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Max Merritt & The Meteors - Been Away Too Long Album Review

21 Feb 2013 // A review by Peter-James Dries
"Get a haircut...”

A line oft repeated by my father in my earlier days, and even more so now. Until today I never knew the source of the line, or the old school sing-along Slipping Away, nor did I know both were more Kiwi than my father. 

The older readers know the name Max Merritt, and the Aussies amongst you will claim him like Phar Lap and the Pav. For the young ones, Max Merritt and the Meteors are a piece of Australasian Rock, Soul and R&B music history. Been Away Too Long, the latest recording under the Max Merritt name is an important part of that history.

The concert portrayed on Been Away Too Long falls ten years after Johnny Devlin discovered the band in ’59 and a year before the release of their 1970 eponymous album, the Meteor’s third. Been Away Too Long is a great piece of Blue-Eyed Soul, featuring never released songs by the Meteors and the amazing Otis Redding medley. Their rendition of Satisfaction makes the whole CD worth it.

While the sound recording technology of those early days wasn’t as crystal clear as they claim your iPhone can be, the quality is as good as you can get using a four microphone setup with tape. It’s more towards cassette tape than broken AM radio on the hiss-pop spectrum, but without the drawback of sound distortion. You can certainly distinguish the individual instruments enough to enjoy the sax solo and allegedly the only known recording of Stewie Speer’s performing one of his drum solos.

Forty three years after the original recording and counting, Been Away Too Long is a time capsule, taking us back to the dying days of the sixties. This release wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of producer Brian Lewis, who was there to witness this forgotten piece of history, and put his original recordings together to make and release this recording. It’s a great piece for the nostalgic and the new breed of Retro collectors.

You can find Been Away Too Long on the Max Merritt & the Meteor’s Bandcamp (http://maxmerrittandthemeteors1969.bandcamp.com/)


Been Away Too Long
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About Max Merritt & The Meteors

Max Merritt was born in Christchurch on 30th April 1941 and by his early teenage years was engrossed in music, beginning guitar lessons at the age of twelve. By the mid-fifties, rock and roll had exploded around the world and Max was quite taken by the styles and sounds of Elvis Presley and Bill Haley.

Max left school in 1956 to serve an apprenticeship under his brick-laying father. Buying himself an electric guitar, he formed his first group, the Meteors, in 1956. The group was made up of friends Ross Clancy on saxophone, Ian Glass on bass, Peter Patene on piano and Pete Sowden on drums.

His mother Ilene became concerned seeing young people sitting around Cathedral Square on winter Sunday afternoons with nothing to do, so with the help of her family decided to hold Sunday dances. Also with the help of Kerridge-Odeon theatre manager Trevor King, a venue was set up. The Christchurch Teenagers Club held in the Railway Hall in Sydenham, became so popular that up to 900 youngsters attended the dances held between 1pm and 6pm. For a charge of two shillings and sixpence, dance-goers were treated to music provided by a teenage Max Merritt and the Meteors, while a buffet tea of scones, sandwiches and hot saveloys was served by Mrs Merritt and her daughter Pam.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Max Merritt & The Meteors


Been Away Too Long
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Live In Concert
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Very Best Of
Year: 2001
Type: Album
Back Home Live
Year: 1977
Type: Album
Out Of The Blue
Year: 1976
Type: Album
A Little Easier
Year: 1975
Type: Album
Stray Cats
Year: 1971
Type: Album
Max Merritt And The Meteors
Year: 1970
Type: Album
Year: 1966
Type: EP
Max Merritt's Meteors
Year: 1965
Type: Album
Good Golly Max Merritt
Year: 1964
Type: EP
Giddy Up Max
Year: 1964
Type: EP
C'mon Let's Go
Year: 1960
Type: Album

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