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


  1. Ah, Space Waltz - fantastic stuff :-)

    Crazy times, 1981. My memories are of a lot of mud, a fair bit of blood, and The Battle of Molesworth Street. The closest NZ got to rebellion.

    Good to see you working in a football theme to your music blog.

  2. And did you spot some of the similarities to a Len Lye film, in the Blam Blam Blam video? Apparently one method he used was to scratch and draw onto the film directly. Which kinda looks like what was occurring on the BBB vid.

    But what a strange little video the BBB one was! Esoteric. Abstract. Ohh - arty!!

    Another parrallel - when I made my comment above, the verification word was "anqua" which I interpreted as "Anchor" which made me think of "Anchor Me" by the Mutton Birds!!! Do you see where I'm going with this? Esoteric. Abstract............

  3. yeah, that Blam video does have a dodgy 1980's Len Lye feel to it!

    Don McGlashan and Harry Sinclair (Front Lawn) also made a couple of short films that are worth tracking down- as is their album.