10 April 2019

Terry Lawrence - Medicine Man/ Let Me Be Free

Storming, mod dancefloor friendly cover of the Buchanan Brothers track

Label: Pye International 
Year of Release: 1971

Here's a single I'd never ever seen or heard of until a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to flinchingly gamble my money on it - and unbelievably, it's an absolute corker. 

The original version of "Medicine Man" was released by the Buchanan Brothers in 1969, and is the kind of laidback groove that US hairies were so incredibly fond of at the time. Cool and breezy, it's the right kind of background tune for a truck drive down the freeway, but was utterly ignored by British audiences who failed to relate to its particular atmosphere.

Enter Australian Terry Lawrence, ex-member of the brotherly duo Peaches 'n' Cream, who wisely decided that what the whole thing needed was a kick up the backside with a taut, barnstorming beat. The end results are fantastic, with the track clattering and rambling along at breakneck pace with quickfire basslines, urgent horns and a distinct lack of summery subtlety. In fact, what this actually sounds like is a pill-popping sixties dancefloor track, which is possibly why it got completely ignored on its release in 1971. For our purposes, though, it's an absolute delight (and I'm unsure who is drumming throughout this track, but they deserve some kind of award).

Lawrence was from Perth, and according to the Pye press release had singles out in Australia on the Clarion label as well. Neither Discogs nor 45Cat seem to have any record of them, so it's unlikely they sold well outside of his home city. Nonetheless, the label's managing director Martin Clark had enough faith in his work to send him to London to record with Bee Gees studio man Bill Shepherd, and the resulting product emerged on Pye's "International" imprint to few sales here either. A German issue on Polydor sold equally poorly. 

Pye informed press and DJs at the time that Lawrence's favourite hobbies were golf and skinny dipping with girls (note - the latter doesn't really seem to be a 'hobby' or sport as such to me) and his ambition in life was to "be rich". None of that helps us out much or resolves the riddle of what he went on to do - but perhaps he now has a yacht moored off the coast of Perth somewhere. 


Andrew said...

It matters not a jot, but I much prefer the B side - although it's a pity they didn't spend a little more time getting it spot on.

Anonymous said...

This is Terry Lawrence. Very interesting site for a number of reasons. Yes we had big backing when we recorded in London 1971. Tom Jones Orchestra (21 piece) backing singers where The Lady Birds (Benny Hill Show) and Tony Burrows (Edison Lighthouse) Musical Director was Bill Sheppard (Bee Gees Director) and from memory the drummer was Ginger Baker. We recorded 8 tracks and released two singles in Australia (The Girl I Left Behind Me and It Takes Minutes. I left the Industry early due to l Managerial issues and up until a week ago had no idea that these two songs where released on vinyl.
My Twin brother (Steve Lawrence) and I went on and performed in a number of Bands and I still do Neil Diamond and Nat King Cole Tributes.
• We still love Golf and play 18 Holes 7 Days a Week.
• Steven and I both gained our Commercial Pilots Licence (Multi Engine ,Instrument Flight Rated)
• I enjoy Painting Oil Portraits
• We are both 3rd Dan Martial Artists
• Twice a Week we visit our Local Pub and show the locals how to play Pool
• I was an Officer with The Australian Air Force Cadets for 15 Years
We don’t have a Yacht but live in a nice Apartment with the Marina on one side and the Ocean on the other.

Paul Miles said...

You mentioned a couple of other Clarion singles by Terry Lawrence. Just letting you know that details for these have now been added to his Discogs page, including video to hear them, should this be of further interest to you and readers.