Monday, December 29, 2014

The superman comes to meet you (Slade) #343

Slade Take Me Bak' Ome (sic)/ Wonderin' Y (Polydor, 2058 231, 1972)

The title should have been 'Take Me Bak 'Ome' but NZ pressing people have never understood the apostrophe rule (or cared about getting titles right).

One of my first purchases this one. I loved, still love Slade.

The glam era conjured up some freakish acts and even though Slade got lumped in there - largely because of Noddy Holder and Dave Hill's outlandish costumes - this boy band could play and they always looked like hard men from Wolverhampton no matter how weird the jumpsuits became!

My first taste was Slade Alive! - one of the greatest live albums of all time, and this single.

Take Me.. has some wonderful layered guitars, a catchy hook that never gives up and that stomp along sound from Don Powell.

Hidden gem: Slade had some great songs (thanks to Jim Lea and Noddy Holder) and they had the raw vocal power of Noddy Holder! Wow that guy could deliver a song. They also knew why the Beatles were so great. Wonderin' Y sounds like an exercise in delivering Beatle harmonies in a power pop vein. Noddy delivers! Awesome!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

You don't get the breaks like some of us do (George Harrison) #342

Roger Skinner and The Motivation Sour Milk Sea/ Sweet Lorraine (Pye, 7N 14011, 1969)

No doubt the music world contains more terminally unhip band names than this but I can't think of anything right now. Prince and The Revolution this ain't!

The very literal Roger Skinner's Motivation (to get out of bed of a morning) grew from a number of second division NZ sixties bands and released a few singles before calling it a day in 1974. Unfortunately Roger Skinner didn't get the breaks like many did in NZ music - maybe it was that band name! 

RS on far right
The A side is a version of the George Harrison song that Jackie Lomax covered on his solo Apple Records album (for other Lomax/Harrison single connections see

Sour Milk Sea is a weird song and an even weirder choice to cover I would have thought. 

Even though Roger doesn't have the pipes of Jackie Lomax and the Lomax arrangement is kept intact, this still becomes a damn fine piece of kiwi music in his hands. 

Hidden gem: Yes indeed - Sweet Lorraine is a heavy, bass laden, piece of 1969 rock. The barking mad sound affects of gunfire at the end just add to the appeal. If anything I prefer it to the A side as a slice of Kiwi Nuggets style lost rock classics.

Extra notes: This single is worth around $20 to $25 dollars according to the sites I stumbled upon; sadly there is no video available on this one.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Oh Krishna, where are you? (Ravi Shankar) #341

Shankar Family and Friends I Am Missing You/ Lust (Dark Horse, K 5729, 1974)

Doh - I, um, missed this one - it got into the Patti Smith singles by mistake somehow!

This track is off the Dark Horse Records album Shankar Family and Friends which includes Ravi's usual side men and women with western musos that includes your friend and mine - Ringo Starr! The vocal is by Ravi's sister-in-law Lakshmi Shankar. 

It's also unusual in that Ravi wrote it in a western style (it's a love song to Krishna). 

It's quite catchy but a single? Yeah why not! If nothing else it alerted people to the parent album which I quite like - but again, being a Beatle completist, I bought this for the Harrison/Starr connection, rather than out of any sense of devotion to Ravi Shankar.

Hidden gem: Lust is part of a longer suite, also on the parent album. It's pretty good too - in a Ravi meets Frank Zappa jazz fusion sort of way.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tell me, is it true? (Billy Shears) #340

Billy Shears and The All Americans Brother Paul/ Message To Seymour (Festival, FK 3415, 1969)

Into the weirdness we go, as the mythical Billy Shears cashes in on the Paul Is Dead urban myth that would have you believe Paul McCartney's death in 1966 was covered up by the Fabs and a lookalike brought in with the amazing ability to write genius songs like the 'real' Paul. Sigh.

Conspiracy theorists loved it and it was a mildly amusing distraction at the time as 'clues' were found in songs and record covers. Okay, I confess to playing stuff backwards to find 'I buried Paul' on The Beatles. But it was only a fun distraction.

Brother Paul, the song, is crap by the way.

Hidden gem: Message to Seymour is a faster paced, more psychedelic song but still crap.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Do you not care for us? (Ravi Shankar) #339

Ravi Shankar Joi Bangla, Oh Bhaugowan/ Raga Mishra-Jhinjhoti (Apple Records, 1838, 1971)

This is a rare one - Ravi's first record released on Apple, produced by Hari Georgeson - only Oh Bhaugowan was subsequently compiled onto an album.

The E.P. came out before George curated The Concert For Bangladesh (Joi Bangla translates to 'victory for Bangladesh') and started a run of George collaborations on Apple Records releases that stretches to 1997.

The song itself? Joi Bangla's a happy, jaunty little number but I have to face up to an awful truth here: if this had no Beatle/Apple connection would I buy it? The answer is a solid 'No'. 

Would I even listen to it? Unlike the Radha Krisha Temple Apple stuff, the answer is another solid 'No'.

Sorry but there it is. I struggle through that first side of The Concert For Bangladesh through respect for Ravi and George, but it's still a struggle.

Oh Bhaugowan is a quieter, more contemplative and more appealing listening experience thanks to the flutes and soft chants.

Hidden gem: Raga is an instrumental and develops nicely with Ravi's sitar more to the foreground.

[No video available on these songs].

Monday, December 8, 2014

They made you a moron (Sex Pistols) #337 - 338

Sex Pistols God Save The Queen/ Did You No Wrong (Virgin, VS 181, 1977)

Sex Pistols Pretty Vacant/ No Fun (Virgin, VS 184, 1977)

Hard now, in 2014, to believe how powerful God Save The Queen was as a defiant blast of outrageous intent in 1977.

Before they turned themselves into a buffoonish cartoon and before Sid Vicious became a drug-fueled homicidal maniac, for a brief time in 1977, The Sex Pistols were the real deal.

1977: my first year at University. I knew about punk rock, I was a diligent reader/collector of Sounds magazine, but life in NZ was a million miles from the depressed feelings experienced by many youngsters in Britain in the late seventies.

Somehow, via these two singles, The Sex Pistols managed to transcend the tyranny of distance and sound absolutely relevant in 1977 New Zealand.

And they rocked!! Those overdubbed guitars work brilliantly and the sound is totally in your face. 

What a marvelous racket.

Hidden gems: Definitely! Did You No Wrong is a terrific song - those guitars again and Paul Cook's drumming propel this song ever onwards.

I'm not so much a fan of No Fun but one snarl from John Lydon on any of these songs equals a breath of fresh putrid air.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mr Freers, had sticky out ears (The Scaffold) #336

The Scaffold Lily The Pink/ Buttons Of Your Mind (Parlophone, NZP 3303, 1968)

Poor old Mike McCartney? No way!!

Many people would struggle being Paul McCartney's kid brother but not our Mike.

A talented and bright guy - Mike adopted McGear as his pseudonym early on to avoid cashing in on Beatle fame by association. He became a band member (with The Scaffold), solo artist (McGear is a terrific album) and famed photographer - all on his lonesome (okay - with a bit of help from Roger McGough/John Gorman in The Scaffold and his big brother thereafter).

Having said all that, I urge the blogosphere not to judge him based on Lily The Pink - a nonsense song. Although it was wildly successful in 1968- it doesn't stand up to rigorous reappraisal in 2014.

Hidden gem: Sadly - no. The B side is a McGear/McGough creation and the boys play it straight(ish). Significantly, it pales considerably next to, say, Flight Of The Conchords in the 21st Century.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lissa I am, doing what I can (Russia) #335

Russia Lissa/ Boucher (EMI, HR 591, 1979)

My memories of this one are a little dim - I'm sure I bought this on my good buddy's (GK) recommendation. I think he heard it on Radio Hauraki and we each bought a copy on our regular record buying trips to K Rd and Queen St.

We'd started these while at school - beginning first at George Courts on K Rd, going through St Kevin's Arcade (an early version of Real Groovy was the draw), through Myers Park to Queen St. for 246, Taste, Lewis Eadys and finishing off at the best of the lot - Marbecks Records in the Queen's Arcade.

But I digress- Russia was an Auckland five piece band who, I think, had only this one single. They were guitarists Mark Wenski, Chris Murray, Tom Boucher on bass, Graham Osbourne vocals and Noel Christian drums.

I have no idea what happened to the band but Greg sent me a photo of guitarist Chris Murray, looking like a dude, busking outside Countdown in Pt Chev. - apparently he's a regular.

Lissa is a really good pop song with some nifty hooks.

Hidden gem: The B side is a real ripper - Boucher is obviously the bassist's name. The punkish attitude in the song held real appeal for me at the time, and it still sounds like a blast of energised pop music. 

Lissa is available for a listen on this link: