Australia and New Zealand Music

Topic from Brian Ware…

When I was married (previously), I ran a company called ‘ANZ Imports’.  There was a place for me to advertise, “One Step Ahead” – so we took out an advertisement in that ‘magazine’ and went to town!

I duly went to New Zealand 7 x times – but only once to Australia (we’re talking 1980 – 1987); both of those places are wonderful countries and I am pleased to say I went to both of them.  I ended up with a LARGE collection of New Zealand music (I even had business cards printed up, “Specialist in New Zealand Artists”) – NEWS FLASH!  Nearly everything that got released in Australia got released in NZ.

The man I worked for during that time, Tony Harrington, was my facilitator for all of this (he was who actually owned ‘ANZ Imports’).  The world was a very different place that long ago; The NZ dollar was about half of a US dollar, so I could offer, well…everything coming out of both Australia and New Zealand!

During  1980 – 1987, not everything from Australia and New Zealand got a US release.  But a lot of great stuff was being released there!  (However, I have 3 x shelves of NZ music, yet only really 1 x shelf of Australian music!).  The big Australian groups were Icehouse (also known as The Flowers), INXS, Midnight Oil…the biggest NZ group was Split Enz.

And, yes, some groups got US issues – Mental As Anything, and (eventually) Split Enz.

My personal favorite group was The Swingers (Phil Judd from Split Enz!).  They never came and played here (that I know of) – they only had one LP, but it was very, very good!

I remember Split Enz LP’s (remember, seasons reversed) “resting in a customs-house bed”, so we could not sell ‘em – and that was for an LP + 12”!  (Not a very good one, as I recall – remember being disappointed with “Conflicting Emotions”?)  The NZ issue had both an LP & 12” single.

During my many visits to NZ, I got to meet Blam Blam Blam (who were uncooperative), Dick Driver (Who never had much anything for me to sell), and Mike Chunn (of Split Enz, who got me dubs of the Split Enz clips, at a time when that was impossible otherwise!).  I remember watching Tommy Adderley perform in Takapuna!  I also remember going to the farewell show of Split Enz in 1984…that didn’t last!

But in 1987, the LP pressing stopped in NZ; at the time, that seemed to be a death sentence!  Australia quickly took up pressing CD’s for both Australia and New Zealand.

35,000?

Happy birthday Thelonious Monk (1918), playwright Harold Pinter (1930) and 2 members of Procol Harum, Keith Reid (the lyricist) (1946) and Alan Cartwright (1945) – Nothing much else to say about them.  Also, “Hot Rats” by Frank Zappa is released today in 1969; an album that I have loved since it was released.

35,000?

At present, I have something like 34,800 albums in my collection.  Yes, at times it is overwhelming.  When I see good titles, I usually buy ‘em.  However, if I got rid of all other titles that I already similarly have – I could easily say that I see 35,000 as being the maximum number I require.  Yes, I have over-collected.  So, how do I say when I am done collecting something?  In the 70’s / 80’s, it used to be if I found a Japanese LP or German LP.  Since the advent of SA-CD, I lean towards having an SA-CD of a title, and usually an “original” LP (for the packaging).  This is because of such care that goes into the mastering of any given title, for the SA-CD.

So, if I limit myself to 35,000 titles, I’ve got about 200 left before I have to do anything.  And if I want, all I would have to do is “make room” for a newer title by eliminating an older title.  Just formulating this idea, so we’ll see.

It is physically massive, owning almost 35,000 titles – at least 3 rooms of my home are nothing but phonograph record shelving.

So, I will try to keep my collection down to just 35,000 titles.  I bet I can do that!

Robert Wyatt “EP’s”

Happy birthday to Martin Moscrop of A Certain Ratio (1960), Tony Newley (1931) – he’s where Mr. Bowie copped some of his riffs! Additional birthday greetings to Ms. Linda Eastman McCartney, Paul’s ex-wife and member of Wings (1942).

 

Robert Wyatt “EP’s by Robert Wyatt” (1999 Rykodisc EU)

 

Disc 1 (“Bits)

 

I’m A Believer / Memories / Yesterday Man / Sonia / Calyx

 

Disc 2 (“Pieces”) (Enhanced CD, with video of “Shipbuilding”)

 

Shipbuilding / Memories Of You / Round Midnight / Pigs (In There) / Chairman Mao

 

Disc 3 (“Work In Progress”)

 

Yolanda / Te Recuerdo Amanda / Biko / Amber and The Amberines

 

Disc 4 (“Animals”)

 

The Animals’ Film

 

Disc 5 (“Remixes”)

 

Was A Friend / Maryan / A Sunday In Madrid / Free Will And Testament

 

I have the majority of songs elsewhere in Mr. Wyatt’s collection, but these are some interesting groupings of material. I am not a big fan of the “Enhanced” CD, due to my disc drive wanting to play the video, as opposed to merely letting me rip the CD.

 

Still, some interesting stuff here. 19 tracks of 80’s/90’s Robert Wyatt in a different ‘configuration’.

 

If you know his voice, you will find much to be amused with here. If you’re on the outside looking in…move along…

Split Enz

Happy birthday to R&B singer / songwriter Rufus Thomas (1917); R&B singer Diana Ross (1944)! I believe I own CD’s by both Diana Ross and Rufus Thomas, but…

Recently while trawling through my New Zealand LP’s, I noticed what an astonishing Split Enz collection I amassed. Thanks to the help of friends, I have many oddball pressing, cover variants, label variants, autographs etc. My ‘new list’ includes information of this very nature. So now, Australia and New Zealand are “in” my list!

 

Do you recall the “frustration” of discovering that there are 2 completely different LP’s called “Mental Notes” by Split Enz? I certainly do. I remember the day the light bulb came on: “Second Thoughts” is the Australiasian version of the Phil Manzanera version of “Mental Notes”, which is a re-recording of the original 1975 Australian recorded masterpiece album. Got it?

 

The speed with which my young life evaporated was amazing. Working in a hippie record store, I was given free tickets to see Split Enz at The Golden Bear, a nightclub in Huntington Beach, CA. A mellotron on a stage! Singing and dancing! Free drinks!!

 

Circumstance found me visiting New Zealand 7 times between 1980 and 1987. I walked down the road hedged with roses in Te Awamutu, as one presumes Finn & Judd did. I met Mike Chunn in Auckland, and he was absolutely “super professional” and amazing towards me, giving me NZ music videos etc. It took the entire electrically recorded output of New Zealand on vinyl to re-assure me that “Mental Notes” wasn’t just a ‘fluke’ good album.

 

In 2015, it is somewhat obvious what Phil Manzanera saw in them, with his offer to produce Split Enz, in England. “Get this recorded properly!” was likely his edict. And “Second Thoughts” sounds amazing, guys; and “Sweet Dreams” hadn’t been on “Mental Notes” – though it certainly could’ve been.

 

Kiwiana 101: “Mental Notes” 1975 version (recorded in Australia) by Split Enz is one of the first GREAT albums recorded by a New Zealand band. World class stuff! And “Second Thoughts” is a spit-polished version of approx. that material, recorded in England, properly.

 

How about a DVD-A or SA-CD of the original “Mental Notes” together with “Second Thoughts”, not changed or tinkered with – but certainly those album have more people to charm! Is “audiophile” the route? WSM Australia re-released those albums with a better mastering, a few years back. But they still don’t beat the original LP’s, IMHO.

Monte Video

Happy birthday to Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar (of War) (1948); UK drummer Mike Kellie (of Spooky Tooth) (1947).

 

As I have been working on my New Zealand artists lately, I am thinking about records, people etc. that I haven’t thought about in years.

 

Long time friends know I went to New Zealand 7 times between 1980 and 1987. I met a lot of different people, some remain friends, some are lost to the mists of time.

 

Who remembers Monte Video? He is New Zealand comedian / musician Murray Grindlay, who used to be in the 60’s / 70’s NZ band The Underdogs. No idea how he got signed to Geffen Records for the rest of the world, but that’s what happened. Even the rude B-Side, “Don’t Mention My Name” got issued north of the equator! (Thank you, Geffen NL!).

 

I seriously doubt there’s a CD of the entire exploits of Monte Video, but I bet “Shoop-Shoop, Diddy-Wop, Cumma Cumma, Wang Dang” ended up on a CD or two of Kiwiana, in NZ.

 

I recently looked ‘Monte Video’ up, and there was a surprising amount of information regarding “Shoop-Shoop…”! I even read that someone thought it was an Eric Idle record – c’mon, just listen to the glistening Kiwi accent, mate. It ain’t British!

 

Exactly why Murray Grindlay created Monte Video is not widely acknowledged. The video clip is great for “Sheba (She Sha She Shoo)” – ever seen it? I remember having MTV discussions in the 80’s as to what my assorted associates saw on MTV at 4:35am on a Thursday (a Rupert Hine video, if you must know), and I do know people who saw the “Shoop-Shoop…” video on MTV!

 

I presume Murray Grindlay is still alive and well. Monte, if you’re ever searching on yourself, give us a shout. I’d love to “interview” you in either of your personalities.

New Zealand / Australia

Yesterday 2/8, Happy Birthday to Jim Capaldi of Traffic (1944).

Today, Happy Birthday to Carole King (1941) and Mia Farrow (1945).

Australia / New Zealand

My love affair with New Zealand is well-documented elsewwhere. I went there 7 times in the 80’s, and met all of the main people I ever wanted to meet. Chris Knox was always a gracious host, I remember a new year’s day event I went to at his house, once upon a time. He told me he saw me walking on K Road, out of the window of the bus, and thought, “That’s unusual”, as I was wearing red pants.

 

I had been asking about Split Enz all over NZ! Finally, a store in Christchurch sent me a discography on them, and I discovered they were once called Split Ends! I managed to find all of the NZ 45’s on them, eventually. There are people I have collected Split Enz with, all over the world. Saw what was supposed to be their final live shows ever, in Auckland in 1984. I witnessed the Aeotea Square riot in Auckland.

 

I knew Murray Cammick (Rip It Up publisher) in Auckland (still do) and Gary Steel (IT / Tom publisher) in Wellington (still do). Through these fine men, I could get in touch with anybody who interested me in New Zealand music. Gary had friends at TVNZ up in The Hutt Valley, and Murray Cammick knew absolutely everyone. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Fane Flaws. “I Am Joe’s Music” is still probably one of the best records you’ve never heard.

 

A moment of silence for Silvio’s Records on Cuba Street in Wellington. Stan & Steve hipped me to so much stuff over the years! I doubt there’s a version of Silvio’s still in operation down there.

 

I only ever went to Australia once, actually. Probably could go back there, with varying degrees of success. In 1987, I finally walked on Australian soil. Sorry Sydney people, I’m a Melbourne kind of guy. And there are literally dozens of Australian artists that I love and collect. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Barry Humphries! Dame Edna to British people, Sir Les Patterson, to others. That’s right, comedy LP’s! And I do believe I have a full set on Mr. Humphries.

 

So do you collect any of the zillions of “M” artists in Australia? Models, Mental As Anything, Mondo Rock, Men At Work, Midnight Oil, Machinations? Do you have any idea how good “Uptown” by Machinations is? That record drives me nuts in 2015!

 

The ABC TV show “Rage” is easily the best regular TV show on Earth. Watch any of the “Rage Goes Retro” (January) episodes and see if you don’t agree.

Jim Donato

Happy birthday Daryl Dragon (aka The Captain of Captain & Tennille fame) (1942, Los Angeles, CA) – older brother to a member of The Surf Punks! Happy birthday to Phil Shulman of Gentle Giant (1937); Willy “Mink” DeVille (1950); Glen Matlock (of Sex Pistols fame).

 

A year ago today, I was sitting in my old office at work – dreaming of my ‘retirement’. It was an ordinary day – some work actually got assigned! I came home at lunch, put the lock back on the gate after the gardeners had been…and went about my usual ‘way’.

 

And what ‘way’ is that? I try and sleep for 8 hours a night – not always successfully; I am still bolting awake quite early. It’ll take some time to stop waking up to go to work!

 

I still spend a lot of time up in Los Angeles, at the home of my GF of many years. Easier access to L.A. record stores like Rockaway, Amoeba, Record Surplus

 

In October, Jim Donato is headed to California for a visit. He’s a vegetarian and I’m not quite sure he even drinks coffee! (Much less anything else). Still, it’ll be fun to entertain more visitors!

The 80’s

Happy birthday Alfred Hitchcock (1899)!

 

Starting in 1976, I worked at a record store. I went from store to store, following my manager, usually. It never occurred to me to look for work in any other record store, actually. Having the job, I had access to other jobs within that company. I sometimes drove the truck that delivered the records, so I got to see all of the stores in the chain (30 in all), to see which ones had punks; hippies; straights!

 

It didn’t take long until I landed a gig at the record distributor that owned the Licorice Pizza chain, Superior Music, Glendale, CA. I worked with many neat people and some folks I can’t even be arsed to name, real creeps. My friends: Steven Wolloch! Steve “Mott” Hernandez! Dana Madore! (Of Moby Disc fame).

 

At Superior Music, there was a real problem with drugs – there simply wasn’t enough around to keep the whole building fueled and burning! I remember hearing crap like “He’s going on a special assignment for a few weeks” = “He’s going into rehab for cocaine addiction” or thereabouts. Guys high up in the company! Hey, I don’t do (or condone) any of that crap – I remember guys bragging about how their friends wouldn’t let me croak if they ‘did too much’ – they wouldn’t be your friends otherwise! Really, it probably meant that they didn’t want to have to explain a dead body in their house to the cops – who were probably more interested in busting them for having drugs!

 

I first met Tony Harrington about 1977 or so; he came into the Licorice Pizza store I worked at in Bellflower, to put a display for whichever LP he was releasing first. Took a few years, but he eventually offered me a job. Which I took, as the record distributor / importer I was working at was “shonky”, to paraphrase Norman Gunston.

 

Ever buy an LP with a red / white sticker on it that said “United States Sales & Marketing”? That was Tony & I. I got the catalogues and decided what to import, to sell to the Americans. We tended to shy away from rock music, as there seemed to be many people doing that. So, we stuck to easy listening music, new age music (which wasn’t call that yet), soundtracks…

 

The run with Tony was from approx. 1981 to 1987; I had a wife, a newer car; I got to travel quite a bit. It was a great time in my life! But – as we all know – when stuff goes well, there will always be some skunk waiting to trip you, just to see how far you will fall. Which did happen. I don’t even want to name the guys who I worked with who put Tony under; they never appreciated his kindness (he gave them all jobs!) or intelligence. You creeps know who you are – the scumbags who stole client lists, or product (which I watched you sell to Platterpuss in Santa Monica). “You know who you are!” You are not part of the happiness I have been describing.

 

Thank you, Tony Harrington!

New Zealand

6-2-14             New Zealand

Yesterday 6/1, happy birthday to Ron Wood of The Jeff Beck Group, The Faces and The Rolling Stones (1946, Hillingdon, England).

I went to New Zealand a whole bunch of times from approx. the end of 1980 to the middle of 1987. I pushed a bit, and got to meet people like Mike Chunn, Chris Knox, Fane Flaws (I went to his house!), Murray Cammick, Roger Shepard, Jim Moss, Gary Nuttall, Bruce Ward, Dick Driver etc. I saw Split Enz, Blam Blam Blam, Hip Singles, D.D. Smash, The Gordons, Citizen Band, Tall Dwarfs, Hello Sailor and on and on etc.

I have 3 x large cartons of NZ 45’s that I have been playing with recently. By playing with, I mean making sure the 45’s are in rice-paper sleeves, and the more sensitive packaging in re-sealable Japanese sleeves etc. And I played a ton of them, too! Nothing makes me more misty-eyed than a whole batch of early 80’s NZ 45’s – I am immediately transported to falling down drunk on the Plimmer Steps in Wellington or to the large room with the sunfish at the Auckland Domain Natural History Museum.

That’s right, I would’ve been 22 years old when I first arrived in NZ in 1980. I was un-married. I’d met a Kiwi woman in Helsinki (I’m not kidding, really!), and she sent me Toy Love and Swingers records, so…I went! Initially, I stayed in Wellington – as that’s where my “free room” was – on Nairn Street. Wellington is also where I met Gary Steel, who I remain friendly with, even in 2014!

I talked the man I worked for into allowing me to import phonograph records from New Zealand; I met some of the people reading this today via ANZ Imports, a mail-order company that I wrote the catalogue for. Did I ever sell you an NZ 45 or LP? Or give you an issue of Rip It Up? I’m not kidding about all of this, you know!

No, I didn’t go to New Zealand because of Flying Nun Records; it didn’t exist yet when I first went! No, I never saw any other Americans (or Europeans) when I went down there; and my friends never told me if they saw any other Americans or Europeans who came down there looking for phonograph records. I frequented Silvio’s on Cuba Street bin Wellington, and I bought many records from Colin Cleve, whose shop name I can’t recall in 2014 – but it pre-dates Real Groovy Records, in Auckland.

I saw in people’s lounges and watched “Radio With Pictures”, starring Karyn Hay. Stan W. at Silvio’s gave me a Fred Dagg ‘fake gold record’! Surely that must make me an honorary Kiwi?

A store in Christchurch in the south island (I don’t remember the name) helped me figure out which Split Enz 45’s I was missing, and Gary Steel in Wellington brokered a trade for me to obtain the early Split Enz 45’s, somewhat easily. I remember going to NZ to see what was to have been Split Enz’s farewell show – that one only held for a few years! I also saw them in 1976 or so, in California – a fantastic live band!