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Speaker: Singing g against the E chord

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  • Rob Hosking,

    Richard....by then I was flatting and Sunday night dinner was the late night horrors....the memory isn't what it was, so I'm prepeared to be wrong on this, but this listing site here has it in 1981: http://www.discogs.com/artist/Tall+Dwarfs

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    the one about the 0900 Trivia Quiz scam we ran so successfully that Big Ross was able to give up his day job and use the cash to set up Globule Records

    Heh, at the time, I remember reading (prob'ly in Rip It Up) about this krazy band called the Tufnels who'd funded their CD production via big winnings in the 0900 quiz line. I was so impressed by this story that I bought the CD and rather enjoyed it.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1846 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Kyle,

    Ahhh Rob I stand corrected, apologies - I gave the wrong album title though still a goodie. I'm thinking of 'That's the long and short of it' in 85 which ties in nicely with my memorory of the HLR march.
    If I remeber correctly after the march we all headed up to Radio Active for the late night feast of what was The Young Ones at 11.00pm.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Ladymink,

    yes, I lived through every moment of birthing that album (someone decided that the drums would sound better recorded outside the soundproofing of the studio and beneath my bedroom) glad you enjoyed it ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2007 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    and a poem that I found quirky about a guy who collected used teabags, dried them out, and used them to make a 'recycled teabag duvet'.

    Frank, I believe, by David Merritt. I saw him perform a couple of times when I first moved to Auckland. Supporting the 3Ds at the Gluey, and (I think) Alastair Galbraith at some dive that used to be on the corner of Symonds St & Khyber Pass. Had a good line in putting down hecklers or downright indifference. I believe he was also in Gate with Michael Morley occasionally. You will find it on Killing Capitalism With Kindness, amongst a bunch of other lo-fi gems. (not as good as Making Losers Happy though).

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Andy Palmer,

    It was nice of Russell to steal my thunder, but he wasn’t to know that even though the band broke up before I got to discover them, they are one of my all time favourites.

    In fact I was a bit slow in discovering Flying Nun altogether. I can remember the odd late Sunday night – must have been school holidays – catching Radio With Pictures on the tele. Once they played ‘Pink Frost’. I didn’t get it - this skinny guy walking through a boring pine forest singing about some girl who was lost or gone or something. I would’ve been 12 or 13 and my idea of pop music was very much radio friendly chart material – including, it must be said, The Mockers, and Dance Exponents, plus the usual overseas rubbish.

    A couple of years later, I discovered Radio Active and “alternative/indie” music, and my musical education really began. I remember falling for Lyle Lovett (and by association, country music) when I was supposed to be studying for School C. And of course there was The Smiths, Jesus And Mary Chain, Sugar Cubes etc etc. But the New Zealand stuff took a little longer to seep in.

    When I started at university, my new best friend was already well into The Bats, The Chills, The Clean, The Verlaines etc. It didn’t take me long to realise just how great they all were too.

    In 1991 along came the “Getting Older” compilation, celebrating ten years of Flying Nun. Amongst the predictable choices (though you could never complain about their quality) were a few unknown gems, including “Alien” by Bird Nest Roys. I was in love.

    Almost as perfect a piece of pop that has ever come out of the country. Beautiful chiming guitars, gorgeous vocal harmonies, words that don’t make a hell of a lot of sense. It’s a song that never outstays it’s welcome, and one I have listened to on repeat probably more than any other song.

    So five years after it was released I made my way to Slowboat or Solid Air to spend my precious student allowance on a copy of the Roys self-titled debut album. And what a thing of beauty it is.

    Starting with the wonderfully titled “5 weetbix and toast” we’re introduced to the delicious pop that was the Bird Nest Roys. Things get better with “Alien”, rocky with “Loving Time”, childish with “Jaffa Boy”, and rockabilly punk with “Bided”. And that’s the end of side 1; a perfect ending, but far too short.

    Side 2 is a bit angsty. More rock on “Joringel”, then more pop perfection on “me want me get me need me have me love”, again with chiming guitars and lovely harmonies, the real angst of “Michael Jones” (which, from memory isn’t about the ex-All Black, but his namesake), heading towards the finish with “Who is the silliest Rossi?”, and the more punkish “love”. The album ends with “Wads of Park Fat” where BNR go all avant garde on us.

    Like all great music there’s a timelessness to the Bird Nest Roys. You can say when it wasn’t made, but it’s hard to really pin a time on when it was recorded. They avoided the traps of 1980s production sounds of say R.E.M. Although clearly inspired by the 60s, it’s clearly not a 60s album. It’s now twenty years old and it still sounds wonderfully fresh to my ears. I’d even go so far as to say the boys were ahead of their time. But then much of the Flying Nun catalogue was back then.

    I met Pete the drummer a couple of years back. It was the first (and only) time I’ve had an ohmigod-you’re-my-hero moment – and it was only brief cos we were working and I didn’t want to come across all unprofessional and fan geek like. He told me soon after the album came out they were about to break into the US market when the band split. In some ways it’s a shame because they are a hugely under-appreciated band here, and at least making it in the US would have opened more people up to the pleasure that is the Bird Nest Roys. On the other hand it means I can sit at home with my vinyl copy and revel in their obscurity.

    Pete also told me they were an awesome live band, but I can only imagine, having missed them by five years. I even somehow managed to miss them when some of the band briefly ‘reformed’ as The Tufnels in the mid 1990s, releasing a couple of cracker singles and a disappointing album. Maybe one day a long lost live performance will sneak its way onto a CD, maybe when Flying Nun reissue the album.

    It was good to hear Russell’s Pavement comment cos it comes as no surprise that those guys knew about BNR. You can even hear it in their music. It seems odd that none of these overseas artists who namecheck Kiwi music ever mentions them – it’s always The Clean, and/or Chris Knox/Tall Dwarfs. But then that just adds to the specialness and obscurity of BNR. Those of us in the know are, well … in the know.

    I’ve taken (a taped copy of) this album with me all over the country and it variously takes me back to random road trips, my 21st birthday, and numerous friends. Unlike pretty much every other album I’ve owned I’ve never gotten sick of this. (On the other side of the tape was ‘Compiletely Bats’ or something, and as often as not I’d rewind to the beginning and start again.) It’s not just “Alien” but the whole album that is almost as perfect a piece of pop that has ever come out of the country.

    PS - I’ve spent the last few years trying to find a copy of the album on CD. I’d be most obliged if anyone out there has a copy they’re happy to get rid of (god forbid) or, dare I say it, loan me (nudge nudge wink wink).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin Moar,

    Damian Christie's already mentioned Something Beginning With C, which is - yes - a better, cleaner album with bigger hits and mellower mellows than the album I'm going to nominate.

    But Grassy Knoll was the first CD I ever bought, at a Deka in Blenheim. I must have been 14. I had a discman, the coolest thing in the world, and I listened to it on a school trip around the South Island.

    Happy Loving People has as catchy a chorus as any of their hits, but (ironically despite the title) without the saccarine or boredom that comes from having some jerk play it a million times at the rugby.

    Like She Said and Don't Say Goodbye are rough but as good as any they did - except they sounded like things I could actually do (thankfully, I didn't).

    Best of all, following the great It Didn't And It Does, the album had a HIDDEN TRACK! All the coolest albums had hidden tracks in those days - the early 90s version of playing a song backwards to listen for the satanic messages. Uber-cool.

    It wasn't a big seller, it's probably little remembered. But for a 14 year old it was real and possible and raw in a way I didn't know music could be.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • henry.hollis,

    I'd suggest AK '79 great compilation of some good bands.... bloody good even if my tape didn't stand the test of time all that well.

    http://www.flyingnun.co.nz/archive_site/bands/compilations/ak79pr.html

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    ...Like every other spotty first year I got my orientation ticket (the Lemonheads played that year...

    And Munky Kramp. Munky Kramp seemed to be the defining line in the music scene at the time. You either liked them or you didn't, and I suspect if I'd been more 'in', liking them would have pushed me back out with a heap of people...


    To try and get into my new student life in my new city, I tuned my radio to Radio One, and took to recording music that I liked off the radio, in lieu of actually being able to afford it...Radio One were great then, they opened my eyes to music I'd never heard before (you couldn't get bfm where I grew up, so student radio was something I'd never encountered before).

    ...(I also saw Faith No More there around the same time)...

    I remember all this. :)

    The Lemonheads: my flatmates and I scored the job of writing the gig date /time in all the Orientation posters, then pasting them up around the varsity.
    The Sunday before Orientation began we duly went down to the Union Hall and began writing "Union Hall, Feb 29, 8pm" or whatever the relevant date was, in the white bits at the bottom of the posters.
    I did a few local bands' posters, then went of, stuck them up, then went back to the flat.

    About five days later, my flatmates and a I went down to see The Lemanheads. As we got to the Union Hall, people started saying all this really, really weird stuff to me.
    Stuff like "Hey, have a really good gig!" and "Wow, playing with the Lemonheads, that's so cool!" and all manner of baffling stuff.

    Walking into the Union Hall, it became a bit clearer; instead of writing the gig info, my flatmates had written "featuring Grant McDougall" in every poster. It was just weird. If there were 50 of them around the campus that said that , there were 100.

    I couldn't go to a flat-warming for the next three months without seeing a Lemonheads' poster with my name on it. Of course, I ended up b/s-ing people about, saying crap like "Oh yeah, I was playing, but just standing behind the drummer...", etc.

    Munky Kramp you're right in that they weren't "cool", given that they played, for want of a better description, "funk-pop" which was part of the then-prevalent indie-rock orthodoxy.

    Radio One thanks for the compliment - I was doing loads of shows on R1 and it was a heap of fun.

    Faith No More They played Dunedin in '93. The night before the Sammy's gig, Kid Eternity played at the Crown, so my flatmates and I toodled down to see them, as we lived around the corner from them, and were sorta mates with them. (Kid Eternity featured Matt Heath - they were like an indie Deja Voodoo).

    We walked in there - and lo and behold, all of Faith No More (except for Mike Patton, who was up Signal Hill taking acid with local promoter Doug Nuttal) were there. Us four just decided to go and talk to them and they were great fun. Personally, their music's never been my cup-of-tea, but they were great fun to have a yarn with.

    After the gig, they was a keg-party back at Kid Eternity's flat in Park St, just behind the 24-hour dairy. It was a pretty good piss-up and FNM keyboardist Roddy Bottum got so wasted he crashed on couch there.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • bradshute,

    For sheer "dumb" "in your face" rawk and roll I can't go past Sticky Filth and "Weep Woman Weep". Titles that are guaranteed to offend and make ya wanna make with the mullet...and one hell of live act to see!
    Must admit, AK 79 has to be a very close second!

    Waikato • Since Nov 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    The Lemonheads: my flatmates and I scored the job of writing the gig date /time in all the Orientation posters, then pasting them up around the varsity.

    Oh, were those the green and purple posters with the band members' faces in circles? Cos I had one of those (with the Waikato Uni gig information) up on my bedroom wall for years.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1846 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I remember all this. :)

    See Grant was cool, and I wasn't. DJing at Radio One was the height of cool. I just got involved in student politics.

    Munky Kramp you're right in that they weren't "cool", given that they played, for want of a better description, "funk-pop" which was part of the then-prevalent indie-rock orthodoxy.

    Everyone seemed to have an opinion on them though. Typically they were either great, or absolute crap, and not much of the in between.

    I never got the labelling that people seem to get into with music. "Oh I don't like them because they're XXXX". I've watched grown adults standing around for hours arguing whether Green Day are punk or not. I didn't get why it mattered, if you like the music you listen to them, if you don't, you listen to something else.

    After the gig, they was a keg-party back at Kid Eternity's flat in Park St, just behind the 24-hour dairy. It was a pretty good piss-up and FNM keyboardist Roddy Bottum got so wasted he crashed on couch there.

    That must be why the drummer ended up doing the interview on Radio One the next day with "Brian, who notably asked some really good questions." I still have that on tape as well!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6151 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Munky Kramp you're right in that they weren't "cool", given that they played, for want of a better description, "funk-pop" which was part of the then-prevalent indie-rock orthodoxy.

    Everyone seemed to have an opinion on them though. Typically they were either great, or absolute crap, and not much of the in between.

    I never got the labelling that people seem to get into with music. "Oh I don't like them because they're XXXX". I've watched grown adults standing around for hours arguing whether Green Day are punk or not. I didn't get why it mattered, if you like the music you listen to them, if you don't, you listen to something else.

    Sorry, I should've put "**wasn't** part of the then-prevalent indie rock othodoxy." My bad, etc.

    I'm fine with people labeling a band's sound, it's something people get too hung up on. But yeah, I agree, if you don't like it, don't listen to it.

    Munky Kramp were pretty popular though, they always drew big crowds. They weren't my cup of tea, but were a nice bunch to have a yarn with.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    The Lemonheads: my flatmates and I scored the job of writing the gig date /time in all the Orientation posters, then pasting them up around the varsity.

    Oh, were those the green and purple posters with the band members' faces in circles? Cos I had one of those (with the Waikato Uni gig information) up on my bedroom wall for years.

    The very ones. Except your probably beared something like "Gurus, Feb 28, 8pm" and not "featuring Grant McDougall". ;)

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Just a thought re: a couple of posts earlier on re: the Finn bros etc, and the more alternative approach to music..

    Untitled on the Headless Chickens' Stunt Clown is very Neil-Finn-like.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    The very ones. Except your probably beared something like "Gurus, Feb 28, 8pm" and not "featuring Grant McDougall". ;)

    The uni rec centre gym, actually! It was a great show. My friend Renee and I left halfway during the 3D's support gig because she had spotted Evan Dando having a smoke outside, so we went up to him, and I was all, "I like your version of 'Frank Mills'!!!!" and he was all, "Thanks." (Shut up. I was 18.)

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1846 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    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.

    And Tally Ho is pretty much The Subway Sect's Ambition. NZ pop was nothing if not plaguristic back then

    But Liverpool's Mighty Wah! lifted the intro from that Clean track for their 82 single 'Remember"...same riff, same keyboard sound...I don't buy coincidence as there was a Clean buzz in the NME a little earlier.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3201 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    but this listing site here has it in 1981: http://www.discogs.com/artist/Tall+Dwarfs</quote>

    July 1981 to be exact

    And, although its in drastic need of an upgrade, which is on the way, I reckon this is the best AK79 page, but I would....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3201 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan,

    Well, I’m going with Herbs 1981 debut EP “Whats Be Happen?” This has never been released on cd nor have any of it’s songs appeared on the various Herbs compilations.
    It is still around in some ‘pre owned’ stores. The classic cover art–a powerful black & white aerial photo of Bastion Point showing police encircling iwi and supporters, a hand tooled logo, and seaside sounds intro on opening track “One brotherhood Aotearoa” made this one stand out from the herd in ’81. Then manager Will Illolahia was with the Polynesian Panthers, the early Herbs were the real deal.

    No student flat angst for these guys. Political in the general sense somewhat like Bob M. In “Azania soon come” they do a roll call of emerging and to be African states. While things have turned out differently than hoped for back then of course, in ’81 it looked most unlikely that Mandela would get out of jail or make old bones.

    A revolving band cast was really down to the economics of the NZ music business, and the poor buggers got hit for every benefit concert going.

    Drummer Fred Faleauto’s cousin and I were good friends and workmates (Biko squad Auckland too) and so I got something of an inside perspective. I know Fred had listened long to the Jamaican 45s with the big holes in the middle gifted by Bob Marley’s crew a couple of years previous. Fred is sadly deceased but I remember him while very ill, singing at the ‘protestors and fellow travellers only’1995 gathering in St. Mathews in the city where N. Mandela really enjoyed meeting some of the tour veterans.

    Never mind all that I guess, its in the grooves I say mon–a unique, engaging hybrid sound never quite matched by their more laid back heirs. “Pacific Reggae” is a hopeful but ultimately too simplistic tag for Herbs Mk1. Get a copy or a listen if you can.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Its weird talking about great nz albums when there really are very few that attain the status of both "great" and "album" in the same way that radiohead's "the bends" and stone roses first album did that. ie a collection of songs, no duds and the result is greater than the sum of its parts.
    New Zealand excels in great eps as has been noted.
    The first snapper ep, straightjacket fits first, JPSE flex ep, possibly better than any of their subsequent albums, as a collection of songs that just work together.
    The reason for this is that it takes a lot of time and effort to write enough songs to cull out a collection of 10 that just work together. In NZ it was such a hard road to get the resources together to make that first long player slab that the band were lucky just to cross the finish line, let along get an independent set of ears to access and produce the works. Bands had to be singlemindedly determined to push the project through.

    There are a couple of very important albums that really were ground breaking though.
    Blam blam blams "luxury length" and Screaming mee mees "if this is paradise.." albums. Its hard to explain how important these albums were in the modern climate of accessible recording and manufacturing technology.

    Prior to their recording and release it was a near impossible vision for a band to make an album, hell a 7" single was a hard slog as attested by the number of great bands that never recorded and released anything, let alone some of those great bands who's classic album of live material never made it to a classic album of recorded stuff. Don't get me wrong, there were many many bands who had a full cache of the goods, but the obstacles to getting it out there were apparently too much.

    And then there were these 2 albums, which proved that it could be done, and done really well. The songs were good, product was pretty damn good for the time, and packaged and presented exceptionally.
    Propeller sowed NZ that great nz albums were possible, and if you didn't know that the cost almost killed the company and the damn bands split soon after their completion and release the these two albums were an inspiration to all kiwi artists, including me.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    showed

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • kowhai montgomery,

    showed

    Cute. I completely understand the inclination to fix but those typos happen to the best of us.

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 485 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Propeller showed NZ that great nz albums were possible

    thanks Rob....I feel humbled reading that. We just took the jump from singles to albums because we had to. There was no way we could ask either band just to carry on making singles forever. But as you say, a couple of years earlier it was almost unheard of for most NZ bands to even make a single. They were very rare beasts only released by the most mainstream of acts, or those with friends in labels (hence our Reptiles singles...Colin Lum at Phonogram was a friend). There was no Zodiac label releasing dozens of garage bands in the 70s. Dozens never made the studio.

    I reasonably pleased with how those albums have aged too, both still sound pretty good (with a personal preference for Paradise), my only regret being that a) I've yet to properly remaster the Meemees, and b) the Newmatics album that was next on the list was never finished.

    The cost did effectively kill the company ($12k for the Blams and almost $20k for the Meemees) although thanks to a gig or two, Brendan Smyth (then at QE2 Arts who gave us the whole contemporary budget for 82/83...$4K) plus my parents, managed to squeak through. However, we were just a squeak away from placing the Blams with Virgin in the UK, and the Meemees with a very large US indie (Americans loved them) when both split which stuffed that.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3201 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    too many squeaks in that post methinks....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3201 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Well, I’m going with Herbs 1981 debut EP “Whats Be Happen?” This has never been released on cd nor have any of it’s songs appeared on the various Herbs compilations.

    Amen. It's a powerful record, and I I don't think Herbs were quite the same thereafter, without Tony Fonoti.

    Who owns the rights? Do you know, Simon?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

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