Since the late 1960s, the name Chain has been synonymous with Australian blues of the highest quality and integrity. The band's history spans a quarter of a century and at least 40 musicians can lay claim to having been a member of Chain over the years.
In the beginning (1967), there was The Beaten Tracks out of Perth, comprising Warren Morgan, Ace Follington, Murray Wilkins, Dave Hole (guitar) and Ross Partington (vocals). The Beaten Tracks played a mix of Vanilla Fudge, The Beatles, Paul Butterfield and Motown material. At the start of 1968, Hole (now recognised as one of Australia's blues guitarists par excellence) left the band. Partington also left at the end of the year.
With new guitarist Phil Manning on board, The Beaten Tracks moved to Melbourne in December 1968. There singer Wendy Saddington joined and The Chain was born. Saddington named the band after the soul classic `Chain of Fools'. By May 1969, Saddington had moved on to work for Go-Set magazine and then to sing with Jeff St John's Copperwine. Wilkins left The Chain in August to be replaced by New Zealander Tim Piper (bass; ex-Chants R&B;, Electric Heap). Fellow New Zealander, blind organist Claude Papesch (ex-Electric Heap), also joined, and the new five-piece line-up recorded the single `Show Me Home'/`Mr Time' (October 1969) for Festival Records. It was one of the first progressive blues records ever issued in Australia.
Follington, Piper and Papesch all left The Chain in October 1969 to be replaced by Barry `Big Goose' Sullivan (bass; ex-Thursday's Children, Wild Cherries) and Barry `Little Goose' Harvey (drums; ex-Thursday's Children, Wild Cherries). Soon after, the band's name was shortened from The Chain to Chain. New Zealander Glyn Mason (guitar, vocals; ex-Rebels) joined Chain in January 1970. In June, Chain travelled to Sydney to record the seminal Live Chain album at Caesar's Palace discotheque. By that time, the Melbourne blues scene was beginning to burgeon and Chain joined the likes of Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Carson and Adderley Smith Blues Band as the leaders of the movement. In July (three months before Live Chain came out in October 1970), Morgan left Chain to join Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and Mason left to travel overseas.
Following a month working as a three-piece (Manning, Big Goose, Little Goose), the most famous line-up of Chain came into being during September 1970, when Matt Taylor (vocals, harp; ex-Bay City Union, Genesis, Meating) joined. The new line-up signed to Festival's new progressive subsidiary label Infinity and issued the classic single `Black and Blue'/`Lightning Ground' (March 1971) and the ground-breaking album Toward the Blues (September). `Black and Blue' (with its famous `we're groaning' vocal refrain) was a #1 hit in Melbourne and enjoyed a five-month stay in the Top 40. Although oddly ignored by Sydney radio, the single managed to reach the national #10 position in May 1971.
Toward the Blues reached #6 on the national album chart, and remains one of the greatest blues albums ever issued in Australia. As a follow-up, Chain issued the complex, imaginative blues single `Judgement'/`Blow in `D'' (July 1971) which went to #6 in Melbourne and #13 in Sydney (#31 nationally). These records established Chain as the nation's leading progressive blues outfit, but this period of success came to an end when Manning, Little Goose and Big Goose all left the band around July 1971. Manning joined Morgan in the short-lived duo Pilgrimage, Big Goose joined Carson temporarily and Little Goose joined King Harvest.
Meanwhile, Taylor kept the Chain name alive with a new line-up comprising Kevin Murphy (drums; ex-Wild Cherries, Rush, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, King Harvest) and two ex-members of Healing Force (Charlie Tumahai, bass and Lindsay Wells, lead guitar). Murphy left in September, and another ex-Healing Force alumnus Laurie Pryor (drums) joined for a month until Taylor split the band at the end of October. Matt Taylor later enjoyed a successful solo career with hit singles like `I Remember when I was Young'/`Krishna Loves You, Too' and `Fair Dinkum Aussie Blues'/`Alone' and albums Straight as a Die and Music.
In November 1971, the Live Chain version of Chain (Manning, Morgan, Mason, Little Goose and Big Goose) re-formed. Once again, this was a short-lived venture (three months), but the band did manage to record the Chain Live Again album which was not issued until October 1972. In the meantime, Warren Morgan had formed a three-piece line-up of Chain with Big Goose and Laurie Pryor (quickly replaced by Little Goose), which relied on dominant piano as a substitute for guitar. The Morgan/Big Goose/Pryor line-up appeared on the bill of the inaugural Sunbury Festival (January 1972). The Morgan/Big Goose/Little Goose line-up existed for six months (February to July), and recorded one single, `Sunny Day'/`I Was Born' (issued in October 1972), for Festival/Infinity.
For most of 1972, Phil Manning had been working with his new outfit the Band of Talabene, but by the end of the year he had reunited with the two Gooses in Mighty Mouse. The Mighty Mouse line-up comprised Manning, Ian Clyne (organ; ex-Loved Ones, Ram Jam Big Band, Levi Smith's Clefs), Mal Capewell (sax, flute; -ex-Dr Kandy's Third Eye, Dada, Company Caine, Levi Smith's Clefs), Big Goose (bass), Little Goose (drums) and Kevin Murphy (drums; by then ex-Levi Smith's Clefs). In February 1973, Mighty Mouse (sans Murphy) simply changed its name and Chain line-up #15 came into being. The line-up of Manning, Big Goose, Little Goose, Clyne and Capewell remained stable for a year.
The band's manager, Michael Gudinski, immediately signed Chain to a deal with his fledgling Mushroom label. Mushroom issued two Chain singles, `I Thought You Weren't My Friend'/`Elephant' (May 1973) and `I'm Gonna Miss You Babe'/`Hey, Baby' (November) and one album, Two of a Kind (December). The first side of the album featured contributions from members of the Muddy Waters Band (with whom Chain toured during May 1973), while the other contained the side-long, live track `How to Set Fire to an Elephant'.
The last line-up of Chain to that time, Manning, Big Goose, Mal Logan (keyboards; ex-Healing Force, Carson) and Tony Lunt (drums; ex-Carson), formed in February 1974 and broke up in July. In October, Mushroom issued the essential double retrospective set History of Chain, which contained previously unissued material including a crunching live version of `Black and Blue' recorded at the Odyssey Pop Festival, Wallacia in January 1971.
For the next six years, Phil Manning pursued a solo career, forming various bands along the way (including Manning and the Phil Manning Band). He also spent six months during 1977 as a member of John Paul Young and the All Stars, alongside Warren Morgan. Likewise, Matt Taylor had been touring the country with various line-ups of his Matt Taylor Band, as well as spending two years as a member of Western Flyer with ex-Procession member Brian Peacock. At the beginning of 1981, Manning and Taylor joined forces again, this time as the Matt Taylor Phil Manning Band. That band recorded the excellent Oz Blues album (June 1981) and a single, `Spring Hill'/`The Line'. At that time, interest in Chain was still strong. Over the Australia Day weekend in January 1982, the re-formed `Black and Blue' version of Chain (Manning, Taylor, Big Goose and Little Goose) performed at the Mushroom Evolution Concert to celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of Mushroom Records. A couple of songs from the band's performance appeared on the triple album set The Mushroom Evolution Concert.
Chain re-formed on a permanent basis in December 1983 with Manning, Taylor, Big Goose and Little Goose. The line-up existed for nearly three years and recorded the album Child of the Street (October 1985) and singles `I Don't Wanna Be Like Anyone Else'/`Messages' (October) and `(Doin') The Highway 31 Shuffle'/`Missile' (June 1986).
After Manning and Big Goose left Chain towards the end of 1986, Taylor and Little Goose kept the band going with new members. These included brilliant guitarist John Meyer (ex-Fatty Lumpkin, Everest, Saracen, Rose Tattoo) who contributed significantly to the band's sound and development over the next four years. Meyer had appeared on the Tatts' 1984 album Southern Stars, and recorded one accomplished hard rock set with Saracen, Saracen (1986), which sold well in Europe via a release on the French label Axe Killer. Jon Ryder (vocals, bass, keyboards; ex-Everest, Trilogy) and Pete Thompson (drums, vocals; ex-Trilogy) completed the Saracen line-up. With Roy Daniel (bass; ex-Fatty Lumpkin) on board, Chain issued the album Australian Rhythm and Blues and single `Harmonica'/`Spring Hill' (both April 1988). The next line-up of Taylor, Meyer, Bob Fortesque (bass; ex-Blackfeather, Fatty Lumpkin, True Colours) and Michael Burn (drums) issued the album Blue Metal (May 1990). Following Meyer's departure, Phil Manning rejoined Chain for a short time at the beginning of 1991.
In April 1991, Taylor and Manning joined Broderick Smith (vocals, harp; ex-Carson, Dingoes, Big Combo), Mick `The Reverend' O'Connor (organ; ex-Big Combo), Peter `Brolga' Coughlan (bass; ex-Goanna) and Robbie Dillon (drums; ex-Mike Rudd and the Heaters) and undertook an Australian tour as Blues Power. By the end of 1991, Matt Taylor had formed a new version of Chain, this time billed as Matt Taylor's Chain. The line-up of Taylor, Jeff Lang (guitar), Dirk Du Bois (bass), Bob Patient (piano) and Gus Warberton (drums) recorded a new album Walls 2 McGoo (Trouble in the Wind), which came out in 1992. Lang went on to work as a solo blues guitarist in his own right, issuing several albums along the way: Ravenswood (1994), Native Dog Creek (on the Black Market label, 1996) and Live at the Vineyard (with Chris Finnen, 1996).
After 1992, Taylor employed a floating line-up of musicians whenever he toured the country as Matt Taylor's Chain (including ex-Stars guitarist Malcolm Eastick, and members of The Giants in Melbourne). Taylor, Manning and Little Goose (plus Dirk Du Bois on bass) reactivated the Chain name in June 1995 for a national tour. Big Goose rejoined Taylor, Manning and Little Goose when Chain played the annual East Coast Blues Festival at Byron Bay in April 1996 (25 years after the release of `Black and Blue'). The Taylor/Manning/Little Goose/Du Bois Chain line-up was working again at the start of 1997. By the end of the year, the band had laid plans for the release of a new live album in early 1998.
The Chain live album appeared in June 1998, entitled The First 30 Years. The Chain line-up of Matt Taylor, Phil Manning, Barry Harvey and Dirk Du Bois was back on the road that month to promote its release on the national 30th Anniversary tour. Taylor had also issued his fifth solo album, The Awakening, in late 1997. By the end of 1998, Chain had recorded a new album, Mix up the Oils, which came out in July 1999.