The Rubes were formed in 1980 as a vehicle for Russell Morris’ songwriting after he returned to Australia after a lengthy stay in the US.
His early hits like ‘Hush’, ‘The Real Thing Pts. 1, 2 & 3’ and ‘Rachel’ were written by others but he wanted to concentrate on his own work.
“Being a pop star was a wonderful place to be, until I realised I had painted myself into a corner and I lost control of my life,” he admits.
“I decided to sink or swim, and I needed to sing my own songs to have a ring of truth.”
The self-penned ‘Wings of An Eagle’, ‘Sweet Sweet Love’ and ‘Mr America’ continued his run of hits.
‘Wings of An Eagle’ was inspired by Morris’ love for ancient mythology, and how First Australians, Native Americans and early Romans believed an eagle took the spirits of the dead to the heavens.
‘Sweet Sweet Love’ was made up of two songs, inspired by a photo of his then-wife which he stuck up on the wall of a freezing bedsit in London while trying for UK success.
The Rubes formed in 1980 from the ashes of The Russell Morris Band, who imploded through personality clashes between some members.
The new line-up included Bruce Haymes and Max Chazan. They’d been in a band called The Rubes, so the name was kept.
The Rubes’ set centred on interplay between Haymes’ keyboards and Chazan’s guitars, and did wonders for Morris’ newer songs as ‘Roar Of The Wild Torpedoes’, ‘Surprise Surprise’, ‘Thunderground’, ‘In The Heat Of The Night’ and ‘One Way Street’, all featured on Live At The Palladium.
The set also included hits as ‘Hush’, ‘Eagle’ and a gritty ‘Mr. America’ and album tracks as ‘So Tough’, ‘Love Stealer’ and ‘How We Run’.
Morris says, “They were really good players. What struck me when I heard Live At The Melbourne Palladium was how fast we were playing.
“Those were the times I guess, you had to go rat-tat-tat to get people jumping up and down!”
The Rubes’ music got critical acclaim but mainstream radio refused to play their tracks as they considered Morris – and many of his contemporaries – “old hat”.
Morris says, “I was writing a fair bit. I’ve always written. But unfortunately I was desperate to get The Rubes up and running with some big hit albums, so we could cut back on the roadwork and not get overexposed and I could pay the guys the same amount of money.
“But many writers fall into the trap of looking at what is happening, and you try and chase it. It’s like trying to catch a boat that’s already left the port. I call it chasing the pied piper.”
However ‘The Roar Of The Wild Torpedoes’ still remains in his current set, and fans who recently discovered Morris through his blues/roots renaissance have hunted down these songs.