In 1970 Axiom recorded their debut album, Fool’s Gold, at Armstrong’s Studio (Melb) on the latest 8-track equipment; unusual for the time, all thirteen tracks were written and produced by Brian Cadd and Don Mudie, it was a landmark production and one of the best Australian albums of the era, reflecting the places and indigenous music of Australia and shimmering with glossy production techniques and a canny country rock sensibility.
Inspired by the Band’s Music From Big Pink album, Fool’s Gold contained a mixture of pastoral elegance, Fool’s Gold and A Little Ray Of Sunshine, with the beautifully scored country-flavored wistfulness of Mansfield Hotel and Ford’s Bridge, both songs written & recorded for the score of a feature film titled Fools Gold. The Brian Cadd song Ford’s Bridge was originally titled We Can Reach Georgia By Morning, but following criticism of the American references in Arkansas Grass, he was pressured into toning down the Americanisms in the song and to change the title, a decision he later regretted, as he felt he had been unfairly forced to self-censor his own work.
The album cover which featured the band members wearing commodore caps clustered around a ship’s wheel on the deck of the Castel Felice was a cringeworthy image from the period, looking for all the world like Captain Pugwash and the crew, in a cheesy cruise ship souvenir photo, to promote Sitmar Lines, in return for free passage for their partners to the UK. The band were touring overseas when the album charted at #9, and the lack of promotion caused it to falter, and disappear from the charts after only nine weeks.The band made top 5 in April 1970 with A Little Ray of Sunshine, a tender, lilting and reflective composition by Brian Cadd and Don Mudie, a piano-based hymn to a friend’s newborn-daughter, which coaxed a nuanced vocal rendering of the song from Glenn Shorrock, although in his recent memoir Now Where Was I? 2018 (above), he claims that his delivery was flat in parts. Shorrock originally thought the song was not consistent with the band’s new country rock mantra, but Cadd was emotionally invested in the song, not because it was his daughter as some have suggested, but because he knew who the parents were: “Her father says, she has to have a name/Not the same, as her mom’s, but a name just the same/ A little ray of sunshine has come into the world/ A little ray of sunshine in the shape of a girl.”
There is a note of pathos associated with this blessed event and the euphoric song which heralds the arrival of the bundle of joy, as the child’s parents had acrimoniously split before the baby was born and the parents families were taking sides. But Cadd wanted people to re-focus on the baby, he deemed the event to be one requiring celebration, and in 30 minutes of inspired creativity, he and Don Mudie composed one of the Australia’s most enduring and beloved ballads, with the assistance of a brilliant arrangement of strings, woodwind, and brass by John Farrer. Shorrock and Cadd regularly perform the song, and Brian Cadd has returned to Cairns on two separate occasions to sing the song at the weddings of a proud father’s two daughters.
Ed Nimmervoll summed up the critic’s response to this song when he wrote “Shorrock’s rendition of a plaintive, caressing lyric to just bass and a growing string arrangement, which builds into a full, thumping climax, only to grow soft again … everything is just SO right.” (Friday On My Mind – Ed Nimmervoll 2004).Other artists would dedicate songs to their daughters in the future, most notably Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely for his little daughter Aisha, Billy Joel’s tribute to his daughter Alexa Ray in Lullabye (Goodnight My Love), the beautiful Gracie by Ben Folds, and Beautiful Girl by INXS, an ode to Andrew Farriss’s daughter Grace, but Brian Cadd’s touching ballad has certainly stood the test of time in this esteemed company.Having departed overseas to London in 1970, the band and their partners took up residence at 38 South Croxted Road, West Dulwich, London, and soon after inked a contract with Warner Reprise to record their second album If Only… with producer Shel Talmy (above), well known to Australian groups since his work with the Easybeats, the Kinks, the Who and Manfred Mann in the 60’s.If Only … was recorded at the famous Olympic Studios in London, it was a more polished affair than their debut album, and the single released from the album, My Baby’s Gone, was another Cadd/Mudie composition. This was an up- tempo outing , with a driving beat, great hooks and riffs, and convincing vocals from front-man Shorrock, it climbed to #8 locally, and there were no surprises when it had an early Little River Band ambience about it. Having just finished their magnum opus album the group would disband after two years, the name of their final album was prophetic, If Only…, it was even axiomatic.
Glenn and his wife Sue began to drift apart whilst in London, she was working in a trendy King’s Row boutique and enjoying the party lifestyle of Swinging London, while Glenn was struggling to make a living in London’s overcrowded music market, and he was also embracing an alternative lifestyle of meditation, macrobiotics, and mysticism, the couple separated, and would divorce in 1971. Brian Cadd would go on to a celebrated solo career and have hits as the leader of the Bootleg Family Band and a member of The Flying Burrito Brothers in the 1990’s, as well, Glenn Shorrock would conquer the world with the mega-selling Little River Band, Don Lebler joined the Mixtures and Chris Stockley the Dingoes. Below Cadd and Shorrock in 2017, after 50 years in the business, and still performing together.