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

No comments:

Post a Comment