Wow! It’s very glum out in the world at the moment. The EU is in a mire, Iran and Israel are calling each other names and about to resort to sticks and stones. There is probably another Global recession if not actual depression looming and we face the very real prospect of a proper war between major countries in a number of regions in the near future.
However on the bright side, it is the weekend I agonised for ages over whether to bother with doing this post as it’s a little bit indulgent, but then if you can’t indulge yourself on your own blog then we really are in trouble. I worried that no-one would be interested to read or enjoy it. But that would be nothing new so why not just crack on and amuse myself as I am my biggest fan and most avid reader anyway. So here we are. You know the old song that starts “There may be trouble ahead?” It’s called “lets face the music and dance”. Sort of an “up yours bad news we are going to just keep on dancing and enjoying ourselves”
So the point of this post, I hope, is to make you the visitor feel good and hopefully learn something new at the same time. There are very few certainties in life but I can just about guarantee two things by the time you have finished this page. Your life will be a little bit better than when you arrived here and you will learn something new. As its a weekend evening and Jen is away I am going to spend some time with a couple of my favourite things. Some quality vibes and a beer or two.
Once upon a time I used to be a proper DJ on the radio, none of that nightclub record playing nonsense. I had a whole show to myself. This is kind of like a radio show but with the voice bit written down instead of spoken. It’s a chart show if you like. My life charted in music. Music is a massive influence in my life. I have a pretty eclectic selection in my collection, more varied than anyone I have ever met or heard of. What I am going to do is a variation on the ‘Desert Island Discs’ show where famous people talk about their favourite songs.
I am going to take just 10 tracks from my vast library to document the formative times in my life or in music in general. I’m going to share some life affirming, day enhancing tracks you may never have stumbled across. Some of the soundtracks of my generation and just some tracks you will have somewhere on the periphery of your knowledge but I’ll explain why I think they are awesome.
This is not an examination of musical meaning, just a celebration of amazing and important tunes. YouTube will be my source and the songs will be links from there. (I don’t know how to just add a link rather than the whole clip embedded and YouTube will probably disable embedding, but do click on it if it insists you watch it in YouTube instead). You might want to have some headphones handy for this post as there is music to play!
1) So, to begin. I was born when the Vietnam war was in full swing. I have little recall of the songs played before I was able to note them but in NZ in those days we had little in the way of our own sound. We borrowed stuff from overseas. The Beatles, The Stones, Elvis, all the usual suspects of the day. Mum and Dad where huge Harry Belafonte and Kingston Trio fans as well. Who are the Kingston Trio? Many ask me that. I have nine of their albums. Some think that a bit sad but they remind me of my youth. Trying to pick just one track of theirs to share is virtually impossible but as the time I heard them was a time of a conflict and there was an entire musical movement in protest songs I am going to play a version they did of my favourite protest song. In my view this is the best version of the best protest song ever.
The Kingston Trio, Where have all the flowers gone?
2) It wasnt long before my very first album of my own appeared in my hot little hands. Given to me by my Grandmother. It was by an English man born in Kenya who looked like a School teacher. He had some huge hits and was an amazing whistler. You may well know him and you will most likely have heard his most popular songs. Last Farewell being his biggest hit at Number one in the UK in 1975 and the only track of his that charted in the USA. I always loved this one though
Roger Whittaker, Mamy Blue.
3) Disco appeared shortly after that was released, proper dancing music which I personally believe has never been surpassed for feel good nights out, Dancing for the sake of dancing. Some incredible tracks that just made you smile from ear to ear as you shook your booty and grooved the night away in crimes against fashion. I was too young and lived to far away from anywhere to really join in so only at the School dances could we strut our stuff, badly. The best by some margin in my opinion though of the entire Disco era was this effort. Epic is the only way to describe it. This is a song that defied you to stay seated. The song always won.
The Trammps, Disco Inferno.
4) Songs for me where always about the lyrics as much as the dancing or the quality of the instrumental. My favourite ever piece of incredible song writing is this one. Somehow the words are just amazing. The song in general in terms of tune, tone and timing is brilliant but it’s the lyrics that really speak to me, maybe because I have spent so much time in bars talking rubbish.
Billy Joel, Piano Man.
“He says, “Son, can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes.”
I just love that verse
5) It was the mid 70’s now and out in the world the times where tough. Angry people in England filled the news screens back in NZ. I didn’t understand what they were angry about but I was a teenager so I had my own rage to vent. Luckily my timing was perfect as the worlds greatest ever musical vessel for the disaffected youth and the rebellious teenager had arrived on our shores from Britain. My poor parents. I cannot remember what was on the radio at the time as I spent my spare time playing the angry music very loud indeed on an old record player. Most people dismissed to sound of the day as little more than noise pollution. Much of it was dreadful but we loved it. I am going to share though what I consider to be a masterpiece from the punk genre by a band who were actually talented as well as angry. They went on to have huge chart success with mainstream hits well into the noughties. 17 top 40 Albums and 23 UK top 40 singles. This was the last track on their first album. It needs to be played loud to get the best from it and persevere, the incredible bass and towering organ solo finale are mesmeric. I have never been without the album since the age of 15.
The Stranglers, Down in the sewer.
6) This was also an incredible time to be a young Kiwi. We were starting to be dragged, as a country, kicking and screaming into the 20th Century from some time warp as a Dominion of Great Britain. We started to form our own bands and have our own Kiwi sound. Proper bands who sang songs in a way we newly cosmopolitan New Zealanders could relate to. We didn’t have to borrow music from England and America. We had our own new hero’s The greatest of all our singer/song writers is a guy called Dave Dobbyn. He really wrote the soundtrack to my generation. This was by his first band and one of the best tracks of the era. Few Kiwis of my age will argue that this is truly the sound of New Zealand when we started to sing for ourselves.
Th’ Dudes, Be mine tonight?
7) In the early 80’s the New Romantics turned up. The shackles of the punks were thrown off and we all had a bath and decided to get dressed up to go out. NZ didn’t really have a New Romantic music movement though. We are more rockers than poseurs. The Kiwi sound had a real rock theme running through it and I cannot think of many successful electronica/New Romantic themed Kiwi bands. We were getting loads of Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Style Council and so on filling the airwaves. We persevered with our great Kiwi bands like the Exponents, DD Smash, The Chills, Dragon, The Pink Flamingo’s, Mi-Sex, etc. Mi-Sex in my view had one track that I would put up against any of the best electronic rock/New Wave/New Romantic sounds coming out of Britain in the 80’s. It’s this and it wasn’t one of their big hits. It is strangely compelling but I don’t know why. You’ll see what I mean hopefully.
Mi-Sex, Blue day.
8) This was a crucial time for me. I sort of enjoyed some of the New Romantic stuff. It was great that the girls got so dressed up but we blokes had to wear girls clothes too it seemed. It was all very flamboyant and I am a blokey bloke really, at least I like to dress like one. Luckily for me the worlds greatest ever Blues guitarist appeared on the scene in the nick of time and introduced me to a whole new Genre. I believe I first became aware of him as he played guitar in an advertisement for some petrol company at the time. I could be mistaken. Sadly he died aged 35 in 199o in a Helicopter crash. I said early in the post some of my music would be life affirming. This is a track from his first album. If hearing and seeing this does not make your day and therefore your life a little bit better, I am afraid you are made of stone. This is quite simply astonishing and probably my all time favourite piece of music.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Rude mood.
(Yes that really was just a 3 piece band, incredible isn’t it?)
9) OK getting to the business end now and it gets harder as in some ways the 90’s and beyond have been a bit of a musical desert in terms of new acts that I deem worthy of my 10. So I have quite simply gone to my music library to see what the top two song plays are since I set it up with a counter a few years ago. They aren’t new songs. We are going back to when I was in NZ for one of them. An Australian band whose album I have had since it was released in 1981. It’s a live album and I have had several copies of it lost or stolen over the years. I have always replaced it. This track is a ballad originally by Credence Clearwater Revival but I far prefer this Cold Chisel version. It’s sort of my travelling song. Reminds me of home, simpler times long ago. Enjoy.
Cold Chisel, As long as I can see the light.
10) Finally we need to finish on an upbeat note. This track is from a genre called Blaxploitation from the 70’s. This must surely, simply be the coolest song of all time. Hypnotic beat, extraordinary talent in the band, look at the line up Archie Bell, Billy Paul, Dee Dee Sharp, Lou Rawls, The O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass. This song simply oozes cool and class. It will probably be new to you despite being released in 1971. It is quite amazing and I think a great way to finish my little blog radio show.
Philadelphia International All-Stars, Lets clean up the ghetto.
Of course there must always be a bonus track as we like a deal these days, something for nothing. So as its Friday night. Herewith the bonus track. Quite simply the best drinking song, by any band, ever, anywhere, in the history of the world. This is Th’ Dudes from New Zealand and Bliss. This will never be surpassed, nor even equalled as a song for blokes and birds, on the booze to bellow along to. Happy days.
Th’ Dudes, Bliss.
R.I.P Ian Morris
Sorry for the length of the post but I have really enjoyed knocking this together. I apologise if you have to skip any ads in the clips, I am sorry I had to use YouTube to bring the music to the page. I don’t know how else to do it. Please let me know what you thought. Finally I know music is a personal journey and we all have vastly differing tastes. Apparently there are people who will spend money to listen to Genesis and that Bieber kid. Each to their own. This is my own. Cheers