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Posts Tagged ‘Flying Nun’

Following on from his misty-eyed reminiscing on the gems of his collection lying somewhere in the farm, Porky continues his detour into Thing-ism, the art of buying stuff that wasn’t entirely tatty.

Read Part 1

Mansun – Attack of the Grey Lantern.

The copy I have is a tin box which had the same cover as the one sold in the high street and this was repeated on the CD itself. As a promo this is a pretty amazing item. I won a copy in a competition organised by the Sheffield Star newspaper. Of course, the idea of housing your product in a metal box wasn’t new by 1997: PiL’s metal box album came just in that, 18 years earlier. I was shocked to see the starting price alone for the Mansun item on eBay.

Easterhouse – Contenders.

As a teenager and into my early 20s I would sometimes swap stuff with mates and in this instance I was enticed by Gav’s copy of Contenders by this Mancunian band who Morrissey had hailed. I didn’t know much about them apart from their left-wing viewpoint (they were aligned to the tiny Revolutionary Communist Party). My mate liked my Lloyd Cole and the Commotions’ second album, and I really liked it too. But I thought I could get that back at a later date. I never did but I do have a copy on cassette, which ain’t the same. Thankfully, Contenders is a classic political album.

Anaemic Boyfriends: Guys Are Not Proud

MacKenzie sings Orbidoig: Ice Cream Factory.

On a trip to north-west England, Porky took a clutch of seven-inch singles that had recently arrived at the sty. These came from a package of new wave singles from a different trader to the one that sent the Neon single (see below). The Anaemic Boyfriends single came without a picture sleeve but the A side, Guys Are Not Proud, is a tantalising song about how lusty men are, but not in an admiring way: “Guys are disgusting, they’re always lusting, Guys are obscene, vile and unclean, Guys are such creeps, they’ll even do it with sheep”. The last line was the killer and got me, Scouse Neil and Da Judge laughing like crazy. Scouse Neil was practically pleading with me to give it to him, but he would have had to anal rape me to get it.

The tables were turned on a future visit to Liverpool when he unveiled an absolute gem by Billy MacKenzie, the lead singer of The Associates, a band I’ve adored since I heard them as a teenager. Under the banner, MacKenzie sings Orbidoig, this 12-inch had the playful Ice Cream Factory which was full of innuendo over a bouncy pop sound. Unlike The Associates’ big hits of that year – 1982, beginning with Party Fears Two – this didn’t intrude into the nation’s consciousness. I heard this and tried in vain to get Neil to give, or sell to me. But I did find a copy later on.

Neon – Bottles 7″

Who are they? To be honest I have no idea and neither Dr Google nor Prof Wikipedia can help me, other than to confuse me by informing me of an Australian band of the mid-90s. This lot were from the late 70s. My friend at sixth form college, Gordon, who wasn’t a moron, put this on the end of a tape for me and I thought I was wonderfully bizarre and overdone. Later, I actually found the single in a bunch of new wave singles sold by a company that sold bulk singles for cheap. You had no idea what was enclosed, but with new wave you could be certain of some good ones. I guess some of these things sell quite well nowadays given the interest in anything from 1977 to about 1983.

Fan club stuff

Before MySpace and online websites, fans would rely on fan clubs, which the record labels would sometimes organise themselves. Some offered very little for the money but some were worth the effort. I was only ever a member of two, The Levellers and House of Love, and both were well catered for as they were run by people who actually liked and were close to the band. Like most fan clubs, these two offered freebies, such as a compilation of offcuts by the Brighton band, which suitably had a cover of various bits of offal, and in the House of Love’s case a cassette that had two rare tracks. The Levellers sent a fabulous A4 magazine, the HoL people would issue lyric sheets and all sorts of bits and pieces.

Spinal Tap: Back from The Dead

Funniest film ever. No argument. Two years ago the original soundtrack was re-released with extra tracks and a DVD, which was groovy enough but there was also the addition of a unique pop-up diorama package that unveiled three 12-inch action figures of the band along with a proportionally-sized Stonehenge. It’s good to see that some record labels still make some effort with a package.

Flying Nun 25 Years boxset

An iconic label in New Zealand, and a cult beyond Aotearoa, Flying Nun is defined by Dunedin and the individual style of the city in the 1980s. The Clean, The Gordons, The Chills, Straitjacket Fits, The Verlaines, The Bats, D4 and the Mint Chicks all released material on Flying Nun. And all of those acts are on here, as well as a glut of largely-forgotten heroes and heroines of the Dunedin and Otago scene … people like Rik Starr, King Loser, Chug, Sombretones, The Victor Dimisch Band, Marie and the Atom and Naked Spots Dance. Much of it groovy, some of it woeful, but this is a fantastic reminder of the influence and charm of the label. This boxset also includes a booklet of artists’ photographs, artwork and scribblings.

The The – Soul Mining tape

In the 80s, a professional footballer would tell a glossy magazine they liked to listen to Wham! or Whitney Houston in between games. One who would have been mocked in the changing rooms for his eclectic tastes was the Scotland and Chelsea winger Pat Nevin, who once listed the Cocteau Twins and Pink Industry among his top 10 in one of the weekly music rags. He also included The The’s Uncertain Smile and I can think of no greater accolade for a band than the thumbs-up from that rarely-spotted species: the footballer with a couple of braincells. In 1986 I was buying a lot of tapes – they were compact and a little cheaper than vinyl. Soul Mining is an absolute classic but at seven tracks was deemed to be too short for American tastes even though most of them stretched to more than five minutes and Giant clocked in at 9:34. So a version of Perfect was added to some versions and the UK cassette version had another five goodies, some of which could well have been on the original line-up. It’s likely that at least one of these tracks was from the discarded Pornography of Despair album.

Read my blog on taping and the mystique of cassettes

 

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Who? Tommy Ill

Title: Tommy Ill
Label:
LOOP
Tell me more:
Ill has released three EPs of non-macho rap: Toast & Tea Kettles (2007), Matchsticks (2008) and Come Home Mr Ill (2009), the first on Empathy Recordings before his transfer to LOOP.
The Lowdown:
Tommy boy could be New Zealand’s answer to Welsh hip-hop grates Goldie Looking Chain; a rapper without the hard-man posturing, egotism, chauvinism and opportunism of so many of his contemporaries. Au contraire Rodney, Ill’s debut is full of party tracks, packed with dry witticisms, and cheeky rhymes that drop various samples, including The Carpetbaggers, a sprightly instrumental made famous by the BBC’s Money Programme. Tommy Il the album features a track called A Robot, with a guest appearance by A Robot and is about A Robot (“he goes out at night and takes robot drugs”) . Alas, Tommy Ill seems to think he’s in California rather than Aotearoa judging by the vocal mannerisms and some of the things I’m hearing. Otherwise it’s fine for a rap album.

Anything else? Ill has been known at live shows to climb on furniture, and be given a piggyback around the stage by crew members.

Who? Chris Difford

Title: Cashmere If You Can
Label:
Saturday Morning Music Club
Tell me more:
I was being sent an email a minute by an over-eager promo company telling me about Difford’s new concept, releasing a single a week for ten weeks. Fans would subscribe to the Saturday Morning Music Club and receive a download of a track per week. Shades of the Wedding Present who released a single in every month of 1992 and had a hit in the British charts with each one, regardless of quality. Now Difford’s put all the tracks together on a CD.
The Lowdown:
A wonderfully Squeezy title from a songwriter who keeps the curious English observational style very much alive. With the onus on creating singles rather than album tracks, Cashmere If You Can jumps from one joyous catchy singalong to another, with a few slowdowns tagged on. On Like I Did, Difford tells a familiar parental tale, of how kids do exactly what they did once: “He’s getting stoned (like I did), he plays bass (like I did), he lays in bed like I did, how can I complain.”

Meanwhile, Difford relates a story of a young man, who with some skinheads mugged an old lady, “just because we could” as well as some other stupid things done Back In The Day. Society is awash with vacuous lyrics and music, so it’s refreshing to hear tales of regret, of young men leaving their loved ones to go to war, and the problems of noise in a small house, sung by someone who’s not just observing society, but who has lived some of the tales he puts to tape.

Who? Robert Scott

Title: Ends Run Together
Label:
Flying Nun
Tell me more:
The captivating angle to this release isn’t the artist, who I will get back to, but the label. From 1981 Flying Nun was run on the hoof and despite the manner it operated – on enthusiasm rather than a business ethos – propelled numerous Kiwi bands into the stratosphere, from The Clean and the Chills to my own personal favourite Straitjacket Fits. Thankfully, after years of neglect, founder Roger Shepherd bought it back and has released albums by Grayson Gilmour and Die! Die! Die! (see last Lowdown). Hurrah and lashings of ginger beer and paeroa all round.
The Lowdown:
For someone ingrained in the Flying Nun ethos, being responsible for many album covers, and an integral member of both The Bats and The Clean, it’s appropriate that the Nun revival continues with Robert Scott. Ends Run Together sometimes sounds like an appropriation of The Clean Bats, and on alternative listens appears like it has eschewed Scott’s past, as he performs the role of a man who’s creative urges may not always have got the release they should in previous bands. Now, he has an outlet for his own songs, ideas, loves, hates, instruments, etc. There is, therefore, chugging indie rock – opening track On The Lake – to pastoral folk (Days Run Together) and it all works beautifully as it usually does down in Dunedin.

Anything else? Also features Clean frontman David Kilgour and Lesley Paris, the former drummer of another Otago band, Look Blue, Go Purple.

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Who? Superturtle

Title: About The Sun
Label:
Sarang Bang records/ Ode records
Tell me more:
Singer-guitarist Darren McShane has an intriguing and relatively brief history in New Zealand music, having been the backbone of Moonpopper and Chainsaw Masochist, played with Figure 60 and Sea Monkey, been involved with an indie music radio station and set up Earwig Studios. Phew! Slow down Daz.
The Lowdown:
Judging by the cover I suspected this to be a drum’n’bass album when it arrived at the Pigsty. Golly josh and jeepers creepers; I was knocked to the floor when a burst of guitars hit me. About The Sun lasts an ideal 33 minutes and the longest track is 3:04, the sound of perfect pop songs. McShane is in love with rock’n’roll’s past and its expansiveness, so there’s the sound of the Hammond organ, the theremin and the Mellotron on here. Dead or Alive is a jovial knockabout, Live Another Day should be played while having a picnic in your local Botanic Gardens and there’s a glorious feeling of “summer’s coming” on Holiday Well. Anyone familiar with British pop group Spearmint will appreciate Superturtle.

Anything else? Super-Turtle is a light-hearted superhero that first appeared in a Marvel comic in 1963 and occasionally popped up in Superman and other Marvel comics.

Who? Die! Die! Die!

Title: Form
Label:
Flying Nun
Tell me more:
Great name, or a guarantee of scaring off the non-metallers and anti-punkers? Answers on a carrier pigeon to the usual address. There is, of course, no prizes to realising that Die! Die! Die! are a tough-nuts rock’n’roll band who take no prisoners, and yet are probably not as hard as their name might suggest. I reckon they like cried like girls when they viewed Susan Boyle on YouTube.
The Lowdown:
I’m delighted Flying Nun has been taken over by Roger Shepherd, it’s founder, and is based again in Aotearoa. For most of the 80s and 90s Flying Nun was a platform for some of the best, left-field bands in New Zealand with The Chills, The Clean, Toy Love and The Gordons all releasing records on the iconic label.

Form is intense and in-your-face and, yet, it’s been hailed as the most melodic and mature album from this Dunedin trio yet. According to the most important view in the world, Porky, this hits the right notes and he seems strangely pleased at elements of shoegazing, the much-derided sound made by middle-class students in England in the early 90s, so-called because the bassist would usually stare at his feet while playing wah-wah pedal.

Anything else? The first release on the new, shiny Flying Nun was by Wellington solo artist Grayson Gilmour and the label promises re-releases of old stock, much of which has never been on CD. Hurrah and lashings of ginger beer all round!

Who? The Roots

Title: How I Got Over
Label:
Universal
Tell me more:
The Roots were formed in 1987, originally called themselves the Square Roots, released their debut album in 1993, and have released eight more studio albums, including How I Got Over, since.
The Lowdown:
For How I Got Over, The Roots have ditched the frantic raps, menacing synths, and general edginess of the band’s past three albums. In their place is a mellow take on the jazzy, old-school charm. There’s even a sample of Joanna Newsom on one track. The Roots remain within hip-hop’s sphere but it’s a moodier, less tense form of hip-hop and it also delves into other genres, which the best hip-hop always has.

Anything else? Founding member Black Thought says when How I Got Over was first conceived, it reflected their relief at the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama presidency. Has that relief given way to frustration now considering Obama’s record so far.

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