Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fun supreme

Ja Ja Jackal band photo off single, back cover. From far left, Paul Casserly, ???,
Greg Johnson, ???, Joost Langeveld, ???
Last weekend I went to the Record Collectors Fair at Freemans Bay Community Hall (next one there is on Nov 17) and scored a few cool records. Got a nice album by Undisputed Truth, and a rare slice of Kiwi vinyl from Ja Ja Jackal, and early outfit for Greg Johnson, more on that in a minute.

I saw some even rarer Kiwi vinyl - a copy of the Skeptics first album for $120, and a release I'd never seen before for myself: the Suburban Reptiles - Megaton 12-inch, going for a mere $400. I talked with the seller about it and told him of the Spelling Mistakes single getting reissued by a US label, and he said that a lot of overseas collectors were much more interested in our vinyl history than many NZers were. Sad but true.

Back in 1984, Greg Johnson was in a band called Ja Ja Jackal, alongside Paul Casserly (later of Strawpeople), Joost Langeveld (later in NRA/Greg Johnson Set/Unitone Hifi), Mark Hatherly, James Charlton and Gordon Goodison.

They recorded a 12-inch single for Ode Records at Mascot Studios with Phil Yule engineering and mixing in May 1984 - Fun Supreme /w Back and beyond.  The music is picking up on the whiteboy funk coming out of England at that time from the likes of A Certain Ratio and others.

I've digitised the vinyl for you to check. Listen below. Back and Beyond is available to buy as an mp3 from

Following Ja Ja Jackal, Greg was drafted into another band. He says that "At some point Rafer [Rautjoki] asked me to join [his band] 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."

Diatribe eventually split in two and changed into Seven Deadly Sins. I think the other half of the band formed Soul On Ice, can anyone confirm this or fill me in?

"Rafer and Ross France started the original band and recorded a wonderful self-titled EP [as Diatribe]. Then I joined, followed soon after by Fiona McDonald." She was recruited after a member of Diatribe phoned up BFM and asked who was singing their jingles - source.

"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." From NZ Musician.

Compulsory Allies - No Oppression, off We'll Do Our Best compilation, from 1983.

Before Ja Ja Jackal, Greg was in Compulsory Allies. He says he played his first gig with them, opening for the Instigators at the Uni Cafe at the University of Auckland (source: NZ Musician). This tune is squeaky ska with a very earnest lyric, reflective of that grim post-81 Tour era when NZ was still under the thumb of then Prime Minister Muldoon.

From Simon Grigg: "The sequel to Class Of 81 - [this was] a compilation of new bands put together with Radio B's management. The album was far more experimental than its predecessor with several tracks representing the wave of new electronica sweeping Auckland - a direction Propeller would likely have followed if I hadn't wound it down.

Released March 1983. Recorded at Harlequin, Last Laugh, Mandrill, Progressive, Innovation and Mascot Studios. October 1982 - February 1983. Complied by Simon Grigg, Paul Rose for Propeller; and Andrew Boak, Andrew Hawthorne for bFm. Artwork by Simon Grigg."

 Related: Jules Issa, Dangerous game and Diatribe.

ADDED 9 April 2013: Ja Ja Jackal live, Sweetwaters 1984, 2nd Stage — from left to right: Gordon Goodinson, Mark Hatherly, Joost Langeveld,Greg Johnson and Paul Casserly (behind Greg). Photo from Gordon Goodinson.

1 comment:

Paul Casserly said...

Wow, haven't seen one of those for years, Joost took $20 from band account to buy some petrol to burn the remaining copies. No doubt he pocketed the cash or poured the gas in to his Vespa.