Matt Finish’s inaugural album Short Note (1981) is widely regarded as an all-time Australian classic and continues to sell to this day. The title track has appeared on more than a dozen compilation albums and, in 2006, it appeared in (Australian radio station) Triple M’s “Best Songs of the Eighties”.
In 2004, it was covered by Wendy Matthews on her album Cafe Naturale. Other radio favourites from Short Note include Mancini Shuffle, Hot Cover and Layman’s Day.
The band was formed in 1978 by vocalist/guitarist Matt Moffitt and drummer/producer John Prior and owed much of their distinctive sound to Matt’s impassioned voice and lyrical songwriting, and John’s dynamic musical arrangements, complete with Jeff Clayton’s melodic, economical guitar parts and Rick Grossman’s muscular bass.
“Short Note is the greatest debut album by an Australian band,” said studio guru Greg Cameron at the time of its release.
To best capture their powerful live sound, their next release, Fade Away (1981), was recorded live with a studio audience over two nights in Sydney’s PACT Theatre. The title track was pure adrenalin. “For Matt Finish, it is as if music is sacred and its language a privilege”, declared Melbourne journalist Christie Eliezer.
Exit Grossman to join Divinyls and later The Hoodoo Gurus. Enter Bertie Dorsett, alternating on guitar and bass, joining Moffitt, Prior and Clayton to record the 1984 album Word Of Mouth, described by Brecon Walsh as “one of the most arresting, splenetic, lyrically incisive, musically colourful and emotionally candid albums to have been produced in this country”.
After another successful tour and the recording of an album that was never released, the band took an extended hiatus to pursue individual projects.
In 1985, Moffitt and Prior travelled to London to record the Matt Moffitt solo album By As Little As A Look with producer Nicky Graham (David Bowie, Peter Frampton, The Clash). In 1989. Moffitt and Prior travelled to New York to record and perform.
Re-emerging in 1991, Moffitt and Prior recruited ex-Eurogliders Guy Le Claire and Lindsay Jehan and again Matt Finish toured to packed venues across Australia.
Susan Ryan attested “Matt Finish flexes its muscles again” and Murray Engelheart affirmed “Matt Finish remain something of a musical triumph” and “inspire a near-fanatical following”. But the band split again in 1991.
The band underwent many incarnations during the nineties and early noughties including line-ups with Adrian and Rohan Cannon and Rick Grossman. Lollapalooza founder and Tool manager Ted Gardner lamented “Matt Finish, a brilliant band I managed in Australia that broke up way before their time”. (2002)
In August 2003, tragedy struck with Moffitt’s sudden death. Testifying to his musical colleagues’ esteem, his funeral was attended by Oz rock’s royal fraternity, including members of Cold Chisel, The Angels, Midnight Oil and friends from radio Triple J.
In a moving obituary to Matt Moffitt, Screen Sound described his time with Matt Finish as “some of the best Australian music of the eighties and nineties”. (2003)
According to Australian rock historian Glenn A Baker, “Matt Finish was one of the great Australian ‘song bands’. Textured, engaging and often beguiling craft was the hallmark of Matt the man and the band. Those songs endure, as well they should”.
But the spirit of Matt Finish refused to die. Fast forward to November 2006 with original band-members John Prior, Jeff Clayton and Rick Grossman reconvening with special guests Matt Cornell and Luke Dixon to play in tribute to Matt Moffitt.
The next chapter begins in autumn 2007 with John Prior, Guy Le Claire, Harry Brus and David Adams conducting a national tour performing songs from Short Note, Fade Away and Word of Mouth with select appearances by special guests including Kevin Borich, Matt Cornell, Steve Edmonds, Tim Gaze, Josh Smith and, Eliot Reynolds.
Many thanks to John Prior for pictures, help and info