Random Play by Graham Reid


Rock Follies

While clearing out the garage the other day I came on an odd box of old clippings, some of them of my own things from the Herald. One might provide PublicAddress readers with some amusement.

Back in August 95 a guy called Roger Watkins published Hostage to the Beat, a book about Kiwi music (which I don’t remember).

For some reason -- my own amusement possibly -- I published a list of rare Kiwi singles, noting in the introduction that “only the truth has been changed to protect the innocent”.

I re-present that list here and would like, in the manner of old Telethons, to challenge all others to match it. Let’s hear which old singles you have. Or would like to.

Ray’n’the Reptiles; She’s a Gob: Ill-conceived project by John Baker (of Wild Things fame) who aligned Ray Columbus with the re-formed Suburban Reptiles for this 87 punk version of She’s a Mod. Wreckless Eric covered it on his 89 comeback album. He didn’t come back either.

DD Smashed; Outlook for Thirst Day: After Bliss Dave Dobbyn briefly fell prey to commercial interests from breweries and threw in his lot with an Irish metalhead pub band. Liberally applied sponsor’s products resulted in this rather off-key single which Dobbyn later reworked to greater effect.

Chris Knox; Address to the Third Soviet Congress 1921: Those who were there say it was late, the background noise intolerable, and so perhaps Chris misheard. But being a Beatles fan he felt he had to immediately record what he took to be the lyrics of a previously unreleased Lennon song. The 37-minute cass-single began with the unpromising line, “Comrades and fellow party members . . .”

Mika; Out, in the Street: Genuinely inspired reworking of the old Alistair Riddell/Space Waltz hit but, naturally, given a gender flip. Released on the eve of the 81 Springbok tour. The flamboyant street parade to promote it clashed violently with a pro-tour march. All copies of the double A-side single, being carried by lightly-oiled boys, were destroyed in the resulting melee.

Swingers; Counting the Sheep: Terrific song hampered by lyrics that were clearly drawn from the band’s rural isolation on a high-country run in the South Island. A move to Sydney saw a toughening up of the band’s attitude (the bagpipe solo was dropped) and a lyrical rewrite. Remaining copies of this early version now ruthlessly sought by Phil Judd, and the Bats.

La De Dahs; How is the Air Up There 89: Ecologically-conscious former rockers re-formed to rework their 69s hit as a new age plea to ban “spray cans and stuff because of the ozone layer and all that”. Picture sleeve recently valued at $45 ($35 if record still in cover.)

Mutton Birds; Karangahape Road (But Not That Boring Bit Up By The Sheraton): Somewhat limp follow-up to Dominion Road and not among Don McGlashan’s best. Two versions exist: collectors favour the one with the 27-second euphonium solo after the words “and I’m lying in a coma, outside Verona.”

Okay folks, put your funny hat on and let’s hear yours.

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