21 December 2011

2010- "You're Already Down in the Sand"

There is a form of pure joy in playing air guitar to a song you love. Generally, this is best done in the privacy of your own home, and often after a beer or three. For parents, it is usually preferable that the offspring are sound asleep.

But what happens when one of them is nearly 18 years old, and is introducing the parent to new music?

This is a fantastic song, which I did check with aforementioned son that I had not ruined forever by faking my lost dreams of rock stardom in his room on Friday night whilst it was blasting from his stereo. He assures me he still loves it, and I have not ruined it for him forever by my antics.

Possibly because he shunted me from (air) guitar to (air) keyboards.

I know my place.

This is from 2010, part of the still exciting and original music coming from Dunedin then and now. Whether deliberate or not, knowing or not, to me I can hear tones of the Chills (the key boards) and the Puddle (just general pop brilliance)- what to me seems to be a nod to the brilliant past while blazing into the future.

Communist Rainbow Relationship- Two Horse Pony Loser

Maybe I am cheating by putting this under 2010, as it was released in November of 2009. But I only got it last year, and this is my blog, so my rules. The Black Keys have just released an album (El Camino)that already seems to be making into many “album of the year” lists (check this nice video from it)

Their album Brothers was released last year, and 2008’s Attack and Release is also a favourite and worth checking out- as are most of their videos.

This is from a collaboration with a number of hip hop artists, where they record under the guise of Blakroc- the whole album is brilliant, and this song is just goddamned sexy.

Blakroc- What You Do to Me (feat. Jim Jones, Billy Danze and Nicole Wray)

This lot supported the 3d’s at Sammy’s last year, and tore the stage apart. Snarling, spitting, funny and frightening; aggressive rock’n’roll- just the way its meant to be. Brilliant live, and a great debut album to boot.

Street Chant- Yr Philosophy

As well as just neglecting this blog the last few months, a few posts have also neglected its very Raison d'être (that’s French, y’know!)- a salute to the fine year of 1974 and its musical masterpieces, all nicely collected on 20 Solid Gold Hits vol 9.

the other night, there was only one choice . . .

Paper Lace- The Night Chicago Died

26 July 2011

1981: I want you to be happy

Just a quick reminder- sign the petition and/or make a submission to prevent the sale/closure of Radio 1. Needs to be done by Thursday. My previous post (and rant) tells why I think you should- check out their site for more coherent stuff about what is happening.

1981 was pretty weird times in NZ, with politics at it’s most obviously ugly. Rob Muldoon exploited the Springbok Tour and ran a hideous “Law and Order” campaign to get re-elected. It seems odd to think it was 30 years ago this week that protestors invaded the pitch in Hamilton to force the cancellation of the match there. I remember reading something from Desmond Tutu years later, saying how there was dancing in the streets of Soweto when the game was cancelled. In this doco he described it as “like the sun coming out”.
(Graham Reid’s excellent “Elsewhere” site has a piece on one song of the time, “1981”, by Riot 111. I made a comment below the piece, and it is worth checking the clip I mention)

In the midst of the tour, a more positive sporting occasion occurred. A strong Dunedin City football team came second in the National League (losing out on goal difference to Wellington Diamond United), but won the Chatham Cup 3-1 over Mt Wellington- a team containing a few New Zealand players, including one Ricki Herbert who was part of the All Whites team to qualify for the World Cup the following year. The League was great- competitive, and with plenty of NZ representatives (including Steve Woodin for City around that time, but not in the final).

I remember being sick in bed, listening to the game on my transistor, (which was by that time held together by sticking plasters). I don’t know who did the commentary, but in my mind’s eye, I can still see Mike Glubb receive the ball with his back to goal, swivel, turn and shoot- his second goal in the final helping City to a 3-1 win. (And, 30 years on Caversham are through to the semi-finals after a quarter final win on the weekend).

Aah, sport, music, politics. Gotta love 'em.

In 1987 I saw Brownie McGhee play at the Dunedin Town Hall- a fantastic experience. Sadly, Sonny Terry had died the year before. In 1981, Sonny Terry was with him when they played Nambassa. Being 14 at the time, and not there (possibly listening to 4XO on my transistor at the time) I have no idea what they played, but this track (and video!) is fantastic. (Sonny Terry, with his song “Fox Chase”, provided the soundtrack for Len Lye’s “Colour Cry” in 1953. Great clip, but dodgy quality on You Tube)

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee- Hootin’ Blues

Perhaps their anthemic “There is no Depression in New Zealand” was a more fitting 1981 song, but this has always been a favourite- ever since the unusual pairing of Blam Blam Blam with the Netherworld Dancing Toys on a live album- “The Blam Blam Blam Story” (one side for each band)- after they had toured together.

(I have never met anyone called Marsha- only one I ever knew was on the Brady Bunch. And she spelt it Marcia.)

Blam Blam Blam- Don’t Fight It Marsha (It’s Bigger than both of us)

Alas, never saw them live. Probably would have frightened a 13 or 14 year old. Christchurch’s finest- the Gordon’s. Latterly released on Flying Nun, but originally on Failsafe Records. (This video is available on the excellent Flying Nun “Very Short Films” compilation.)

The Gordon’s- Adults and Children

Possibly scary in it’s own way to, it is time to revisit Vol. 9. One of only two NZ tracks on the album, it is probably hard to find a bigger difference between Bunny Walters “1970’s cabaret” styles, and this New Zealand Glam-classic from Alastair Riddell’s Space Waltz. Fantastic.
Space Waltz- Out on the Street

5 July 2011

Radio One- Nostalgia for the future

A few weeks ago, Molly and I bumped into Ryan watching football on a Saturday morning. Never knew Ryan was a football fan- but was pleased he had popped to our place to see if Isaac wanted to come down as well, only to be refused because there was vacuuming to be done. Not sure if that was Isaac’s like of following parental instruction, or dislike of sport- but hey, the couch was cat-hair free when I got home.

Ryan, saying kind things about this blog, also said “It’s a kind of nostalgia thing for you, eh?” Ouch- made me feel old (not that being my age is a bad thing at all!),  but also reminded me that I have not touched on anything at all from this decade.

Recent events in Dunedin have evoked both feelings of nostalgia, and a heightened awareness of needing to be involved in the present and plan for the future.

Radio One has been, and continues to be, hugely influential on the music I listen to and enjoy. I also had the thrill  of being news reader and “acting news editor”;  voiced a few ads (with my radio voice, short run campaigns were best); I have had my own show (in 1988, the “Hydro Surf Dawn Patrol”- hilarious  really- I know I can barely swim, let alone surf (poor upper body strength, as the whanau will all attest!) and suspect the same of my co-host of the time) and various shows- both regular and irregular until about 1993 or 1994.

There were lots of laughs. I remember doing a show from 11pm till 1am one Easter, and ending up drinking whiskey and Stones Ginger Wine with the very dapper, but slightly dishevelled, station manager who stumbled in having completed playing organ at one of the Cathedrals in town for an Easter service. His usual attire included a knobbly woollen jersey, and gumboots- one white, one black. Arriving around midnight at the station, in his formal tails and bow tie, I was pleased to see he was still wearing the gummies, and wondered how they went on organ pedals.

I remember the hilarity  of reading the news (which at that stage was often just lifted from Teletext), and realising that each sports story one particular morning was so laden with sexual innuendo, that neither I nor the show host could complete a sentence without cracking up, and had to finally cut to music when it all became too silly. (legend also had it that the station was the first to broadcast the news of the first Fiji coup, beating the state radio station by about 20 minutes)

While the station has professionalised a lot since those days (generally for the better) all those experiences were wonderful for me, and led to some great friendships and experiences.

But far more important is the role Radio One has played, and continues to play, in the social, cultural and political fabric of Dunedin and beyond. A diverse news and political perspective; a broad exposure of the arts – local, national and international; and a constant exposure to an exciting and often exhilarating range of new and not-so-new music- all combine to make the station an escape from the usual drudgery and depressiveness of most other news and/or music stations available in the city.

And it is all under imminent threat because of a proposal under consideration by the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) to sell the station they have owned and operated since 1984.

I think this would be a tragedy for those who have benefited from the station- musicians, artists, performers,  and students (as well as OUSA as an organisation). And most especially, listeners who are continually exposed interesting, exciting, challenging, and provocative music. I also think it would be a betrayal to those students who over the past 27 years and more put in time, effort and money to create such a vibrant radio station.

If in any way you value “the arts”, and share a love of music, wherever on the planet (or beyond!) you live, please get involved in the campaign to save Radio One. Regardless of any views you have on who or how the station should be funded, please take the time to check their websites, facebook pages, and offer support and suggestions.

Via Radio One, Dunedin city has nurtured many local acts (The Verlaines; Die!Die!Die; Del Girl; The Puddle; 3D’s; Haunted Love; the Clean; Alizzarin Lizard; the Suds; TFF; Cult Disney; Hannah Howse; Sonic Smith; and many, many more) by giving them airplay, interviews, promoting gigs etc, some of whom have gone on to great things, and some of whom have brought joy for only a short time. Radio One has also done the same for national and international acts that exist outside the mainstream (wanted to avoid that godammed word!), and who have had the opportunity to be exposed to Dunedin and New Zealand audiences without being financially or artistically crippled in the process- to the benefit of both artist and audience.

The loss of Radio One could be the start of the creation of a cultural wasteland, where it is hugely difficult for music beyond the dictates of Australian radio programme directors running commercial stations to get any broadcast exposure.

The very thing the station was created to rebel against.

The following tracks are of relatively recent stuff I enjoy, and which I first heard on Radio One.

This one- well, it is just a very cool song off an excellent album. And I am a bit of a sucker for a duet. (One of my all-time favourites- Rae and I used to be able to do a pretty good rendition- is Duet, by the very wonderful early 1990's band Mink - featuring among many other notables, Dermania Lloyd and George D. Henderson)

Princess Chelsea- Cigarette Duet

Unfortunately no video with this one, but this is a great psychedelic pop track from Ruban Neilson's new band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Thought Ballune

Just love this, and the "lyrics" have become a bit of a throwaway line with me and the kids. The song is a few years old now (2008), but still gets a bit of deserved airplay. (As does other stuff from Sonic Smith- a fine local exponent of electronica)

 Sonic Smith- Condensation 101

I heard a lovely interview with this artist on Aaron Hawkins' breakfast show a few weeks ago- on, of course, Radio One. Unfortunately could not get out to Chick's Hotel in Port Chalmers to see her when she was here. Stunning song- gorgeous and original voice, great guitar playing.

Tiny Ruins- Little Notes

17 June 2011

1986- "Keeps Spiders in Her Pocket"

Short(ish) and sweet this week, since I am already late posting. (And last week may have been too much talk and too much music). Just four tracks this time, and each, for me, is  resonant of the time.

I decided ages ago this clip had to be posted. It is another one that was on regular rotate at Radio One in 1986/1987. 
Oddly, I only ever saw a few episodes of Spitting Image- on the show, Thatcher was always brilliant, but really, for me it was all about this song- the clip of which I did not see for years. It was highly topical for NZ, the year after widespread demonstrations against the planned All Blacks rugby tour to Aparthied South Africa, combined with legal action, meant the tour  was called off- only to take place in 1986 under the guise of “the Cavaliers”. (And which also led to this song- by a veritable who’s who of NZ music of the time- “Don’t Go”,  reaching the NZ charts)

Of course, South Africa, still appallingly unequal and economically and socially divided, is a better place. Rae is visiting at the moment, and thus far has only met nice South Africans.

Spitting Image- I’ve Never Met a Nice South African

Look Blue Go Purple were legends. It was very cool being a high school kid and popping over to the EMI record shop on Princes Street and seeing Lesley Paris selling records behind the counter. You just don’t get that with downloads! This song is probably more accurately 1985, from their “Bewitched” EP, but I think the vid came out in 1986. 
I did 6th form Classics at school, so always loved the title and topic of this song. (Inside information is that the whiskey they are knocking back in the video is really just cold tea. Not so rock and roll, but probably for the best, given the high, windy (both meanings of the word) roads of the Otago Peninsula) Perfect Pop music.

Look Blue Go Purple- Circumspect Penelope

Bjork. Genius. And something of her solo stuff will no doubt appear at some stage in this blog. 
But this is the Icelandic version of the first most of us ever heard of her- in English it is called “Birthday”, and came out in 1988, but this version is from 1986.
I remember playing it over and over one afternoon, living on Cargill Street in 1989. Oddly, Buck and I took turns at resetting the needle on the turntable, and stood on the arms of different armchairs while it played. About 20 times.
It is worth also checking out a brilliant live version of this, as well as the English language version. Just lovely. And you can sit in your armchair for each, if you so wish.

Sugar Cubes- Ammæli (Birthday)

With so many gorgeous tunes, it was always going to be hard to pick something from the Bats. So if you don’t know much of their stuff, check out more. If you do- well, you know you are going to anyway. This is from the album “Daddy’s Highway”- again, it is listed as being 1986/87, so I am taking the liberty of including it here regardless.
Happily, we got to see the Bats perform either early this year or late last year- twice within 24 hours. They played an excellent gig at Sammy’s on a Saturday night, and then an intimate afternoon gig at  Chicks Hotel in Port Chalmers on the Sunday afternoon. Just like having them play in the front lounge, and was lovely, because both Isaac and Molly came along and enjoyed it. Kinda cool that nearly 30 years after first hearing them that they are still putting out beautiful, original stuff- and that we can introduce it to our own kids.
I decided on this one both because it is just wonderful, and for the poignancy of the site for the video shoot- an intersection of inner city Christchurch that was devastated in the February earthquake. Indeed, it doesn’t look good.

The Bats- Block of Wood

7 June 2011

1979 “The Loving Finger Points at You- As You Whip Your Back With Thorns”

For me, the main event of 1979 was shifting from Christchurch to Dunedin, a few months short of my 12th birthday. Oddly, music was important in demonstrating the huge change that can occur changing cities and schools. Ultimately the change was great- I have said before how great it was to be a teen in Dunedin during the 1980’s. with so much wonderful music coming from (and to) the city. But I did not know that at 11 years old . . .

My schooling in Christchurch had been at a large, state, co-ed school for kids aged 5- 12/13. We plenty of space- sports fields, outdoor 25 meter swimming pool. It was in a far from affluent area of the city, but I think that was just the way schools were built by the state. It was all very liberal- sport was encouraged, but it did not matter what sport you played (despite one of the teachers being in a NZ rugby team ( I think NZ “B”) which played in Argentina in the late 1970’s); Richard Hadlee visited and bowled a ball so hard it broke through a fence on the school boundary; Selwyn Maister came to the school and showed us his 1976 Olympic Hockey Gold Medal. We sent a letter to Margaret Mahy, and she came to read A Lion in the Meadow to our class under the shelter of a huge weeping-willow tree on a sweltering Canterbury day. Singing at assembly was a big thing- often 1960’s American and British “folk”; or a seemingly newly developing New Zealand variant for schools- songs about the first Maori waka; conservation themed stuff. My god- maybe it was a school of hippies!

The shift to a small Catholic school for boys aged 8-12/13; school uniform (including “garters” for your socks- what the hell were garters??!!); a concrete playground; and pretty much only religious songs- well, it was a bit of a shock. (Although, in fairness, one of the teachers who was there when we arrived- and left on tour soon after- was the lead singer in “The Knobz”)

All the while, 1979, like any year really, was creating some musical gems . . .

Overall, this post is very much reggae influenced (although no actual reggae appears). The first track, however, is just snotty-nosed pop-punk from Invercargill’s finest front-man, Chris Knox, here as part of Toy Love. They released two fine “Double-A-Side” singles, this being one side of one of them.

Toy Love- Squeeze

I remember at high school “discovering” the Clash. For a short while there was the nonsensical tribal debate of “who is the best? The Sex Pistols; the Clash; or the Jam?” All great in their own way, but it was more the Clash for me.
And so starts the reggae infused sound of the rest of this week’s post. The politics of this always attracted me- released before the Brixton riots of 1981 (which is when I first heard this album, and thus thought it was about- as well as always linking it to Blair Peach who was killed by the British police in 1979)
And so starts the reggae infused sound of the rest of this week’s post. From London Calling; a great live version of one of only a few of songs Paul Simonon wrote and sang,

The Clash- The Guns of Brixton

Until this week I never noticed that the following song was a cover when it appeared on London Calling. Glad I know now, coz this is kinda cool. This track was originally released in 1958 by Vince Taylor (who was also an influence on Bowie in creating the Ziggy Stardust persona)

Vince Taylor- Brand New Cadillac

Vince Taylor - Brand new Cadillac (live) by fredozydeco

The Slits toured with the Clash, and had the whole punk/reggae/ska vibe going on too. Sadly, Ari Up, the youngest member of the band (17 when this track was released) died last year. (Interestingly- or not- her mother married John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten)
This track is lovely- although the video quality is a bit dodgy. It is worth checking out other stuff of theirs- in particular, listen to “Typical Girls” and tell me that Bjork was not influenced by the Slits.

The Slits- Instant Hit

With  the behaviour of a number of high profile French men of late perhaps exposing the stylised, black-and-white, chain-smoking  cinematic view of the libidinous Gallic male for what it is, this might not be the best time to introduce the serial charmer Serge Gainsbourg to the blog. But this song, with lyrics from the French national anthem, and featuring Sly and Robbie, along with the “I Three’s”- Rita Marley, Judy Mowat and Marcia Griffiths, is fantastic.

Serge Gainsbourg- Aux Armes Et Caetera

It seems almost sacrilege to post the next song. But hey, it is from Vol 9, so it has to be done. Sticking with the reggae theme, the Bob Marley origninal is far better. (Easy to say but true) This was a big hit for Eric Clapton.

Appropriation, or helping bring a different style to the mainstream? I guess it could be asked of all of the stuff above . . . and probably any art form that is influenced by something that has gone before . . .

Eric Clapton- I Shot the Sheriff

30 May 2011

1992- "I am not paid to listen to this drivel"

The World Cinema Showcase screened in Dunedin (and elsewhere around New Zealand) a few weeks ago. The only film I managed to get to was William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, which I saw with Bill (not Burroughs- that would be weird). Glad I did, and think it is time to read some Burroughs.

Bill (not Burroughs etc . . .)and I used to host a show on Radio 1 in 1992/93, and this excellent track was play-listed there for a bit at that time. The music is by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

William S. Burroughs- Words of Advice for Young People


The 3D’s are perhaps my favourite band of all time. I remember first seeing them play to about 40 or 50 people on  a Friday night at the university in 1989, in what must have been one of their first performances as a 4-piece. Their recorded stuff is fantastic- their live sets were legendary, if occasionally seemingly life-threatening. (Feeling as if my hair would singe as an onstage fire-eater blew flame along the low ceiling in the Crown Hotel during one memorable gig with another great band, Cyclops; and feeling the floor move beneath my feet as 2 or 300 of us leapt with reckless abandonment at the Hellzapoppin’ release gig up two levels in an old warehouse.) That album was only released on CD, not vinyl, which lead me to buying my first cd player in 1992.
Brilliantly, they played some gigs last year, and we (me, Rae, and thrillingly- for him and for us-Isaac) got to see them at Sammy’s.
Flying Nun have just released (May 30) the two first e.ps and other early recordings on a CD “The Early Recordings.”
Their albums are available ridiculously cheaply on the Flying Nun website.
I have struggled to find the perfect track to post- and have gone with this one, even though there is no video.

The 3D's- Sunken Treasure

Bruce Blucher (formerly of The Alpaca Brothers; and also Cyclops) fronted this great band, with Robbie Yeats on drums, and Paul Cahill and Andre Richardson completing the line-up. Noisy, droning and brilliant. This is from their first album, 1992's  Gritt and Butts . It also appeared on the wonderful Xpressway Compilation Killing Capitalism With Kindness. (Check out the excellent "Nunblog" by Xpressway founder Bruce Russell.)

Trash- Telecom South

This week we have a Vol.9 shocker- a true video nasty.

It was my sister Jo’s birthday last week. She is 16 months older than me, so must have been 8 at the time of 20 Solid Gold Hits Vol.9. Clearly she was a true fan of at least one half of this duo- if the occasional hand drawn poster advertising “This Way to Donny’s House” was to be believed. (Any retort that a couple of pictures of Marie- her hair, so shiny; her teeth, so white- appeared on my wall are untrue, even if they were the only pictures left in whatever teen magazine had already been hacked by elder siblings. And I was only 7.)

If you can bear it, the song kicks in a few minutes into the video- the scarily tanned (and generally scary) Andy Williams, clearly a comic genius, introduces them (after showing a clip of a very young Donny when he first appeared on the show.) In 1974, when this screened, Donny was 16, and Marie 14. Wacky.

Donny and Marie Osmond- I'm leaving it all up to you

Hands up if you stayed . . . 

22 May 2011


An inadvertent theme emerged this week- 3 songs are movie-related, and one is, brilliantly, performed on a children's television programme. I struggled to find a New Zealand song with a clip from 1972- any suggestions?

The first track is from a Jamaican movie from 1972 (billed on one promotional poster as "more intelligent than Last Tango in Paris. ") A couple of years ago Radio One had a series of films played at that the Academy Cinema- (now the Church), and  think it was there that I saw this (although it may have been at a Film Festival screening). Regardless, loved the film, and the title track- sung by Jimmy Cliff who stars in the movie- is great. Far, far better than  this pretty awful 1983 track.

Jimmy Cliff- The Harder They Come

Diana Ross was nominated for an Academy Award for her starring role in the 1972 movie Lady Sings the Blues. I was 15 or 16 before I had even heard of Billie Holiday, when a friend really got into her stuff.
This track is from a 1957 television performance- gorgeous.Look out for the Roy Eldridge trumpet solo about 5 minutes in- especially at 5:41- genius!)

Billie Holiday- Fine and Mellow

I have a "Motown 50" triple cd, and amongst quite a few gems (and a few not so much), the Stevie Wonder stuff stands out. Watching this next one just shows that there was a time when children's television was not all saccharine  and patronising. Just watch the kid on the balcony- he totally gets it. Go Sesame Street!

Stevie Wonder- Superstition

Time for the ubiquitous "Vol. 9" song. I am not even quite sure why this was on Vol. 9- the movie from which it came was released in 1970; the omnipresent tv series started in 1972 (We got a tv in 1974, the series finished in 1983 and seemed to be on constant repeat for years). Apparently the lyrics were written by the movie directors 14 year old son- very bleak!- who, it is said, got more for the song royalties than his father did for directing. (On 20 Solid gold Hits Vol.9 there is not credit for the vocals- it is just listed as "MASH- the Theme From M*A*S*H- apparently it was "just" session musicians performing it)

MASH- The Theme From M*A*S*H

15 May 2011

1999- Channelling Prince

It is late, I am tired. Which may explain the very laid back selection this week.

Maybe it was just the time; maybe it was that Molly was born in 1999, and raucous music was less present in the house. I love each of these tracks, and know they will  be in my head for the week. For me, this is a good thing.

I know I posted a Shayne Carter last week- perhaps I am still getting over that being in Dunedin we did not get to see his "Last Train to Brockville" gigs in Wellington and Auckland recently. Whatever the reason- great band; great song; great video. 

Dimmer- Evolution

It was mentioned today that we have a lot of Beck albums. Midnite Vultures is a favourite, and channels Prince, and even Mick Jagger. Cool white-boy soul; and pretty damn funny too.

Another musical genius.

Beck- Debra

Music awards are notoriously fickle, but it seems that sometimes they get it right. I did not know (or remember) that this was the "Single of the year" at the New Zealand Music Awards in 1999. Some of the other finalists (and winners) from that year are quite frightening- but hey, each to their own. There is something about the Chinese notes/ rhythm/ string-plucking thing that really gets me in this song. (I know that ain't a proper description of music, but that's why I am a fan not a musician).

Che Fu- Scene III

(There is a great documentary  From Street To Sky about his father, Tigilau Ness, which screened on Maori TV a couple of years ago, that is worth checking out if you can get it. He is also a musician in Unity Pacific)

Time to hark back to this blogs namesake, Vol. 9. It seems carnal thoughts aplenty were occurring in movie theatres around New Zealand in 1974- if it wasn't the Drifters snogging in the back row, it was our own Bunny Walters "stealing kisses when the lights were low." At least when he left the theatre, he was, the song assures us, happy only holding hands. Very wholesome.

Unfortunately no video, but with a quality song like this, who needs the visual distraction?

Bunny Walters- The nearest thing to heaven

7 May 2011

1984- "If you want to know the meaning of meaningless . . ."

This is a long post- 5 songs and plenty of ranting. I think I will have to revisit 1984 again- I could have immersed myself in the Flying Nun pool and never returned, there was so much stuff that I loved realeased that year. But 1984 was not all black jerseys and winkle-pickers . . .

A comment from the Supercoach to last weeks post led me straight to 1984. He tells us that in 1974, Elton John realeased his first “Best of” album, and wondered who might hold the record for the most “best of” albums through the years. I don’t know the answer to that, but can say it appears that the very same Reginald Kenneth Dwight himself has at least 7 or 8. Including the execrable 1986 album “Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.” Terrible singing; worse arrangements and god-awful wigs.

But . . . in  February 1984, I travelled to Christchurch from Dunedin to see Elton play at Addington Showgrounds. He had started working with Bernie Taupin again; and for the first time in years had most of his early 70’s band with him. The 25000 stong audience, (including me and the pierced, mohawked, leathered punk standing and singing at the top of his voice next to me) loved it.

(Unfortunately could not embed this clip, but it is worth following) From the brilliant 1975 movie, “Dog Day Afternoon” (directed by Sydney Lumet and starring Al Pacino)- this is the opening sequence, with Elton John singing “Amoreena”

I am sure it is not that often that an Elton John track is followed by the Tall Dwarfs. This fantastic Chris Knox video was watched over and over at Liam’s house in 1984 (Liam was my best friend; had great taste in music; and was the first person I know who had a video recorder. It was another few years before he and I got to see them live- described in the comments section at the bottom of this review)

Tall Dwarfs- Phils Disease (Day 1)

I have been in meetings where people have suggested meeting on the 7th of May. I always want to say only if they want to know the meaning of meaningless.

Brilliantly, I got to see the DoubleHappys play in 1984 at an “underage” venue in Dunedin. 27 years on, whether with Dimmer, “The Adults” or on his own, Shayne Carter is still a genius.

DoubleHappys- The Other’s Way

(Shayne Carter was only 20 when this was released. Look at this live clip of them- truly rock gods even then) 

Alastair Galbraith fronted the Rip, one of my favourites of this time. Two wonderful E.P’s, a myriad of superb performances- including a gig at Chingford Park (at which another band, EOE- who, despite only having 3 or 4 songs written- arrived in a stretch limo driven by the guy who chauffeured the Beatles when they visited Dunedin- total class)  Alastair Galbraith is worth checking out nowadays too- an “experimental” musician of international repute; a total artist.

The Rip- Holy Room

1984 wasn’t all Elton John and Flying Nun though. The Smiths released this, their second single, in 1ate 1983, but was also a bit of a summer anthem for us in 1984. This clip is a “fan video”, because I first heard and loved the “London” version of the song- and the official video is “Manchester.” Lovely.

The Smiths- This Charming Man

30 April 2011


It was 1974, Christchurch. I was 6 or 7 years old, and we were given a new, portable turntable/radio- for Christmas I think.

No external speakers.


Maybe only 1 channel for sound, but we did get two new L.P’s- Basil Brush; and “20 Solid gold Hits, Vol. 9”.  Formative influences on my musical tastes, indeed.

Before that, it was all Radio Avon, and Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40”. Shifting to Dunedin in 1979 meant later teenage years were all Flying Nun and Radio 1.

So, this blog is a musical journey of sorts, randomly put into year categories. Just for fun.

Comments and recommendations of other songs from the relevant year most welcome- post a clip if you can.

It seems only right that I should start with 1974, the date of release of the masterful "20 Solid Gold Hits, Vol. 9".

Three songs for your listening and viewing pleasure.

The 3D's did a brilliant version of this live; it is also on the flip-side of their 1992 single "Outer Space".

TURN DOWN THE VOLUME- this clip is weirdly loud. The video itself- just wonderfully weird- filmed in MIT's "Experimental Color Studio" in 1976.

Brian Eno- "Baby's on Fire"

In 1974, Bowie released "David Live". On it, he did a cover of a track more famously covered with true disco fever by Amii Stewart a few years later. Here is the Eddie Floyd original, from 1966.

Eddie Floyd- Knock on Wood

First song from Vol 9. A bit faster than the version on the record, but still great. Shirley Bassey introduces them- its the Drifters!

The Drifters- Kissing in the Back Row (of the movies)