Random Play by Graham Reid


It's Kiwi music, but not as we know it Jim.

These are tough times to be an aspiring extra (sorry “background talent”), in the game of television or that falter-foot world of politics.

So let's be having with none of it.

Next week Chris Bourke launches his terrific book Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964 (AUP).

I have had the pleasure of reading it, running my hands lovingly over the historic photos and old albums covers reproduced in it. It is as good a production job as a work of historic and enjoyable importance.

And so with that in mind . . .

Chris has unearthed a lot of local music which would have otherwise been left to languish in the dusty halls of academia or the fading memory of old-timers.

But there are still quite a number of Kiwi singles out there which very few people have ever heard of.

So over at Elsewhere here I have started itemising some of these Great Lost Kiwi Singles – and I invite you to add your contributions with a brief description simply by using the Post a Comment link.

By way of example of rare Kiwi songs here are some that I know of . . .

D.D. Smashed, Outlook for Thirst Day: After the boozy Bliss, Dave Dobbyn briefly fell prey to commercial interests from breweries and threw his lot in with an Irish metalhead pub band. Liberally applied sponsors’ products resulted in this rather off-key single which Dobbyn later reworked to greater effect.

Chris Knox, Address to the Third Soviet Congress 1921: Those who were there say it was late and the background noise intolerable, so perhaps Chris misheard. But being a Beatles fan he felt he had to immediately record what he took to be the lyrics of a previously unreleased Lennon song. The 37-minute cassette-only single began with unpromising line: “Comrades and fellow party members . . .”

Swingers, Counting the Sheep: Terrific folk-rock song hampered by lyrics that were clearly drawn from the band's rural isolation on a high-country run in the South Island. A move to Sydney saw a toughening up of the band’s attitude (the bagpipe solo was dropped) and lyrical rewrite. Remaining copies of this early version ruthlessly sought by Phil Judd and the Bats.

You get the picture. Let's have some fun . . .

PS: Next week at Elsewhere -- for subscribers -- the Neil Young giveaway.

Graham Reid is the author of the book 'The Idiot Boy Who Flew'.

(Click here to find out more)

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