Of course, Blair Parkes and Chimneybook, his project about his experiences in post-quake New Brighton / Christchurch. Not forgetting the musical heritage he's given us including - All Fall Down, Creely and the fab L.E.D.S,
All Fall Down with Black Gratten
Creely with Grunty Falcon
and L.E.D.S with Rumba
John Greenfield , gosh, yes I think he died in 1996 or 97 in a car crash in Nth Canterbury. There’s not a lot on John online but I did come across a downloadable Flat City Sounds – the 1997 version. Tony Mitchell argues
… the predominantly sedate, bland , conservative and British university town image of Christchurch hides an underbelly of angst, revolt, and antagonism which frequently finds expression through music
There’s far too much to digest in one sitting. The ‘southern Gothic’ musical beginnings of Christchurch were defined by the 1950's Parker-Hume murder, that ‘dark underside’ maintained through the 60s and into the 90s, e.g. the country noir of the Renderers. Roy Montgomery says
...the best local Christchurch music since the 1980s came from a very small group of musicians...who all played to very small audiences of "friends and relations (including the household canines), tended to have low public profiles and were generally comprised of people who were not well-adjusted socially."
Has it changed much in the intervening 18 years? Hard to say. I’d argue the recently emerged ‘Lyttelton scene’ is tinged with more than a little post-quake noir.
I also came across another name from the 80s, Jim Wilson, and his contribution to ‘Strange Christchurch’. Dating back to 2010, there’s this: The Ballad of Phantom Billstickers which is another take of the late 70s / early 80s Christchurch. He says, and it’s as apt for Christchurch post-quake as it was in those grim Muldoon-era days,
A poster on a wall is flora for the concrete jungle and might save us from grim moods as we swan about Christchurch in the cold of winter
Posters became an art form and regardless of the merits of the band, the posters drew in the punters. He adds:
Many of us got caught up in the excitement of it all and many fine bands gathered an audience because of simple postering. The Androidss come to mind - they had some of the finest street posters I have ever seen.
In a follow-up piece The Ballad of Phantom Billstickers – (Part Two), he talks about the old days of bill-stickering in Christchurch
I have worked with a number of very good poster put 'er uppers. The name Harry Sparkle comes to mind first. Harry did the posters for the Hillsborough and Gladstone Taverns in Christchurch during the late 70s to the mid 80s …
There’s more about Harry
Harry's band was called "The Baby Eaters" and often crashed the stage at the Hillsborough during a touring band's break. They cavalierly just picked up the headlining band's instruments without permission and started playing Iggy Pop's "Cock in my Pocket." Several punks crowded around the mixing desk as another mate turned the volume Right Up. Pogo-ing was a thing.
Who remembers them?!
Getting back to Wade Churton, Greg Ryan informs me he hasn't heard from him in a few years though Ian referenced his (two) PA contributions. I note Wade said this (responding to a critique of his own works):
…come to think of it, one way to get a Kiwi rock book together which might satisfy most people would be to farm out specific projects (or cast for contributions), and print the work of a selection of authors. Somebody’s bound to get it right in amongst a whole bunch of them.
That’s probably still largely true. It would be nice to 'corral the horses' The basis of a ‘project’ is with us already, can I suggest, in the form of the various writer contributions to Audiocuture plus Failsafe, etc.
Danyl Mclauchlan's latest Dim Post blog Off to Iraq argues that 'if Labour were in government our commitment to the latest US/UK adventure in Iraq would be pretty much identical' but 'the marketing would be different.'
He cites this lengthy piece in the Atlantic Monthly What ISIS Really Wants by Graeme Wood, who as part of his research went to Melbourne to interview Musa Cerantonio, an Australian preacher who is said to be one IS's most influential recruiters.
In 'more stuff from Christchurch and NZ's past worth preserving' there's this The Sad Demise of the Christchurch Record Shop - a pretty extensive list, all those ones Russell listed plus many more.
I vaguely recall The Music Box in the Square, over by Chancery Lane; the name 'revived' by Kate and (ex-Chch) Jol Mulholland on their excellent Saturday morning show on Kiwi FM.
And there's this too: Music World Records: NZ's Very Own K-Tel'. It's worth a closer read. It includes this:
Rather ironically despite the label wearing the badge ‘World’ virtually all of their artists came from New Zealand, 90% of whom venturing no further afield than Gore to record in Tandems, Sydenham studios. Invariably the production, sound quality of these records, Phonogram did the pressing, often left a lot to be desired – not that their audience seemed to complain or it deterred sales.
I must be too young to remember the Gresham :)
I came across The Nostalgia Black Hole site which provides ‘a somewhat incomplete list of licensed premises, locations of Christchurch in the two decades between 1960 and 1980’. Taking this nostalgia a little further, there’s a four avenues map of the Square Mile Pubs from 1984!
The Gresham used to be known as the Rotherfield. This Papers Past link describes the Rotherfield, in 1917, as 'the best of everything supplied'. In that same link, there's mention of many old Chc pubs, now lost. Chick's in Port Chalmers was certainly alive and kicking in those days.
It's all in b/w. Images not of great quality. I will follow up with local historian - and long time Flying Nun aficionado - Greg Ryan who was Wade Churton's co-supervisor.
There’s a bit of stuff out there about 80’s Christchurch music, covered off in books like Matthew Bannister’s ‘Positively George Street’. I rediscovered ‘Glam, Punk and Scorched Earth Policy’ is a collection of three essays some of which formed the basis of a soon-to-be-written thesis by (Ronald) Wade Churton. The only copy I’ve seen is in the archive collection of the Christchurch Library, The punk essay looks at closely at scenes such as Mollet St, even providing listings of the gigs played there over ’77 and ’78. The third essay is devoted to early 80’s Christchurch band Scorched Earth Policy, sound bite interviews with the various band members. One reference refers to a certain Mr Brown, writing for Rip It Up at the time (1984), who was none too impressed with SEP live - ‘bored shitless’ he was! Included in their ranks was Brian Crook, later of the Renderers
Churton went on to produce an MA thesis in 2003 Alternative music in New Zealand,1981-2001 definitions, comparisons and history, a 2003 MA thesis. Chapter 3 is dedicated to ‘alternative music in NZ, 1981 – 2001’. I note an event (which entirely passed me by) at the Christchurch Polytech Great Hall in July 1981, the ‘Radio U Radio Arts Lobster’ benefit gig which introduced ‘six new bands’, five of which had never previously played live. They are unnamed. Russell, do you recall that one and who the bands were? You are cited as reviewing it in In Touch no. 11 (07/81). It’s an accessible though large (35MB), scanned and not PDF searchable.
I also uncovered an article by Tony Mitchell Flat city sounds: A cartography of the Christchurch music scene though it’s behind a paywall. Mitchell revisited that article in 2011 – Flat city sounds redux: a 'musical countercartography' of Christchurch. The terse abstract states merely: ‘a psychogeography of Christchurch music from a perspective of non-mainstream music’. The link isn’t entirely useful, however, the article also appears as a chapter in Home, Land and Sea: Situating Music in Aotearoa New Zealand. Psychogeography – love that word!
Another work I came across was Nicholas Braae’s 2012 MA thesis A Musicological Analysis of Nature’s Best. There's just a brief mention of 80s Chc music - Dance Exponents and Pop Mechanix, 'neither of whom ' identified with this scene or any notions of a local style'.
Out in the northwestern suburbs where I grew up, Tony Peake held court in his loft at the University Bookshop.
Roy also worked there. After a while, sometime in 1982, the loft closed and the records moved downstairs. Mustn't forget Tony (Rupert) Green either. One time owner/manager of long-running Galaxy Records and drummer in the 80s for (at least) Mainly Spaniards and Haemogoblins, Tony's now in San Francisco where he manages Amoeba Records in Oalkand, He pops home fro time to time - and surfaced recently,of all things, at the America's Cup in SF, 2013.
A lot of the live 80s Chch scene was fortunately captured by Rob Mayes (Failsafe Records).
And then Ronnie did this for their next single.
I have a green / orange version of this (Coat/Jim) - and it's an 'offset' which Roy tells me is even rarer..
Looking forward to your talk Russell. Later the same evening, Parquet Courts are in town @ Dux Live. They are I hear Gordons fans!
What the accrued effect of all this change is you end up with a vague sense of exile in your own city. A city well served with the new wave of colonisers “here to help with the rebuild”. Intellectual hustlers so bereft of nous they fail to see the irony inherent in their generous offer.
Great piece Greg with some finely nuanced observations like this one. While my family and I haven't had to deal with EQC and related agencies as you, Hebe and family have, the post quake stress has certainly had an effect on us and for a while I was in exile here (out of work for a long period) and then 'exiled' beyond the city, in Auckland (which treated me well it must be said).
'Helping with the rebuild' I see as code for 'helping with the CBD rebuild'. The unwritten emphasis of the rebuild is more on restoring business (business as usual) and far less on restoring a more holistic, city-wide quality of life.