Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Still sounds good

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  • Russell Brown,

    Just kicking off the thread ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    it's "last bus to Brockville" surely?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2181 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm gonna have to go for 'Randolph's Going Home'. Thinking of Wayne always makes me think about that brilliant little summer -- man, we had some fun.

    Just before the band left Auckland, I did a little interview for Rip It Up. They were as bratty as you'd expect, but Wayne also talked movingly about why anyone gets up on a stage and plays music: "It's not a pose, it's not fucking anything -- it's just a really wonderful feeling."

    When the record came out, it was this weird, mournful, lonely song that didn't sound like anything I'd ever heard before. Apart from the purpose it served for Shayne in the context of farewelling a lost friend, I think it showed new places he could go musically. Still one of my favourite records from anywhere.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • LIISA,

    I agree, Randolf is very great and moving every time. + Peter Jefferies in there too = bonus.
    And that whole BoredGames Ep was (personally) important - I got to it a little late due to age, yet the timing was perfect. (re: Joe 90 - I think its the handclaps in the chorus that make it really poptastic...) And SJFits... one of the bands I went to see every time it was possible.
    Enough fanboi - Here's the proof of the excellent SJFits reunion 2005 - live in DN:
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/nrmus/sjf_live_at_sammys
    See ya Friday Mr C! - In the mean time I've got a bit of this going on:
    http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nn.2726.html

    Wellie • Since May 2008 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Mind you there did used to be a 'train' (really a genuine cable car, not the Wellington thing that's really just a lift tipped on its side) that went up and over and dropped people off at the bottom of the Brockville hill - here's a picture of that last cable car (that vaguely went to Brockville) on its way back to town (going 2 blocks past my home)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2181 posts Report Reply

  • hayden ward, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Any chance you'll extend the trip for those of us outside the big city? It would be great to hear these songs at the cabana in napier

    Since Nov 2006 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • stephen clover,

    I also dig 'Dialling A Prayer' oh-so-super-much more than 'She Speeds' -- probably due to the order I discovered them in, but the latter is of course also a classic.

    wgtn • Since Sep 2007 • 354 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Regarding 'Randolph', let's not forget that Peter Jefferies is one of the great unsung figures of NZ music of the past 30 years. His works spanning This Kind Of Punishment, several superb collaborations and his outstanding solo albums really are to be treasured.

    Also, as I said here a week or so back,given the Brockville reference I can but hope that Shayne has a particularly special gig of this nature lined up for his Dunedin constituency.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 626 posts Report Reply

  • Tom,

    I guess i'm a more recent fan, but i'm going to go with evolution. I'd just won the Australian compilation from one of the street press mags when i got a job interview in the US. I took it with me and listened to it while driving a rental car down the 101. It didn't matter that the traffic was slow and freeway filled with potholes - there was sun and dimmer was blaring. The bass felt good, the song a bit more relaxed and confident than the earlier straight jacket fits tracks.

    P.S. This sounds like a train that needs an outing in Melbourne!

    Melbourne • Since May 2007 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Why no clips?

    Yes, Randolph is a truly beautiful song. The Doublehappys one apparently shot at Chris Knox's place. Dialling a Prayer: said by, I think Andrew Mueller, to have the only sarcastic finger clicks in rock history. Or something like that. I prefer it to She Speeds too.

    Looking forward to Shayne bringing this south. Love this too:

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to philipmatthews,

    Why no clips?

    How remiss of me.

    I'm pretty 'Randolph' is a Knoxy special too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Melt has always been a favourite album of mine. I love all the other stuff too, but when I want to listen to an album from start to finish, I'll play that.

    It is like the band arrived somewhere and created something that would last forever, and so far it's doing pretty well in my catalogue. Pick one!

    Ok, this...

    Listening to this song makes my hair tingle.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Another one for Down in Splendour. Gorgeous, gorgeous.

    And since Russell's too shy to link to his tribute to Wayne from 5 years ago, I will.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1427 posts Report Reply

  • R A Hurley,

    OK. Having just run out of funding for what little is left of my PhD - and thus contemplating 3 months of little more than rice with vegetable stock and the bruised, forlorn fruit still left at the vegetable markets by the time I get there - here is my effort to win a ticket to the Bodega show this Friday:

    For me, the very best Shayne Carter material is the very early Dimmer stuff from the mid-90s, when you couldn't be entirely sure that Dimmer even existed for more than a couple of weeks a year. Admittedly, it's a points decision. 12 rounds with The DoubleHappys in my mental boxing ring resulted in no knockout. What I love about this era's Dimmer - and about The DoubleHappys at their very best - was the beautifully minimal quality of the music when contrasted against the vocals. Consider 'Dawn's Coming In' from the B-side of the 'Crystalator' single. I remember when I first heard that track, heard that snare beat. "WHACK," it said. Then again, twice in quick succession: "WHACK/WHACK." And I remember thinking to myself "Wait, are you ALLOWED to do that? Won't someone come to your house and take your super special musician's club membership badge away unless you flash it up a bit?" And the WHOLE track was like that. It had a creep to it. It was obviously oh-so-carefully composed, yet it felt so minimal and delightfully simple. As a rather over-serious young man with a cheap Fender copy of his own, who had somehow acquired the belief that unless you could two-handed fret-tap you weren't really a musician, it really was a revelation. "YOU could do this," it said. "But you can't just be minimal, you'll also have to be CLEVER."

    And Dimmer were certainly that. For against the often deceptive nature of the music was set Carter's remarkable gift for hooks. But if the hooks weren't in the music, where were they? I'm glad you asked! The intellect and craft evident in early Dimmer tracks like 'Dawn's Coming In' and 'Don't Make Me Buy Out Your Silence,' not to mention DoubleHappys songs like 'Big Fat Elvis' and 'I Don't Want To See You Again,' is, I think, best perceived in the way that the vocals carry earworm melodies that aren't explicitly signposted by the music. Indeed, the music often seemed so minimal as to have permitted almost anything. Compare the pulsing bass of 'Dawn's Coming In' with the quiet ups and downs of the vocals. Or the almost ornate vocal delivery of 'Big Fat Elvis' compared with the relatively simple guitar chug which animates it. Imagine, for instance, what The Datsuns might have done - for the Lay-Dares, no doubt - with a guitar chug like that. (I'm sorry to have done that to you… but you do see what I mean, right?) The same is true of the vocal delivery of 'I Don't Want To See You Again.' All that ducking and diving over, what, 4 chords? Yes. The very best Shayne Carter material, for me at least, is where that remarkable voice is set free with only minimal instrumental supervision. In those situations, if you're paying attention, it's hard not to think: "Wait. This guy might just be one of the best singers New Zealand has ever produced… Tell The People!"

    Oh wait. Was I meant to choose just one? Umm… got to go with 'Dawn's Coming In.' For the above reasons. OK. Carry on.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to R A Hurley,

    Well, that's laying down the challenge to Wellingtonians ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • andrew r,

    A huge call - but I think the Double Happys were, are still, my fav ever nz band. Yep, for me they beat The Clean. Those nights back in '82, '83 at the Oriental in Dunedin, as a 19 year old. Wow . And as for Randolphs going home, sheesh . An amazing time to be young . So glad I was there .

    auckland • Since May 2007 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    In 2000 I was working at a job that had mutated from a quite cool job into a less-than-cool job. The days were long and complicated, and by the late-afternoon I needed something to prop my brain up and give me a reason to keep on working (if not a reason to live).

    The Straitjacket Fits best-of CD had been released a couple of years prior, and one afternoon at lunch I bought it, took it back to the office and slid it into the CD tray on my computer (man, this is starting to sound as ancient as "I wound up the old gramophone").

    The selection of songs was great, and a perfect gateway drug into the world of the Fits. But what captured me was the bonus CD, a selection of songs played as part of Triple J's Live at the Wireless series.

    Particularly it was the opening track, a live version of "APS" that got me. The original, from 1990 album "Melt", is plenty fine, but the live version is next level, baby. The guitars are noisier, chiming and jangling and oozing, the bass has the perfect Fits-ian stealth groove, and the drums are nice and cymbally - and I like good cymbal action.

    And then the vocals. Shayne Carter has the sneer and the attitude and the sex. Yes. The lyrics, enigmatic on the album version, actually seem to make more sense on this version, and yet the sense that's made is not that of the official lyrics.

    Such is the intensity and ferocity of this performance that at its conclusion, Shayne deadpans, "Phew. Is everyone's strings intact?"

    So I'd sit at my desk listening to "APS" on repeat through my crappy headphones. It made the afternoon, and life in general, tolerable.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1869 posts Report Reply

  • Samuel Scott,

    Reading Shaynes post I was getting really excited about commenting on how much I too love 'Randolph's Going Home' but then everyone else beat me to the punch. Great tune.

    I sadly very unversed in the Double Happys

    South Wellington • Since Feb 2008 • 304 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Was going to come back and say "but what about these two?" But sadly YouTube has neither "Burn it up" (SJ Fits) or "Scrapbook" (Dimmer). Two very, very good songs.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    ahem, much as I love SJF's Down in Splendour
    I'd have thought that in this context
    it would have to be considered more from
    Andrew Brough's back catalogue...

    ...on me Bike then...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5092 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    You know, I nearly changed songs because of that. Shayne did play pretty awesome guitar on it, but yes, you could argue that. However, my next choice from Melt wasn't on YouTube either.

    Scrapbook is awesome too.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Chockasunday,

    'Cast Stone' is my favourite. The epic closer to Melt.
    Hearing it at the Big Day Out '93 was huge in that stadium.
    Awesome closer to the Straitjackets' best album.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • William Daymond,

    Unfortunately, many Flying Nun bands, including the Straitjacket Fits, were more often than not very poorly represented on record, and it was live that they truly shone. It is this reason that I collect live recordings of many of my favourite Flying Nun bands, and almost in every case will prefer to listen to a cassette recording taken straight from the mixing desk in some pub in 1987 than a more "professional" recording done in a "proper" studio.

    I was too young to see Straitjacket Fits during their heyday with Andrew Brough, although almost as a consolation prize I saw them in Christchurch on their 2005 reunion tour, and to this day is one of the most mind blowing gigs I have seen. The song I am going to nominate may not be my all time favourite Shayne Carter song - that is like asking a mother what her favourite child is - but it is my current favourite.

    The song "Quiet Come", as presented on the 1990 album Melt, to me sounds somewhat flat and dull. However, a recording I have of Straitjacket Fits performing the song on a live to air on the Los Angeles radio station KPFK on 21 October 1989, is like hearing the four horsemen of the apocalypse come at 400 miles an hour down your street, with the destination of your living room.

    The band dynamics in the performance range from the juxtaposition of relaxing on a Sunday afternoon in your backyard with a glass of wine in your hand, only to suddenly have a 8.2 earthquake centered half a kilometer under you happen. This happens back and fourth during the performance. The lyrics, or at least to me, deal with the over familiarity of routine and wanting to get away from it all, but to no avail... "Long days of ground in habit, the wheels keep dragging, my Gibson whispers nothing to me.Those days I pine for silence,The fall of quiet just isn't loud enough"

    I love this song, and listen to it on a regular basis. Being a student $25 is a sizable chunk out of my weekly income to attend his gig at Bodega, although if I don't win this I'll still attend. I must have something to sell on the cheap...

    Wellington • Since May 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Re “Down in Splendor”. In 1996 I refused a date with a boy after discovering he regarded Andrew Brough to be the better songwriter in the Straitjacket Fits, and considered Bike’s album to be an absolute masterwork.

    I do not regret this. It’s a painfully dull song.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1869 posts Report Reply

  • Neil H,

    Hello – a fan from London here, who’s never been to NZ.

    I got into SJF in around ’93 and was lucky enough to see them live in two of their London shows in ’94. The ‘Powerhouse’ gig remains in my all time top 3 to this day. Singing along to Dialling a Prayer and She Speeds, the end guitar solo in Cast Stone (which still makes the hairs on my neck stand up), and dancing pogo style to all the classics from ‘Blow’ – great memories. I even managed to grab a sneaky recording of the gig.

    While I agree with all the tracks mentioned above, it’s that album that does it for me most consistently. It’s pure rock and roll bursting with energy, melody and subtlety from start to finish – there’s not a weak track on the album. Strangely enough, I played this album in my car yesterday, and the CD player broke, so it’s now stuck there until I break it open! It could be worse.

    How I’d love to come to NZ and see these gigs. So, if you feel inclined to offer the free tickets to me, all I have to do is to work out how I’m going to get there! Failing that, somebody, please record them…

    London • Since May 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

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