Saturday, March 29, 2014

Where the long grass ends (Daggy and The Dickheads) #154

Daggy And The Dickheads  Standing On The Corner; Winter Of Discontent/ Talk Turkey; Boogie Down Brown; Brothers (Warner Brothers Records 12", Z 200 24, 1982)

This is also known as The Brothers EP

I was working at Marbecks Records when this came out and the WEA rep raved about it. After he'd gone Roger gave me the demonstration copy because I'd loved it so much - one track in particular. I had to make a bespoke cover for it at the time (thirty plus years later my homemade cover is falling apart but still houses the EP).

Who were The Dickheads and which one's Daggy? 

The band was made up of two sets of brothers — Mark and Paul Kennedy, Tim and Dan McCartin — and a neighbour, Neil Mickleson. They were farmers from Taihape who played songs with a high country rock feel and they stayed together for nearly three years in the early eighties.

Take a look at this old Country Calendar to get more (and, yes, I'm aware that none of this will make much sense to anyone ouside of Nu Zild):

The song that really had a deep effect on me was Winter Of Discontent

It's the boys' own Free Bird but better! 

It differs in that it takes the position of a guy saying goodbye to a girl at the farm gate (where the long grass ends) but the spirit of freedom is the same and I love the way it starts off slow  and in control (like Free bird) but then revs up into a bit of a guitar frenzy (like Free Bird).

Hidden gems: Some good tracks on the B side - dominated by great bass line hooks and some spacey New Order/ The Cure type influences.

[I've had to include a different song by the boys here - not on this EP but in their same high country rock style]

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Some like anything as long as it rolls (Ry Cooder) #153

Ry Cooder  Crazy 'bout An Automobile; If Walls Could Talk; School Is Out/ The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (Makes Me Poor); Look At Granny Run Run; Jesus On The Mainline (Warner Brothers Records 12", 238101, 1982)

This is a weird one - right on the border between an EP and an album. Although it tries to pass itself off as a '6 song album' you try and find it in Ry's discographies! Go on - I dare ya!

Instead it's a bizarre attempt at advertising Ry's existence. Bizarre because Ry Cooder isn't a commercial proposition in the way that, say, Kiss are. Ry exists in the rock margins. That's the way he and I like it.

Just look at his wiki page - it's a sketch rather than a portrait in oil.

This is also bizarre because it's NOT a cohesive live album - it's a cobbled together 'product'. It's not even all 'live'. 

Two tracks (Jesus and School) are from his sublime live album from 1977 - Show Time. School Is Out is actually a studio recording - placed as track 1 side 1 as a precursor to the live show. The other four tracks are live versions of songs from his Bop Till You Drop and Borderline albums.

Being Ry the music is superb but he's poorly served by this. 

The cover gives things away - a washout out photo lifted from a video! Pathetic. 

The back cover lists his albums and contains misrepresentations (the claim that this is 'Live in Europe' - Show Time was recorded in San Francisco!), wrong spelling (hautning) and poor research (Speedo on Borderline becomes 'Speeds' in these liner notes). Beyond pathetic!

Hidden gem: Jesus on the mainline is a standout track from Show Time - on a album of great great songs. I urge you to seek that out rather than pay over the top for this 'rare' piece of vinyl.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gonna set fire to the town (Cold Chisel) #152

Cold Chisel  One Long Day; Home And Broken Hearted/ Merry-Go-Round; Mona And The Preacher; Wild Thing (Elektra 12", EP 12001, 1978)

The EP made a welcome return in the form of the 12" single in the late seventies/eighties. Sometimes called 'mini albums' they provided value for money and with 5 or 6 songs they didn't overstay their welcome.

The Chiselers called this one You're Thirteen, You're Beautiful, and You're Mine (recorded live) which managed to be both mildly offensive and mildly boring at the same time. Apparently it's an attempt at a humourous reference to Jerry Lee Lewis (who married his 13 year old cousin to general outrage back in the day) and the hit song You're Sixteen etc.  

Thankfully the A side songs are way better than the clumsy EP title.

The EP was recorded live in 1977, before the debut album but released just after it, and it's nicely rough and ready (unlike the second album Breakfast At Sweethearts which is too cleaned up for my taste).

Hidden gems: The boys continue in fired up form on the B side. If anything these three songs ace the first two (which were to appear on the debut album). Merry-Go-Round was re-recorded for Breakfast At Sweethearts but this live recording (according to Jim Barnes the second time they'd played it live) ripped it up. 

Neither Mona And The Preacher nor Wild Thing (an 'old standard' according to Jim) appeared on any Chisel albums.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's harmony I say (The Church) #150 - 151

The Church  A Different Man; Ancient History/ The Night Is Very Soft; In This Room; I Am A Rock (Stunn 12", ABS 100, 1982)

The Church  Constant In Opal; Volumes/ No Explanation; Violet Town; Shadow Cabinet (Parlophone 12", GOOD 506, 1984)

Australia's The Church were a favourite of mine in the eighties. 

They had harmonies and guitars and paisley shirts when all you could hear at the time were heavily processed drums and horrible synths.

I stayed with them during the decade for their early albums and singles until the nineties when they lost the plot.

The Constant In Opal 12" was titled Persia for some reason and the A Different Man 12" was titled Sing Songs for some other reason. In both cases the A sides are pretty but they don't linger long in the memory.

Sing Songs is the most collectable of The Church's vinyl as it was released in fairly limited vinyl pressings initially, was soon deleted. So it's pretty collectable (in relative terms - we're not talking Penny Black here).

Hidden gems: For me the real deals are on the B sides. The Night Is Very Soft is a lovely song with some beautiful harmonies. No Explanation has a nice jingly jangly quality and is the best track for me on Persia. I Am A Rock is, of course, the Paul Simon song. Here it's given a hurdy gurdy Church arrangement which suits it sir!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Whoops, there goes another year; whoops, there goes another pint of beer (Billy Bragg) # 148 - 149

Billy Bragg  Greetings To The New Brunette; Deportees/ The Tatler; Jeane; There Is Power In A Union (instrumental) (Chrysalis 12", X14319, 1986)

Billy Bragg Levi Stubbs' Tears; Between The Wars/ Think Again; Walk Away Renee (version) (Chrysalis 12", X14299, 1986)

I know, I know. We're back to the Bs. What gives?

I realised when I was doing the George Harrison lot that I'd forgotten to include the 12 inch singles up to H so here we go - a bit of a backtrack.

That's the good thing with writing a blog - you can make up your own rules.

So here we go - back to the Bs with Billy Bragg. Steve Hillage will have to wait a while.

I've mentioned Mr Bragg from Barking in the blog a few times and even written about Levi Stubbs' Tears before ( ) so I'll concentrate on Greetings for this post.

It's a double A side with two terrific songs. 

Greetings has some fantastic poetry (how can you lie there and think of England when you don't even know who's in the team) and Deportees is Billy's version of the Woody Guthrie tale. I've seldom heard it done better (outside of Bob Dylan).

Hidden gems: Definitely value for money on the 12" format generally. Walk Away Renee on the Tears 12" is amazing - a really simple tale about taking the crunchy with the smooth with the old Four Tops hit being played on acoustic in the background.

The snap in the tale is 'she cut her hair and I stopped loving her' (as the Tui beer ads in NZ say - Yeah right!)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Woke up in a daze (George Harrison) #143 - 147

George Harrison Love Comes To Everyone/ Soft Touch (Dark Horse, DRC 8844, 1979)

George Harrison All Those Years AgoWritings On The Wall (Dark Horse, DRC 49725, 1981)

George Harrison TeardropsSave The World (Dark Horse, DRC 49785, 1981)

George Harrison Got My Mind Set On You (extended version)/ Got My Mind Set On You (single version); Lay His Head (Dark Horse, 0-20802, 1987) 

George Harrison When We Was Fab (extended version); Zig Zag/ That's The Way It Goes; When We Was Fab (reverse ending) (Dark Horse, 0-20860, 1987) 

The final installment of George singles (until I finish vinyl and begin looking at CD singles that is) takes us from the George Harrison to Cloud Nine albums. By then the 12" single was having its day in the sun. Fab and Mind both come in for the extended 12 inch treatment. 

By then George's chums Ray Cooper and Jeff Lynne were on board for production duties. I like the retro sound they got out of the band and George sounds like a man refreshed on the Cloud Nine singles - especially after the dreary lacklustre Somewhere In England and barking mad even more lacklustre Gone Troppo albums. 

The All Those Years Ago and When We Was Fab singles are my favourites, of course. 

Years Ago was his response to John's murder and is a wonderfully warm tribute to the man who was a leader and big brother figure for George. The track is also special as it features Ringo Starr on drums, as well as Paul and Linda McCartney and Denny Laine on backing vocals. An early Threetles entry really.

Both Years and Fab are unusual as George was not much for looking back. Maybe the Jeff Lynne influence and the Travelling Wilburys had something to do with that. Whatever the reason the nicely judged whimsy of When We Was Fab was a real tonic in 1987 and it holds up today.

My favourite part of the gear Fab video is when Ringo's on drums, the walrus/Paul's on bass and a guy walks past carrying the back of Lennon's Imagine cover. 

Hidden gems: Nothing of rarity value on the first three singles but Lay His Head IS RARE! It has never been released on an album or as a CD bonus track. It was removed from the Somewhere In England album at the time due to record company pressure. Amazingly they thought they knew better than George! These days, of course, you can find it on youtube but as a piece of vinyl it only appeared as a B side. Zig Zag is also rare (although it has turned up as a bonus track on the Cloud Nine CD).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

This song has nothin' tricky about it (George Harrison) #138 - 142

George Harrison Ding Dong; Ding Dong/ Hari's On Tour (Express) (Apple, 48947, 1974)

George Harrison This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)Maya Love (Apple, A 11017, 1975)

George Harrison This SongLearning How To Love You (Dark Horse, DRC 8294, 1976)

George Harrison Crackerbox Palace/ Learning How To Love You (Dark Horse, DRC 8313, 1976) 

George Harrison Blow Away/ Soft Hearted Hana (Dark Horse, DRC 8763, 1979) 

These next five singles move from the nadir of This Guitar...(and the parent album Extra Texture) to the resurgence four years later with the gorgeous Blow Away (from the reborn Harrison album simply called George Harrison). The ark replicated the transition from Pattie Boyd (who began her disastrous relationship with Eric Clapton at the same time) to Olivia Trinidad Arias.

Along the way George had regained his touch and his sense of humour. This Song is a neat commentary on the plagiarism lawsuit for My Sweet Lord and even has sundry Pythons looning about. It's a fun song - the polar opposite of Extra Texture.


By 1979 the circulation had well and truly returned. His cheeks were rosy again! Blow Away just exudes love and warmth. Love those acoustic guitars and George's slide is sublime. 


Hidden gems: The B sides echo the transition from gloom to brightness that's seen on the A sides. Soft Hearted Hana has the same carefree sparkle as Blow Away. Nothing rare about any of them though - all are from the parent albums. BTW - George was clearly sending a message to the world about Olivia (whom he'd met in 1974 and married in '78) - Learning How To Love You appearing twice!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ring out the false, ring in the true (George Harrison) # 133 - 137

George Harrison Dark HorseI Don't Care Anymore (Apple, NZP 3493, 1974)

George Harrison Dark Horse/ Hari's On Tour (Express) (EMI, A 10696, 1974)

George Harrison Ding Dong/ I Don't Care Anymore (Apple, NZP 3494, 1974) 

George Harrison Dark Horse/ You (Starline/ Capitol, 6245, 1974/1975)

George Harrison You/ World Of Stone (Apple, NZP 3520, 1975)

The second batch of Hari's singles sees us in the dark days of 1974/1975. The days of the Pattie Boyd/ Eric Clapton romantic triangle with George, the dark days of lives ruined by alcohol and cocaine,  the dark days of the disastrous 1974 tour (George, never the most willing tourist, quickly lost his voice and had to soldier on - I have bootlegs of the tour and, believe me, it was embarrassing for all concerned) and the dark days of Extra Texture - for me, George's worst record ever.

Here's a taster of that tour:

Of course these things are relative and George is a bleedin' former Beatle so even Extra Texture has one bright moment of sheer class - You. A superb song and a great single.

I have a soft spot for Dark Horse (song and album) and so I have no real problem with the singles listed above. Even good old Ding Dong is worthy! George is remarkably frank about the love triangle on the album (Bye Bye Love and others), which is against character for him. He doesn't generally subscribe to Lennon's confessional style of songwriting so this is quite refreshing. BTW Dark Horse (the album) has an awesome cover - just saying!

The slew of singles with roughly similar tracks can be explained by looking at the numbers of each single: they come from Australia, NZ and the USA - each country seems to have been a law unto themselves as we saw from my earlier trawl through the Beatle's singles (and we'll see again when we get to the other solo fabs).

Hidden gems: Slim pickings here. I'm a loss to explain the popularity of I Don't Care Anymore and the Starline single is a double A side Capitol reissue. That leaves Hari's On Tour (Express) - a pleasant instrumental throwaway (Express is a reference to Tom Scott's band L.A. Express who played on the Dark Horse album and '74 tour) and World Of Stone which is just depressing (from The ET album which I also find depressing - except for You).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What I feel I can't say (George Harrison) #128 - 132

George Harrison My Sweet LordWhat Is Life (Apple, R 5884, 1970)

George Harrison My Sweet Lord/ Isn't It A Pity (Apple, NZP 3391, 1973)

George Harrison What Is Life/ Apple Scruffs (Apple, NZP 3397, 1970)

George Harrison Bangla-Desh/ Deep Blue (Apple, R 5912, 1971)

George Harrison Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)/ Miss O'Dell (Apple, NZP 3455, 1973)  

I know, I know - Harrison comes before Heart, Henley, Hello Sailor etc in the H's.

My single collection's alphabetical, but it's quirky alphabetical.

Never mind - we've obviously entered the sanctified world of Hari Georgeson.

What a fantastic start to The Quiet One's post Beatle career - a knockout punch first up with the gorgeous splendour that is My Sweet Lord. Oh sure there's an echo of One Fine Day but as John Gardner says "all great writing is in a sense imitation of great writing". So instead marvel at George's creativity in this brace of singles from the early seventies

Give Me Love stands out as a superb song where George got the secular and spiritual mix spot on. What Is Life is a classic pop song - such a classic pop song that Olivia Newton-John did a great version of it!

At the other end of the spectrum is Bangla Desh which, although its heart is definitely in the right place and it's catchy, remains firmly rooted in 1971. Still - it's flippin' George Harrison of The Beatles innit so who am I to criticise it?

Hidden gems: I have no idea why EMI NZ decided to go with the B sides it did but - it's quirky and there's nothing wrong with quirky right? 

Given that - Isn't It A Pity is such an album track that it's appearance on a single is deeply strange. What's the deal here? Post modern irony from Apple? 

Apple Scruffs is equally weird and inappropriate. It's great on All Things Must Pass as a bit of light relief but a B side?

Deep Blue is a classic B side though - not released on an album it is perfectly suited to an obscure B side on a relatively obscure Harrison A side.

Which leaves Miss O'Dell - Chris O'Dell was a member of the Harrison entourage. Her book (cunningly titled Miss O'Dell) sums her up - 'Chris O'Dell wasn't famous. She wasn't even almost famous. But she was there'.

The song itself is a light hearted, warm spirited romp that is also perfectly suited to a B side (it's never appeared on an album either).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I get no respect. The way my luck is running, if I was a politician I would be honest (Rodney Dangerfield) #127

Herman's Hermits Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter/ Wonderful World (Columbia, DNZ 10409, 1965)

Hermit's hermits are the Rodney Dangerfield of the rock'n'roll world - they get no respect!

Blame it on this song, Dandy, and, like Mrs. Brown, another music hall veteran -  I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am.

They became forever associated with novelty numbers but I'm here to tell you that you should not ignore the class of There's a Kind of Hush or other songs in their catalogue like No Milk Today.

But I digress. Mrs. Brown is undeniably catchy and instantly returns me to simpler times. I certainly remember this being a staple of NZ radio in the 1960's. I guess they were considered heaven sent by radio programmers - safe and solid entertainment, at polar opposites to those dangerous Rolling Stones etc.

Thing is - I lapped this up in 1965. Those broad English accents! To me, at that stage of my listening experience (I was still buzzed by watching The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show remember) England may as well have been Mars to us NZers in the mid sixties and so anything coming from there was instantly linked (in my brain at least) to The Beatles and was, therefore, the business! 

Hidden gem: The B side is a beat version of the Sam Cooke song - supposedly done by HH as a tribute to Mr Soul himself.