Listen. There may have been girls. There may have been contraband. This was rock’n’roll in the 1970s. But these four boys were young. And when their parents broke down the door of their manager’s South Yarra apartment, all hell broke loose.
The year was 1977 and TASTE was over. After two Top 20 albums in two years and four hit singles including Tickle Your Fancy and their unapologetic signature tune, Boys Will Be Boys. Really. You can’t make this stuff up.
“We were just about to sign with Sire Records in the USA,” bassist Michael Tortoni recalls. “We had a tour lined up opening for Queen.” Freddie Mercury and the boys were vocal fans of Taste. They blasted Boys Will Be Boys each night before they took the stage of their A Night at the Opera tour.
“TASTE had the makings of a long-term global success in my opinion,” the bassist reflects. “Because 40 years later, we’re all still playing. None of us ever stopped. We learnt our craft in the shit-holes of Melbourne. Audiences would spit at you if you couldn’t do it. Until you got it right. And we did.”
The evidence is here. Tickle Your Fancy and Knights of Love are two classic albums that cut a glam-rock swathe through the Countdown years that nurtured AC/DC, Suzi Quatro, Skyhooks, Sweet and other household names that knew TASTE as serious contenders on stage and record.
“As teenagers, we took ourselves very seriously as musicians,” Michael says. “When I listen to these albums now my mind boggles at how we actually wrote those songs at that age, with that quality of musicianship. There’s a lot of virtuosic playing. It’s of the time but it’s progressive. It was real. It was organic and full of integrity.”
TASTE’s implosion sent ripples through Australian rock and beyond for decades, with members going on to Uncanny X-Men, Southern Sons and the highest echelons of jazz and rock from Melbourne to Los Angeles.
Their story will continue in 2016 with a stunning new album, Life On Earth. But first, remastered by Angus Davidson and released to iTunes through GoSet Music, there’s just time to revisit one of the great lost stories of Australian rock’n’roll.