Sometime back in the mid-late 1990s I put together a travel cassette – remember cassettes? – of music I dubbed “the Good, the Bad, and the Downright Cheesy”.
It started with Peter Sellers singing George Gershwin, before moving into the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’s ‘Intro and the Outro’.
The idea was…..actually, I’m not too sure what the idea was.
One of the sources was an idea I’d had, nearly a decade earlier, that if I couldn’t get a job during the university holidays I was going to busk it in Auckland’s Queen St, singing mostly naff songs, while wearing walk shorts and long socks.
This song – which in those days I was wont to launch into at parties after around the third drink – featured prominently.
Another source was a programme I heard being replayed on National Radio’s late night show, around 3am, at around this time.
I don’t recall what it was called, but the theme was some of the worst recordings of all time, and featured such luminaries as WilliamShatner and Mrs Miller. It was hosted by Simon Morris.
I should probably add here the reason I was awake at 3am was a vicious migraine.
I’d heard of Mrs Miller, and I was aware of The Shat’s musical efforts, but it was the first time I’d ever been exposed to them.
And I loved them.
So when Matinee Idle started back in …whenever it started…it was the show I’d been waiting for a very long time.
The programme publishes playlists of the songs it features – possibly so listeners can hunt down the perpetrators and kill them.
But actually, it is more than just a show about naff music. If it was that, the joke would have expired some time ago.
It is a very strange and unique amalgam: it does feature, prominently, very bad songs.
But it also features a lot of very good music you might not have heard before.
And often these tracks are by the same artists.
And sometimes, just good songs you have heard, but not for a while. Minor example: a summer back I’d been working in the home office and headed off to the gym at 4pm.
Just before turning into the Freyberg Pool carpark the next hour kicked off with Keith Richard’s infamous, drunken skid of a guitarchord before Charlie Watts caught the song and recovered its balance and Jagger drawled into “Women think I’m tasty/always tryin to waste me…”
This is one of the great things about the show. It’s about the naffness of Burton Cummings, Little Arrows and Dead Puppies.
But it’s also about good music.
You kind of need to have an appreciation of what good music is to really appreciate how bad some of those tracks are.
It is a show for people who care about music, but who also can see the joke.
It works, as they often say, on so many levels.
* in case you’re wondering, the headline is taken from this Kiwi classic.