A lifetime ago, in very early 1977, when a few of decided to dip our toes into the just bubbling punk thing we were reading about in our three month old NMEs it seemed like a fairly slight thing to do, a thing without any momentous import. With Brett Salter and Bill Pendergrast I formed The Suburban Reptiles for no other reason beyond the idea that it sounded like a fun thing to do, and it raised a finger to the dross that was coming out of the bars and clubs. Across town The 1B Darlings, an ATI band playing lots of r'n'b and glam covers mutated into the more punk, The Scavengers, about the same time and I guess for the same reasons.
We soon became a fairly close knit grouping of mates.
Over the next few years the thing we started took on a life of it's own and dozens, maybe hundreds, of bands were formed in the style of the genre and it's mutated offspring, post punk, and the more brutal oi!
But even when, ZM Dj, Bryan Staff formed Ripper Records, and AK79 was released at the end of 1979 (but in real terms early in 1980) it was still just a thing of it's time, We all loved it for that, despite the fact that we knew then that that time was passing, but I'm thinking Bryan saw the run of 500 as covering the demand.
Eventually, hooking up with CBS he sold many times that number but by the time it was deleted in 1983 we all thought it had run it's course.
By 1993 when I put together the extended version it was obvious it's legacy went beyond the initial release. It had become more than an album, it had become the definitive document of an era which had, without question, kick started the explosion of New Zealand music, both on record and live to the place it was then, and even more so now.
Bryan's album has become the most important New Zealand release of the past forty years. Without it, no indie labels, no live explosion of the 80s onwards, no creative splurge. It was the record that began the New Zealand recording industry as we know it now.
So, when I decided on a re-release it was essential to do it justice and not only did I carefully remaster the original, but I extended it from 10 tracks to 26 to cover every important NZ recording of the era. I'm happy with the result and it's gone around the world in this form.
So, in 2008, almost 32 years after it all began in Auckland, in The Scavengers' practice room in Customs St and the basement of a house in Ponsonby Terrace where the earliest Suburban Reptiles noise was made, John Baker, after a huge amount of work has managed to put together quite a lineup of bands, including a version of The Scavengers, Proud Scum, The Spelling Mistakes, The Features, and The Terrorways, (the links before I'm pulled up are from an article I wrote in 1980 and not updated at all from then, but I though oddly appropriate since we're looking back) three of whom haven't played since 1981. It's at the Montecristo Room on November 22..and around the same time the unreleased Features album we recorded for Propeller in late 1980 will also get it's debut release.
I'm not going to be there as geography precludes it, but the thought of missing the faces I know are going to be there (but not the almighty hangover that is a given) is making me a bit misty eyed. But that's tempered with the fact that I'm still pretty close to so many people from that era, many I talk to on a daily basis. We were a gang, and there was something about just being there.
Hell..it would be fun though...
PS..the top photo is from the lens of Sara Leigh Lewis...for more go here
The bottom image is a postcard, drawn by Johnny Volume / Scavenger and sent to me in 1978..I don't think it's appeared anywhere before.