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Finch (Contraband)

Finch bassist Tony Strain was still in 6th form at Christian Brothers College in Sutherland (Sydney) when the band (formed from the remains of a group called Stillwater) won the 1973 2SM/Pepsi Pop Poll for which the prize was $1000, 18-week scholarships at the Conservatorium of Music, performing engagements for 2SM concerts and the chance to perform at the opening celebrations of the Sydney Opera House.

A subsequent contract with Picture Records resulted in their first single, And She Sings, released in January 1974.

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The band also appeared on the soundtrack album to the surfing film Drouyn. Finch’s three rock tracks – Sail AwayLady of Truth (the song which won them the Pepsi Pop Poll) and Roses – appeared alongside jazzy incidental material.

The band settled into the pub rock circuit and released the self-financed (and hugely underrated) Thunderbird album in May 1976. Owen Orford was a flashy frontman with a confident rock voice and a neat line in microphone stand acrobatics.

finch_002In December they released the excellent single Short Changed Again, which peaked at #29 on the Sydney chart.

Finch moved to Melbourne at the end of 1976 and embarked on a successful tour with Supernaut.

In March 1977, just as Finch was making commercial headway, 19-year old Spencer left to replace Red Symons in Skyhooks. Bassist Tony Strain also left the band.

The band went through a rash of new players (Gary Quince, Skeeta Pereira, Sam Mallett and Graham Thompson) before the line-up stabilised with the arrival of Mark Evans (ex AC/DC) on bass and Graham Kennedy and Chris Jones on guitars.

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The band signed to CBS/Epic and issued the single One More Time in October 1977. Dave Hinds (ex-Rabbit) replaced Chris Jones (who joined Feather) in December of that year.

The band began to move in a more commercial hard rock direction, and the next single, Where Were You? reached #14 in Melbourne and #33 in Sydney in February 1978.

The album Nothing To Hide produced a second single, also called Nothing To Hide (May 1978). Finch then signed with CBS’s US subsidiary label, Portrait. Due to the presence of a Dutch band also called Finch, the band then became known as Contraband.

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Portrait issued Contraband’s debut single, That’s Your Way, in October 1978 and in that same month, Barry Cram (ex-Avalanche) replaced McFarlane, who joined Swanee.

The Contraband album was released in May 1979, accompanied by the singles Rainin’ Again and Gimme Some Lovin’ (a cover of the Spencer Davis Group track). The album created interest in the USA but was not successful in Australia.

Portrait dropped Contraband later in the year and the band broke up.

Owen Orford 
Vocals
Bob Spencer 

Guitar, vocals
Tony Strain 

Bass
Peter McFarlane 

Drums
Graham Kennedy 

Guitar, vocals
Chris Jones 

Guitar
Dave Hinds 

Guitar, vocals
Mark Evans 

Bass
Barry Cram 

Drums

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