Notes on music: 100 Days Project: Day 4

Our LPs, 25 May 2017.

I was raised on LPs and singles, 33s and 45s. The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, Sandy Posey, Tom Paxton, Abba. That scritchy sound when a needle drops and a record starts. Reading the lyrics of an album cover.

Later we got into cassettes. Rock Follies, The Abba Movie soundtrack. Trying to fix up cassette tangles, snipping them with nail scissors and splicing them back together will sellotape. A walkman.  Mixtapes, with voice breaks of us going ads read from Seventeen magazine, or singing Barry Manilow’s Mandy.

My record collection proper begins in 1979 when I won 10 LPs in a competition from The Truth newspaper.

  • Blondie – Parallel Lines
  • The Cars – Candy-O
  • Bad Girls – Donna Summer
  • The Little River Band – It’s a long way there – Greatest Hits
  • Wings – Greatest
  • Cheap Trick – Dream Police
  • Racey – Smash and Grab
  • Communique – Dire Straits
  • The soundtrack of Grease
  • Breakfast in America – Supertramp

I used to ring up Radio Hokonui, and won records off them too – Avalon – Roxy Music.

The first record I buy myself is The Lexicon of Love – ABC. Spangled pop at its finest.

My first big concert was The The in the Christchurch Town Hall

University – an A0 poster of The The Beaten Generation on my wall, playing the tapes of Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac and Violent Femmes. Buying the Carmen movie soundtrack on LP.

Then in the 90s – a move to CDs, the first one I got was a compilation of Irish music, and the Triple J compilation with Denis Leary’s Asshole on it.

I occasionally use the dread CD walkman, but it’s probably the most useless bit of music kit ever.

My biggest music passions kicked off in the 90s, coinciding with Britpop – CDs and CD singles of Oasis, Blur, Manic Street Preachers, Suede.  I buy NME, Select, and Q mags.

In the 2000s, I merge LPs with my lover, we both have:

  • Parallel Lines – Blondie
  • Candy O – The Cars
  • Avalon – Roxy Music
  • Tracman

Concerts – the magic few days in 2010 when we see Leonard Cohen and Rufus Wainwright in concert.  In the front row dancing, at  Peter Hook and the Light.

These days I walk and commute with headphones and a 4GB MP3 player and choons.
Spotify, love the Spotify. Listen to the new Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Aldous Harding, on the day it comes out.

Occasional new vinyl. Always out there at Galaxy and Penny Lane for Record Store Day. Set up record player in the bedroom. Print out for lyrics for my 8 year old. Her current favourite songs are Ridin’ dirty by Chamillionaire and History by One Direction.

Now, making mixes for the radio with my friend.

Favourite songs:
If you asked me at uni, I would have said I am the Walrus – The Beatles.
After that, for a very long time, it has been Brompton Oratory by Nick Cave, off the sublime The Boatman’s Call album.
Now I’d say Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.


Metal band names

We are knuckle draggers
Verse and radiation
Total f*cking destruction
The Abdominable Iron Sloth
Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition
Shrouds of fallen tears
Rumplestiltskin Grinder
Polkadot Cadaver
Opossum Nightmare
Intestine Baalism
Gloominous Doom
Gaggle of Cocks
Dog Fashion Disco
Dick Delicious and the Tasty Testicles
Bloody Blood Orgy
Bathtub Shitter

Band names courtesy of the MËTAL section of Freegal.

The year of many albums: 1979

CarsArcadiaIn 1979 – at a very tender age – I won 10 LPs in a competition run by The Truth newspaper. This has left me with a capsule of 1979-iana  and fostered my life-long love of music (and vinyl).

It included the following:

Blondie – Parallel Lines
This is an all-time stone-cold classic, from the iconic black and white cover to the musical gems like Heart of Glass and Picture this. And 11.59: “Leaning in your corner like a candidate for wax. Sidewalk social scientist don’t get no satisfaction from your cigarette.” Perfection.

The Cars – Candy-O
I have special love for the segue from Shoo-be-doo to Candy O.

The Little River Band – It’s a long way there – Greatest Hits
This album probably got the least lovin’ – sorry Aussie dudes.

Wings – Greatest
Pretty tasty stuff.

Cheap Trick – Dream Police
I think I just listened to the title track. The rest of it is a mystery to me.

IMG_2816Bad Girls – Donna Summer
Toot toot yeah beep beep.

Racey – Smash and Grab
The song “Kitty” is exactly the same as 80s Toni Basil classic “Mickey”.

Communique – Dire Straits
“Lady writer on the tv talking about the Virgin Mary”.

The soundtrack of Grease
Hammered this one. Of course I wanted to be Rizzo not Sandy.

Breakfast in America – Supertramp
“When I was young I thought that life was so wonderful”.

I also won a copy of Roxy Music’s Avalon off Radio Hokonui.

Like most music-lovin’ people in Christchurch, my music collection is a bit scattered and scrambled. When our place was demolished, we spotted this in the garage. Bye bye Belle and Sebastian.


My Dad and Helen Shapiro


My Dad popped up in the Greymouth Star last week. In 1962, he was a 15-year-old Reefton schoolboy and he won a competition to go to Wellington and celebrate Helen Shapiro’s 16th birthday with her.

It is one of those family stories that has always intrigued me, after seeing some photos of Dad and a rather lofty Christchurch girl meeting Helen. I asked him a few questions:

Why did you want to meet Helen Shapiro?

I won a newspaper competition. You had to write and say why you would like to meet her and go to her 16th birthday. A girl from Christchurch and me were the winners.

Your first plane trip and your first trip to Wellington? How was that?

Quite amazing, 15 years old never been on a plane before, DC3 Westport to Wellington. I travelled from Reefton to Westport by bus and called on my cousin Barb. She immediately thought I had left home so phoned my Mum to verify my story.

How was Helen Shapiro’s party?

Lots of media and old people, I was 15.
Plenty of food and cake, lots of photos. At this time Helen was no 1 in the UK and before the Beatles had hit the big time.

Most people will know Helen from the corking song Walking back to happiness, so here’s that classic – and a clip of Helen singing Immer die boys on German tv in 1962.

Miserable music

The rather lovely book This will end in tears: The miserablist guide to music has given me a playlist of melancholy songs I don’t know.

Marie by Townes van Zandt

Disintegration loops by William Basinski:

the iron oxide particles were gradually turning to dust and dropping into the tape machine, leaving bare plastic spots on the tape, and silence in the corresponding sections of the new recording …

Holocaust by Big Star

Past, present, and future by The Shangri-Las

Lush life by Billy Strayhorn

Dress rehearsal rag by Leonard Cohen

Highway patrolman by Bruce Springsteen

The Electrician by The Walker Brothers

Gold Guitars and Big Bad John

Sometime in the 80s my sister and I entered the Gold Guitar Awards in Gore. We had been having guitar lessons from an old chap. We didn’t enjoy them much and tried to distract him by asking him to play his banjo. This ruse proved fairly successful. I blamed my tiny hands for my poor finger picking as I was ok on the ukulele.

My sister and I wore matching outfits – a not particularly Country & Western ensemble of red Levis sweatshirts, denim mini skirts, red tights and white Skellerup sneakers. My sister played the guitar and was good. I have no memory of what we sang, but I think it was something like Call of the Bellbird.

I think the Awards took place in the splendidly named James Cumming Wing.

The Gold Guitars were great – some yodelling, and I do remember a big Maori bloke doing an epic version of Ghost riders in the sky.

I like country music – Charlie Rich, Charlie Pride, Johnny Cash et al.

One of the tracks I remember best was this – Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean … and I associate it with our beloved uncle John who worked in mines in Coober Pedy and on the West Coast and drove trucks with wheels so big that I only came up halfway up them. He died in a trucking accident.

At the bottom of this mine lies a big big man. Big John.