Style: Rock & Blues
Line Up: Phil Manning (guitar, vocals), Barry Sullivan (bass), Barry Harvey (drums) & Matt Taylor (vocals, harmonica)
In June 1970, Chain (Warren Morgan, Phil Manning, Barry Harvey, Barry Sullivan and Glyn Mason) made its first album for Festival. In order to capture the live chops of the group, the album, Chain Live, was recorded, rather primitively, at Sydney's Caesar's Palace Disco and resulted in a raw, basic slab of hard blues. The LP established the band's credentials and met with critical, if not chart, acclaim, but, with the fluidity that characterised the group throughout its career, two key members departed soon after its release. Warren Morgan joined the Aztecs, while Glyn Mason left for the UK. That left Phil and the two Barrys to carry on as a trio, and this grouping appeared on ABC-TV's GTK, performing a blistering version of Robert Johnson's "Crossroad Blues". It was when Matt and Phil corresponded later in the year, each inviting the other to join either's band, that the classic four-piece line-up of Chain was settled upon.
The new Chain (already by now, "Mk 7") attracted the attention of the aggressive young entrepreneur Michael Gudinski, who was by then in the throes of putting together the enduring Mushroom indie record label. Gudinski, who also became the group's manager soon afterwards, has subsequently acknowledged that Mushroom was conceived and built upon Chain's reputation, and he in turn enthusiastically helped foster their career during those heady times.
During 1971, the band continued to grow in stature as a must-see drawcard around the Melbourne blues haunts, as well as being a popular staple at the various outdoor festivals common to the era. An appearance at the Odyssey Festival at Ourimbah in January was captured on the double-LP set History Of Chain, cementing the group's greatness for posterity. Other festival appearances, such as at Myponga outside Adelaide and Wallacia near Sydney (each featuring a roster of the cream of OzRock's best) had a similar effect, and Chain by now were regarded as among the premier of Australia's progressive blues units.
The "classic" line-up of Chain enjoyed a national top ten hit in May with its debut Infinity single, "Black And Blue" (working title: "We're Groaning"), backed with Taylor's ambitious but solidly-delivered and decidedly progressive "Lightning Ground". The A-side recalled the traditional Afro-American "work-song" motif, and heralded the solid, blueswailing body of songs featured on Toward The Blues, Chain's first album for Festival's "progressive" Infinity imprint, which was released to great (and enduring) critical acclaim in September.