Thursday, July 23, 2009
Headband grooving our special today
29 Headband, ‘The Laws Must Change’; 30 Evermore, 'Light Surrounding me'
New Zealand music of the early seventies was a peculiar beast. In the 1960’s the aftermath of the English invasion meant New Zealand homegrown talent modelled themselves on English equivalents to compete and satisfy the local needs. As we are so far away from the rest of the universe this was vital when English bands weren’t touring. No Tommy Steele? Hello Ray Woolf. Quincy Conserve was our Blood Sweat and Tears, Mr Lee Grant was our P.J. Proby and Dinah Lee was our Sandy Shaw (one of my very first musical memories is her single Do The Blue Beat) and so on.
As the 1960s became the 70s, New Zealand bands became rockier, hairer, grungier and more and while they started to develop a local New Zealand flavour they were still in thrall to overseas influence. Space Waltz play their dues to Bowie and glam, John Hanlon was our Cat Stevens and so on.
One of the first albums that I fell in love with was Headband’s first album. I must confess though, that without the recommendation from the touring Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in 1971, I would not have found Headband so quickly. So as well as Led Zeppelin III, I bought Headband’s Happen Out album from a record shop in Onehunga.
I had no idea, at the time, that Tommy Adderley had already had a career as a singer or that Jimmy Hill (the drummer) and Billy Kristian (guitars) had been in Ray Columbus and The Invaders in the 1960s. The music is unbelievable as each of the musicians is playing at the top of their game, especially on The Laws Must Change - a John Mayall song (Headband were originally called The Bluesbreakers!). My father used this track to test his hi-fi equipment. He'd crank up the volume to 11 and the distorted guitars by Kristian really rocked.
It's one of those rare tracks that still sounds fresh in 2009. Most of the stuff I love from this period lives in the memory more than the now.
Speaking of 2009 - for me, Evermore carry the torch for New Zealand music at the moment. Zed looked like a bright prospect but then they fell apart after their second album. The early promise of the Datsuns has diminished over their last three albums but Evermore continue to innovate. Now into their third album they will go a long way before they better Light Surrounding Me from album number 2. When I heard it during the Olympics (TV One used it as part of a station promo) I was immediately hooked. I'm looking forward to what they do next.