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Book review: Solid Rock – Live! by Merv Collins


One of the more surreal aspects of recent Australian Salvation Army history is not that it spawned a culture-relating, musically gifted pop/rock band in the Solid Rock Big Band; it is that the group’s existence and achievements are largely unknown to Australian Salvationists.

What was it again that Jesus said about prophets not being recognised and honoured in their own country by their own people? (Mark 6: 4).

While there were leading lights of the movement back then who encouraged the Solid Rockers, the group was generally persona non grata in terms of lacking any official acknowledgement or Salvation Army coverage.

Book author Merv Collins.

Well, thanks to author Merv Collins, this state of affairs is being set to rights, albeit decades after Solid Rock spread some light and hope among young people. From its humble beginnings, through its many line-ups and members, across gigs that were well-received and/or controversially loud, we read of lives impacted, cultural mores threatened, and musical gifts honed and used to the glory of God.

The international acclaim with which the group was met at legendary venues like the 1975 Sunbury rock festival (Australia’s Woodstock) should give all Salvationists a sense of pride and wonder.

Music is the most sublime of gifts, and the trailblazing young men and women (and the likes of Merv, John Cleary, Dr Ralph Hultgren AM, Sharon Raymond, Graham McCoy, Neva Phillips, Mike Poore, Alan Collett, Brenton Broadstock AM, Ian Shanks, Stuie Lees etc. were indeed young back then) made their mark and set a path for others.

This tome is wide-ranging in scope. It’s well-researched, well-written, and well and truly due.

For those unaware of Solid Rock’s credentials, achievements and legacy, Solid Rock – Live! will inform, entertain, stir the heart and soul, amuse and occasionally provoke; outcomes that good musicians and the good Lord who gave us music would expect.

Solid Rock – Live! is available from Salvationist Supplies by emailing or or by calling Sydney Salvationist Supplies (1800 634 209) and Melbourne Salvation Army Supplies (1800 100 018).

The book will also be available for purchase at the special Solid Rock tribute concert at Preston Corps in Melbourne on Saturday 9 September.


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