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