Band Of Light - Total Union (1973)
Operated between 1972-75 with their distinctive slide guitar sound. Vocalist / guitarist Phil Keys had previously spent eight years with The La De Da's before forming this band. Other original members were former Fraternity drummer Tony Buettel, ace slide guitarist Norm Roue (previously of Gutbucket) and former La De Da's bassist Peter Roberts, who was quickly replaced by Ian Rilen. Rilen had earlier been in Space and was later in Blue Aliens, Blackfeather, Rose Tattoo, Sardine V, Illustrated Man, Songs Of Exile, The Big Rider and Hell To Pay.
Their debut album Total Union sold well and spent fifteen weeks in the album charts and they also enjoyed a hit single with Destiny Song, which entered the charts on 14th May 1973 climbing to No. 26. It can also be heard on Boogie Balls And Blues, Vol. 1 and they also figured on Sunbury 1973 singing Messin' With The Kid.
Ian McFarlane described the band's music as a slow heavy blues, with an emphasis on rhythm, beat and slide guitar. Their lyrics invoked a quasi-religious philosophy incorporating social justice, racial equality and spiritual harmony. They used a symbol comprising a divided circle set within two divided triangles. Apparently the black and white parts of the circle represented positive and negative forces with the centre being the heart. The solid triangle symbolised life as we know it on the physical plane with the outer corners standing for the spiritual, mental and physical planes. The dotted triangles corners represented the Holy Trinity, while the dotted triangle itself was the afterlife - so now you know!
Their debut 45 Destiny Song, a boogie rocker, was a hit single entering the charts on 14th May 1973 and climbing to No. 26. The single initially appeared in a rare promo only sleeve with the band's symbol on the cover. It can also be heard on Boogie Balls And Blues, Vol. 1. It figured too on their debut album Total Union. This was basically hard rock. Slow 12-bar boogie with liberal lashings of Norm Roue's slide guitar. It was lyrically interesting, though, dealing with the after-life (Earthbound Blues), world famine (Free Them From Hunger) and biblical revelations (Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse).
Their follow-up 45, Free Them From Hunger, missed out on the charts but included a non-album flip side The Cat. The follow-up Moonstruck (also non-album) was one of their finest moments and notable for some superb slide guitar from Norm Roue.
Roue departed for Buffalo in 1974; Rilen helped form Rose Tattoo in 1976 and later X in 1977. This left Phil Key to put together a new line-up in 1974 incorporating bassist Bill Williams and former Tamam Shud / Kahvas Jute drummer Dannie Davidson to record The Archer concept album. This was an attempt to move away from the blues / boogie format of their debut album, but unfortunately it suffered from the lack of Norm Roue's slide guitar which gave the band a distinctive sound and also from inconsistent songwriting. It had its moments in The Archer - A Sagittarian Rhapsody, Silis The Sun, Indigo Heavens and Bread And Wine, but much of the other material is weak. The first two aforementioned tracks were put out on a 45 but it made little impression and is now one of the rarest seven inch singles of this era. Another rarity was the four track Band Of Light EP (Destiny Song, If, Moonstruck, Free Them From Hunger) which contained 45 cuts from the original line-up.
1. My First Home
2. Free Them From Hunger
3. Spaces Of Time
5. Earthbound Blues
6. Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse
7. Destiny Song
8. Over 'B'
10. Messin' With The Kid
Band Of Light - Total Union (1973)