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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 12. June 16, 1971

Performer — Bruce Woodley


Bruce Woodley

Once upon a time there were a group of lovable Australians called the Seekers who went to England and made their fortunes. They were happy, happy, smiling group who did not wear their hair long or play loudly. Everybody loved them. Their music was so easy to listen to. They had a girl singer who was less than beautiful and everyone thought she was lovely because she was so ordinary. Then a couple of years ago they broke up. Hints of friction in paradise. One of the Seekers was Bruce Woodley who now says (I am reliably informed) Tuck the Seekers'. He is coming to New Zealand with a brand new bag.

While he was with the Seekers Bruce Woodley had some notable aspects.

(1)He did not say much.
(2)He wrote some songs with people who were very good at writing songs by themselves. Most famous being Paul Simon. They wrote Red Rubber Ball, I wish You Could be Here and Cloudy Red Rubber Ball was a very commercial little ditty and sold a lot of records in the States for a group I now forget. Woodley also wrote a song with Tom Paxton called Angeline is Always Friday which I happen to like quite alot.
(3)He wrote some songs by himself that were largely undistinguished He is responsible for that frigh teningly optimistic some Come the Day.

When the Seekers I ragmen ted Woodley was not immediately apparent. Other people rode the bandwagon pretty hard, we now have the New Seekers Our Judy, for whom great things were predicted, reared her head in this country a year or two ago, also using the New Zealand public as first base to work out her solo assault. She seems to have since dissolved, I would imagine due more to bad management than good planning. Meanwhile Woodley remained quiet Wrote a few songs, travelled around and listened to other people. Decided what he wanted to do. He now sees himself as "a far more contemporary writer/composer probably best called folk/rock." This (I am told) is the year of the solo composer/performer, of James Taylor, Elton Johns, Cat Stevens and Neil Diamond. This is where. I assume, Bruce Woodley wants to be.

He has recorded an L.P. It features his own songs, he plays all the instruments (except the orchestral excursions, of course) and produced it. He apparantly did this in his leisure in Australia. It has been released in this country in anticipation of his tour. The cover could be the most interesting thing about it. It features a disrobed couple in a pose best described as somewhat compromising - the L.P. is called, naturally, "Just Good Friends."

He also has a single taken from the L.P. It is Friends It is, if you will pardon my understatement, less than memorable The rest of the album is better, which is a relief. He writes about love mainly, sometimes about travelling and sometimes about both. He is not a poet. He describes himself as a "romantic", writing as he feels. He wants to be listened to. All of this seems to me admirable, but perhaps somewhat between the conception and the construction it didn't work out as good as it could be.

Photo of Bruce Woodley

The L.P. is a mixture of some solid beaty stuff and some gentle melodic crooning. Parts of it I enjoyed without crawling up the wall in paroxysms of delight. If the approach is allegedly personal I expect more from the words than "I love you girl/like a robin likes his song." Then again I'm probably not strictly a romantic. Anyway I'll give you the whole of that verse and you can judge for yourself.

I love you girl
Like a robin loves his song
While we're singing
The words just roll along.
But this morning
I woke to find you gone.
Now I'm looking out at another raining morning.
Rainy morning—
Girl I've got you bad.

I must also admit to having a particular favourite song. It is New England Lady. It says (I quote) "Let me throw you an old familiar line." It is very good. How shall I describe it? "The possible progeny of a liason between Niel Diamond and Jim Webb." No, perhaps I won't. It has a sort of pseudo-sitar sound and a flute and has managed to insinuate itself into my sub-conscious. That is, I find myself humming it.

I find one or two of my personal prejudices irritated by the record too. One is intrusions by a chorus. If his aim is simple communication I find females in the background belabouring the point distracting. The other aspect is the american orientation of some of the [unclear: wols,] in particular place-names.

Bruce Woodley's tour of New Zealand has a student slant. Students have apparantly been elected best appreciators of his new image music. The tour takes in six university centers and has a discount for students, and has been independent of the usual promotional channels. He is also bringing his own elaborate sound system which to anyone who has had any dealings with the Wellington Town Hall is heartening.

I personally find the theory of all this very commendable. I have the publicity sheets beside me and Bruce Woodley seems to admire the people I [unclear: admire.] People like James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell. It says he will be singing songs by Taylor, Harrison, Dylan, Kristofferson and Simon as well as his own. Great. Couldn't have picked nicer people myself. It's right where I live for better or for worse. But with all this attunement in taste I did not find his L.P. as good as I might. And there's a very apt cliche about puddings and proof.