For the new addition to the Royal Family

One of the many cover versions of this song. Saw them do this at Sweetwaters ’84. I think it was probably worse than this version.

Perhaps, if Prince Louis ever becomes King, (he’s what, fifth in line? It could happen) this could be the new British Commonwealth Anthem.


Mash ups – 1980

‘Mash ups’ or dubbing different souonds onto existing film footage have become all the rage since Youtube became popular.

But they’re not new, really.

This was done by Not the Nine O’Clock News, circa 1980, with a speech by Northern Ireland protestant leader Ian Paisley, the sounds of Northern Irish band Thin Lizzy, and – for reasons which are not clear – a bit of footage from Rod Stewart’s band of the time.

Bigger than Rod


Rod Stewart has been knighted. His autobiography was one of the musical memoirs I read in late 2014 as a detox from the general election campaign and meant to review for this site but, mostly, never got around to.

It was probably the most good-humoured and unpretentious of the lot. Stewart knows his faults and points them out before anyone else can get around to it – for example, his mid-’80s hit ‘Passion’ was a travesty:  he reveals his mother expressed her dislike and he concludes ruefully it was clearly a song not even a mother could like.

From the same era, he also reveals that, touring the US with his backing band, the only band which could outdo them for partying stamina and drug taking was the all-women Go-Gos.

And there is the aftermath of his split with Our Rachel, and how she wanted someone younger. In sharp contrast to his freewheeling and footloose image, he reveals he ended up seriously depressed and in therapy in California. More characteristically, he says the three therapists he saw were all varying degrees of useless. One breezily told him ‘you’ve seen one **** you’ve seen them all’; a second came on to him; the third suggested he get a cat.

Stewart’s best work was the first four albums he did in the early 1970s.’You Wear It Well’ is still my favourite of his big numbers – it’s a great, rough-hewn song about an old flame.

His later solo stuff, when he was a stratospherically feted pop and sex symbol, was almost all awful: ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ has I suppose a certain kitsch ironic charm, if you’re into kitsch ironic charm, but personaly I find a little of this sort of thing goes a very long way. 

The first four albums were much more downhome, and much better. 

And, with The Faces, there was this great version of Paul McCartney’s ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. To my ears, it knocks the original into a cocked hat. McCartney might be one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th Century, and the song is, no doubt, a stupendous declaration of the sudden, astonished emotion of a bloke unexpectedly finding love  – that line ‘maybe I’m a man in the middle of something/that he doesn’t really understand’ gets me every time. It’s perfect.

McCartney, though, isn’t always the best interpreter of his own work. And Rod and his rough, boozy sidekicks extract the emotion and soul from the song which McCartney himself never quite managed.

City of a thousand….meh

Spent much of the week in Auckland. It is always a bit weird going back there: I lived there for 10 years and the fingerprints of memory are still grimily splattered around the place.

Mostly the inner west and south: Of the 11 years in the Sprawl I lived most of the time in a run of flats in an arc from Western Springs, through to Kingsland/Sandringham and across to Royal Oak.

It bucketed down on the Saturday and I was having flashbacks to long aimless Auckland weekends, the feeling you often get in your 20s, life hasn’t really started yet and there’s all sorts things, a lot of them undefined, you need to do but for various reasons can’t yet.

This was pre-property boom Auckland: arrived in 1985 just as the sharemarket frenzy was taking off and even though the first two years saw me working for business magazines all that stuff struck me as being a bit inflated.  In retrospect it was a bit weird, being exposed to that mirror glass world and then going home to crappy, un-gentrified villas, passing round the cider or the Baileys (or a cheap home made substitute) and listening to Flying Nun bands and the Smiths.

I have a theory – and its a long way from being original – that some people are born to be a certain age. There’s an assumption that someone’s prime is in their 20s or so – its there in that word “prime” – but that’s utter balderdash.

I wasn’t all that good at being young. Nothing particularly horrendous happened: it was just a bit meh.

Some of us are rather good at being middle aged. I probably got the knack of this when I was about 15, in fact. It’s been a long wait.

The only big birthday I’ve celebrated as an adult was when I turned 30 because it felt like I was leaving all that crap behind and as it turned out I was right. Left Auckland a year later.

It is a very different city now. In 1985, for all the surface froth, there was a sense of subsidence. A legacy of the Muldoon-era orphan-of-British-Empire vibe, perhaps.

It was a lot more mono-cultural and becoming more so in the central city: in 1986 I chucked in full time journalism and became a postie (it paid more) and was delivering mail in the Ponsonby area.

Again, major dissonance: gentrification was under way at the top end of places like Norfolk, Summer and Anglesea streets. There would be BMWs parked outside, I’d be delivering mail which included listed company annual reports and Labour Party membership newsletters to houses which, in the weekend, always seemed to have the soundtrack from The Big Chill blaring out of expensive stereos.

At the bottom of those streets were still the last of the Pacific Island immigrant families, slowly being forced out. Sometimes I’d be taking in registered letters: they were damp and horrible houses and often the registered letters would obviously be from debt collectors or landlords.

Now, of course, those houses are worth more than a million bucks.

Anyway, the music from that era still resonates. The attached clip is a mournful Celtic-type number from a Flying Nun band who may have done other songs but I never heard them.

This though, “Actifed Blues” is a lovely, sad number. [Warning: clip contains the Kiwi Bacon Factory, a lot of trains, a phone box at Auckland Uni, and more trains. ]

For NZ Music Month: Bill & Boyd – Abergavenny (NZ) 1969

Not, technically,  a New Zild song – it is about a place in Wales and was a big hit for English singer Marty Wilde in the late ’60s.

But hell, ‘Gumboots’ isn’t a Kiwi song either. Nor is ‘Ten Guitars’. Yet New Zealanders have taken them to their hearts, like a kind of musical cholesterol.

Back in the Bad Ol’ Days, on NZBC television, local singers did versions of the current hit songs, in a characteristic New Zild way.

So here we have marching girls. Are marching girls still a thing?  They used to be huge in this country. I have no idea why.

This was probably on Happen Inn, a music show on the telly in the late 1960s hosted by Pete Sinclair. They used to do things like this.

The singers are Bill and Boyd. They later grew moustaches, moved to Australia, sang ‘Put Another Log on the Fire‘ and ‘Santa Never Made it in to Darwin’. 

I think there’s still a warrant out.

Rise and Shine, Sleepy Joes…

Whoohoo, splash. Some dips into harbour, a slow swim out around the pontoons. Even had a go at breaststroke, which I’ve never learnt properly.

Bunch of young folks on the beach. Playing volleyball, slitting to their boon box thingy.

Some modern young hip band, I figured. As I got closer, I seemed to recognises the tune.

This baby:

Now, I was two when that came out. Herman’s Hermits were a rather teenyboppery band (although on tour they seem to have had as opening acts some very non-teenybopper bands such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Who).

But basically they were for the wee kiddies. ‘No Milk Today’ is one of their better songs – written by Graham Gouldman, who also wrote the Hollies’ ‘Bus Stop’ (Poneke’s theme song). Both are more than cute love songs: there’s a level of detail in them which is as good as any of the slices of English lower middle class life being evoked at the same time by Ray Davies with the Kinks.

Gouldman was later a member and main-songwriter for 10cc who did, umm, lets see;…Dreadlock Holiday; Rubber Bullets; The Things We do For Love. Oh, and ‘I’m Not In Love’ which is Get Me A Bucket stuff.

Except I suspect they were taking the piss.

Anyway, Hermans Hermits… its kind of intriguing what the young ones are into. A few years back I came out of a tramping trip in the back of Nelson and a bunch of young blokes, aged about 17 I would say, pulled up in a battered old Corolla. Black t shirts were much in evidence. Out came the Jim Beam.

Now, you would think (or at least I did) that the musical accompaniment would be obvious. Led Zep. Cold Chisel. Deep Purple. Guns n Roses. AC/DC. You know. Stuff from the ‘It don’t mean a thang if it ain’t got that KerrRANGG!’ school of guitar based rock.

But no. Sensitive songwriter Cat Stevens blared out the car stereo. Angsty stuff about Peace Trains and being followed by a moon shadow.

I’m not saying he was total crap: he wrote the much covered “First Cut is the Deepest’, and also did ‘Here Comes My Baby‘ and “Tuesday’s Dead’ which are pretty good tunes. I’m just saying, I suppose, that you just can’t tell with today’s youth.