Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ring The Alarm playlist, April 25

Uncle Louie - Full tilt boogie
Bassomatic  -Fascinating rhythm - Henry's lost dub
Massive attack - Hymn of the big wheel
Art of noise - Beatbox
A tribe called Quest - Award tour
Teremoana - Four women - DLT remix
Sly and Family Stone - Soul clapping
JD and the evil's dynamite band - Ha-sheesh
The Devastation - Congestion
Bo Diddley  - She's fine, she's mine
Amerie - One thing  - Mr K organ edit
Shaboom  -Woman cry  -Blakdoktor dub
Rhythm and sound feat Willi Williams -See mi yah
Pitch black - 1000 mile drift  - International observer remix
Alter echo and E3 - Eastwind dub
Tom Browne - Funkin for Jamaica
Sly and Robbie - Superthruster
Black Uhuru - Guess who's coming to dinner
Prince Fari - Mozabites
Andy and Joey - You're wondering now
Jackie Mittoo - Chicken and booze
Esso Trinidad steel band - I want you back
Chester Randle's soul senders - Soul brothers testify
Roberta Flack - Go up Moses
Charles Jackson - Oohh child
Stylistics  -Funky weekend

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Unity Rocker: Joe Strummer interviewed, Dec 99

Joe Strummer, Real Groove magazine dec 1999

This great interview appeared in Real Groove magazine a month before Strummer and his band graced the stage at the Big Day Out, in January 2000. That was a splendid show, with Strummer playing near the end of the day, digging into his back catalogue (London Calling, Police and Thieves, White Riot) as well as newer material.

I  never got to see The Clash when they played here in 1982, their sole visit, so this is the closest I ever got to seeing them. But read the last paragraph for a great memory of that 1982 concert from Joe, about him getting lost on the Auckland waterfront.

Unity Rocker, by Troy Ferguson, Real Groove magazine, December 1999, Issue 78, p22-23

"Members only" says one of the doormen of the upmarket West End club having sized up the group as ''the wrong sort", unworthy of entrance into this establishment. They protest they're a band who've been rehearsing past pub closing time and they only want a few drinks to wind down. The doorman doesn't budge.

Joe Strummer attempts to reason with them but receiving no response, he lets loose a torrent of quick-witted taunts and abuse that enrages the doormen and shatters their carefully cultivated air of importance in front of a line of waiting club regulars, who shrink back from the troublemakers with obvious nervousness. It's typical 1977 story illustrating the resistance to 'the other' from the socially stratified and woefully staid old world, threatened by the egalitarian inclusiveness of punk rock.

Except that it isn't. This is 1999. And while anybody with a passing interest of popular culture knows Strummer as a ground-breaker whose influence can be felt in virtually every piece of music worth caring about in the last 20 years or so, apparently no one has informed the bouncers in London's West End. At 47 years old, Strummer, the ragged voiced rebel who founded the Clash, remains an outsider.

Two hours later, he's on the telephone to Real Groove (a slight slur hinting that alcohol was eventually found) wondering what sort of criteria must be met in order to purchase a drink in London's clubland.

"I've been rocking in this town since 1977 you know, what more pedigree do you want? It's not like we just started some crap group 10 minutes ago like Steps or something but it didn't count for nothing," he cackles, amused by the memory of the disturbance. "I thoroughly enjoy giving these people the runaround, I must say, cause they're a bunch of fucking cunts.

Never mind all this poncing around, back in the day we were suss enough to drink in the stripper's joints - you knew which button to press on the mini -cab driver's office door and it opened the door down into the stripper's basement. Anyone could get down there and if you could buy a drink were in."

A rambling hour and a half conversation with Strummer offers a fascinating insight into the past, present and future of a living legend, back in the game after more than a decade with a new band the Mecaleros, and a new album, Rock Art and the X-ray Style. Strummer is in full fight at 3am and delivers an entertaining stream of anecdotes and opinionated rants, fuelled by a few drinks and indignation at licensing laws unchanged since 1918 (which he blames for the little scene earlier).

Then again it's no surprise to him not to be treated with the respect you'd expect for an artist of his stature.

"We're a hard country, you see, right hard. We're all machetes here and people cut you off dead - you're in, you're out," he explains ''I'm not the right character that should have been born here or lived here to be a rock n roller and that's what really cut me up for 11 years, the viciousness of the retrograde, you know.

“In America they'd have been kinder to me and I might have blossomed more, but having said that, 1 don't give a shit about anything that's happened because I wouldn't have had had it any other way. I'd just like to have a really great record, like today in 1999, you know. It's not a bad result is it, all things considered," he laughs.

And he's absolutely right. Rock Art and the X-ray Style is a cracking effort that maintains the culturally resonant edge of his early work but with a thoroughly contemporary sound and without resorting to blustery shouting.

Always working best as a co-writer, Rock Art... began as a collaboration with Richard Norris from early 90s techno act the Grid ('Yalla Yalla' survives from these sessions while 'Digging The New and 'Sandpaper Blues' had their genesis there).

Abandoned before completion, the loose ends were picked up when Strummer teamed up with a young musician, Anthony Genn.

"The project really wouldn't have happened without Anthony coming to me and saying, 'Oi, you're Joe Strummer and you should be making a record' and as soon as he said that to me I went 'Come on then! 'That pulled me up out of my chair", he says.

The very thought that there wasn't people knocking on his door each day saying the same thing the same thing is baffling. But try telling Strummer that or that you can't imagine what your life would have been like without the Clash, and it elicits a very humble response.

'Well, thank you, though. Because you do what you can, honestly, and even though we had a group going and we were in a lucky time in a lucky place, we were only people like you and we really didn't know what we were doing. There's a lot of moronic stuff in the in the lyrics, and there's a lot of good stuff - it's like not knowing what you're doing that's your saving grace. It helps the old creativity really, because if you're conscious of what you're trying to do, you're never gonna do it, are you? Best to fumble around in the dark."

Though the Clash consistently hit the switches that kept them illuminated in the public's attention, Strummer seems to have only touched the perpihery since then, producing (and breifly fronting) the Pogues, acting in a couple of arthouse films, contributing songs to soundtracks and making the odd tribute album appearance. But it wasn't that the once madly-prolific artist had simply run out of ideas.

"About 11 years ago I put out Earthquake Weather and it didn't sell any copies," explains Strummer. "so I sort of took a confidence knock-down. It's silly now, but the press were kicking me and saying 'you're over and get away with it'. I was listening to it today and I realised that I put the vocals behind the music and you couldn't really hear them, but there's good songs there.

“Just today we rehearsed up 'Island hopping' and we're gonna play it in Nottingham on Monday. Everyone's gonna go 'What the fuck's that?' In fact, I've got a wicked idea, I'm gonna introduce it like this, 'here's one off the sixth side of Sandinista!' and everyone's gonna be going, 'Shall I let on that I don't know what's on that side?"

Strummer is amused that nearly 20 years after the triple album was greeted with a puzzled derision, Sandinista! has just ' come back into fashion among musical intellectuals adding that the skinheads in Perth, Australia, got it the first time round.

"When I'm talking to the intelligentsia pillocks, I say 'you don't know nothing - the Perth skinheads would take acid and listen to it all the way through! There's s an article in GQ magazine praising it, apropos of nothing and people are coming up to me saying Sandinista!'s sounding really great. I swear to you, thinking about it so long after is ridiculous, but I'm really beginning to appreciate it now. I'm beginning to be proud of it." 

Only now? ''Well there's a lot of weird stuff - what about all the sheep, the sheep reggae, now that's going too far, isn't it? Anyway, we're gonna go mad if we talk like this - try to concentrate on something normal, oh dear me," says Strummer as laughter overtakes him.

Another recent reminder of Sandinista!'s weird stuff is that the children who sang 'Career opportunities' on the album are now grown-up ''grooving surf punk hippies' with a band called the Little Mothers, who opened for the Mescaleros on their recent UK tour. It's appropriate that Strummer's history steps out of the shadows in the year he chooses to return - like the live album From Here To Eternity appearing, which he insists was unplanned.

"I swear it’s a coincidence, because that was shambling on the last four years, it could have come out maybe last year and they were even thinking of February next year for it. So it could be Sony trying to cash in on me having a new album, I don't know. But it's definitely not me trying to cash in on them," he laughs saying he's been at work on a live Clash project of his own.

"I've tried to collect all the bootlegs of the Clash in the world as recorded say on ghetto blaster in the hall. I'm doing a C90 cassette-only issue called 'Bootleg Clash', 45 minutes a side of round the world bootlegs, analogue to analogue and hang the dog. I don't want no digital in it and although it's gonna be dodgy sound quality, it'll still be quite fun for your car. I think it really sounds cracking, like what it was to stand on centre stage - mayhem, feedback, people shouting and screaming you know, the ambiance in the hall."

It's interesting that Strummer, who has a lyric on his new album stating he's 'Got no time for luddites/ Always looking back down the track", should still be interested in anything Clash related. But while he's proud of their achievements, he constantly looks forward to the next big shake-up.

"We were lucky to throw the mud at the wall at the right time, see which way it peeled off and mould it a bit. The new century is not going to be about intelligentsia or the intellect - the new century is gonna be about the intuitive, the instinctive. Art is what we're gonna have now."

Not that Strummer's confident Britain will be at the forefront of this artistic dawning.

"I don't know how it is down there, but up here in the islands we've only got arseholes in charge of all the creative processes, so an accountant is the head of BBC television and it's the same in the record industry and the movies and the newspaper industry," he says angrily.

"You know, I'm here in a cultural desert beyond imagination - in my house I've got every hook-up possible, digital, satellite, terrestrial and there's not one film that shows in one month that I wouldn't feel insulted to watch. I just want to watch a Japanese gangster movie, a French movie... anything made with intelligence, but the bean counters are going, 'Let's have tits, let's have ass on Channel 4 or Channel 5'. And what we want is Kurosawa. This is your Tony Blair kingdom, the worst thing that's ever happened to this crap island. He's gonna have a 15 year run here and this is just the beginning of it and I'm pissed off."

So what does an old punk revolutionary do when faced with the current state of nation? Strummer and his friend, film director Julien Temple, have planned a virtual country on the Internet called Rebel Wessex, comprising Sommerset (Strummer's home for the last 2 and a half years) Devon and Cornwall. Envisaged as a "24 hour Rave Park", their aim is to secede from the United Kingdom.

''If Wales can do it and Scotland can do it, why can't the West Country? We're gonna secede from the union and say 'Fuck off Tony Blair, you're a Victorian in the cyber age'. It has to be done."

You'd think a long-time America-phile like Strummer would perhaps have moved there, but he feels the USA is also undergoing political change for the worse. "I've got 55 Cadillac, I love Humphrey Bogart, I love Elvis, I love John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. I love LA and California. I love American culture," he begins, "but I will only go to California for a minimum amount of time possible because I don't really like being somewhere you can't have a cigarette in a bar."

Strummer's getting into a groove now and he's on a roll. ''What do we want to do? We don't want to chop children up with all axe, we just wanna go in a bar, all have a beer, smoke a cigarette and have a conversation. As soon as you do that In California, policeman rush in and grab you, wrestle you onto the floor and start clubbing you. They don't care about the drive-by slayings or the Uzis spraying all over the barrios, they don't give a shit about that. No, you light I Marlboro in a bar in California and you're gonna be wrestled to the floor and billy-clubbed out of existence. ''

It should be an interesting perspective to take on tour there. "I'll say it when I get there! I'm the guy that wrote 'I'm so bored with the USA' and they loved it there! They're with me - there's hundreds of people that want a cigarette in a bar!

“Californians should hang their heads in shame that they've allowed this to happen, these bloody women - and I know they're women, well don't you think - to take over. They got rid of the cable ride at Disneyland in Anaheim because wheelchairs couldn't get on it. But don't you think if you were in a wheelchair you'd say 'Hey I'll allow that, Hey I've got no legs, I'll allow the fact that you guys can ski' - what, you're gonna ban skiing? You see, Californians have be shamed, because they've allowed these people to take over."

The authoritarianism masked by political correctness is the sort of thing which inspired William S Burroughs to describe America as ''The last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams...."

"Absolutely! Thank god he's dead and not here to see this! Imagine trying to explain to William Burroughs that we couldn't have a cigarette. He'd be going 'Alright, we can't jack up in the bar, but you're saying we can't have a Winston? A Kool?'"

But while most of us can't imagine explaining anything to Burroughs, Strummer did indeed spend time with the man in the early 80s, but describes his association with El Hombre Invisible as "fleeting." '

"I had many more nights with Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso and Peter Orlovsky. I tell you, I partied with them and these guys rocked! Forget Marilyn Manson forget Lemmy - they were like 58, all of them and they were fucking up 'til dawn, screaming and yelling. It was like being in the bloody On The Road book, it was great."

With the influence of the Beats on his life and lyrics, "complete and utter total before-end and after-end eternal," Strummer says you take what you can from a long distance and run with it. Still, there's no substitute for actually experiencing something first-hand and he's excited by the prospect of revisiting New Zealand for Big Day Out. He remembers when the Clash played here in February 1982 quite clearly.

"I'll tell you what happened, alright. We got there and I decided to go walking and I walked a long way down the [water]front, a very long way. Then I realised that I'd really fucked it, it was getting dark and we had to play. I put out my thumb to hitch-hike and a Maori stopped in a black sports car like a Porsche or Lamborghini or Ferrari and I got in.

“We were driving back and he said 'So, what are you doing here, are you a sailor are you'?' And I went, 'No, I'm playing a rock concert, I'll give you a ticket and your girlfriend if you want,.' He said 'Naaah, you're a fucking joker aren't ya, you just look like some tramp to me'.

“And then he pulled up roughly near the hotel and all ejected me and he wouldn't accept tickets to the concert."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ring The Alarm playlist, April 18

Gary Byrd - The crown
Stephanie Mills - Sweet sensation
Denise LaSalle  - E.R.A. (equal rights amendment)
Lalomie Washburn - Try my love
Axel Krygier  -Echale semilla - Watch TV remix
Gene Dudley group - Hilo bay halfway  - Scrimshire remix
Brass Construction - Take it easy - Kenny Dope mix
Chi-lites - We are neighbours
Betty Wright  - Clean up woman
Bobby Byrd - Try it again
Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd st rhythm band - Express yourself - alternate version
James Brown - Funky drummer - DJ Muro remix
Marva Whitney - Unwind yourself
Jackie Mittoo - Totally together
Junior Murvin and the Upsetters - Roots train number two
Cutty Ranks - Who seh me dun
Freddie McGregor - Bobby Bobbylon
Sound dimension - Real rock
Delroy Wilson - I want justice
Skatalites -Collie buds
The Dingles - This is thunder
James Booker - Gonzo
Booker T and the MGs - Red beans and rice
Chubby Checker - At the discotheque
Jackie Wilson - Somebody up there likes you
Sidney Barnes - You'll always be in style
Candi Staton - When you wake up tomorrow
Opensouls - Stickmen inst
Melvin Jackson - Funky skull
Freebass feat Urban Disturbance - Up to bat
Tackhead - Ticking time bomb dub

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jakob wins! Taite Prize recap

I dug out this badge and wore it to the Taite Prize

The Taite Prize ceremony was held in at Auckland’s Galatos venue last night. I had the honour of being asked to be one of the judges this year, it was a fascinating process. We got to decide on the winner for the Taite Prize, and select the Independent NZ Classic Record for this year, awarded to Herbs for their 1981 mini album Whats Be Happen? 

The event opened with the MCs Charlotte Ryan and Lawrence Arabia welcoming us, and then kicked off with a couple of songs from Delaney Davison, including his stunning take on In The Pines.

Lorde, with Charlotte Ryan on left

Charlotte and Lawrence returned to the stage, and talked about Lorde's win last year, and how she'd given the prize money to the other 9 finalists. Lawrence the read out a list of what each one had dome with the money from Sheep Dog and Wolf buying new studio monitors for the recording of their new album, to UMO saying the money probably went on paying his kids's school fees, to Beastwars saying they bought a Gibson SG guitar, so they could "rock the fuck out."

Lorde was invited up on stage to make a speech, she's self deprecating and very funny. 

She talked about writing songs for her next album in her pop castle in Morningside, while drinking the blood of Six60. She actually said that.

She'd been asked to list achievements of last year, and decided that we probably didn't want to hear about various awards events, although she did admit she got to meet Prince, and only half came off as a uncool. Prince walked past her and then leaned in and whispered to her "Great to meet you", and she turned round and blurted out 'You too! Oh my god!' Cos, it's Prince.

So instead, she listed some of  her other achievements, such as learning she can do anything on 4 hours sleep and an energy drink; she can now wash her undies in any hotel bathroom sink; and she taught Paul McKessar the 'sup nod. Genuine life skill right there.

L-R: Will Illolahia, Moana Maniapoto, Hugh Lynn, Phil Toms, Ross France, Phil Yule, Spenz Fusimalohi

Next was a brief video segment on indie classic record award, with Graham Reid talking about the cultural and political importance of What's Be Happen, and then the voiceover reads out my quote about it, from IMNZ's press release. That was odd.

Moana Maniapoto came onstage to introduce What's Be Happen. "Ah, 1981. That's a bit hazy...."

She talks about going to see Bob Marley in 1979, and a few years later, hitch hiking up to Auckland for Stevie Wonder. It was a miserable rainy day, and she and her friend were there, standing in the mud, and the opening band came on. She was all like 'boo, we want Stevie' for their first song, but by the second song, she thought, 'oh, these guys are alright'. She remembers that if your shut your eyes, it was like being transported to the Pacific, and the sky was all  blue and the sun was out...

By the end she was like, this band, they're pretty choice, what are they called? Herbs? Aw yeah. Then Stevie Wonder came out, and thanked the crowd for coming and said he wasn't able to play due to the rain, as it was too dangerous and he didn't want to get electrocuted. and we should hold onto our tickets so we can get our money back.

So Moana and her friend were scrambling round in the mud looking for the tickets, cos they'd thrown them away when they got inside. And Moana is thinking hang on, how come it was okay for the brothers in Herbs to risk their lives, but not you, Stevie?

Moana Maniapoto: "I knew when they put out What's be happen they were not wusses. Because of that cover..."

Herbs' manager from the early days, Will Illolahia. Photo by Peter McLennan
Herbs' manager from the early days, Will Illolahia

Hugh Lynn, owner of Mascot Studios and Warrior Records
Hugh Lynn, owner of Mascot Studios and Warrior Records

The band's manager from the early days, Will Illolahia spoke first, talking about that time, and also introduced the people who had joined him onstage including the band's lawyer Ross France (of the band Diatribe), who wrote the song Azania, on What's Be Happen?.

Will noted that "Tony Fonoti sends his apologises that hes not here - hes an Australian these days", and that Dilworth Karaka of the band was on his way but he was on Maori time - then Will quickly turns round to Moana and says "Sorry, sis."

Hugh Lynn, owner of Mascot Studios and Warrior Records spoke next, talking about the band's influence, and what they taught him.

Phil Toms, bass player on the record, talked about that time, saying he hoped it finally came out on CD, cos he couldn't understand how it could be a classic record when hardly anyone could hear it these days (Tho it was mentioned earlier in the night that it's on Spotify).

Phil Yule, engineer at Mascot Studios on the Herbs recording talked about how the band came into the studio, and they looked pretty street, and he wasn't street at all, but he got along with them ok. "They wanted me to make it loud and I figured out you turn up the bass and the kick really loud and it works!"

Then an audience member starts singing E Papa and the crowd and band join in. It was a beautiful moment, recalling the 2012 APRA Silver Scrolls, when Herbs were inducted to the NZ Music Hall of Fame, and the assembled band members on stage sang that same tune.

Next up, Damian Vaughan from RMZ made the announcement of this years winner - Jakob, for their album Sines.

Jakob’s guitarist Jeff Boyle, was first to speak, saying "I’m in shock. This is my worst nightmare by the way -  there's a reason we're an instrumental band!" They talked about the long gestation period for this album, 8 years, and the trials and tribulations of making it. The band are off to Europe for a tour (delayed from 2008, due to injuries) and the $10,000 prize would got towards that endevour.

Don McGlashan closed out the night with some songs of his forthcoming new solo album. Congrats to all involved in staging the event, great night!

Livestream of Taite Prize, via BFM

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Larry’s Rebels – No sleep til Whitianga

Larrys Rebels, Outside Auckland Museum, 1967. L-R: Larry Morris, Nooky Stott, Terry Rouse, John Williams, Viv McCarthy.
Larry's Rebels, outside Auckland Museum, 1967. L-R: Larry Morris, Nooky Stott, Terry Rouse, John Williams, Viv McCarthy.

Record Store Day happens on April 18th and Real Groovy will feature a special vinyl reissue by Larry's Rebels, more details here (plus their vinyl release from the Cleves/Bitch).

Described as 'Largely compiled from long lost master tapes, ‘A Study In Colour’ highlights both the group’s rougher R ‘n’ B roots on Side One and their later Pop Psych material on Side Two.' 

Here's an interview with Larry Morris on the latter stages of the band's career, and how he got kicked off NZ tv for throwing an apple at Howard Morrison in the middle of a live broadcast.

Larry’s Rebels – No sleep til Whitianga.
Burning up the years 9 – part 2
By Murray Cammick,
Real Groove, July 2001, Issue 095, pp 22-24

The Rebels spent a lot of time in Australia from 1966 to 1968. The two music communities almost merged for a few years, with New Zealand promoter Harry M Miller operating successfully in both countries and NZ entrepreneurs Eldred Stebbing and Russell Clark achieving recording deals for their bands in Australia. The La De Das and Ray Columbus had hits on both sides of the Tasman. Many 60s musicians like Max Merritt and the Meteors, Alison Durbin, Johnny Devlin, the Las De Das and Dinah Lee made Australia their home. Larry’s Rebels had limited chart success across the Tasman, but toured extensively and recorded hits including ‘Everybody’s Girl’ in Australia. Band leader Larry Morris speaks to Real Groove.

Were the band's trips to Australia a success or a disappointment?

"From [manager] Russell Clark's point of view or a publicist's point of view there was no trouble saying it was a success, but we didn't feel that we'd succeeded. We didn't have the support system over in Australia that we should have had as kids. Russell was there for the first few weeks and then he basically left us in the hands of strangers.

“We were all young, never been away from home before. Nicky Campbell, our roadie, who was the same age as me was looking after us.

''The Easybeats tour was a great way for us to kick off in Australia, that’s where I met a lot of guys who are still friends to this day. Brian Cadd I met on that tour, he was in the Groop and we're mates in touch every other day by email. We did the Easybeats tour and we did the Animals and the Yardbirds for Harry.”

The Rebels' first encounter with Australian rocker Billy Thorpe was not so positive.

''I met Billy Thorpe In Melbourne In 1966. We were doing a show with the Aztecs and they borrowed all our gear and blew the whole lot up. I nearly had a brawl with Billy that night, [then Wild Cherrys guitarist] Lobby Loyde got in between him and me and stopped it, but I was livid I thought, 'how dare you' He was just so arrogant, an Australian giving a New Zealand band a run-up and I got on his case. The Aztecs were a bloody great band. So loud '' Blowing gear up is not a basis for friendship.

"It isn't a good way to start but Max Merritt took us under his wing because Max Merritt and Ray Columbus were the generation before us. Word got around that, these guys were reasonably good kids and they're no trouble, that 'Larry's a bit of humour but he's a nice bloke'.

"Then I became mates with the heavyweights of the industry then, Glenn Shorrock, Ronnie Burns and Molly Meldrum, who was just starting out. We all used to congregate together in Toorak at the Winston Charles restaurant and nightclub. Billy and I became mates and went on a three day binge together. We went through some sordid shit. Then I rekindled my friendship with him in Los Angeles and had some wonderful times with him in LA."

The Rebels headlined their own nationwide New Zealand tour, Blast Off 68. Terry Rouse quit the band after the tour and Mal Logan replaced him. That same year Morris and John Williams were finalists in the APRA Silver Scroll Awards for their composition 'Dreamtime'. But on the 'Christmas Tour' it was not only 1968 that came to a sudden end.

"I discovered there was no accommodation in Whitianga. 'What the fucks going on?' One of the roadies said 'We're all staying on the bus and we're going back straight after the show.' 'Where's Russell and Benny?' 'Oh they're in the local pub.' So I went over there and they weren't in the bar so I looked around and was told, 'They've checked in, they've got a suite here.' 'Oh really?' That really got up my nose big time.
“So I went up there and said 'unless you get accommodation for me and the band you won't ever see me sing with the band again.' Russell said 'Yeah, Yeah, right Larry?' They never took me seriously They didn't and I left the band and that was it. I regretted it all my life, because I think the Rebels could have been playing now. If we had stuck at it we could have become very, very wealthy and successful, and we'd be still recording now. Like Tim and Nell Finn are.

“But If I said something, I Stuck to it. I was caught with my own personality, once I had said 'you do it or I'm going to leave the band' , I was committed. Nobody believed me. The only one who really took me seriously was Dennis 'Nooky' Stott.

“I can remember Nooky saying to the others 'he's gonna do it.' I went on stage and as we finished the last number I said 'Ladies and gentlemen, I'm dreadfully sorry to have to say this but that is the last song I will ever sing with this band until the day I die. Thank you, good night.' It was on the front page of the NZ Herald and that was it, I've never sung with them again. ''

Do you think the band could have survived because it was special?

"We would have survived without a doubt. It was a very, very special band I've seen it with Hello Sailor and earlier in my life I saw it with the Stones. I remember seeing the Stones the first time, and seeing Keith Richards tuning up Brian Jones' guitar. He had one of those lovely pear shaped guitars. I thought, "Christ, these guys aren't all that together as musos if Keith's got to tune Brian's guitar for him.' But those guys together were something fucking magical. 

“And Hello Sailor were like that as a band. Early in their career they were average musicians, but those four personalities together - Graham Brazier, Harry Lyon, Dave McArtney, Ricky Ball - and you had something very, very special. The Rebels were like that. We had this special thing because of the people - John Williams, Nooky Stott, Viv McCarthy, myself, Terry Rouse, and then later on Mal Logan because Terry couldn't handle it any more emotionally. It got too much for him and he went 'Ah screw this world' and he got out of it.' 

I thought your departure might have been because music was changing?

''No, nothing to do with that at all. It was all to do with Benny Levin and Russell Clark not getting us a hotel room in Whitianga. It's the only reason I left the band. If you're on the road with a major act who have made you a fucking fortune and if you can't put us in a room and you can put yourself in one! That is the only reason I left the band.

“I could show you our original contract, they were getting 40 percent of everything we earned which was a massive amount of money they made from us. But no regrets [about that] we signed the contract."

In the 60s, nobody thought a band would last more than a year or two, is that correct?

''No, We'd been together seven years when I left. We didn't feel that. We started as youngsters, 15 or 16 year olds, John was 14. I've only had four bands in my life and I've been doing this 38 years."

What Larry's Rebels songs are you most proud of?

'' 'Lets think of something' and 'Everybody's girl'."

While the Rebels added Glyn Mason and released the hit single 'My son John' and the album Madrigal, Morris became a regular on the cabaret circuit and a resident on TV shows C'Mon and Happen Inn. "It was exactly the same show, the graphics changed to Happen Inn." 

In 1969 the Rebels moved to Melbourne and recorded a single, 'Can You Make it on Your Own'. In January 1970 the group split and Logan and Mason stayed in Australia working in bands Chain and Home.  

It wasn't drugs that got Morris thrown off TV, well not the first time, like In the Garden of Eden, it was an apple.

"I threw an apple at Howard Morrison when he was live on Happen Inn, one of my best shots. I played softball for Point Chevalier, I could hit you in the chest with a softball. This was a rotten apple but it was hard enough on one side. He started singing 'Born Free' and I turned to Shane and I said 'this has no place in this bloody show, this is a rock show. What's going on? This is politics mate!' I grabbed this apple and hit Sir Howard in the chest and it exploded all over the place and I heard in the cans of the camera closest to me, 'What was that? Who did that?' As the apple hit him, I knew I'd done a stupid thing. I'd ruined my whole career.

“Howard was disgusted, he wanted to punch me so bad, but he just wasn't up to it and I'm standing there, arrogant as fuck In my bloody yellow flowered suit and Howard walked over and said 'That's disgraceful!' It was live on TV, there was nothing they could do.

“Director Kevan Moore came down in the commercial break, he had his hands on hips and said 'I want to know who did it.' There was a real silence and he said, Íf I have to, I will fire everyone from this show,' I thought well In that case I'd better own up, I said 'It was me.' 'YOURE FIRED, GET OUT! GET OUT!' It was amazing, he just went off, I'd never seen Kevan go off and I've talked to him since and he's said 'I'll never forget, I'll take it to by grave, Larry'."

The next time Morris pissed TV off was due to wacky baccy. "They made a criminal out of me for a pot conviction, I know later on I got involved in a serious matter and went to jail for it. That's not what I'm talking about. Kids have them lives fucked up because they've been busted with a couple of joints or a small bag of pot. The law is totally disproportionate and it's wrong."

When you went solo, was cabaret a good living?

"In 1970 I was getting $500 a show for 20 minutes. The money was extremely good but the quality of the music was crap when you had to work with a different band every night, New Plymouth this night, Rotorua that night. Eight out of nine bands didn't have it in them to cut that stuff and it sounded like it.

“That's why I did not like that work. I was very emphatic, I said to Russell Clark, 'no, this is not for me.' And then they arseholed me because I got the pot conviction. Russell and Benny basically divorced me with a big right boot. They did not want to have anything to do with me. ''

You did cultivate a bad boy image with Larry's Rebels?

"No. My bad boy image was from my pot conviction. When I got in the shit. There's two sides of show business, there's the straight side ... and they're closet pissheads and get drunk and spew just like anyone else. Then there's the outlaws. The moment I got that first pot conviction I became an outlaw.

“I joined [Tommy] Adderley, Richie Pickett, Marlene Tong and anybody else who'd had a pot conviction."

They were conservative times. It is different today.

''You go and ask Simon Poleman about that. I don't think so. You get tarred with that bloody brush. I've been in trouble once in my life. They locked me up for acid. That was in 1972, they released me in 1976 and I have never been back since. ''

What is your best solo recording?

"The 5.55am album which Bruce Lynch produced. It was never ever released. I had just signed a great deal with John McCready at Polygram Records and it all turned to custard when I got into trouble with the LSD conviction.

“When I got busted and taken to jail, Polygram basically dropped me and the album was never released. Barbara Doyle, who was managing me, went and bought all the stock and to this day she owns it and she gets $125 for each copy now.

“When I got out of prison I formed Shotgun, because I didn't want to do that solo thing, I wanted to have a band again. ''

When Shotgun met with little media or public nearest, Morris headed for North America and spent the 80s in the USA.

"I made a lot of money, I was doing recording session work, Hollywood, Nashville, New York. Underground work. I was an illegal immigrant. They didn't give me a visa to get in. I went through the bush from Canada illegally with a mate. There s a network of people who knew me, John Farrar, Brian Cadd, Glenn Shorrock, Billy Thorpe, Max Merritt, they were all living in LA."

While at a party at Renee Geyer's apartment in Los Angeles with a who's who of Australian music, Eva Olivia Newton John, Morris got an unexpected tribute when the late Dragon singer Marc Hunter took the floor.

" 'Shut up! I've got an announcement I want to make! The reason I got into this music business. I want to draw your attention to a man here tonight. I saw a Larry's Rebels gig in the Taumarunui High School hall and I'd never seen a bunch of guys having so much fun, and when I saw all the girls banging round after the gig, Todd and I went home from that concert with our minds made up, we were going to form a band.' It was one of the most humbling things that has ever happened to me."

In 1993, Morris and his family returned from the USA, hoping to catch up with vocalist Tommy Adderley. "He was still alive when we got on the plane but he was dead when we arrived. ''

At the Gluepot fundraising concert, Morris performed with the recently defunct but funky Cairo, and they gelled so well, he has performed with them ever since as the Larry Morris Band.

The repertoire extends from the Four Tops to Ben Harper via War's 'Low rider' and the Sopranos theme tune. They will play a Rebels hit if requested.

Morris is dismissive of Larry's Rebels' own songwriting. ''Our first forays into writing, you could tell they were our first forays into writing."

When Jordan Luck recently took time to praise Larry about the ''depth' of his lyrics for 'Dreamtime', as reproduced in Gordon Spittle's book Counting the Beat, Morris replied "I could say the same thing in a few words, now."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Record Store Day in Auckland and beyond, on this Saturday

Record store day at Real Groovy
Record store day at Real Groovy. Photo: NZ Musician
Record Store Day just seems to get bigger every year. The list of special releases from overseas indie labels gets longer, and the likelihood of them ever making it to our shores grows ever slimmer. Here's some of what's on offer, with some great local reissues...

At Marbecks in Queens Arcade, they will have live performances from Lawrence Arabia, Tiny Ruins, and DJ sets from Princess Chelsea, Johnathan Bree (Brunettes),  plus 20% off all vinyl.

Southbound Records, (9am-6pm) at their new location at 132 Symonds St, have a bunch of RSD specials on vinyl, check their Facebook page for what they hope will be available. SJD (330pm) and Don McGlashan (430pm) will be playing live instore, and Delaney Davison will be there signing copies of a limited edition vinyl release of Diamond Dozen in gold, clear or black numbered vinyl - this release collects his lost tunes, soundtrack gems and stolen treasures from his last 10 years of recording.

Real Groovy Queen st (9am-7pm) will be hosting some exclusives on their Real Groovy Records imprint, Larrys Rebels, and The Cleves/Bitch, plus a ton more, including a special tenth anniversary vinyl edition of the debut album by the Mint Chicks, Fuck the golden youth, on vinyl for the first time. Their full DJ schedule is below, with live performances by The Cleves and Larrys Rebels.


9-10am  Tina Turntables
10-11am Lo Key
11-12noon Yolanda Fagan (Echo Ohs)
12-1pm Kody Nielson (Mint Chicks)
1-2pm Ned Roy
2.45pm The Cleves signing
2.45-3.30pm Selecta Sam
3.30pm ECHO OHS
4.00pm Echo Ohs signing
4.00-5.00pm Pennie Black (95bFM)
5.45pm Larry's Rebels signing
5.45 to close Marty Duda (13th Floor)

There's also a NEW record store opening in Auckland this Saturday -  Flying Out/Flying Nun/Arch Hill Records launch their store at the top of Pitt St, off K Rd. Exciting news!

Down in Wellington, Rough Peel Music at 173 Cuba St, have live performances, at 11am there's a solo set from Adam McGrath from The Eastern. At 130pm they have the 5 piece folk band Eb & Sparrow, and later in the day, DJ outfit Eastern Bloc are coming in, time to be confirmed.

Slow Boat Records at 183 Cuba St, has live performances from Neil Finn, Tami Neilson and a string quartet from Orchestra Wellington. There will also be prize draws (including tickets to the orchestra’s performance that night), and, of course limited edition Record Store Day vinyl releases, including the 20th anniversary vinyl reissue of Shihad's album Killjoy

Performances: Tami Neilson – 11.30am, Neil Finn – 12 midday, Orchestra Wellington String Quartet – 1.30pm

Death Ray Records in Newtown, Wellington, has live acts in the afternoon, and 20 % of all music.

They have one man band "Mono-Sonic" with guitar and drums at 2pm. Then at 3.30pm they have a special Death Ray tape release of 2 piece surf/rockabilly/blues band the Crunge.

Later on at MOON from 9pm it's Death Ray's "Record Store day" evening surf show with the super talented not to be missed, untamed rockabilly guitarist Connie Benson, "Connie and the Springolaters". And 2 drum carnage supreme surf trash band The Dobermen. Show is $10 on the door.

Vinyl Countdown in New Plymouth will have a day full of live music, prizes and giveaways, exclusive vinyl releases, and a free sausage sizzle. They have a short live set from Peter Jefferies at 230pm, he will also be signing copies of the 7"vinyl reissue of the single 'Randolph's going home', his collaboration with Shayne Carter.

Penny Lane Records in Christchurch is celebrating record store day across all three of their stores, and extending it to Sunday. 

Galaxy Records has Bad Evil live instore ("middayish"). Via Chch Library

Relics in Dunedin has a ton of RSD local and overseas vinyl specials coming in store, they're open from 9am-5pm.

Red Bull Studio is releasing a special 12" EP on Record Store Day, featuring Black City Lights, Kamandi, Team Dynamite, and Esther Stephens & The Means , and are giving it some free at selected shops.

"When Red Bull Sound Select release the EP on April 18, it will be through 12 cult record stores around New Zealand. Alongside this, they will reward two hundred of the platform's most engaged local fans with a physical copy to call their own. 

The list of shops involved includes Real Groovy (Auckland), Southbound (Auckland), Marbecks (Auckland), Penny Lane (Christchurch), Relics (Dunedin), Mint Music (Lower Hutt), Just the Record (Napier), Slow Boat (Wellington), Vinyl Countdown (New Plymouth), Deathray Records (Newtown), and Rough Peel (Wellington)."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ring The Alarm playlist, April 11

Cherelle - Saturday love
Undisputed truth - Show time
Side effect - It's all in your mind
The Ikettes - Don't feel sorry for me
Bill Deal and the Rhondels - What kind of fool do you think I am
Luther Ingram - Oh baby don't you weep
Checkmates Ltd - Never should have lied
The Montclairs - Hung up on your love
Thee Enchantments - I'm in love with your daughter pt 1
Arthur Griswold and the Organics - Pretty Mama blues
Billy Karaitiana -Cool jerk
Jorge Ben - Umbabarauma
Gerardo Frisina - Descarga
Andrew Ashong - Love the way
Kool G Rap and DJ Polo - It's a demo
Grandmaster Flash - Adventures of Grandmaster Flash
Hypnotic brass ensemble - Balicki bon
Overproof sound system - Get with it
Desmond Dekker - 007 shanty town
Western roots - Bogus buddy
Herbs - Dragons and demons
Nitin Sawhney - Dead man - Fink dub
Bluebeaters - The model
Aretha Franklin - I am in love - cutec edit
Monophonics - Hanging on
Magic tones - Together we shall overcome
The Demures - Raining teardrops
Erma Franklin - I get the sweetest feeling

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bluebeaters new album drops April 13

Bluebeaters Everybody Knows album cover art

"All songs are cooked with The Bluebeater's unique and super spicy Jamaican sauce. From the first single - Oasis' 'Roll With It' - to The Undertones seminal punk hit 'Teenage Kicks', Kraftwerk's 'The Model', The Smith's "Girlfriend in a Coma", Neil Young's titletrack, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner "End Titles" or Jamaican Ska forgotten pearls like "Somebody Has Stolen My Girl" by Delroy Wilson and "True Confession" by The Silvertones, we're in safe hands.

The Bluebeaters deliver 14 scorching old school ska and reggae tracks with the power to set every dancefloor on fire."

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Taite Prize reflection: Dylan Taite interviewed, July 2001

Dylan Taite, Real Groove, july 2001

Backchat: Dylan Taite. By John Russell, Real Groove, July 2001.
Dylan Taite. Just what can you say. He's in a league of his own. A maverick's maverick. He'd prefer not to be called a journalist, nor a television director. A football-mad "audio visual structuralist'' fits just right. And he's often in the right place at the best time. Pals with the Sex Pistols in 1976, Taite loaned Malcolm Mclaren the idea to sign their EMI record contract outside Buckingham Palace. Three years on, Robert Nesta swapped friendship with Taite during his 1979 NZ tour. Bob. Dylan. And the universal language of soccer. "I've always looked like a tramp," he tells Real Groove.

Of all the musicians you played with, who was the best footballer? 

"I'm a bit biased there but Bob Marley was simply the best, a really cool player. Bob was George Best compared to people like Rod Stewart who, I think fancied himself as a footballer. It was really the football that got me close to Bob. He'd ring up in the morning and it was always 'Hey mon, got de ball'. His team was called The House of Dread. A couple of games I played with him and a couple of times I played against him. It was just great.”

It’s not possible to get access to musicians nowadays, like you had with Marley. Why?

"Then, with Bob, the music business was 80% music and 20% business. Today the music business is 80% business and 20% music. You did get a chance back then to meet people, to get close.

"You've got to remember that way back then, you didn't have hoards of people wanting to get interviews, it wasn't quite as popular with the mainstream media. There was no record company exec or 10th rate manager saying, 'Hey, you can't get near the gig with a camera'. Back then there was no trouble at all, you could walk around on stage with a camera."

Have you ever been less than 100% straight on screen?

"I might give the impression of being right out of my head, but the best way to answer is to say that I'm always in control. [laughter] You can work that one out yourself. I do like being professional."

Do you believe the theory that television serves to keep the general populace in a stupor? Or enchanted?

"I probably have the thought that the mainstream media, which certainly includes TV and lots and lots of radio, they are very much a diversionary opiate for people kept like mushrooms. I suppose that's the way I'd see it."

Is it too easy to become a celebrity in New Zealand?

''It's quite easy everywhere... one thing that I've always disliked is a tendency to be addicted to the cult of celebrity I suppose it is easy to become a celeb. I know some people are quite happy to have their photo in every magazine, but I've never understood that, I just can't see the point.

"Long ago I learnt to accept that if you were on television you've just got to be prepared to be stoned in the streets. It's the sort of job where anything you do can be analysed by some halfwit who can say what the hell he likes about you. But I never cared what anyone says about me. The wonderful thing is they can never pick on my appearance 'cause I've always looked like a tramp, and I'm happy with that."

Was Malcolm Mclaren a genius or an opportunist?

"I think he was both. I think the Sex Pistols was Malcolm's big and only idea he ever had. But I've got to be fair to the guy, he seemed to have a lot of the ideas for the band. I think he got hammered a bit unfairly in The Filth and the Fury. What I found with Malcolm, years later whenever I see him being interviewed, when he did The South Bank Show, he pretty well repeated what he said in his first interview. He only had one interview in him."

Who was the last band to really impress you?

"I guess I should be able to come up with a whole lot of names, but I've always believe in the new, l don't really believe in old music. And I like the idea, perhaps, of people buying a CD, listening to it once, then chucking it in the rubbish bin. Because there's so much comes out now and there's so much that's new, you can't possibly follow that old pattern of, 'Hey man, I bought this record 20 years ago and I've just about worn it out', I don't believe in that. Hottest single I've heard recently, Techno Animal, 'Dead Man's Curse'. Hadn't heard it before, thought it was great. ''

When you were at TV3, occasionally a record label would not grant you an interview because
Holmes had demanded an exclusive. So you went to the airport with a camera and interviewed them as they came through Customs. What does that say about your character?

"I'd say it shows I'm honest and I'm hellbent on doing what I'm entitled to do and what a certain audience would expect. All this nonsense about exclusives, I've never believed in them. If people ring me up and offer an exclusive, my answer is 'don't bother.' If  I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it my way. I don't play those games at all. And I certainly don't play games where record companies try to dictate what you can or cannot ask. And I'm not going to pull things from interviews to suit the record company or even the artist.''

How do you think the top-dog suits at TVNZ view Dylan Taite?

“I would say, they would see me as a jigsaw that’s been dismantled and put back together the wrong way. I think that's the way they see me, if they see me at all. Look at me! I’m hardly what people want in some sort of homogenised television environment. I am what I am. I'm not what I wanna be. I'm not what I'm gonna be. But I'm sure as hell not what I was. But I believe in what I do.”

Dylan Taite passed away in 2003. Read more about him here, at AudioCulture. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Herbs awarded ‘Independent Music NZ Classic Record'


I had the pleasure of being invited to be part of the judging panel for this year's Taite Music Prize, and also choosing the classic indie record. It was awarded to Herbs, for this deeply crucial record, 'What's be Happen?' The band had previously been recognised by the NZ Music Hall of Fame at the Silver Scrolls in 2012.

Press release: "The Taite Music Prize: Announcing this year’s ‘Independent Music NZ Classic Record’ Award.

IMNZ is proud to announce the second award to be presented at this year’s Taite Music Prize 2015 event.

The ceremony is to include the ‘Independent Music NZ Classic Record’, which aims to acknowledge New Zealand’s rich history of making fine albums that continue to inspire us and define who we are.

The panel to determine the recipient of this new award was made up of a broad section of music media / industry specialists, who have given the nod this year to the Herbs’ ‘What’s Be Happen?’ (Warrior Records, July 1981) mini-album as one of NZ’s classic records.

The award is scheduled to be presented by Moana Maniapoto and will be accepted by members of the band and label.

When told of the news this week, Dilworth Karaka  of Herbs said: “Thank you, that is much appreciated. It was our first bunch of songs that we’d ever recorded and was a strong indicator for the political material  we would carry on to do – the memory has carried on, and it’s still our most popular record.”

Peter McLennan, author, musician and judging panelist said: “Herbs’ recording debut ‘What's Be Happen?’ holds up as a vital slice of our cultural history and a landmark for Pacific reggae.

"Dropping in the dark days of the 1981 Springbok Tour, the mini album showed the band pulling together a strong set of six originals ­– they knew they were doing something right when people started asking them about a song off the EP, ‘Dragons And Demons’, wanting to know which Bob Marley album it was from. It's still a crucial recording, to this day.”

The winner of the Taite Music Prize for 2015 will be announced on Wednesday, 15th April in Auckland.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Kanaku Y El Tigre, album out May 19

Very cool cats, recently signed to Strut: "The newest artists to sign to Strut, Peruvian wandering folk duo Kanaku Y El Tigre, may just become the soundtrack to your [northern] summer. Their anthemic, hook laden album Quema Quema Quema ("Burn Burn Burn" in English) is an incredibly catchy collection of electronic tinged indie-folk in the vein of Manu Chao or Jose Gonzalez, and we're completely in love with it.

For a taste of the band's euphoric sound, take a look at their new music video for "Si Te Mueres Mañana". The title translates in English to "If You Die Tomorrow," and the lyrics deliver a message of living life with no regrets. 

Fittingly, the video features youthful skateboarders gleefully speeding down the hills outside of Lima. Another advance track from the album, "Bubucelas," is available for free download.

Quema Quema Quema is the band's first international release, and comes out May 19th on Strut in association with Tiger's Milk.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Ring The Alarm playlist, April 4

Steel n skin - Afro punk reggae dub
Adrian Sherwood - Cliched dub slave
Congos -Bring the mackaback
Jackie Mittoo - Darker shade of black
Shark Wilson and the basement heaters - Make it reggae
Stevie Wonder - As
Curtis Mayfield - Future shock
Fatback band - Wicky wacky
Barbara Lynn - This is the thanks I get
Willie Jones - Where's my money
Mabel John - Running out
Emotions - Blind alley
Brenton Wood - Ooogum boogum
Charles Bradley - Why is it so hard?
Gladys Knight and the Pips - Aint no sun since you been gone
Bluebeaters - Roll with it
Dub traffik control - Fresh prince of Babylon
Gwen Guthrie - Ticket to ride
Salmonella dub - Platetechtonics - Groove corp remix
Restless soul - Turn me out
Dennis Edwards - Dont look any further - Bobby Busnach edit
Shalamar - Right in the socket
Johnny Hammond - Fantasy - Marc Mac rework
Aretha Franklin - Every girl (wants my guy)
Shirley Murdock - Teaser
Parliament - Give up the funk
The Family - Susannah's pyjamas
Stylistics - What's your name?
Alyson Williams - Sleeptalk - extended version

Thursday, April 02, 2015

'Planet Key'song ruled legal, Electoral Commission in doghouse

Back in August last year in the run up to the election campaign, Wellington musician Darren Watson released a song on August 4th via iTunes titled Planet Key, poking fun at our Prime Minister, and then the Electoral Commission clamped down on him, saying radio stations who were playing it, such as Radio Active, were breaching electoral law. They forced Watson to remove it from sale. 

He then decided to challenge the Electoral Commission's decision to limit right to his creative expression, and today the High Court found in his favour. See below:



The High Court has today delivered its judgment on the challenge brought by the makers of the satirical song and video “Planet Key” against the Electoral Commission’s opinion that the song and video were "election advertisements" under the Electoral Act and "election programmes" under the Broadcasting Act.

In a 76 page judgment, Justice Denis Clifford ruled comprehensively in favour of Watson and Jones. Significantly, he held that the Electoral Commission’s interpretation of the legislation “would impose limits on the right of freedom of expression of the plaintiffs and New Zealand citizens more generally in a manner which… cannot be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Darren Watson and Jeremy Jones say they are delighted with the ruling, saying that it vindicates completely their sense of grievance about Commission’s advice that Planet Key could not be lawfully broadcast, sold through i-Tunes, or posted on the internet.

Watson and Jones’ lawyers say that the case upholds freedom of speech and protects the rights of artists to express their personal political views.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Bluebeaters - Roll With It (Oasis gone ska styles)

New single out now on | Get it on Bandcamp or ltd edition 45.

Taken from forthcoming new album Everybody Knows expected to land on Record Kicks next 13 of April.