I Remember When I Was Young (M Taylor) – Matt Taylor 1973
Matt Taylor was born in Brisbane (Qld) in 1948 and grew up in a working-class family in the suburb of Spring Hill, his father, who had emigrated from Liverpool (UK), was a tram-driver. Taylor’s early musical influences were Cream, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones which took him back to the blues roots of the British Invasion bands of the 1960’s. He became inspired by the blues records of Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry in high school, and taught himself the guitar and harmonica, in February 1966 he joined the Bay City Union, one of Australia’s first electric blues bands, they relocated to Melbourne in December 1966 and achieved some success playing in dance halls and clubs.
Following the break-up of The Bay City Union in May 1968, Taylor briefly joined the Wild Cherries and throughout 1969 and 1970 he played with the progressive heavy rock / blues bands Horse and Genesis (not the UK prog band of the same name), before being recruited by Phil Manning to front Chain, who would explode onto the charts in 1971 with their startling single Black and Blue and peerless pioneering blues album Toward the Blues.
Taylor was a complex and uncompromising bluesman who left Chain just as they hit the charts and before the release of their album Towards the Blues, in November 1972 he quit the music industry and went to live on a commune led by Fred and Mary Robinson at Beechworth (Vic), it was here after Taylor had emerged from a two week period of fasting that he wrote I Remember When I Was Young.
In 1973 he returned to the music scene and hooked up with Michael Gudinski and his Mushroom Records label, he then recorded three solo albums for Mushroom Records between 1973-75, one of which, Straight as A Die, (#16 in ’73) sold almost as well as his earlier Chain album Toward the Blues (#6 in ’71). From the former album he lifted the sprightly and disarmingly honest, rites-of-passage composition, I Remember When I Was Young which charted #26.
This song amply reflects the blues roots of Taylor which he acknowledged in the lyrics ‘I heard the blackman’s blues, it really blew a fuse inside my head/ with some friends we made a stand, and formed our first blues band, it was a real good thing’. The delta blues was the music of his youth and those black bluesmen had helped to shape his own version of the blues, by teaching him about the ‘bombadomba,’ the intrinsic rumbling, churning beat that drove the great early prototypical R&B songs and was the template for I Remember When I Was Young. There was no promo clip for the song but there is a great live recording of Matt performing this song at the Myer Music Bowl (Melb) in 1982 as part of the Mushroom Evolution Concert, Phil Manning’s guitar solo was exemplary.
When Michael Gudinski tracked Matt Taylor down in 1973 to record the song, the eco-warrior had retreated to another commune and was feeling disillusioned about the recording industry, but he agreed to do the album with Mushroom on the condition that the recording equipment was set up in his farmhouse outside of Frankston (Vic). Old Chain bandmates Phil Manning (guitar), Barry Harvey (drums) and Barry Sullivan (bass) and ex-Carson guitarist Greg Lawrie joined Taylor to record the song, the loud music attracted the local constabulary after complaints were received about a disturbance of the peace in the area, but the boys in blue were ultimately placated with herbal tea and the teachings of the Hindu god Krishna by the enlightened bluesman. The narrative of the song is confessionally honest, unpretentious, unvarnished, and musically it is bluesy, in an Australian way, that was unique to Matt Taylor