Friday, June 27, 2014

Melbourne song of the month: '5:10 Man'/The Master's Apprentices (July 1969)

So it's already two weeks since Jim Keays left us, and I doubt I'm the only person still in shock that he's gone. He was one of Australia's great performers, imbued with the kind of star quality, irreverence and talent you don't see so often these days.
RIP Jim Keays: another legend heads off to the big jam session in the sky. Photo: Faster Louder
I was lucky enough to see an 'incarnation' of the Masters Apprentices (OK, so it was Jim Keays, Doug Ford and a bunch of boganish blow-ins) in Perth almost 10 years ago at the Hyde Park Hotel's back bar, and I had a blast. They kicked off with my favourite Masters' song, 'Undecided', and proceeded to give us a rollicking run-through of their classics interspersed with a few choice covers.

With his long hair, hippy pendant and (if memory serves me correctly, which I think it does) a hat that looked like it'd been pinched from a wizard's wardrobe, Doug Ford seemed a little - ahem - spaced out, but soon warmed up.

Jim Keays, on the other hand, was firing on all cylinders from the get go. In between belting out numbers with the energy and exuberance of a man in his 20s, he shared anecdotes about the band's past, from their early garage-punk days in Adelaide right through to the time he found himself at the urinal next to John Lennon at Apple Studios! He seemed so at ease onstage, like it was his natural habitat.

Set list from Hyde Park Hotel gig, 15 August 2004. That's Doug's autograph on the right, by the way. Jim vanished before I could get to him. Probably saw me coming, hehe...

Anyway, onto this month's song...

This video of the Masters performing their hit '5:10 Man' on the ABC program Hit Scene is a bonafide ripper. As if synchronised dancing, sexy matching outfits and wacky camera work aren't enough, we get a baby-faced (but far from innocent!) Jim singing about square worker-drone types while flirting like a pro with his TV audience. 
Part rock, part pop, all good fun, '5:10 Man' made it to number 16 on the Go-Set charts. Marking the Masters' transition to a tougher, psychy sound, the song established the band's legendary second line-up (Keays, Ford, Wheatley and Burgess) as a force to be reckoned with.

Dig that funny doo-woppy finale!

Related posts
Melbourne song of the month: 'You're Good for Me'
Melbourne song of the month: 'Chicago'

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