Undecided (Masters Apprentices Song)
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Undecided Masters Apprentices Song

Single by The Masters Apprentices
from the album The Masters Apprentices
"Wars or Hands of Time"
ReleasedOctober 1966 (1966-10)
Format7" vinyl
Michael Bower, Richard Morrison
Max Pepper
The Masters Apprentices singles chronology
"Buried and Dead"

"Undecided" is the debut single by Australian rock group, the Masters Apprentices, which was issued in October 1966 on Astor Records. It peaked at No. 13 on the Go-Set national singles charts.


In mid-1966 Adelaide-based rock group, the Masters Apprentices, shared a gig with pop star, Bobby Bright (of Melbourne duo, Bobby & Laurie), who was impressed and recommended them to his label, Astor Records. A few weeks later, they were contacted by Astor's Max Pepper, who requested a four-track demo.[1][2] The band went to a local two-track studio to record it, but realised that they had only three suitable songs: "Hot Gully Wind", "Buried and Dead" and "She's My Girl".[1][3] The demo became their debut extend play, The Masters Apprentices (February 1967).[3][4]

Needing a fourth track, the group's guitarists Mick Bower and Rick Morrison wrote a new song, "Undecided",[1][5] in about 15 minutes;[1] the instrumental backing was cut in about the same time.[1][2] The title came from the fact that they were undecided about a name for the song when quizzed by studio owner and producer, Pepper.[1][3] The biting fuzz-tone of Bower's guitar on the track was a fortunate accident; it was caused by a malfunctioning valve in his amplifier, but the group liked the sound and kept the faulty valve in until after the session.[2][3]

Their debut single, "Undecided" backed by "Wars or Hands of Time", was released in October 1966 and gradually climbed the Adelaide charts, due to support from local DJs,[3] peaking at No. 4.[6] The B-side, "Wars or Hands of Time", written solely by Bower,[7] is the first Australian pop song to directly address the issue of the Vietnam War,[8] which was then affecting the lives of many young Australians because of the controversial introduction of conscription in 1965.[3] Teen pop newspaper, Go-Set, started publishing their national singles charts in October 1966. By February of the following year the group had relocated to Melbourne and issued their four-track EP on Astor.[4] "Undecided" peaked at No. 13 on the Go-Set National Top 40 in June 1967,[9] spending sixteen weeks in the charts.[10]

ABC-TV series, Long Way to the Top, was broadcast in August 2001.[11] Lead singer Jim Keays featured in "Episode 2: Ten Pound Rocker 1963-1968" where he discussed the UK migrant influence on the Masters Apprentices early work and how "Undecided" was issued.[11] He recalled "I was at the drive-in with my girlfriend and in between the two movies I switched off the drive-in speaker and put on the car radio and 'Undecided' came on, one of the songs we'd recorded as a demo. And I couldn't believe it, it was just a shock. There it was and sure enough we were the last ones to know that it was released."[11]

Track listing

1."Undecided"Michael Bower, Richard Morrison2:22
2."Wars or Hands of Time"Bower2:50


The Masters Apprentices
  • Mick Bower - rhythm guitar
  • Jim Keays - lead vocals
  • Rick Morrison - lead guitar
  • Brian Vaughton - drums
  • Gavin Webb - bass guitar
Recording and artwork
  • Graphic artist, art director - Darrin Crosgrove
  • Producer - Max Pepper

Cover versions

"Undecided" (December 1975) was re-recorded and issued as a single by Jim Keays as lead singer of Jim Keays' Southern Cross with Peter Laffy (ex-Fox) on guitar, Ron Robinson on bass guitar and John Swan (ex-Fraternity) on drums.[12][13] From 2000, he performed "Undecided" as a member of Cotton Keays & Morris alongside other former 1960s artists, Darryl Cotton and Russell Morris.[5]


  • Keays, Jim (1999). His Master's Voice: The Masters Apprentices: The bad boys of sixties rock 'n' roll. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-185-X. Retrieved 2017. Note: limited preview for on-line version.
  • Kimball, Duncan (2002). "The Masters Apprentices". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975. Ice Productions. Archived from the original on 13 November 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "WHAMMO Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 2017. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  • Spencer, Chris; Nowara, Zbig; McHenry, Paul (2002) [1987]. The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Noble Park, Vic.: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-891-1.[14] Note: [on-line] version was established at White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd in 2007 and was expanded from the 2002 edition. As from September 2010 the [on-line] version is no longer available.
  1. ^ a b c d e f Keays, pp. 41, 45, 50, 52, 54-55
  2. ^ a b c Creswell, Toby (2007) [2005]. 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time and the Artists, Stories and Secrets Behind Them (RocKwiz ed.). Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant. p. 443. ISBN 978-1-74066-458-5.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Kimball
  4. ^ a b McFarlane, "'The Master's Apprentices' entry". Archived from the original on 18 June 2004. Retrieved 2004..
  5. ^ a b ""Undecided" at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ McIntyre, Iain (Ed) (2006). Tomorrow is Today: Australia in the Psychedelic Era, 1966-1970. Wakefield Press. p. 53. ISBN 9781862546974.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ ""Wars or Hands of Time" at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ Keays, p. 41
  9. ^ Nimmervoll, Ed. "Go-Set National Top 40". Go-Set. Waverley Press. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ McGrath, Noel (198). Noel McGrath's Australian Encyclopaedia of Rock. Outlaw Press. p. 197.
  11. ^ a b c "Episode 2: Ten Pound Rocker 1963-1968". Long Way to the Top. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Archived from the original on 15 October 2002. Retrieved 2017. Note: source incorrectly has singer's name as "Jim Keyes" and not "Jim Keays".
  12. ^ Australian Rock Database entries:
  13. ^ McFarlane, 'Jim Keays' entry at the Wayback Machine (archived 30 September 2004). Archived from the original. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Who's who of Australian rock / compiled by Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry". catalogue. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 2010.

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