Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Kiwi Top 10 -- Part II

It's true, there is a bit more to my appreciation of the NZ music scene during the years I was there than was indicated in my previous post. Like the wonderful Main Street and Zwines years – too few and too fast a-passing – that contrived to delay my PhD completion by some not inconsiderable time. There was music most nights, some of it so good that I recall its sound even over and above the methodical bang of the old BSA B-33 that would ferry me back to Laingholm in all conditions and states. As my mention of Red McKelvie in the previous post betrays, I'm not above a bit of casual namedropping here and there. So I can tell you that I was there and abouts during gestation period and short-lived comet-like career of the totally wonderful Screaming MeeMees – counting the van der Fluit family among my friends at the time. I see that Peter has stayed in the music game and nowadays co-runs a sound mix and production business (with his former MeeMees co-conspirator MM). “If this is paradise I'll take the bag” is in that heap of vinyl we lugged to Coatepec, and it gets dusted off regularly – along with Tall Dwarfs and the incomparable AK79 collection. Digging out the youtube flicks of those AK79 folks playing the 2008 reunion was a hoot. I couldn't find any vids of the Spelling Mistakes, but will keep looking.

So, to round the story out a bit, here's a selection that pretty much captures the best of the live local stuff that could be had on a reasonably regular basis in Auckland during the best times I knew there.

Screaming MeeMees – Compilation

Tall Dwarfs – Nothing's going to happen”

Chills – Wet Blanket

Clean “Tally Ho”

Verlaines – Death and the Maiden

Suburban Reptiles – Saturday Night

Spelling Mistakes – Feel So Good

The Terrorways – She's a Mod

Proud Scum – I am a Rabbit

The Scavengers – Mysterex

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Kiwi Top Ten -- to the time of leaving the country

I'm afraid to say that Split Enz just never did it for me. But plenty of other Kiwi born bands did, although by the time I was old enough to see them legally most had fled for more lucrative pastures -- especially to Australia.

Not all of my favourites can be sourced online, but a fair number can, and certainly enough to get a set that i'd be happy to take to that desert island.

I have included one audio only track because it just has to be on the list. Bari Gordon died tragically young, and to make it even worse he died of natural causes. But for me Bari and the Breakaways' "Sea Cruise" is in many ways the quintessence of Kiwi popular music: a down home band making its way playing local gigs in small towns, putting out til they drop.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's the best I can find online (plus Bari) of what I most enjoyed from the time I was old enough to buy my own albums until the time I left the country.

The songs are not listed in any order of preference. The bands are all "number ones" for me.

1. Bari and the Breakaways -- Sea Cruise

2. The Holiday Makers -- "Sweet Lovers in the Night"

3. Coup d'Etat -- "Doctor I like Your Medicine"

4.The La De Dahs -- "How is the Air Up There?"

5. Dragon -- "April Sun in Cuba"

6a. Toy Love -- "Squeeze"

6b. Toy Love -- "Toy Love"

7. The Enemy -- "Pull Down the Shades"

8. Misex -- "Computer Games"

9. The Underdogs -- "Wasting My Time"

10. Hello Sailor -- "Gutter Black"

11. Th' Dudes -- "Be Mine Tonight"

Oops. I went over time. How unusual.

12. And finally, a real celebration of a wonderful Kiwi bloke who spent a long time in Oz before going back. During his time overseas he played in the Richard Clapton Band, bequeathing us that timeless and unforgettable riff -- do do-do do do do. I ran into Red McKelvie in the Harbour Lights Lounge of the New Station Hotel in Auckland not long after he returned to NZ. Every Monday night there was live music in the lounge, and I needed it after doing the repeat lecture for the first year evening students who were doing the Foundations of Education course. After butchering Plato -- or, worse still, the eternally sublime Jean-Jacques Rousseau -- I really needed a restorative beer. One night the band had changed and it was Red's combo playing country music -- but in a certain kind of way. The way they were playing it kept me there til long after the bar closed officially, and I plucked up the courage to ask Red "Hey, man, do you play any Gram Parsons stuff?" Red gave me one of the warmest solidarity looks I have ever received -- prolly not so much of a deal since I don't tend to get many anyway. But I'll never forget it. The next week there were a couple of Gram songs in the set. I spent a lot of time listening and talking to Red over the next few years. He had a friend in England who had a copy of The International Submarine Band (led by Gram Parsons) album and wrote him by snail mail to ask if he'd make a copy on a cassette. It arrived by airmail and I sent a blank cassette back to the guy with huge thanks. That cassette still plays in Coatepec, although nowadays digits are easier and closer to hand.

But if Bari and the Breakaways are for me the quintessence of Kiwi popular music, so is Red McKelvie. May you riff and lick for ever, Red. Meanwhile, how does that riff go?

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