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Speaker: Singing g against the E chord

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  • Russell Brown,

    Okay, go ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18970 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    I "bags" the 3Ds Fish Tales and / or Swarthy Songs For Swabs eps.

    I saw the 3Ds in at least 11 different venues, lets alone how many times at the Empire or Sammy's and saw them from their second gig until their last. I've got loads of great memories related to that band and their music, so will prattle on at large about it later this week.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Macdougall,

    Oh yes, those 3Ds gigs at the Empire were sublime.

    And I'd love to see a run of David Mitchell posters for them too - I wonder if anyone still has these?

    Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Okay, go ...

    That makes it seem so easy. But now I'm faced with the difficult task of figuring out which is my golden NZ recording (so many to choose from!) and then crafting some prose in the shadow of Mr Downes' fine work above.

    I'm excited. Watch this space.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1863 posts Report Reply

  • Andy Turley,

    Well I decided I'd just go ahead and actually register so i could respond rather than just read on...

    Having thumbed through Grant's book, i was torn between how enjoyable a read it was, and my near rage at the exclusion of Superette's Tiger. Grant tends to hit the nail on the head as far as my tastes go so i got a wee bit puffed up.

    Years ago i used to work for a pittance in Taupo and would make regular runs up to auckland for the weekend to catch up with mates, go to gigs and generally over-indulge myself. But almost without fail for that whole summer, i'd bust out of work bang on 5 (or earlier if no-one was looking), point my $800 mitsi stationwagon, resplendent in it's metallic poo paintjob, towards the big smoke and fire up Superette. I offered my flatmate $800 for the car if he couldn't sell it before he moved to australia. I'd just helped him install about $700 worth of stereo in it... he couldn't sell it in time and i got the good deal!

    But every time, with that golden sun setting out to the west, music blaring, some of taupo's finest stashed under the seat... so yeah, why doesn't someone elses book reflect my personal opinion!?!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    "No fists", he said, which might have been slightly reassuring were he not holding a doubled over length of wharf rope and his mate's forearm was in a cast.

    So what was he proposing instead - a knife fight or a skipping contest?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    So what was he proposing instead - a knife fight or a skipping contest?

    Did you guys' school playgrounds have those heavy yellow nylon ropes for skipping here? God, they were quite an incentive to become very fast and agile... if it was double-dutch pepper the guy was proposing then the kniife fight might be the safer option.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    I'd have to say the first Headless Chickens record, the self-titled mini-album. Still. Hugely evocative of its time and place - Auckland in the mid-80s, which was a darker, nastier, weirder place than now - and of the impressionable age at which I played it to death: 18. It was the perfect record for someone aged 18 - dramatic and sorrowful, all that stuff - but it was also very, very funny in parts (Chris Matthews, no relation, never really got his due as a satirical writer) and more sonically inventive than almost everything else going on in NZ at the time. There's a kind of laughing contempt for suburbia, normality, rules, authority on that record - "We could wreck dad's car/and put ourselves in traction" - that's very typically "kiwi", but I've never heard it expressed better in NZ music.
    I don't know if that record is in Grant's book, but I've got to say I was massively impressed when he opened his appearance on Kim Hill on the weekend with a dissing of Split Enz and the parochial assumption that All Things Finn have a deep and lasting place in our hearts. Talk about clearing the air: some of us have been waiting ages for someone to say that.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Talk about clearing the air: some of us have been waiting ages for someone to say that.

    I thought people said stuff like that about the Finns all the time.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Not music critics so much, I think. It seems to me that it's been taken for granted for ages that NZers feel warm or proud or affectionate about Split Enz - one of those NZ success stories that you're not allowed to question. People get stuck into the Finns from time to time, but we act like Split Enz, as an historical entity, are hallowed.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Garageland - "Come Back Special" EP (1995)

    Garageland's "Come Back Special" EP is 12 years old now and I still listen to it a lot and every song on it is golden. But don't call it a comeback - the title is "Come Back Special", three words. You are special and you need to come back.

    So it's time to pull open the CD case, feeling the plastic ping open, and pop out the CD with its white, pixely/snowflakey design and put it in a stereo (not Walkman, computer or iPod, thanks). Press play. Hear the laser squelch.

    It is time to be welcomed to the pavilion up here at Lake Arrowhead. It is time to meet Mr Personality himself - Donny Brooks, and the sped-up soundbite from some 1960s-style American film. And soon the lovely, chimey guitar kicks in, bringing with it the rest of the band. And it becomes obvious that we're not at the pavilion in Lake Arrowhead. We're somewhere in suburban New Zealand, but we're wishing we were at a swell 1960s teenage hop in America.

    Sometimes I get a little out of line. Sometimes I lose it.

    Jeremy Eade kind of slurs his way through the verses, as if they are only there as a lead-up to the chorus. Cos the chorus is mighty. The chorus deserves to be shouted from a high place. Like the top of the car park building on Bryce Street or up by the water tower on Ruakiwi Road. And you'd shout out, "Come back! All is forgiven!" And you'd mean it.

    Billy Joel is an asshole.

    If you're feeling too uplifted by "Come Back", then you must be brought back down to earth. Here, listen to this - it's the sound of a lawnmower starting up. You're still in your bedroom. Now track two is here. It's called "Struck" and it's the blues for suburban white kids. "Struck" has four chords in it and sometimes they're played high, sometimes low (__a bit like life, yeah__). You should only listen to "Struck" at night. And you should be alone and in a dimly lit room and be a little drunk and maybe smoking cigarettes. And then when Jeremy sings, "Please play me 'Benny and the Jets'," you'll nod. And when he sings the chorus - "I'm kinda struck by the way I fucked up" - you'll try not to feel too bummed out, but then the searing guitar will come along and push you over the edge.

    Say goodbye to all the hot lights.

    Which leads us to a question - "What will you do?" The guitar in the verses is twitchy and uneasy. It needs to know the answer. It's trying to figure things out. But the chorus just repeats the question and things are much smoother and easier. The drumming offers a steady, reassuring beat throughout. The answer is there is no answer, but that it's OK to not know what you'll do.

    Every time I think you, well, I get out of my head.

    You know when you're in love and it feels so choice that all you want to do is a) shag your sexy new boyfriend/girlfriend and b) kick arse cos you're just feeling so awesome? That's what "Fay Ray" is all about. When Jeremy and Debbie sing of these twin desires - "I gotta get some. I gotta have some." - this is also how a giant Fay Ray monster would feel scaling the Empire State Building herself. The last minute of "Fay Ray" is all squiggly guitar, so you should get up off your bed and dance to it.

    I'm gonna sneak under your skin. Gonna never let you win.

    It is determined that the PA system is in working order, so the sexy bass, flirty guitar and impatient drums kick in, and the pop cigar of "Pop Cigar" is lit. This is not a song that celebrates the awesomeness of pop. It celebrates the awfulness of it. The moment when you realise that music has taken over your life and things aren't quite going as planned, but yet it doesn't really matter cos you're smoking on a pop cigar and (how's it go?), oh, and it doesn't taste that bad.

    Not bad at all.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1863 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    By the way, don't let the length of my bit (or Graeme Downes' piece above) put you off writing something yourself. If all it takes is one sentence or one paragraph, then that's all you need to write.

    Rock on, write on.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1863 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Robyn wins the internet! That ruled.

    Re Split Enz: I suppose I find blanket condemnation just as dull/infuriating as blanket praise. I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here. Perhaps I mean that railing against the 'Thing' that Split Enz have become in the national imagination is sort of counterproductive. Why not just take the music on its merits? Cut through all that other stuff and ignore it. It's like this friend I have who hates The Beatles. But he really likes sixties pop - The Kinks, The Zombies, The Left Banke. So what he *actually* hates, when you get right down to it, is the hoopla surrounding The Beatles, and that's poisoned how he reacts to their music. Which I think is a bummer.

    (I think Split Enz were sporadically great, for what it's worth. A bit too much filler on some of those albums, though. I mean, who listens to Conflicting Emotions all the way through, ever? Some of it has dated rather badly, too. But still. Some terrific songs.)

    And oh, yes, the 3Ds. I loved the 3Ds. And I used to go and see the Headless Chickens when I was 17, with my dodgy fake ID, and yell out all the words to 'Gaskrankinstation', lo those many years ago when the drinking age was 20... I suddenly feel old.

    I might try to dream up a proper entry later this week. But seriously, Robyn needs that book! I vote for her! (I skimmed the book this past weekend. It's good.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Robyn wins the internet! That ruled.

    Aw, thanks, Danielle!

    I loved the 3Ds. And I used to go and see the Headless Chickens when I was 17, with my dodgy fake ID, and yell out all the words to 'Gaskrankinstation'

    Me too! My favourite bit was yelling out "Marry the future? Kiss my arse!" in Railway Surfing.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1863 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    So it's time to pull open the CD case, feeling the plastic ping open, and pop out the CD with its white, pixely/snowflakey design and put it in a stereo (not Walkman, computer or iPod, thanks)

    If you're putting CDs in your iPod, that's either bad for the CD, or for the iPod (or possibly both).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • craigm,

    If all it takes is one sentence or one paragraph, then that's all you need to write

    .

    This got me thinking. There's really only one album that persistenly uses such economy of lyrics to express raw emotion which when combined with utterly original music make a unique album. I'm sure i cant my thoughs on this album as succinctly myself but here goes.

    The Chills, "Brave Words" (1987)

    The opening song Push is only 1:30 long and starts with such a quietness and spareness of a single strummed guitar on a slightly dissonant chord that you'd miss it if you werent paying attention. The song details the give and take of a strained realtionship, each push emphased with a hiss, like a shhh be quiet, i have something to say so you better listen. Martin Phillipps voice barely rises above a whisper yet the power of his lyrics resonate. Yes you sure know
    how to make life hard
    . As soon as you realised the song is there's it's over, a lost snatch of feeling.

    Rain is more upbeat with a jangling guitar and piano entry, although the subject matter is bleak, possibly about the suicide of a friend But what i want to know is did you scream and fall __what were you thinking, didn't you ever think of giving me a call__. Phillipps voice this time is more up front often jumping an octave and again he's not afraid to only sing in snatches and let the lyrics speak for themselves, (as brave words). In the middle section the guitar drops out to let him clearly voice his feelings about the friend he is singing about. The song ends with the full band back in on a rousing piano lead finish.

    Speak For Youself again only two minutes longs is guitar driven with Phillipps voicing almost shouting this time in anger at lovers and teachers and home breakout and speak for youself for the times are running over you more brave words. The song jangles and swirls with the monochord guitar and organ creating a mesmerising whirlpool of sound with a stand up and be counted message.

    Look For The Good in others... is old fashioned punk with a positive outlook, the odd fa fa fa faa thrown in, but later the knife twists l've learnt just who my friends are and no-one really cares

    Wet Blanket is one of those near perfect unrequieted and understated love songs, well i'm not in anyone, but i could fall in love with you The rolling bass line and 12 string guitar drive the song along with Phillipps voice in full flight covering the octaves, i've got nothing to say to anyone, except to you i love you all over in 2:40.

    Ghosts (4:30) is the closest thing to an epic on the album, but again it starts out so quietly with just a single note picked out on a 12 string that you're unsure if the song has really started. By the end of though you've been through the whole house of horrors. The song swirls around the organ and 12 string but isnt afraid to step down a notch mid way through in a delicate icicle like picked section where the bass moons and soars while the 12 string gradually picks up the crescendo until the whole band laucnhes back in and Phillipps appeals for help from a primeval forace help me help me help me ghosts he begs.

    Dan Destiny charts the comic book character so common in many Chills songs, a song about growing up and leaving home, again brave actions, spoken bravely.

    Night of Chill Blue returns to the quiet unassuming start before building into a rousing crescendo. Another song about love and loss it's all been said in other songs and if i try to say it new i'll say it wrong Night of chill blue evokes wandering the dunedin hills at night staring the sky wondering if your lover is watching and feeling the same emotion. It's the night of chill blue and i hope to god you feel this too

    16 Hearthrobs again deals with the death of a friend__Jayne with a why why why__ and is almost dirge like in feel with the carnival organ lending a slighlty surreal tone to Phillipps sneering but optimistic voice snivelling relatives a the feet of another mosit corpse __remember the good times will you jayne__

    My personal favourite is the shortest song on the album (1:30) and the title track. Brave Words is a short sharp shout of optimism in the face of adversity cos i'd rather go trying to battle, battle the doubts inside instead of watching the wrinkles grow deeper, noticing varicose veins Brave Words indeed, sung with conviction and passion. The end of each stanza emphasised by a slightly discordant few notes that draw attention to the phrase and the march like urgency of the drumming make this a statement of intent i mean does apathy come with age.

    Dark Carnival reminds me of Robert Johnson wanting to sell his soul but not quite getting up the guts to do it, the icy keyboards playing a repeatitive phrase matching the opening Dark Carnival chant We were waiting at the crossroads, sitting at the side feeling tired and wired, but you never get a ride when the cars come and you hide

    Creep wraps up the album with an optimistic offering of the hope of eternal life, a fitting way to finish what is such a raw emotional yet ultimately uplifting album. Songs of love, love lost, life and death and above all hope. your the answer to a prayer time after time year after year

    This album certainly has been that for me over the last 20 years.
    Each listening brings renewed hope for the future and a reminder never to loose sight of your dreams and to stand up for what you believe in. After all isnt that what rock 'n' rolls all about.

    Taupo • Since Nov 2007 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Regarding Split Enz, there's a huge difference between Phil Judd-era Enz and Neil Finn-era Enz. It's as if they're two different bands.

    With Phil Judd, on Mental Notes and Second Thoughts, they're way, way more out-there and far, far more original; like a sinister marriage between Eno-era Roxy Music, Eno's early solo albums and the (English) Canterbury scene (Soft Machine, Henry Cow, etc). The Beginning Of The Enz comp of early singles is also excellent, too. Overall, it's some of the most warped, truly unique music you'll ever hear.

    With Neil Finn they then became far more contrived and tended towards the more radio-friendly pop / new wave stuff they're mainly known for.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Dark Carnival reminds me of Robert Johnson wanting to sell his soul but not quite getting up the guts to do it

    craigm, thanks for taking the time to compose that. It makes me want to seek out the album and listen to it. A great debut post!

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1863 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Dark Carnival is the second Chills song on the "Scarfies" soundtrack. It didn't actually make the CD; but it's there in the movie at exactly the right time, as they're listening to Otago student radio describing the weather as "shitty... stay in bed" and not too coincidentally rigging up an electric shock device as a "deterrent".
    Martin Phillips himself didn't like the track much -- it was a failed experiment where he ended up having to do almost everything without the rest of the band -- but it's one of my favourites off "Brave Words", driven as it is by the soulless relentless chug of the drum machine that continues to beat even as the song fades.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 918 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    With Neil Finn they then became far more contrived and tended towards the more radio-friendly pop / new wave stuff they're mainly known for.

    I'm actually a fan of The Judd Years myself - he doesn't get his due - but I am going to have to say 'huh?' to the concept of the later, poppy years being 'more contrived'. That early stuff is so all about the fey posing! And really, the key thread running through all of the many incarnations of the band is that contrived self-consciousness. They were never about getting up there and bashing stuff out in a pair of Levis and a tshirt, were they? It's not like we're talking about the Ramones.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3661 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Grant McD,

    Don't forget the Kinks influence, especially on Judd's vocal inflexions. At times he seems to be channelling Ray Davies. Even on some of his post-Enz stuff - he's very Ray Davies on some bits of 'Counting the Beat'.

    Some other comments....The Clean's 'Billy Two' always sounded to me like another take on the Jam's 'Billy Hunt'. It's the aggression thing.

    Loved the Graham Downes piece - writing which just nails a time and place is fantastic, and it's quite difficult to pull off.

    I have no idea which album/EP i'm going to write about...there's a short list of about eight.

    Re:Early Headless Chooks: I've got a mini-EP soundtrack from some theatrical thing from around 1985...there's several one-offs on it from different outfits (Graham Humphries and Peter Keen have this thing called
    'If God Had a Megaphone', a line they would return to later (and yep, the first two Able Tasmans albums are on my short list)...The Headless Chooks had a track called 'Throwback' which doesn't seem to be on any CDHeard it on BfM around the time I was sitting in a house which had been sold, the other flatmates had scarpered to parents or boy/girlfriends houses and they had taken the heaters - it was June and bloody cold and I wound up breaking up the sole remaining bit of furniture - a couch - for firewood. 'Throwback' caputres the wintry bleakness of that time.

    The house itself, 28 Surrey cres, is now headquarters for Triangle TV, I noticed last time I was in Auckland.

    Moved out the day the Baby Blacks played FRance and stunned the country by beating them. Even wintry bleakness ends.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 805 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Rob -- the two tracks you've mentioned (Throwback, If God Had a Megaphone) are on a compilation tape titled "Children of the Generator". Is that the 'theatrical thing' you had in mind?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 918 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Linger,

    Dats der bunny.

    Got it somewhere, in vinyl form, probably in a beer crate in a cupboard in the attic....

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 805 posts Report Reply

  • craigm,

    Rob looking forward to hearing your list. I hope Hogsnort Rupert isn't on it! :)

    Taupo • Since Nov 2007 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    Alrighty, I had this half-written in my head, until the Enz got a minor bagging earlier. I will proceed however...

    In 1984 I was 13 and when a mate suggested we go see Split Enz at the Napier Municipal Theatre, it was a big deal. The whole occasion was a revelation, I was right at the front, about six feet from Tim Finn doing his one armed push-ups and riding one of the roadies like a horse. I had one Split Enz cassette at the time, Enz of an Era, which I didn’t listen to much. After the gig I was possessed. A second-hand record shop opened in Havelock North and someone had cleared their collection. I was able to buy all the albums (with the exception of Mental Notes) on tape. I still have all the tapes in a little cassette box my father bought when he was in Wellington for work in about 1985.

    The best one, in my humble opinion, is Second Thoughts. It wasn’t because it was a second stab at Mental Notes in a better studio, or the fact that Phil Manzanera produced (my vote for best British band of the 70s is Roxy Music). It was the last track on side one, one that isn’t on Mental Notes, called Sweet Dreams. Judd’s finest song ever, full of imagery and angst, it seemed to be all the fear he had to bottle up to get onstage at the time. With Judd they were a completely different animal to the radio-tastic 80s version. When Tim & Neil released their first Finn Brothers record in the early 90s I was at the release party and they finished the set with Sweet Dreams and I was just in heaven.

    Split Enz isn’t the greatest band NZ ever produced. The albums are a bit dated and have some filler. Like the Beatles, the familiar songs are too familiar to me. I don’t listen to those tapes any more but they are still there and an important part of my musical education. Without them I probably wouldn’t have become the music obsessive I was before my kids came along and took all my money!

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 563 posts Report Reply

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