Tax Free

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-70)

- Leendert Busch -- drums, percussion

- Ray Gordel -- 

- David Oliphant -- lead guitar

- Jody Purpora -- vocals, keyboards, guitar

- Wladimir (Wally) Tax (RIP 2005) -- vocals, flute, guitar


  line up 1 (1970)

- Leendert Busch -- drums, percussion

- David Oliphant -- lead guitar

- Jody Purpora -- vocals, keyboards

- Wladimir (Wally) Tax -- vocals, flute, guitar


  supporting musicians:

- John Cale -- electric viola

- Richard Davis -- bass

- Ron Johnsen -- vibes

- Jerry Spaulding -- sax




- OPMC (Leendert Busch)

The Outsiders (Leendert Busch and Wally Tax)

- Paris 1942 (David Oliphant)

- Jody Purpora (solo efforts)






Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Tax Free

Company: Polydor

Catalog: 24 4053

Country/State: Holland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 905

Price: $100.00


This sounds like the screenplay to a bad movie of the week ...   


As the front man for The Outsiders, by 1969 singer/multi-instrumentalist Wally Tax was living the true rock star lifestyle, complete with adoring fans, high profile love affairs, wanton spending, and a growing fondness for drugs and alcohol.   After the release of The Outsiders' third album (1969's "CQ"), Tax decided to strike out on his own.   


Tax's initial post-Outsiders project found him working with Outsider drummer Leendert Busch, Ray Gordel, English guitarist David Oliphant, and American keyboardist Jody Purpora.  The quintet began rehearsing, picking up a manager in Marty Thau and a recording contract with Polydor Records which quickly agreed to finance an album.  Tax and company (sans Gordel), subsequently traveled to the US where they began working on their debut album.  Under the name Tax Free they began recording in Jimi Hendrix's recently completed Electric Lady Studios  (always wondered if the band name was inspired by the Jimi Hendrix song).  With Lewis Merenstein producing, anyone expecting to hear a set of Outsiders-styled R&B and psych numbers was in for a major shock.  Interestingly Merenstein was probably best known for his work on Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" album, and that collection's unique sound was apparently what Tax had in mind when recording 1970's cleverly-titled "Tax Free".   From that perspective this album wasn't the most original set you've ever heard.   With a hefty assist from bassist Richard Davis (who'd played on "Astral Weeks"), tracks like 'Along the Shadowed Quey', 'The Crest Lie', and 'Backed by the Quinnipiac' bore more than a passing resemblance to Morrison and "Astral Weeks".   Now I happen to be a big Morrison fan so the similarities don't bother me.  I've also always found it fascinating that a skinny Dutch guy could turn in such an impressive approximation of Morrison's stylings.   Admittedly, Tax only handled about half of the vocals with keyboardist Purpora taking lead on the rest, but both of them were first rate singers.  Geez, it almost comes off as a tribute album.  And as mentioned, anyone familiar with Tax's work with The Outsiders was probably going to be stunned by the strength and versatility he displayed on this set - hard to imagine The Outsiders tackling the jazzy 'The Crest Lie'.   The down side of this is ...  well it sounded like a Van Morrison album.   If you weren't a Van Morrison fan, this wasn't going to strike a chord with you.  Not to sound like a broken record, but the results are so different from what I was expecting, I'm giving it an extra star.


"Tax Free" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Yiva - 5:23

Seriously, anyone expecting to here Outsiders-styled R&B was going to be in for a major shock on this one ...    Starting off as a  soft, shimmering acoustic ballad, 'Yiva' sounded very much like a Morrison tune (especially when Purpora started to lyrically vamp - "jellyroll, spread your joys, stay awhile, I like your smile".   Even better, about four and a half minutes into the song drummer Leendert Busch kicked into action and the tune really picked up some energy.   I usually hate flute solos, but have to admit Tax turned in a nice one here.   rating: **** stars

2.) Along the Shadowed Quay - 3:56

Showcasing Richard Davis' stunning acoustic bass work, 'Along the Shadowed Quay' was another Morrison-styled ballad.  John Cale contributed viola to the track  Again very pretty and totally unexpected with Tax displaying a range you never would have expected.   rating: **** stars

3.) The Crest Lie - 3:00

With a laidback, almost jazzy feel, 'The Crest Lie' once again the combination of Davis' acoustic bass and Jerry Spaulding's sax drew strong comparison's to Morrison.   rating: *** stars

4.) Day Revealed Your Face - 2:51

As far as I can tell, this was the first track to showcase Tax on lead vocals (the delivery seems to have a faint accent).  Tax had apparently become friendly with American folk singer Tim Hardin and while I'm not a Hardin expert, the pretty acoustic ballad 'Day Revealed Your Face' seemed to reflect a Hardin influence.   Nice Purpora keyboards with Oliphant turning in some of his best acoustic guitar.  rating: **** stars

5.) Ginny - 4:52

Another Tax vocal.   Hum, wonder what inspired the bizarre 'Ginny' ...   Judging by the cryptic lyrics this one seemed to have a plotline having to do with someone suffering from amnesia and trying to recover their memory.   The pseudo-jazzy melody and weird lyrics have always reminded me of a David Crosby tune.   Extra star for being so bizarre.    rating: **** stars


(side 2)
1.) Amsterdam - 4:58

Propelled by some melodic Oliphant lead guitar and a bouncy melody 'Amsterdam' was probably the closest thing to a true rocker on the album.   One of my favorite performances with Tax turning in one of his best vocals (again showing a Hardin influence).  Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but the song seemed to have a somewhat sinister stalking lyric (something along the lines of The Police's 'Every Breath You Take').    rating: **** stars

2.) My Lady Truth - 4:19

The album's first modest disappointment, 'My Lady Truth' was a pretty enough acoustic ballad, but came off as way too sensitive (almost fey), for its own good.   This time out the extended Tax flute solo didn't help.  Not sure, but I think Tax and Purpora shared lead vocals.   rating: ** stars

3.) Evening - 3:42

More jazzy Morrison-inspired moves with some dynamic Richards acoustic bass almost stealing the show.   rating: *** stars

4.) Backed by the Quinnipiac - 6:24

Pretty, almost pastoral acoustic ballad with one of the album's nicest melodies.  Nice way to close out the set.   rating: **** stars 


Big surprise here - in spite of critical praise, the album tanked.   Tax and company returned to Holland and quickly called it quits.