Salient. Newspaper of Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Vol 41 No. 3. March 13 1978
Raz initiated proceedings on Moday lunchtime, shaking the hallowed foundations of Rankine Brown with their brand of percussion - oriented funk, and the following week say a lot of good music performed at various places and times around the University.
A good crosssection of local music was presented, including some groups making thier first Wellington appearances after long absences on the road. I couldn't get to hear everything, so what follows is not a comprehensive survey, but some of what were for me the musical high points of Orientation week.
Appearing several times during the week, Raz always gave a competent and ejoyable performance. The recent addition of two female vocalists is an improvement, balancing the group's instrumental prowess with a strong vocal line, as well as contributing to the overall stage presence. A more memorable and musically adventurous repertoire would give their performances greater impact.
Rough Justice and Spats are two bands sorely missed by Wellingtonians over the last few months. I heard Rough Justice at the lunchtime poetry reading, where they alternated with poets Sam Hunt and Gary McCormack — a nostaligic occasion for some, as it renewed the poetry/rick association between Sam Hunt and Rick Bryant (Mammal) of bygone days.
Rough Justice have gone from strength to strength over the last few months and have developed into a close-knit unit of formidable ability. They are still playing a largely soul-based repertoire, but are beginning to include their own original material. I was impressed by the standard of musicianship displayed, as well as by the relatively short time between numbers.
Friday night was Spats' debut, battling with the acoustics of the cafeteria and the indifference of the assembled revellers. Spats' repertoire, including much varied and original material, did not have much success with a crowd more at home with scattering beer cans and grinding plastic beakers under their heels. In addition to these trying circumstances Spats seemed subdued and at times lacked cohesion - I missed the brilliant form demonstrated last year at the Royal Tiger and elsewhere.
The loss of drummer Bruno Lawrence and the trials of maintaining their musical identity in provincial beer barns have no doubt taken their toll — but given time to settle down with the new lineup, Spats will hopefully realise their potential as an original and creative group.
Their stylistic range is vast, despite a tendancy towards what they ironically describe as "punk-jazz" — as well as their own original material, Spats played numbers by Diango Reinhardt, Duke Ellington, Frank Zappa, Steely Dan and others.
Saturday afternoon saw performances by both Rough Justice and Spats, and introduced the Sharps, a recently formed groups who have been appearing lately in a local wine bar.
The Sharps are unusual in featuring the accordian, an instrument not commonly used in rock music, along with guitar, bass and vocals. Each member of the group sings, and their music is based on a combination of Ry Cooder, reggae, and the folk-based rock exemplified by Geoff Muldaur and the Band. They were joined by a conga player and baritone sax for some numbers, and provided an interesting and enjoyable contrast to the heavier music which follwed later in the afternoon.
For me, as for no doubt many others, the Country Flyers' farewell concert was the end of an era. From their beginnings as a low-key country and western combo, the Flyers developed into the archetypical pub band, becoming something of an institution during their long stay at the Royal Tiger.
Later they toured extensively, going through many personnel changes — the list of past and present members reads like a Who's Who of Wellington music. Now, after a productive collaboration with Red Mole, have decided to call it a day. It is to be hoped that the Flyers' tradition of good humoured good music will be carried over into new ventures.
George H. Smith
It's only Rock'n' Roll
The Boomtown Rats the Boomtown Rats Mercury
So 'new wave' rock'n roll is over one year old. So what? We've been subjected to numerous bands alternating between the description of 'new wave' and 'punk'. We've heard the Ramones, the Pistols, the Stranglers, the Jam, the Clash etcetera. One year on and it all seems slightly tedious, yet it's Rock'n Roll, so it can't be all that bad, can it?
So one may wonder why bother listening to the Boomtown Rats? After all they they're just Another punk outfit, are they not?
The answer to that question is a determined No. They're six Irishmen who, like the Jam and the Flamin' Groovies, create a sound decidedly similar to the early sixties Rhythm'n Blues, though played with the ferocity of the late seventies (almost like Dr. Feelgood did around the time of Malpractice).
Comprising Johnnie Fingers (keyboards, vocals), Farry Roberts (guitars, vocals), Gerry Cott (guitars), Pete Briquette (bass guitar, vocals). Simon Crowe (drums, vocals) and Bob Geld of (lead vocals, harp), they are a band that know where they're going and how to get there, so to speak.
The Rats' opening cut is their debut single, "Lookin' After No. 1", and exemplifies comprehensibly their particular style of rock'n roll. An excellent workout in dynamics, "No. 1" has as much subtlety as Black Sabbath would have to an Alan Stivell audience.
The beat slows down for "Neon Heart", which is concerned with call-girls, illegitimates and various cretins with tendancies such as slashing one's wrists. Not exceedingly original, "Neon Heart" is at its best a filler.
On the other hand, "Joey's On The Street Again" presents a more musically conscious Rats conveying a story about a rock'n roll victim. To say that it is occasionally reminiscent of Steely Dan may seem extravagant, but the overall melody, tight arrangement and sax solo (courtesy of Albie Donnelly) all combine to produce such an impression.
"Never Bite The Hand That Feeds" returns the listener to the R & B side of the Rats' musical approach. The influence of the Feel goods becomes plainly evident as the rhythm section gathers momentum. The story line is constructed around a "little girl" and her inquisitive parents. The conclusion may seem cynical, but there may be a moral there for somebody.
Closing side one is the Rats' latest single release, "Mary of the Fourth Form"; the theme is as old as rock'n roll itself — young coquette and would-be paedophiliac school teacher. Lyrics are what one would expect with such a subject matter, but it's worth the listen as Crowe and Briquette move the song along with a pace equal to the early Feelgoods; the best in impulsive, pulsating rock'n roll.
"(She's Gonna) Do You In" opens side two and immediately one recalls the 60's R & B, early Stones and the Troggs' "Gonna Make You". The beat is insistant, the vocals sneering, the harmonics crazed, the guitars buzz; if you can't move to this track then you must be going through the latter phases of rigor mortis.
The accusation that the Rats sound remarkably like the stones is borne out in "Close As You'll Ever Be". As with "No 1", "Mary" and "Do You In", this cut stands out as exemplary rock'n roll, though here the tempo is calculated a la "Gimmie Shelter" and "Dancing With Mr. D".
"I Can Make It If You Can" is again Stones sounding, though more in the "Till The Next Goodbye" and "Coming Down Again". For all intents and purposes it is a ballad. So much for the Rats being 'punks'. The final cut is "Kicks", and the 'philosophy(?) of the Rats is reiterated : "At sixteen years I don't stand a chance. Is there no place left for me to hide."
No amount of hype can advertise the energy that the Rats possess (and sometimes fail to deliver) — only hearing them can do them justice. They're rock'n roll What more can be said?
The Book of Invasions Horslips DJM
Like the Rats, Horslips are comprised of five Irishmen, but the similarity stops there. Whereas the Rats are Ireland's Stones, Horslips are Horslips. They are totally divorced from most 'folk' groups in the U.K. and Eire today. They're no Chieftains, Bothy Band, Planxty, Span, Gryphon, Pentangle or Fairport. If anything, their nearest relatives could be said to be Jethro Tull, for in essence Horslips are a rock band.
With a flexibility that could earn them criticism from the purists, Horslips collate various pieces of trad (if not old) song and dance and mould them succinctly into the overall rock strata.
(Gee, they're into geology too eh? Rock strata indded!)*
The Book of Invasions is very much like The Tain (1974), so much so that one could consider Invasions as a mere extension of the concept (that being conveying by music Old Irish history and lore).
In total, Invasions is comprised of three movements, entitled Geantrai, Goltrai, and Suantrai; that is, the joyous strain, the lamenting strain and the sleep strain respectively.
(all these strains on the rock strata are liable to cause an earthquake)*
Side one is occupied by the Geantrai. Opening with "Daybreak", Horslips demonstrate that they have an able and equally talented guitarist in John Fean. Flowing into "March Into Trouble" and "Trouble (With A Capital T)", the earlier references to Tull become more easily understandable. Strains of "Thick As A Brick" and "Stand Up" are faint, but present all the same. Jim Lockhart's flute does sound like that of Ian Anderson on one of his better days. Strangely, the same could be said of The Tain
"The Power And The Glory" again highlights Fean's talents, with some nipping riffs and tasteful lead runs being prevalent.
"The Rocks Remain" also demonstrates the simplistic attitude of Horslips' lyrics. No olde pronounciations here, no "Fionnghuala" gobbledegook (those of Gaelic decent, my sincere apologies); just plain English sung in unpretentiously clear Irish diction. For example: "Change will come to everyone, never question why/ sticks and stones will break your bones and words will make you cry."
Now don't get the impression that Horslips are always That simple. They're just trying to communicate a story, not bedazzle the listener with their university learnt Gael.
On "Dusk/The Sword Of Light/ Dusk", there is a reprise of "Daylight", not to mention a pinch of "Toss The Feathers" interspersed throughout the musical accompaniment to the lyric. All the while Eamon Carr drums as if he was competing with Dave Mattacks, whilst Fean and bassist Barry Devlin combine to produce an impulsive rock tempo. Suddenly the track fades into a final reprise of "Daylight", Lockhart on whistle having (almost) the final say.
As with The Tain, side two is of lesser stature than side one (not because it's Bad, but rather because side one is so good). Goltrai concerns itself with some (un)fortunate damsel being forced to marry some old geezer by the name of Fionn mac Cumhaill. For a piece of music that is supposed to be a lamentation, both the above and "King of Morning, Queen of Day" are speedily paced. Not unusual as the backdrop for the latterly named tune is the jig "Kilfenora".
The final movement "Suantrai" deals with the defeat of the Tuatha c. 3500 B.C. A County Mayo slow air, "Slan Cois Maigh' introduces this piece of music. Through "Drive The Cold Winter Away", the piece peaks with "Ride To Hell", paced likewise. Unexpectedly, the chord structure changes before a fade-out on acoustic guitar.
More ambitious than The Tain yet not totally unrelated in context, Invasions is a fine album that will be highly appreciated by folk-music followers who regard Liege And Lief and Please To See The King, for example, as the ultimate in electric folk. Check—out the "choice" record shops around town for a copy . . . you won't be disappointed.