Weird Culture - Weird Custom: National Student Radio compilation LP (1986)
Weird Culture – Weird Custom (1986) was, as far as I know, the first record release co-ordinated by the entire New Zealand student radio network. There were twelve tracks on the album, two chosen by each of the six member stations. Radio Active selected the two to represent Wellington: cow-punk combo the Crawbilly Creeps with “A Day in Lucky Gulch” and feminist-folkies Putty in Her Hands gave us “NZ Music” which became an instant favorite and was oft-requested for a long time afterwards.
Putty in Her Hands were a duo consisting of Charlotte Yates and Christine Jeffs. Yates continues to write and record, continuing to release solo records and also putting together the acclaimed compilations of NZ poetry set to music, Baxter (2000), Tuwhare (2008) and Ihimaera (2011).
The first of my vinyl memories posts caused a tiny flurry of excitement so I thought I’d make it a weekly affair – as I go through the collection deciding what to keep and what to flip. (Spoiler Alert: All of it!)
Back in 1983 I was loving music – pretty much all of it – but I was going through a pretty enthusiastic Northern soul phase. Thanks to a series of Kent/Modern compilations put out by British enthusiasts I was hearing all sorts of stirring stuff. I even thought for a while I might try and collect the whole set.
I’ve been carting around boxes of vinyl records from flat to flat and house to house since I was a kid. Lots of my records were bought from the plentiful record stores around the East End of London where I grew up and therefore carried half way around the world when we emigrated to New Zealand in 1986.
Recently I found myself thinking that it might be time to finally flick these things on – they take up space on shelves and the turntable never gets used. I’ve become used to lying on the couch lazily choosing music from my entire collection using an iPhone as a remote control. Yup, I thought – time to de-clutter a bit. But me being me, I couldn’t just take them off to a record store or thrift shop – I had to give them one last listen first.
Big mistake. They actually sounded quite good and I found all those memories flooding back – flipping through record bins in High Street record shops, or queuing up outside before they opened to get a highly prized new release. Stuff I haven’t done for a long time.
Lloyd Cole came to town on Monday night and played some Lloyd Cole songs. With two excellent musicians (Americans Matt Cullen and Mark Schwaber) by his side, Cole gave us a few stripped down versions of his 80s hits but the focus was on more recent material, heavily skewed towards his latest album, Broken Record. The result was more like a recital for plucked string instruments (music stands even) than a traditional gig.
I’d heard that Cole was a funny guy and so it proved – dry, wry and self-deprecating – but the voice is better than ever and the songwriting chops are still in evidence, swapping youthful yearning for more adult regrets.
Despite his amusing protestations to the contrary, he has always dealt in angst. He’s a troubadour, specialising in that awkward moment between realising a relationship is doomed and, you know, it actually being over.
The Paramount remains a lovely venue for this sort of grown-up show but would it really kill them to hide the big ladder in the wings or build the artist a small stage?
If “My Bag” was your bag you should check out Cole next time he comes to town.
Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 9 February, 2011
Dan Slevin is a New Zealand-based writer, broadcaster, editor, consultant and producer of RNZ’s Widescreen movie programme.
He was cinema reviewer for the Capital Times weekly newspaper from September 2006 until its demise in April 2013, seeing and reviewing every film commercially released in Wellington in that time (except, for some reason, Flicka or Beverly Hills Chihuahua).
Dan is a regular contributor to Radio New Zealand National's Nine to Noon programme, produced and co-hosted the movie podcast, Cinematica, once edited Wellington’s premier lifestyle magazine, FishHead, and now co-hosts and co-produces Rancho Notorious, a podcast about movies and other cool stuff.
In addition to being the finest swordsman in all France, he is also the meanest hombre west of the Pecos. He tweets here.
Why Funerals & Snakes? In Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (Le Mépris; 1963), Fritz Lang said of CinemaScope: "It's only good for funerals and snakes."
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