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Encyclopedia entry for 'Coloured Balls' LETTER:

Formed in 1972
StyleProgressive rock
 Original line-up: Lobby Loyde (guitar, vocals; ex-Purple Hearts, Wild Cherries, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs), Andrew Fordham (guitar, vocals), Janis Miglans (bass), Trevor Young (drums)
 Albums: Ball Power (EMI, 1973), Heavy Metal Kid (EMI, 1974), First Supper Last (or Scenes We Didn't Get to See) (Rainbird, 1976), Liberate Rock! (compilation; Raven, 1989), The Best of Ball Power and More (compilation, Siren, 1996), Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls (CD reissue of First Supper Last and Obsecration, Fable/EMI, 1997).

With an aesthetic push that fused hippie philosophy to explosive rock'n'roll, Coloured Balls were one of the most misunderstood bands of the early 1970s. The mainstream media branded Coloured Balls as anti-social misfits, due in no small degree to their single-minded performances, the adoption of the (then prevalent) sharpie haircut and the aggressive nature of their skinhead following. Coloured Balls tapped into the same kind of vital and direct energy that fired the punk onslaught four years later. Less a case of being ahead of their time, Coloured Balls were merely a symptom of it. Like Radio Birdman soon after, Coloured Balls were never part of the musical establishment. In a perfect world, Coloured Balls would be recognised as Australia's version of legendary Detroit outfit MC5 (minus the rabble-rousing politics).

The redoubtable Lobby Loyde was already a veteran of the Australian music scene by the time he formed Coloured Balls in March 1972. As well as his tenures with The Purple Hearts, The Wild Cherries and Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Loyde cut a remarkable solo album, Plays with George Guitar, in 1971 which remains a hard rock milestone. Coloured Balls' first single `Liberate Rock'/`Slowest Guitar on Earth' (August 1972) had actually been recorded before Loyde formed the band. Several Aztecs (Warren Morgan, Gil Matthews and Paul `Sheepdog' Wheeler) lent a hand in the studio and the single hit the Top 20 in both Melbourne and Sydney. In late 1972, the original line-up recorded an album called Rock Your Arse Off. The album was deemed unsuitable for release by cautious record companies and the tapes remained on the shelf until the independent Rainbird label released them as The First Supper Last (Or Scenes We Didn't Get to See) in May 1976.

With Ian `Bobsie' Millar having replaced Andrew Fordham in early 1973, the band issued three hard rock singles and two albums during the year. `Mr Mean Mouth'/`Love Me Girl' (March), the Pomus/Schuman tune `Mess of the Blues'/`Devil's Disciple' (September) and `Flash'/`Dave the Rave' (November) were all minor hits in hometown Melbourne. `Mess of the Blues' also reached #39 nationally. Coloured Balls supported UK visitors Marc Bolan and T-Rex on an Australian tour (November 1973), and issued their debut album, Ball Power, a month later. It reached #13 on the national album chart at the beginning of 1974.

Ball Power remains one of the classic Oz Rock guitar albums of the early 1970s. Ranging in style from simple, raw rock'n'roll (`Flash', `Won't You Make Up Your Mind') and sleazy blues (`Something New') to hard driving progressive rock (`Human Being', `That's What Mama Said'), the album boasted considerable depth and a singularity of direction. The expansive, riff-heavy `Human Being' was one of the album's highlights. It was later covered by bands like the White Elephants and Bored!. Reissue specialists Raven included the track on the essential compilation Golden Miles: Australian Progressive Rock 1969–1974 (1994).

The Balls were also heard on the live, budget-priced album Summer Jam (recorded at the 1973 Sunbury Festival; issued in November), which featured the 16-minute, cosmic heavy metal epic `GOD' (which stands for `guitar overdose'). Grunge heroes Cosmic Psychos later covered `GOD' on their CD EP Palomino Pizza. Coloured Balls issued a second album, Heavy Metal Kid, and two more singles, `Love You Babe'/`Shake Me Babe' (Melbourne #16 in June 1974; national #38) and `Bama Lama Baby'/`By Your Lover' (October), before calling it a day. With the escalation of violence between various sharpie and non-sharpie factions at the band's concerts, the media accused the Balls of inciting riots, which did little for their resolve and strength of purpose. Loyde simply walked away from the violence and media barrage and quietly dissolved the band.

Following Coloured Balls' premature split at the end of 1974, Loyde initially went solo, issuing the single `Do You Believe in Magic'/`Love Lost on Dream Tides' (December 1975) on the Bootleg label and the Obsecration album (May 1976) on Rainbow. In May 1976, Loyde left Australia bound for the UK. On his return to Australia in 1979, he joined Rose Tattoo as bass player. That line-up of the Tatts recorded an album in Los Angeles which remains unissued. Loyde went on to work with a revived version of Southern Electric before devoting his time to production duties and live sound mixing for the likes of Sunnyboys, Machinations, X and Painters and Dockers.

Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop / Ian McFarlane 1999
under licence from Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd


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