Monday, December 14, 2015

Alright in the city - Kiwi 70s funk reissued on LP

Alright in the city  - front cover

I remember first hearing about this compilation several years ago, chatting with John Baker while in Real Groovy. While there was a ton of local bands playing funk here in the 70s, very few of them got the chance to make it into the recording studio and get a record out.

This compilation was originally going to come out thru Real Groovy Records, but Baker parted ways with them, and it dropped off the radar.

Then in yesterday's Sunday Star Times, there's Grant Smithies talking about this compilation (Smithies wrote the extensive liner notes and helped compile it), and it's out this week, thru Universal Records, in a very limited vinyl pressing of 300 copies.

Smithies notes in his article that "Given that many of these cuts lean towards soul, rock and jazz, some might argue whether this stuff is actually funk at all. But really, genre pigeon holes are for chumps."

He talks with Rip It Up founder Murray Cammick, who recalls "I once saw Mark Williams play an extraordinary version of Parliament's Tear The Roof Off The Sucker in the Hutt, and lots of amazingly skilled Maori and Polynesian bands played perfect funk covers in the clubs around South Auckland, too.

Cammick continues: "...During the 70s, a lot of pop-oriented [local] record companies decided most original music wasn't commercial enough, and it would have been even harder to get into the studio if you were a Maori funk or soul band, no matter how good you were.

"Decisions about who got recorded were often down to whether an older Pakeha producer or label owner liked your music, and these guys tended to be technician types who loved The Alan Parsons Project."

Go grab it - especially for a slice of the wonderful sounds of Collision, arguably the funkiest band ever to come out of Aotearoa. These guys were so awesome that when Lionel Richie of the Commodores saw them, he told them they should move to New York and bust a move. Their one and only album from 1978 (overseen by Dalvanius) needs a reissue!

Collision, with Dalvanius and the Fascinations. Via Audioculture/Murray Cammick collection
Press release: "Thunderous! Mammoth! And thats just the drum breaks! Add fuzzy guitars, full on wah-wah action, deep grooves and that KLASSIC KIWI D.I.Y attitude - ALRIGHT IN THE CITY is a collection of late sixties / early seventies F-U-N-K-Y hard rock from New Zealand.

Post-Woodstock, the NZ rock scene accelerated from the beat years of the mid sixties, gobbling some psychedelics on the way and concentrated on the G-R-O-O-V-E. With the availability of even-louder locally made amps and sympathetic producers, rhythm sections of the time could now easily compete with the screaming guitars.

Bass players who had cut their teeth on many a garagey nugget in the NZ sixties scene Neil Edwards from The Underdogs, Dave Orams (ex Breakaways, Underdogs, & Bitter End) with Quincy Conserve, Rick White (ex Tom Thumb) in Farmyard all lay down some philthy bottom end action in their respective combos.

The NZ guitar gods of the time are all present on Alright In The City: Billy TK with his self penned track Highway for the Human Instinct; Jesse Harper / Doug Jerebine from his legendary UK recordings of 1969; Eddie Hansen blazes with Ticket on their 4+ minute monster Highway Of Love; and Harvey Mann leads The Underdogs on It's A Blessing. Co-compiler Grant Smithies writes ...

"With its rhino heavy drum breaks ... Harvey Mann sounds seriously seedy throughout, with his petulant nasal whine and grubby off mic groans, and his treble heavy guitar solo is sharp enough to draw blood"

Quincy Conserve provide the title track and to quote Smithies "... it's a miraculous pile up of blaring horns, syncopated handclaps, and [singer] Hayman's distinctive husky howl all nailed to the floor by drummer Richard Burgess, who just won't quit banging out those funky breaks."

This is the same Richard Burgess who would go on to produce Spandau Ballet and have some hand in starting the New Romantic movement.

* All transfers from disc and original master tapes by Steve McGough at Stebbing Studio
* Four page insert with detailed liner notes, ephemera, and photos
* Compiled by Grant Smithies and John Baker
* Produced for reissue by John Baker
* Three songs with Highway in the title

1. Quincy Conserve - Alright In The City
2. Link - Highway Driver
3. Lutha - Stop! The Music Is Over
4. The Human Instinct - Highway
5. The Underdogs - It's A Blessing
6. Billy T.K. & Powerhouse - Marbles
7. Ticket - Highway Of Love
8. Jesse Harper - Hole In My Hand
9. Farmyard - All In Your Mind
10. Soundproof - The Bruiser
11. Collision - Run Run Run

Playlist of some of the songs featured on Alright in the city:

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