Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mantis - smoking Fiji funk rock

Fascinating slice of heavyweight funk rock from Fiji, circa 1973. Mantis arrived in New Zealand, having honed their chops at a club residency in Suva. They landed a similar slots in clubs in Wellington, and were soon spotted by  a record producer.

At their first recording session, they cut an uptempo version of Booker T and the MG’s’ ‘Time Is Tight’ in one take. Another session produced a cover of US band The Wackers’ ‘Night And Day’ , these two songs being their first single. 

It was quickly followed by an album, with songs mostly recorded in one take, that's how tight they were. Songs on the album include Wilson Pickett’s ‘In The Midnight Hour’, Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’ and Jo Jo Gunne’s ‘Shake The Fat’.

Via Audioculture: "One of the most valuable records ever recorded in New Zealand on the international collectors' market wasn't made by a local band. Mantis came from Fiji and were resident at the famous Golden Dragon in Suva - a club with a reputation that stretched far beyond the South Pacific.

In 1973 they arrived in Wellington and were signed by Polygram. Their only album, recorded at the EMI Studios by Ed Morris, and released later that year on the Vertigo label was an instant classic - honed by countless hours playing funk and soul in Suva.

Long unavailable, it now goes for well upwards of $500 if you can find it, although it's about to get reissued by Universal, we are told. There have been a few unofficial bootleg reissues over the years also.

Teneti Ririnui has done some digging and we have the Mantis story here."

MORE: Fiji Times on Mantis (2013)

No comments: