Monday, June 27, 2005

Things We Learnt Today

I can’t believe that I have lived my entire life until today not knowing that Martin Phillipps was responsible for the cheeeeezy (in the nicest possible way ...) organ on The Clean’s “Tally Ho”. Crikey, the Dunedin music scene was even more incestuous than I thought.

And in case you need to refresh your memory, here it is:

The Clean, "Tally Ho".

While we’re at it, why don’t we bow our heads in gratitude to the good folks at Orbis Quintus for exposing us to three tracks by the little-known 60s NZ band The Avengers, including “Everybody’s Gonna Wonder”, the only Avengers song known to us, thanks to its being covered (under the title "Everyone's Gonna Wonder" - go figure) by possibly the only supergroup ever to have come from New Zealand, Pop Art Toasters, a one-off project which included Martin Phillipps and David Kilgour (who, believe it or not, was a member of the Chills for a period of a few weeks in 1983, during which time the band neither recorded nor played live).

Right-click here if you need to hear these two pillars of Dunedin society going all 60s on us:

Pop Art Toasters, "Everyone’s Gonna Wonder".

And, for a perhaps more recognisable idea of how well these guys feel that decade, here is their version of The Who’s “Circles”:

Pop Art Toasters, "Circles".

CONSUMER ADVISORY: the two Pop Art Toasters tracks are from their only release, a self-titled five-song CD on Flying Nun. It is believed to be no longer available, which would be a damn shame. As for “Tally Ho”, unless you are one of the lucky few to have the original Flying Nun 7”, your best bet (an excellent bet all round, actually) is the two-CD “Anthology”, which just happens to be a Flying Nun release.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

youth in translation

Youth: "That is not totally sick as."

Translation: "That isn't exactly the greatest thing ever, but it is pretty good."

Friday, June 10, 2005

Things I wish I had remembered that I had once known

Number one in a continuing series:

That the first album by Eurythmics was largely the work of Can. It's funny how you can allow the awfulness of later works to obscure your knowledge of a band.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Stacks o' Wax

Meanwhile, the quest continues. Having not been to the local library for a little while, I came away with a large pile of CDs. Viz:

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, “Inside Out”; Charles Lloyd, “Hyperion With Higgins”: Both discs were so badly scratched that they contained audible glitches and, like, scratching sounds (which kinda queers the whole concept of that pristine ECM sound). You’d think goatee-stroking latter-day beatniks would be more careful with public property, wouldn’t you? And another thing: I don’t think I will ever come to terms with the way Jarrett sings along with his own piano playing. It’s too much like people who laugh at their own jokes.

Kraftwerk, “Aubobahn”: It must be said (sharp intake of breath): No, I don’t own this album. I’ve never owned this album. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Truth is, though, I never really got over the nagging feeling that there was something a bit gimmicky about “Autobahn”, which wasn’t there in the three crucial Kraftwerk records “Man-Machine”, “Trans-Europe Express” and “Computer World”. Listening to it again, I would adhere to that view. And it’s difficult to warm to the tracks on side two, isn’t it? Or is it just me?

David Bowie, “David Live”: In many ways, David Bowie was the seventies. I first discovered him in my cousin Gay’s record collection at her parents’ triple-fronted brick veneer house in Dandenong, somewhere around 1973. (Gay’s mother, my beloved auntie Margaret, pronounced “Bowie” like you would say “bow wow wow”; with an audible sneer on account of the make-up he wore.) I got confused by the number of times “Space Oddity” got into the UK pop charts, seemingly years after it had first come out. (I thought the charts were exclusively for new things. Little did I know.) I didn’t get to see Bowie until the 1980s when he played at the now bulldozed VFL Park, Waverley, supported by the Models. It was a spectacle, sure, but given how far we were from the stage you may as well have been watching it on tv.“David Live” is from about 10 years previous to that. What’s interesting about this double-cd “full concert in actual playing order and we’ve remastered the crap out of it as well” extravaganza is that the songs are played in a style that very much predicts“Young Americans” and “Station To Station”: that smooth white-boy soul sound, which I always thought suited Bowie rather well (until he tried to update it on “Let’s Dance” in 1983 and it all went horribly wrong). Then you read in the liner notes that the band stopped half way through the tour to go off and record what would become “Young Americans”, and it all makes sense. You wouldn’t, nevertheless, want to listen to this too often, I don’t think (I’m much more interested in hearing the reissue of “Stage”, from the end of the seventies, by which time David had gone through at least one further reinvention of himself), although the cha-cha-cha version of “Aladdin Sane” will wrong-foot you every time.

Various, “Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough”: Patchy like most “tribute” records. (The six-song sampler disc of Kimbrough himself that comes with it, on the other hand, is a peach.) Still, it’s nice to hear the Stooges with Mike Watt on the bass. Twice.

Rachid Taha, “Tekitoi”: Coincidentally, while I had these discs out on loan this one received a rather positive review on Pitchfork, prompting me to give it a closer listen than I otherwise might have. I remain not convinced; it seems a bit too generic world music for me, either too Western or not Western enough (c.f. Konono No 1, I guess). Mind you, my concentration was destroyed by a knock on the door from a man from the glass company, who had been sent around as a result of a call from our builder, who had told the glass company that one of our new full-height windows had developed a crack. The man from the glass company looked at it, said, “Yes, it is cracked”, and left. I am still scratching my head. I guess the concern was that they might be tricked into replacing a window that wasn’t cracked in the first place. Customers can be so sneaky sometimes.