|Studio album by|
|Recorded||Early 1969 to Early 1970|
|Genre||Rock, Psychedelic rock, Psychedelic pop|
|The Masters Apprentices chronology|
|Singles from Masterpiece|
The Masters Apprentices had been stockpiling tracks since they signed with EMI in 1969. 1969 began with The Masters Apprentices settling their new line-up and the Ford/Keays writing team hitting its stride, the band now moved to its best-remembered and most successful phase. The long-awaited first EMI single was moderately successful, and even though it was something of a false start artistically, "Linda Linda" / "Merry-Go-Round" (March 1969) marked the beginning of a short but successful collaboration with New Zealand-born producer Howard Gable. The bubblegum pop A-side, "Linda Linda" fell into the same faux-music hall category as UK songs like "Winchester Cathedral" but the rocky B-side showed hints of how the group was developing. The single missed out on the Top 40 but gained radio airplay and helped to revive their waning popularity.
Their next single, the rocky "5:10 Man", released in July, which peaked at No. 16 on the Go-Set Singles Chart and initiated a string of Top 20 hits. It was a deliberate move towards a heavier sound, as the band were keen to move away from the current bubblegum craze that their manager and producer wanted.
During this period, Ford/Keays struggled to write new material due to the band's hectic live performance schedule . In February 1970, their long delayed second LP Masterpiece was finally issued. Although something of a hodgepodge--as Keays freely admits--it showed the band developing a much broader range. It included the singles "Linda Linda" and "5:10 Man" and album tracks, "A Dog, a Siren & Memories", and "How I Love You", although it omitted the song "Merry-Go-Round". By then they were coming to grips with the album format and emulated the current fad for concept albums by linking the songs with a short guitar-and-string arrangement, crossfaded between tracks. The title track, a live recording, provides a vivid aural snapshot of their live show during 1968, complete with the deafening screams of fans. The album also includes their own version of "St John's Wood", a track Ford and Keays wrote for Brisbane band The Sect, who had released it as a single on Columbia during the year.
The album's retrospective reviews have been mixed. Allmusic's Richie Unterberger said "It's a respectable but oddly schizophrenic effort, finding them searching for an identity with competent forays into hard rock, early progressive rock, and poppy folk-rock, with orchestral instrumental links between many of the tracks adding to the confusion (as there's no concept driving the LP)."
When writing about the album in Freedom Train, Australian rock journalist Ian McFarlane was complimentary of several of the album's tracks, but said that "Linda, Linda" and "Piece Of Me" were "just plain bad". "Part of the problem lays in the fact that the band are concerned with making the obligatory profound musical statement (the first side had all the tracks segued into one another in the manner of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's, each linked by a short orchestral piece). As a result the album comes over as all solemn and self consciously arty, and is totally overblown. "
All songs written by Doug Ford and Jim Keays.
|2.||"Who Do You Think You Are"||3:07|
|3.||"Barefoot When I Saw Her"||3:58|
|4.||"St. John's Wood"||2:00|
|6.||"A Dog, A Siren & Memories"||3:11|
|4.||"Piece Of Me"||2:15|
|6.||"How I Love You"||3:07|