Kiwiana Goes Pop
Ches ‘n’ Dale, Rod Derret, Ashley Clinton’s Sleepy Choir, Ozzie Cheeseman, All Of Us, The Boys From The Gluepost, Fergie Fang & Miss Judy…these are names you won’t find on your Nature’s Best and Great NZ Songbook CDs but the 78 songs here tell as much of the story of New Zealand in song – and advertising jingle – in fact I’d argue more of a case for this than any other “NZ Music” compilation.
It might not be pretty. It might not be clever. It might not be funny. But this is us. All of us. Warts and all as they say, songs not only about Rugby, Racing and Beer but songs actually called Rugby, Racing and Beer, and songs called Twisting The New Zealand Way and The Hillary Song (Hillary We’re Proud of You) and The Kiwi Hotel, State House Song, The Ballad of Robbie Muldoon, The Ballad of Peter Snell and – erm – Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang.
It’s all here in all its irreverent – often woefully unfunny – glory. But in the cracks of these jingles and songs there are gems, there’s a truth so often not told in our alleged “Kiwi music”. Here are the battlesr singing about the battlers, singing about the battles, capturing life from 40 years ago – which seems 100 years or more in so many ways.
Shameless appropriation was apparently always our thing – as here the country, gospel and blues genres are pick-pocketed, in some cases only the names have been changed, the tune borrowed for a long-term loan.
It’s impossible to make it through both discs in one go but all this cultural cringe stuff should actually offer no real shame – I really mean it when I say that this was my favourite Kiwi compilation of 2012 and the best in many years; a history lesson, a bunch of silly singalongs, some great examples of effective (even if affected) ad- and pop-song writing. Murray Grindlay’s Kiwi Burger Ad might make you wince – but I bet you sing along with it. Or at least spot the next word in the line before you hear it. And then Murray’s back with Midge Marsden for the old Europa ad, Trav’lin On – Stevie Ray Vaughan was a feature of that.
John Hore’s I’ve Been Everywhere, Peter Sinclair talking about The Beatles arriving in New Zealand and introducing the show C’Mon, Fredd Dagg’s Gumboots, Mother Goose with Baked Beans, The Howard Morrison Quartet singing My Old Man’s An All Black and The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band – this is all classic stuff. And taken in realistic chunks – half a CD at a time I reckon – you’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll blush, you’ll be baffled, intrigued but don’t be embarrassed. This is history. And we heard from that other mob that history never repeats. So please don’t panic. Just enjoy. This is as much the story of our place as any of those bands chasing NZ on Air grants to just sound like anybody else. In fact this is the story. And this is real storytelling. The current crop are just sending you a text message.