Monday, December 20, 2010

Dangerous game

A wee slice of NZ reggae history for you, from Diatribe, and Jules Issa.

Here's Auckland reggae singer Jules Issa's Diatribe cover, released on the Deepgrooves label in 1991 and featuring Joost Langeveld (Unitone Hifi, Subware) on bass. It also came out as a single, I believe (that's where the image with the video is from). 

There's images I found for two other singles from her around the same time, and a listing which mentions her album on Deepgrooves, though I have no memory of this actually coming out. Anyone else know? 

There were quite a few Deepgrooves album/EP releases that got finished but went unreleased, like the 2R2S (Riot Riddum Sound System) EP.

ADDED August 2012. Found In You was the mini album Jules Issa released on Deepgrooves, in 1995.

Diatribe were around in the early 1980s, and were on the same label as Herbs, Warrior Records, run by Hugh Lynn from his Mascot recording studio. Diatribe member Ross France wrote Azania  (Soon Come) for Herbs from their Whats’ Be Happen? EP (he's also listed as singing backing vocals on it), and John Berkley was in an early version of Herbs on bass - he designed their logo.

France trained as a lawyer and his biography from his website for his current law practice in South Auckland says he "...established the Ponsonby Labour Co-operative in 1976 and played in a host of bands, including Storm, Herbs, Diatribe and Seven Deadly Sins. I still get royalties from writing "Soon Come Azania" for Herbs in 1981."

Diatribe band promo photo, 1983
Diatribe promo photo, 1983

Dangerous Game is from their Too Lazy EP from 1983 - one of the songs off the EP (Gift of cruelty) also featured in the film Patu, Merata Mita's documentary about the Springbok tour protests of 1981. Diatribe member Rafer Rautjoki is Merata Mita's son. The band also featured on the compilations We'll Do Our Best, and Banana Dominion. Too Lazy EP was produced by Phil Yule and Diatribe, in June/July 1983.

Band members were...
John Berkley -Bass, Backing Vocals, Percussion; Chris Whyte - Drums, Percussion; Peter Kirkbride - Guitar, Vocals, Percussion; Ross France - Saxophone, Organ, Percussion, Backing Vocals;  Rafer Rautjoki - Saxophone, Vibes, Percussion.

Diatribe shy band photo
Diatribe looking shy,  promo photo, 1983

The band later evolved into Seven Deadly Sins,  who also numbered Greg Johnson, Fiona McDonald (Headless Chickens/Strawpeople) and Justin Harwood (Chills, Luna) in their lineup.

In the April/May issue of NZ Musician earlier this year, Greg Johnson talked about Seven Deadly Sins for Trevor Reekie's feature Moments Like These, where Reekie purloins an old photo (see below) of a muso and asks them to talk about that time...

Seven Deadly Sins. Photo: NZ Musician

Can you remember who took this photo and when?

"I can’t for the life of me remember who took the pic but it was near the Auckland railway station in Parnell on a Sunday afternoon in 1986. This was the last version of Diatribe I think, or possibly even Seven Deadly Sins…

Rafer and Ross France started the original band [Diatribe] and recorded a wonderful self-titled EP. Then I joined, followed soon after by Fiona McDonald. There were quite a few versions, which is why I’m a little vague. The music was essentially a blend of Pacific, ska, reggae and soul with Rafer and Ross doing most of the songwriting. We played everywhere from the Rumba Bar and Mainstreet Cabaret to the Black Power nightclub in South Auckland.

What was your relationship to the others in the photo and what are they up to these days?

I met James first at Auckland University when we were about 18 or so, both working at bFM. I’d played my first gig there as well three years earlier supporting the Instigators with a band called Compulsory Allies. The old Uni CafĂ© gigs were hard core in those days, very violent, with lots of punks and skinheads, luckily we were so young no-one bothered us.

At some point Rafer asked me to join Diatribe. He was tres mellow and also very charismatic. His mother was a pretty radical film-maker called Merita Mita. Auckland’s Polynesian world opened up to me at that point and I met many great people and players. Fiona and the others I met subsequently.

John Fraser and I were half each of a moody wee outfit called This Boy Rob that signed to Pagan Records in about 1989 for one EP. Hardly anyone made albums then, they were far too expensive and the government wasn’t dishing out money for music back then that’s for sure! John was also a film editor so he and his mates made a clip for us. I think he’s still working as an editor in NZ.

Sadly I really don’t know what the rest of the guys are doing now. I know Fiona married and has kids and I heard Bud Hooper has an African drum group. Daniel might be a lawyer in Auckland.

Where were you at personally at that point of your life? 

I was all over the place at that age I have to say. I hadn’t quite grasped yet that music was going to be my life and I was still pretending to do an architecture degree, which I never finished. No-one believed a career in music was an option in those days and in retrospect maybe they had a point. I’d also just found my mojo and was spending a lot of time hangin’ out in clubs, chasing girls around and causing a little mayhem. That lasted for about another decade actually!"
Watch Patu over at NZOnScreen.  Merata Mita's biography.


Bruce Wurr said...

hey peter, thanks for doing this. I loved both versions as a younger me, and it's great to hear them again. The diatribe original was very striking, and still is.

Anonymous said...

Thats brought back some fond memories Peter. Diaribe's video of this song appeared on Radio with Pictures when hosted by Karen Hay and was directed by Merita's husband Geoff Murphy.

Peter McLennan said...

Thanks Bruce, thanks anon. Glad to make it available for listening....