Saturday, February 12, 2005

If this is Paradise.........

I usually don’t do the random thought type of thing, not for any reason apart from the fact that once I start on something it seems to have a life of its own and brutally pushes anything else I’m going to muse about out of the way, but this morning, its a glorious late summer day in central Auckland and the city, sitting on my balcony overlooking Victoria Park and the viaduct, looks and feels like the wonderful urban pacific small metropolis its become in the last decade….I love Auckland and it’s the only place I could really live in Australasia…but the thoughts are racing through, so:

  • I’m pissed off I missed DJ Krush last night. I used to be a big fan, especially around 95-96, and I used to hunt out his music. I’m missing too many people I’d love to see and I’m going to make more of any effort. I drifted out the downbeat thing in the late nineties, and really dislike the whole dub and bad reggae thing that’s appeared in Wellington in recent years. Too feral and unwashed and I hear too many echoes of UB40 dub albums…I’m not sure if its politically correct in NZ to say that I just don’t get Trinity Roots or Black Seeds or Salmonella Dub or most of Fat Freddies’ Drop (apart from the US remix of “Hope” which I loved)..I guess it may have something to do with the fact that I don’t like ‘erb….it bores me senseless and all feels a bit soulless…and on the soul tip, I wish like hell I’d been in town to see Keb Darge at one of Cian & Manuel’s amazing Turnarounds…
  • What I do like is the new Pluto album…not gaga as the media seems to be here, but it’s a great pop record (with a lousy cover..surely we can do better than that) and should do well. I also really like the Tomorrowpeople remix of “Dance Stamina” that the band have banned…..something to do with the “dance vs rock” and “dance isn’t real music” divide I guess, which is just ignorant. To quote a record producer (I just can’t remember which one but it dosen’t make it any less valid), there is more innovation in electronic music every fifteen minutes than there has been in rock in the last fifteen years. I love lots of noisy, and not so noisy rock records, but essentially its true…the last album I can think of which added anything to the genre was the first Gang of 4 album, and unless they’ve added concepts taken from electronic music, since then its just been restating….
  • I never expected to piss so many people off with my thing about songs and the APRA 75th selection…lots of emails including ones telling me I can’t say those things, sacred cows etc blah blah…I’m not sure exactly what it was but, damn…….sorry
  • I got left at home by myself this morning which means I can play what I want (and I’m not going to list them) but I played the Screaming Meemees album for the first time in about a decade and came to the realisation its not bad, actually quite good....certainly better than any other NZ pop album of the early eighties (there weren’t many, believe me), something to do with the Ian Morris production I guess, as Whiskey soaked as it was. Its hard to look back now and understand just how big these guys were for a brief moment…four thousand singles sold in one week…..I must get around to re-issuing it properly; not a week goes by when I don’t get an email asking about it….one of these days
  • I’m pretty pleased with the fact that I can type properly these days....and I’m still not biting my nails
  • Really looking forward to the Nathan Haines Orchestral album……and the Greg Churchill album, although I think I might have most of it on CDR already
  • And to Carl Craig, fuck……Carl Craig…..on March 18th at The Studio…last time he was here was 2000, at Ellerslie and I stood behind him in the booth area while he djed, before he did the sprint across for a live set…a genius and a hero…I still have them, jaded as I am. So right now I’m playing the lovely old ravey BFC on Transmat…I never get sick of this stuff…never
  • I love the way my ten year old daughter, Isabella, is so totally obsessed with the complete works of the Beatles, group and solo, and approaches it naively, without the preconceptions and ingrained ideas of who and what they are, what was worthy and what wasn’t, that we have. I feed her an album every couple of months…currently John’s “Walls & Bridges” (a truly truly wonderful album btw) and the “Past Masters Vol.2” albums are on high rotate…but she wants to go back to the Double White after was huge about 18 months ago…”Happiness is a warm Gun” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in particular. The kids at school give her a hard time about it but she knows her mind and stands her ground….
  • Four coffees so far today, but a week without Coca Cola…..
  • I’m gonna do a collection of favourite non dance tracks from about 1970 through to 1990..soul is fine and anything else goes, but no house or techno or garage..I guess I’ll put them on a disc and I’m not sure what then (its illegal to do copies for friends of course)….I’m enjoy doing compilations and I think I’m quite good at them…I was well chuffed to see that my Soul Food comp has been pretty much copied by Universal in the UK and I’ve heard the Room Service album in restaurants in Singapore and Bali…I’d love to do more but the market, and the labels here seem only to see compilations as chart hits collections. You have to wonder why they spent all that money aquiring catalogues if they have no desire to explore and exploit them
  • I scored the glorious Allen Toussaint collection two days back. I bought the classic Southern Nights album in a sale for a fiver off Henry King, the now forgotten father of NZ record retailing, at his Pamure shop back in 1975 & it hasn’t left my turntable since…and its stuffed. Now I have it beautifully remastered, booklet, complete with his other two Warner albums (which I’ve also liked a lot over the years) and a few live tracks..
  • Saw Dean Webb this week, for the first time in four years and that made my week.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Extended Play George FM 090205

The Intruders-I’ll Always Love my Mama (Tom Mouton mix)-Philadelphia International-1977 Double Exposure-Ten Percent (Walter Gibbons mix)-Salsoul-1975 Mac Thornhill-Feel So good-???-1981 Betty Swann-Kiss My Love Goodbye-Atlantic-1975 Hot RS-Slow Blow-SJN-2004 Loose Ends-Emergency (Dial 999) (Dub)-Virgin-1984 Change-Searching-WEA-1980 Sandy’s Gang-Hungry (Sean P Edit)-Tirk-2004 Vance & Suzanne-Can’t Get It Anywhere-Moxie-2004 My Bloody Valentine-Glider (Weatherall Remix)-Creation-1990 Fingers Inc-Can you Feel It (MLK mix)-Trax-1988 SR-1-Da Rhythm (Strictly)-Strictly Rhythm-1992 DV8-This Beat is Over-Strictly Rhythm-1991 Fingers Inc-Love of My Own-Alleviated-1987 New Order-Round & Round (KMS Detroit Mix)-Factory-1989 Groove Committee -I want you to Know-Nu Groove-1991 Blackjoy-La Stache-Artofdisco-2005 Chelonis R Jones-One & One-Get Physical-2002 Carl Craig-Sandstorms-Planet E-2004 LCD Soundsystem-Disco Infiltrator-DFA-2005 Tomorrowpeople-????-CDR-2005 Greg Churchill-Automatique-Underwater-2005 S2-Slide-UR-2004 Metro-Turnstyle Turbulence-Nu Groove-1990 Kerri Chandler-Get It Off (DJ Deep 2004 mix)-DRH-2004 Quentin Harris-The Shelter Anthem-Restricted Access-2005 Speedy J-Pepper (Hot Mix)-BMU-1994 West Street Mob-Breakdance-Electric Boogie-Sugarhill-1983 Patti Jo-Make Me Believe In You (Tom Moulton Mix)-Scepter-1975

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Six Months with a Leaky Tune.......

Sitting in a Belgian Beer bar in Vulcan Lane tonight with a glass of dark overpriced lager of some sort, sharing a large bowl of mussels with Lemongrass curry (a weakness I admit but not a bad one) and the in house system was spinning a mix of Al Green, Barry White & Otis Redding. I’m fairly partial to both Otis and Al (and a few Barry’s but mostly his productions or his more obscure stuff) and pretty much all these acts can reasonably be said to have produced a standard or two. Seriously, “Respect” (Otis still does the best cut, Stevie next, Aretha is a take it or leave it for me after one movie soundtrack too many, but that’s what I’m getting to I suppose), “Take Me to the River”, “Dock of the Bay” etc, are about as close to a standard as it gets. What is a standard? I guess it’s a) a song which has ceased to be simply a song, and now just is…it’s ingrained in the planet for all the ages, b) its reached the muzak in the supermarket level…like “Yesterday”, or “Summertime” or “Satisfaction” or “Walk on By” or “Home on the Range” (American supermarkets play it, honest), and c) most importantly, it also needs to be a song that inspires others to cover it….which is why “Let’s Get It On” or “Stairway to Heaven” don’t count (and yes I know Rolf did it but that was a piss take)…those are classic performances but the nature of the song defies the rise to standard level….no-one could successfully take either of those songs on and only a truly brave or foolish person would try.

I’m not sure where this is going but it occurred to me that New Zealand, as a songwriting nation, for all the classic performances (and there have been countless) hasn’t yet matured sufficiently to produce standards as Australia, for example has. Perhaps it’s the result of a largely moribund recording industry for many years and the lack of any airplay (and the sad over compensation now that leads to ghetto-isation like the recent Kiwi FM, where a song is played because of its origin, not its does no-one any favours); I mean in 1982 I received the equivalent of a lifetime award from RIANZ in a funny little hotel room in Greenlane which was ludicrous, not only because I was 26 but because I was only awarded it because my label, Propeller, had had a few big hits (including a number one) and no other NZ indie had had any for about a decade (even the Dudes and Sailor hadn’t really had chart hits).

So what have we got in the standards list….you really have to think hard…”Ten Guitars”…wasn’t written here, we adopted it off the B side of an Englebert Humperdinck single, but, yep, it’s a kiwi standard but not eligible; “Nature”, largely ignored for years but Don McGlashan’s worthy cover made it a standard, so yeah, that’s one legit one; “How Bizarre” the muzak thing all over the world and might be our biggest selling single but it’s a novelty record; “Pokarekareana”, I think that was written here in the early 20th century, so that’s two; nothing from the ENZ or Dobbyn camp, classic performances but not standards, although there was that truly appalling r’n’b cover of an ENZ tune some years back; “In The Neighbourhood”, maybe..a recent cover from Brooke Fraser and one each in Australia & the UK too and I’ve heard it in Woolworths & on TV2 for two years, but too new to be a standard..lets call it, like “Don’t Dream Its Over” a-standard-in-waiting. And that’s about it. I looked at the tracklisting of the Natures Best comps, which are full of great performances (plus a few complete embarrassments that really defy explanation..I mean “Glorafila”...(or anything by the appalling Zed) please, for gods sake, “Julia”? “Lydia”?….I don’t suppose the vast over-representation of Chunn related items had anything to do with the fact that the voting system was never clearly defined beyond “the members voted”..btw I’m not trying to get at Mike, his input to revive a moribund APRA and the NZ music industry in toto was quite obviously quite phenomenal and aside from that he’s one hell of a nice guy…..but the absence of the two greatest pop singles released in the past thirty years (no, I’m not going to name them…oh ok……”True Love” by the Marching Girls and “Saturday Night Stay at Home” by the Reps) calls the whole process into question. Not that I’m biased at all…….) but not necessarily great standalone songs. The cover of Bic Runga’s “Sway” at the APRA 75th illustrated that well. The original is a great performance but it didn’t cope well with a cover, even from Graham, one of our greatest performers. Incidentally, the failure of Brazier’s “Billy Bold” to enter the top 30 was another reason to question the rankings. My feeling is in the rush to prove our worth we failed because were simply too young to attempt something like the Nature’s Best series….we might have a recording history going back fifty years but we’ve only really had a mature recording industry for a decade or so….

But I guess I would’ve loved to have been involved with a standard or two…some sort of legacy thing, but when you’ve gotten your Lifetime achievement award at 26 for fucks sake, why bother? Bitter and twisted? Me? Naaaaahhhhh………

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Told What to do by the megaton..... If anyone is interested I've just updated my suburban reptiles page