Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: The Beatles' adventure guide

So farewell then, George Martin. You encouraged The Beatles to be adventurous, and then you helped them make those adventures real. You transcended what a producer was half a century ago and you helped define what a producer is now.

There have been some great things written since Sir George's passing this week, but one of my favourites is the concise, personal testament on Facebook of Danielle Moreau, known hereabouts:

OK, so people who are not Giant Beatle Dorks like me may not care, but I just need to share some of the ways in which George Martin made my life better.

He scored the strings for 'Yesterday' and 'Eleanor Rigby'. I consider the latter the most starkly beautiful and sad of any of Paul's songs.

He wrote and played the Bach-esque piano solo on 'In My Life'.

He didn't say "seriously? piss off" when Lennon came to him on acid and asked him to make Lennon's singing voice sound "like an orange".

He organised the piccolo trumpet player for 'Penny Lane'.

He agreed to produce the Beatles because he thought they were charming and funny when everyone else had turned them down.

He scored the orchestrations for 'All You Need is Love' including the 'Greensleeves', Bach and 'In the Mood' samples in the fadeout.

He congratulated them for recording their first number one record after the 'Please Please Me' session. (It was.)

He encouraged them to experiment with instruments and wacky sound effects thanks to his comedy album production background.

He was a tolerant, wise and inspirational producer and The Beatles wouldn't have been what they were without him. Even if he didn't have very good taste in ties. RIP.

Everyone's been posting their favourites, so I'm going with this deconstruction of 'Tomorrow Never Knows', which, as Paul explains, they expected to be a challenge for George because it was Lennon strumming just a single chord – C – but which became yet another testament to George's eternal openness to "far out ideas".

That track, man. It's the spawn of rock music as drone, you can drop it into a modern DJ set, it's everything.

Bonus: Chris Bourke's great Audioculture article on The Beatles and New Zealand.


Lontalius launches his well-trailered debut album, I'll Forget 17, with a show at the refurbished Las Vegas Club on K Road on March 24.

There's a new video for 'Glow', which I immediately loved when Ed posted it as a Soundcloud preview more than month ago. It's not just a sweet, longing love song, it's a beautiful arrangement:

Meanwhile, out today, Dave Dobbyn's first album in eight years, Harmony House, which was produced at Dave's home studio by Samuel Flynn Scott and Luke Buda of the Phoenix Foundation. I first heard this record last year and it was the first and last tracks that really grabbed me.

They're personal in different ways: 'Waiting for a Voice' is a cry from faith, prophetic, poetic, maybe even angry. And, as he told Russell Baillie, the closing title track comes from a tough year for the family, when his wife Anneliesje was dealing with breast cancer – with its layered vocals and bouncy bassline, is like nothing I've heard Dave do before.

It's not all unusual – the single 'Angelina' is a straight-up guitar pp tune – but Dave has a track record of going looking outside his comfort zone and I think Sam and Luke really helped him find something this time.

And finally for new releases, Ladyhawke – who appears next weekend at Auckland City Limits – is back from a four-year break with her forthcoming new album, Wild Things, which is out on June 3. First taste is the official lyric video of 'A Love Song':

She talked to the ABC in Australia.


If you haven't already watched this, you should watch this. The BBC shot Orkestra Obsolete playing 'Blue Monday' on the instruments that would have been available in 1933. The arrangement is the thing:

More on the instruments here.


This is a great read: Terence Hogan on a youthful journey from Auckland to spend a winter in London in 1972, seeing bands (from a tapped out Velvet Underground to an ascendant Bowie and a rock Flamin' Groovies) meeting Charlie Gillett and finding out things.

Meanwhile in the music business of 2016, Digital Music News (who have been wrong before) says Soundcloud will entirely shift its model to become a subscription service this year. I'm not quite sure how that's going to work.


Gold Medal Famous is staging a theremin playing contest at Moon in Newtown, Wellington, tomorrow evening at part of their gig with The Doubtful Sounds.

Anyone can have a crack and there are prizes including merch, CDs and glasses of the Gold Medal Famous Aotearoa Golden Ale.

If, like me, you've never seen, let alone played with a theremin, this seems a good opportunity. Also, beer. And as GMF's Chris Wilson notes, this week would have seen the birthday of the "greatest theremin player ever", Clara Rockmore.



Another Auckland City Limits act, Racing, goin' be funky with their new one:

Classic indie-pop? They're still making it. The Beths feature Jonanthan Pearce, who helped produce Anthonie Tonnon's Successor, and this bristles with guitar verve:

From the excellent Analog Africa label, a free download comprising five whole hours of African funk, jazz, soul and rock you very probably haven't heard before.

Mr Fingers is back! Larry Heard's first new recordings in a long time. Sampler here:

A free-to-download mix of funk and soul from Bill Brewster. Click through for track listing.

And finally, a new Digital Visions re-edit for free download. The Rolling Stones' 'Miss You' turned yet further to the dancefloor:


The Hard News Friday Music Post is kindly sponsored by:

The Audio Consultant

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