first-supper-lastThe recognition of Lobby Loyde as a pivotal figure in the history of Australian rock and roll has been belated and largely posthumous. Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, he died soon after. The consolidation of his recording history onto CDs that played a big part in giving him recognition is just about complete with this re-issue of the first recording (1972) by his ace outfit Coloured Balls on heritage label Sandman.

For a long while, Lobby’s recording history was harder to track than a DHL Express parcel (trust me on that one - I’m still waiting for those turds to deliver an Amazon order from December 2013) with its twists and turns and fragmentation. Even though this album was the first thing he and the Coloured Balls committed to tape in the studio, it came out after they were a non-going concern. Then along came Gil Matthews’ Aztec Records who churned out lavish CD editions. Aztec disappeared (until recently) so it’s been up to Sandman (run by Aztec alumus Ted Lethborg) to continue the good work of keeping old Aussie recordings alive.

Let’s get this one out of the way. Sandman Records releases come in a slipcase with the CD art poking through. It makes them hard to miss on the record store (remember them?) shelves. The art you see has been modified with some words about the CD contents. Once you strip away the packaging, It looks fucking awful and it’s just the sort of thing to piss off record collector scum like you and me. Ya got a problem with that? Take out the CD slick and turn it back-to-front. The back of the booklet is the original art. There you go: another First World Problem solved.

The album came out in 1976. Strictly speaking this isn’t the first re-issue of “The First Supper Last”. If you look hard enough in the online history books you’ll find there was a confusingly packaged and flatly mastered edition back in the late ‘90s which paired it with “Obsescration”. It’s impossible to find but redundant anyway. Sandman’s edition sounds markedly better and comes with liners that put it in context.

Of course it’s the music that matters most and this is prime quality Oz Rock beef, cooked to tender perfection on the barbie with lots of boogie goodness. Lots of people decry the early ‘70s period of Australian music because of what came later (punk) which supposedly swept away all that had gone before. It’s mostly tiresome bullshit because it focuses only on the dross and glosses over the good stuff. Even mainstream Australian radio back then was less strictured that what passes for the alternative today.

“The First Supper…” has its roots firmly planted in traditional rock and roll territory and 12-bar blues, but Lobby’s exceptional guitar playing lifts everything to a higher level. The man was the first Australian exponent of feedback, copping it from a combination of cheap over-driven speakers and Yardbirds LPs, but pushed the boundaries in tone as well. His solos weave intricate patterns but they flow like lava. His vocals are workmanlike (and second fiddle to those of guitarist Andy Fordham) but secondary to the playing anyway.

Do you need to hear (another) cover of “Johnny Be Goode”? What Loyde and the Coloured Balls do to it makes Johnny Winter’s “Captured Live” take sound lightweight with Lobby’s guitar running through the middle like a truck carrying a flamethrower. “Mama Loves To” ties a simple, pounding backbeat to a sludgy chorus that presaged Rose Tattoo by some years. No shock, then, that Lobby would briefly spend time in their ranks - inexplicably as their bass-player - six years later.

It’s mostly heavy blues with a dulled speedy edge. There was another side to Lobby Loyde, whom the media portrayed as a leader of the Sharpie gang movement when he was a hippy at heart. You’ll hear it on tracks like “Love Me Girl Because” and “Liberate Rock Revisited Party Two”, a variation on the “Liberate Rock” single, where the melody shines through. “Mean Mouth Blues” lightens the mood with some jaunty country blues.

The compilers might be done and dusted (although rumours persist of lost master tapes of other recordings) but they’ve done a damn fine job. Procure a copy and see if I’m wrong when I say it’s essential.