Pete’s versatility makes him impossible to button-hole into a musical category. A performance might include the musical influences of many genres including folk, jazz, rock, blues and country.
Pete has played in pubs and clubs for many years, he is able to perform as a solo or with one of his specialty bands. With his winning combination of entertainment, vocals and acoustic instruments Pete needs no artificial backing tracks.
You name it – Pete has done it! From touring the UK on his talents, working solo in the pubs in the English Midlands, performing in prison concerts in WA and NSW, extensive recording, film soundtracks, radio shows, song therapy, builder of over 200 musical instruments and touring with the Drifters.
Pete has worked with the Conway Brothers, Flying Wombats, Heritage Ensemble, Ragged Band, Blue Gum, Stringybark, Jacaranda Ceilidh, String Fiddle Tradition and is the leader of the infamous McMahon Brothers.
An EP from the songwriting of Pete McMahon, these five tracks, recorded in a variety of studio across Australia, resonate deeply and involve a person, a place and a Kaleidoscope of feelings. Hence the title …Heartdust.
Pete McMahon – Heartdust
CD review by Tony Smith – TN2539-90 – $12
The CD technology became commercial in 1979.
This album was produced in 1980, which would seem to make it something of a pioneer in the form.
However, it is not clear whether it was in CD then.
There is a dedication on the sleeve notes from Jill Hayes from 2003.
On the other hand, the tracks date back to 1977, so would probably have been published originally on vinyl or cassette.
Another little mystery is that the sleeve notes advise a connection to www.petesbeats.net, but the current owner of that domain seems to be a hip-hop artist and it is unlikely Pete has so diversified.
The five tracks ‘Heartdust’, ‘’Cause I Love’, ‘Butterflies’, ‘Postwar and Comfy’ and ‘We Used to Sing’ provide about 20 minutes of listening pleasure.
The sleeve notes give lyrics for all the songs and note the assistance provided by various people.
Musicians include Duncan Brown (lead guitar), Glenda Bowen (backing vocals), Satch Nimic (guitars), Graham Pippard (congas, flute), Andrew Arnett (mandolin) and an unknown saxophone and piano player.
Pete also acknowledges various people on the technical side and personal supporters.
The choice of opening and title track, ‘Heartdust’, is a good one.
For me, this is the pick of the songs.
It has a strong chorus and tells a story which stimulates interest.
There are some very rich images in the lyrics: ‘Ground cover of flowers, cicadas in recital/ A monastery of bees, they all seem to give me ease/ I’m here in the morning of a day before Christmas/ Living in the workshop of my own history. Time flows, the years how they go (x2)’.
Another song with strong chorus and an interesting storyline is ‘Butterflies in the Backstreets’.
‘There are butterflies in the backstreets of Balmain … lemon trees and ferns … outcrops of sandstone … I’m searching your eyes for a sign … it’s something I hope to find’.
This song evokes Balmain and also has tender yearning.
Generally the arrangements and instrumental and vocal backings enhance the words, which is not always easy to achieve.
The second track ‘’Cause I love’ has a ragtime feeling which provides welcome variety and the flute introductions to ‘Postwar and Comfy’ and ‘We Used to Sing’ stand out.
While a much younger Pete McMahon wrote the songs on Heartdust, he has good reason to remain proud of these vintage offerings.