Evolution: Tamam Shud’s cult surf soundtrack

Taman Shud’s psychedelic soundtrack to the cult Australian surf movie Evolution has been lovingly reissued by Anthology Records.  It was recorded live in 1968 – whilst the film was projected upon the studio wall due to budget constraints – and was released in 1969.

Tamam Shud evolved from an instrumental surf band called The Four Strangers, formed in 1964 in Newcastle, New South Wales. Eric Connell was on bass guitar, Dannie Davidson on drums, Gary Johns on rhythm guitar and Alex “Zac” Zytnik on lead guitar. They released a sole single called The Rip for Astor Records before Lindsay Bjerre replaced Johns on guitar and lead vocals. As The Strangers in 1965 they issued the single Sad and Lonely and then changed their name to The Sunsets. The Sunset’s tracks were used for two surf films – A Life in the Sun (1966) and The Hot Generation (1967) – both directed by Paul Witzig. Later that year Peter Barron replaced Connell on bass guitar and the group, now based in Sydney, changed their name to Tamam Shud. ARC019-Cover-hi-res-300x300 Bjerre found the Persian phrase “tamám shud” (translated as “ended”, “finished” or “the very end”) in the closing words of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, a 12th century poetry collection.

The phrase also features in one of Australia’s most enduring mysteries. The Tamam Shud case, also known as the Mystery of the Somerton Man, is the unsolved death of an unidentified man found dead at 6:30 am on December 1, 1948, on Somerton beach, just south of Adelaide, South Australia. A scrap of paper with the phrase was found in the man’s pocket. The death came during the escalation of the Cold War and the motive, the man’s identity, the cause of death and the piece of paper have baffled agencies from around the world to the present day.

Back to the music, this sounds like Four Sail era Love and moves through Syd Barrett era Floyd. There’s also bluesier territory reminiscent of Cream and Terry Reid. It’s a psychedelic trip alright.

ARC019-Back-hi-res-300x300For more on this and surf culture, visit http://anthology.net/music/

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