Not so Stranded in Paradise…

A million miles from New Orleans
Drinking a can of beer

I think about Memphis and Detroit  City 

I hear you ladies there are young and pretty

Will there be rhythm and blues on the radio?…

 ‘No movie stars or really big deals,

Me and the band just need a place to play

What more can I say?

This is a record  with pictures from New Zealand

This is for Kiwi Music Month. Street Talk is a band which has been kind of forgotten, or overshadowed some of the higher profile bands of the era. They had, in Hammond Gamble, one of the most distinctive lead vocalists of all the Auckland bands of the late ’70s, and some great original songs, but they didn’t have the decadent, squalid glamour of Hello Sailor or the brattish bad boy image of Th’ Dudes.

At least one of the key lines from this album track, “Stranded in Paradise” lives on in the title of John Dix’s great history of New Zealand rock music. Street Talks’s two albums appeared, without any real promotion, on itunes about a year or so ago.

I recommend them as examples of good, ballsy, meat and potatoes rock/ r&b from the time. I just wish the non-album single, ‘She’s Done It Again’, was also available.

And I love this song, as much for the overall feel of it as for the playing (especially that great keyboard work and lead singer Hammond Gamble’s gruff, bluesy singing).

we got a band that’s been milkmen
and taxi drivers
and truck drivers and
postmen too

accountants and door to door men, believe you me:

we got jukebox heroes just like you.

All very wistful and pleading. There was always a feeling, in New Zealand, that anything that mattered happened elsewhere. I think that’s the big difference in mood in the past 15 years or so.

Yes, New Zealanders are still big travellers, and we will continue to be so, I think. We still look energetically and often a bit excessively overseas.

But more of the younger generation of godwits, I think, will return.

And I think, now, we’re less prone to assume what we do here does not matter as much, or isn’t as good, somehow.

For Kiwi Music Munff: Giant Friend – Mutton Birds

I don’t think I’m the only person who, when this came out, thought they were singing about Janet Frame. 

That, though, would have been a bit too direct for Don McGlashan. 

Someone once defined the Muttonbirds as being like the a Kiwi version of the Kinks with a touch of Twin Peaks’ undefined menace to them.

That to me is almost right. The band – and Don McGlashan’s other work, with Front Lawn and Blam Blam Blam and elsewhere – certainly get, and convey, New Zealand culture in a way the Kinks, at their peak, were able to do for the English. 

But Twin Peaks?  Hmm.  You can see it a bit in this video clip, I suppose. But really, you don’t need to go offshore to seek influcneces.  The band is  like a rock muso version of Maurice Gee’s novels, or of some of our infamous ‘Cinema of Unease’.

If peoeple still bothered to market music compilations, someone could do a very good ‘Music of Unease’ of Kiwi Music. 

In fact, of course, you could probably make one of your own. 

Kiwi Music Munff: – ‘Come With Me’ and ‘Kaleidescope World’

Very few New Zealand hits by New Zealand bands were in fact New Zealand songs in the late ’60s.  The general idea was find a catchy but obscure number published overseas, perhaps a hit in some country other than the UK or the US, and have a local group record it.

This lot were an exception.  This isn’t as famous as their big one, ‘Nature‘ but I like it just as much.

Wayne Mason, the bloke who wrote this (as well as ‘Nature’) used the line ‘the horizon is much closer than it seems’ in a mid-’90s song of his as well.

It’s a line which calls out for the #spockDissectsLyrics treatment – if something looks a certain way, it pretty much certainly seems that way as well.

Style wise, its half Brit invasion, half psychedelia.

I was about four when it came out – yes, I do remember hearing it on the wireless, when staying at relatives.

This, much later, song from the Chills, which came out the first year I was out of home, seems to me to have a similar vibe to it and I can’t help but wonder if Martin Phillips was influenced by the earlier New Zild outfit.

Both are about going to other worlds, somehow, in a dreamy rather than a dystopian sense.

It only occurred to me, many many years later, that perhaps ‘Kaleidoscope World’ was about drugs. At the time, I simply assumed it was about using the imagination to go to another place, at least internally.

Ah, well. I was never very good at picking  up on these things.



While I’m doing the Kiwi Music Month thing… the Chills at the Gluey, 1990

One of my favourite lyrics of any NZ song. Captures something of the great Kiwi OE, without being too overt about it.

Sitting in a foriegn setting,

Bands in backgrounds always play

Their phoney lonely cacaphony,

It didnt have to be this way

Some place alone,

And noone known,

So far from home here.

I really didnt choose to leave you,

To tear myself away so long,

To travel and unravel all the fabric we’d sewn,

So now somethings wrong,

And the world we used to know has gone,

Some place alone,

And noone known,

So far from home here.

Years of awkward confrontation,

I’d like to set your mind at ease,

I’m stuck here in these muddled ages,

I find the words won’t please.

Where could we dwell

Within our past alive and well?

Escape from all thats hard to bear

To where the child as you were creeps near

Without fear?

Scary things arent always clear

To hide in fiction and nostalgia

Can be eerie too

You cannot drive and steer rearview.

Someplace alone,

And noone known,

So far from home, here.

Kiwi Music day 28 – Straitjacket Fits – Down in Splendour (1990)

Oh Ok, another one from what I call my Burning Train Years.

It’s a great song although I have no idea what it is supposed to be about and the pictures don’t really help.

Shimmering, atmospheric jangly and slightly melancholy stuff. I’m a sucker for it.

Kiwi Music Month day 24…..Split Enz – Sweet Dreams (1976)

…my favourite Split Enz song, by far. Back from the Phil Judd era. There’s about five different tunes in this song, the lyrics are all over the show but seem to reflect undergraduate studies in existentialism…

Love the chorus. ‘Sweet Dreams, every once in a while….’

Kiwi Music Month day 17 – twofer Sunday (1): Street Talk – Back in the bad old days

Street Talk – Hammond Gamble’s band, late ’70s. This wasn’t a hit, but its the only one I can find on Youtube.

And it kind of fits.

I wanted ‘She’s Done It Again’ which was a demi-hit (I had the single at one point). Or ‘What Happened to Lucy’. Or even better ‘Leaving the Country’ which was the first of a number of great Kiwi OE songs.

They also did the jingle for Uncles Burger Bar chain (“Uunnnn-Cills…love at first bite/fine city food/for big city nights”…