magazine Japan. Maybe 4 pages is for MOTE and 1 page is for live. I am writing the article for it, Do you have photo of Rusty Miller? If you have it, could you send by E-mail?
But I don't want to disturb you, if you will have time for it, please send to me. If not, I don't mind.
Thanks for getting in Live at State theatre. It was one of the best live in my life.
Hi there -
I first saw MotE in Sydney in about 1977. It affected my greatly then and it still reflects my basic values to this day.
I'm also very happy to report that I went to see the live screening/performance of MotE at the beautiful Palais Theatre in Melbourne on Friday night (4/09/08). My partner's a surfer and I grew up as a happy little barefooted surfie chick on the Northern beaches of Sydney so I was thinking 'yeah this'll be big fun'...
Well it was a whole lot more than fun (although fun is good!). I was totally knocked off my perch by several things - the general vibe was lovely, all those spunky old surfies (and the spunky old surfie chicks of course), the place even seemed to smell really good - was there incense burning somewhere?....but then.....the music began.
Right from the first beautiful note I was tearing up. Then the Buddha's huge golden head with that amazing Jonas Mekas quote appeared on the big screen. Then Lior, then Mike Rudd, then Old Man River, then the incredible orchestra and band and singers and then of course Brian Cadd came in and blew everyone away!!!
I was taken by surprise at the power of it. I didn't expect to be so moved. It's all so simple: Open up your heart. Try to make a start. Try not to hide what you feel inside. Not forgetting - "Just paddle out". Love it.
GREAT GREAT STUFF. Thanks so much to all involved.
Lindy Saville, Mornington Peninsula, Melb.
I went to the show in Melbourne last night and it was great, congratulations. They did you proud! It was also the happiest looking audience I can remember seeing at a concert. At the interval break, everyone was laughing and smiling, and it was a real, friendly "gathering of the tribe".
Good stuff! Cheers, Grant Forbes
Thank you. To be able to pass onto my son the film and music that you have created brings me so much joy. Every time that I dive off the rocks and into the ocean with him it reminds me just how simple it truly is. I will spend my life growing my food and connecting with the ocean. The far South coast means so much to me because I feel that it still is somewhat hidden from the fast pace way of the world. I was at the show on Sat 27th and so wish that I had said hello to you.
Again, thank you.
Boxed 2 DVD Set
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