Virtually unknown outside of Australia, and not too well known within Australia, Extradition made one of the better obscure folk-rock albums of the early '70s with their only album, 1971's Hush. The record could easily have been mistaken for a British acid folk album of the period, mixing songs and melodies with similarities to British borderline folk-rockers like Bert Jansch and Pentangle with lyrics and some instrumentation that were not nearly as grounded in traditional British folk as Jansch. Although the arrangements were acoustic, they used an adventurous assortment of instruments -- harpsichord, cello, harmonium, dulcimer, organ, flute, chimes, gongs, tablas, glockenspiel, and more -- to shade their haunting songs with some classical grandeur and, at times, even musique concrète-like avant-gardism.
Indeed, one track, "Original Whim," consists entirely of percussive instrumentation, produced by stones, sticks, palm leaf, Chinese and Turkish gongs, Lebanese bell tree, and a few more conventional items. The lyrics, in line with much other British acid folk, often referred to natural elements like the sun, sky, moon, and water, with some of the words reflecting the influence of religious leader Meher Baba. It's not all weirdness, though, particularly as the usual lead singer, Shayna Karlin, has a high earnest timbre much like that of many female British folk and folk-rock vocalists. It's a better album than many other folk-rock-psychedelic efforts of the time that have attained a higher profile among collectors.
The story behind the formation and dissolution of Extradition is more complicated than it is for most bands of such a short duration. The seed was planted when Colin Campbell and Colin Dryden formed a folk duo in Sydney in the late '60s; although an album's worth of material was recorded in 1969, the recordings have been lost. In the beginning of 1970 Karlin, who'd previously worked with Dryden, joined to expand the act to a trio. All of the musicians wanted to evolve beyond their traditional folk roots into something more original in the new band, named Extradition. Percussionist Gerry Gillespie and bassist Steve Dunston joined the threesome for a one-time performance in March 1970 at the Fourth National Folk Festival in Sydney. Six songs from that performance (only one of which would be recorded in the studio for their LP) were added to the CD reissue of Hush. These show that, while still acknowledging their traditional influences (with covers of songs by Tom Paxton and Leroy Carr), the members of Extradition were evolving into something more idiosyncratic.
By the time they recorded Hush about a year later, however, they'd been through several personnel changes. Though Dryden had left, Campbell (who wrote most of the band's material) and Karlin were still the mainstays, along with percussionist Robert Lloyd. Extradition had become friendly with the Australian progressive rock group Tully on a 1970 tour, and two members of Tully, Richard Lockwood and Ken Frith, were among the additional musicians to play on Hush. Lockwood, in fact, amounted to almost a full member, playing on most of the tracks and handling a variety of instruments, including harmonium, bamboo flute, recorder, and violin.
But by the time Hush came out on the Australian Sweet Peach label in June 1971, Extradition had broken up, with Campbell and Karlin joining Tully. Tully broke up at the end of 1971, the members scattering to various other projects, with Karlin performing in the mid-'70s with Baton Rouge, a band that included Christina Amphlett, later of the Divinyls. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
Nov 04 FridayLondon, UK Betsey Trotwood