27 September 2023

Cambridge Three

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By The Whitlams, Kaos 2021.

Cambridge Three is the latest single to be lifted from The Whitlams upcoming album, Sancho, which is due for release on 28 January.

It follows hot on the heels of their three previous singles Ballad of Bertie Kidd, Man About a Dog, and (You’re Making Me Feel Like I’m) 50 Again.

The quality of each single has been excellent and fans should eagerly await the album.

As the title suggests Cambridge Three is about the Cambridge (England) based soviet spy ring that operated either side of WW2 and famously came to light in the 1950s.

The song is sung from the point of view of Anthony Blunt, who was not only the fourth member of the Cambridge Five spies but was also Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures in Buckingham Palace.

The other members of the ring were Donald McLean, Guy Burgess, and Kim Philby. Anthony Blunt wasn’t revealed as a spy until 1979, and the last of them, John Cairncross, not until 1990.

All of them had been recruited by the Soviets while they were students at Cambridge University.

From this you would be able to deduce that the song is about the period when Burgess, McLean and Philby had been unearthed and suspicion was brewing about who else was involved.

Tim Freedman’s trademark piano has given way to synthesisers and guitar on Cambridge Three which provide the atmosphere of subterfuge and unease necessary to support the lyrical content.

Rolling Stone recently placed two Whitlams albums in their Top 200 Australian Albums, Love This City (101) and Eternal Nightcap at number 24 and, given the quality of these four singles, Sancho will be a great addition to their recorded catalogue.

In early February The Whitlams are set to embark on a 40 date Australian tour that will take them to all States and Territories, barring the NT, so look out for them.

Obviously the balmy conditions of Byron Bay agree with Tim Freedman and it’s wonderful to have him releasing new music again.

Anybody who is capable of writing and recording Eternal Nightcap, which included the brilliant No Aphrodisiac as its lead single, should be taken seriously and lauded.

I also highly recommend his double CD Torch The Moon (2002).

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