Hard News by Russell Brown


Those were different times ...

Neil Roberts' droll 1978 examination of the nascent local punk rock scene for the Eyewitness current affairs show, added this week to NZ On Screen, is fascinating in more ways than one.

Roberts, in the process of becoming the archetypal media baby-boomer, was officially a Parliamentary journalist in 1978, but 10 years before he'd been writing and sub-editing for Melody Maker in London. In the short documentary he meets kids who, in some sense, have fallen between generations.

Three years before the Springbok Tour had New Zealanders literally fighting in the streets, they're engaged in our last real cultural fling with Anglophilia. They sing like they're from London and speak the way New Zealanders used to on TV -- the metallic local twang glossed with the plum that always came out for the cameras. (And yes, Jen Hay, I would welcome your observations on that.)

The music is badly recorded and in some cases just plain bad, but there's brilliant, naive energy to what they're doing with themselves, and in who they fancy themselves to be. We know what some of them became -- Dick Driver, the authentically working-class Johnny Abort, leader singer of the Doomed, is now Richard Driver, successful, wealthy TV producer -- and there's an explicit sense that this thing isn't going to last. And neither, for that matter, is the New Zealand in which it is taking place.

The cultural schism of the day -- punk versus disco -- was a sharp and surprisingly violent one. There was a very real peril of being beaten up for finding yourself on the wrong side of it. There's no sense of the kind of mash-up you'll find on the new Tourettes album of punk rock hip hop (note that there's a free download of one track 'So Happy', at the linked Bandcamp page there).

If you were there, or adjacent (I was too young to go to Mollet Street in Christchurch, and rather resented the fact), you'll want to watch it. If you weren't, you may wish to see what Mum and Dad were doing in the old days.

In a similar vein, you might also wish to catch Rage, the '81 Tour drama at 8.30pm Sunday on TV One, in which the Phoenix Foundation's Samuel Flynn Scott, Luke Buda and Conrad Wedde have provided a soundtrack for their fathers' times.

If you'd like to help me think through the connections I'm trying make here, feel free.


I'm really liking the new album from Panther and the Zoo, one of the projects of sideman-to-everyone (including Lawrence Arabia) Hayden East, as much because it's not a mash-up as anything else. It's unselfconsciously pure New Zealand indiepop. Hayden has kindly offered a discount for Public Address readers -- if you go here to their Bandcamp page you can check it out and, if it's your thing, enter the magic password "publicaddress" at checkout to get a 20% discount (ie: pay $8 rather than $10). Nice.


You can download The Checks' new single, 'Candyman Shimmer', from their forthcoming album, for free by going here.


And finally, here's the second batch of in-studio recordings from the late, lamented Public Address Radio. They're all downloadable -- just click the little down arrow:

Princess Chelsea 'Too Fast To Live' (Live on PA Radio) by knowyourproduct

Flip Grater 'Careful' (Live on PA Radio) by knowyourproduct

Dave Dobbyn 'Blindman's Bend' (Live on PA Radio) by knowyourproduct

Tono and the Finance Company 'Marion Bates Realty' (Live on PA Radio) by knowyourproduct

The Sami Sisters 'Take It or Break It' (Live on PA Radio) by knowyourproduct

Avalanche City 'Ends in the Ocean' (Live on PA Radio) by knowyourproduct

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