Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Music: God Save the Clean

19 Responses

  • Russell Brown,

    Quite rarely, The Clean have changed up the instrumentation on 'Point That Thing'. It's always pretty special.

    1999 in Dunedin, with a piano lead, as captured on the Slush Fund EP:

    And 22 years later one nice day at the King's Arms, with a funky little keyboard and Hamish on lead vocals:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Richard Langston also sent through his favourite Clean songs …

    1 Getting Older
    2 Anything Could Happen
    3 Point That Thing Somewhere Else
    4 Someone
    5 Fish
    6 Odditty
    7 Too Much Violence
    8 Twist Top
    9 In The Dream Life U Need a Rubber Soul
    10 Chumpy
    11 At The Bottom
    12 Stars
    13 I Can’t Stand

    That last is, of course, a Velvet Underground song of which The Clean play a blinding cover version. Mt Maunganui, 2014 …

    Their live version incorporates, to a greater or lesser degree on the night, their own song, ‘Quickstep’, which they’ve been playing since 1981:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Boak,

    Great column Russell (not like your others aren't...)
    Best.Kiwi.Band.Ever IMHO

    San Francisco • Since Apr 2016 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment

    pic from 100% Pure NZ site – City Walks’ eclectic Old Town walk.
    https://www.newzealand.com/my/article/god-save-the-clean/

    ..and when you’ve finished pounding the pavements of Dunedin
    you can hear Pavement pounding away at ‘Oddity’

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7480 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Goody,

    Damn time difference! Missed writing something for this. Oh well. I'll cut and paste my two cents.


    It's hard to be succinct in describing how goddamn awesome the Clean are, and their importance to New Zealand music, but one of my favourite anecdotes comes from when they briefly postponed their break-up to open for The Fall at their Christchurch gigs in the winter of 1982. If there's any reason to hold off splitting up that surely is the best reason, right?

    Hamish was interviewed in The Press at the time and was asked about the Clean's brief return for these gigs. He told David Swift:

    “[We] wanted to make some money to buy some land near Nelson."

    I always wondered about this remark. Was he half serious or just taking the piss? A few years ago I asked him about it. He said it was a little dig at the expense of all the bands going all in with the paisley shirts and 60s psychedelia at the time, when the Clean had already been there, done that. The only next step was to take things further, pack it in and join a hippie commune. I just thought this was hilarious and kind of epitomized the attitude of the band. They weren't worried about image, or style or making money, they just wanted to make amazing music that was both challenging and new.

    Producer Jack Endino once said that "some bands get on stage and they're entertainers, they have a schtick. And some bands get up there and they rock, they're up there to rock out." We all know where the Clean land on this scale, they fuckin' rocked.

    As side notes:

    If we're including covers, we should not forget Wingtip Sloat's cover of "Anything Can Happen" as it's probably the earliest cover of the Clean from a band outside NZ.

    Also Comet Gains' cover of "Beatnik" is memorable for me. First time I ever saw Comet Gain they opened for the Clean in Brighton. Fantastic show all around and probably only about 20 people there to enjoy it.

    Toronto • Since Mar 2015 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment Attachment

    The Clean art book can’t be far away, can it?
    ..or a set of cards, or colouring book even–
    so much talent in one ensemble
    (though I don't think they did these above)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7480 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Is the top one a Ronnie? Anyway, we have one (Fiona was much better at keeping these things than me) and it’s gorgeous.

    so much talent in one ensemble

    Absolutely. How many bands are there where every member draws and paints?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Goody,

    If we’re including covers, we should not forget Wingtip Sloat’s cover of “Anything Can Happen” as it’s probably the earliest cover of the Clean from a band outside NZ.

    Oh – that’s a pretty cool version!

    But Australian comedy cowpunk band The Johnnys were playing the same song as early as 1985 (they toured here and one of their members was a Kiwi). It was quite a rockin’ version. They weren’t a subtle band.

    I couldn’t find a video, but one of their members, Spencer P. Jones, played it as a duo with Gordon Gano(!) in 2014:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Watch out for a great tribute video from Stuart Page, that specially features Peter Gutteridge. There’s a terrific feature documentary waiting to be made, and Stu would be the one. Gawd I wish – anything could happen.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2062 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Park life...

    It was also confirmation that I should go home and start writing about the music still coming of out Dunedin – the seed of six issues of a fanzine called Garage
    - Richard Langston

    Step right up
    Sit right down
    Read all about it
    https://issuu.com/flyingnunrecords/docs/garagezine1

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7480 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Attachment Attachment

    a local village green preservation society?
    Announced tonight at The Silver Scrolls
    https://flyingnunfoundation.net/
    They didn’t use the GIF (above) that I amateurishly cobbled together – but it looks good on the website. the less is more version works as well.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7480 posts Report Reply

  • kiwicmc, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I can highly recommend the Slush Fund version of Point That Thing and the version of Fish off Syd's Pink Wiring System (https://theclean.bandcamp.com/track/fish-syds-pink-wiring-system-version) in a single playlist on repeat during a long overseas flight.

    Both versions discovered on these very pages I believe a while ago

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2008 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double,

    Giving The Clean an award seems like giving a great racehorse a box of chocolates. And yet here we are. I think it's safe to say that 35 years ago most then APRA members thought they were an unprofessional joke, the antithesis of how to go about "making it". I hope David, Hamish and Bob enjoy this surreal moral victory in their own fabulously bemused way.

    They are the living embodiment of the genius of rock and roll, of what makes it different from jazz or classical or Tuvan throat singing. Richard and I are of one mind on "Getting Older". That song achieves immortality on the riff alone but the way it finally hooks with the black hilarity of "Why don't you do yourself in?", well, that is how the business is done kids. And as Ian points out, their greatest true accolade is probably Pavement's "Slanted and Enchanted". Go listen to "Box Elder" and marvel how musical colonialism suddenly cuts both ways.

    They are New Zealand's greatest band. Three unkempt music fans from nowhere who taught each other how to do the hoochie coo. I look forward to the next gig as much as ever.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan Ganley, in reply to Ken Double,

    That song achieves immortality on the riff alone

    Astro Children, Lucy Hunter, and Billy TK perform 'Getting Older'

    Since Dec 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double, in reply to Jonathan Ganley,

    Thank you Jonathan. My long abandoned Billy TK/David Kilgour Venn diagram is now complete.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Ken Double,

    slap it on the diagramophone...

    My long abandoned Billy TK/David Kilgour Venn diagram is now complete.

    Sets and drugs and rock and roll
    Were huddled together in a bottomless hole
    With a hidehi and a foderol
    With a hidehi and a foderol

    - 'Death Rehearsal' - Toy Love

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7480 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    it's not The Clean - but viral strands of it exist in their DNA, I'm sure...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7480 posts Report Reply

  • Stupid, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Rob, there are things bubbling under... definitely not something to be sneezed at 😉

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 69 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Stupid,

    Yay! if there’s anything we can do to keep it bubbling …
    apologies but presume it's ok to add this -

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2062 posts Report Reply

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