There are no sheep on our farms.…

I always find myself slight­ly flus­tered by the oft-tout­ed idea that the 1980s was a cul­tur­al waste­land. I use the word flus­tered rather than some­thing stronger as it real­ly mat­ters but briefly — only when I see it writ­ten or said, and the moment pass­es.

How­ev­er, mat­ter it does and mat­ter it does enough to dri­ve me to put fin­ger to key and final­ly put down the tale below. It’s some­thing, as a part of my per­haps obses­sive need to doc­u­ment things before we for­get, that I’ve meant to do for a long time.

The sto­ry of the first New Zealand post-punk multi­band trek through New Zealand, in 1981, has long been some­thing I’ve want­ed to write and doc­u­ment, and the full ver­sion (what appears below is the first part – if you want to read the rest it’s at the link at the end of the brief excerpt).

I guess if your ref­er­ence points were Lover­boy, Nena, A‑ha, US big hair rock, or Cold Chis­el, the decade was jus­ti­fi­ably a cul­tur­al dis­as­ter.

Hap­pi­ly mine are more like­ly to be the post-punk swell of 1979 onwards, as so per­fect­ly doc­u­ment­ed in Simon Reynolds’ sem­i­nal book; the cuts and rhymes that came from the South Bronx and Harlem; Detroit tech­no; New York garage and no-wave; house and it’s psy­che­del­ic off-spring, acid house; the Min­neapo­lis-St Paul rush that gave us Prince and the Jim­my Jam & Ter­ry Lewis funk; Mar­cus Miller’s tough bass-dri­ven pro­duc­tions which includ­ed not only Luther (him­self part/driving force of the new soul revival) but Miles Davis’ final rein­ven­tion; the so-called gold­en age of hip-hop (Def Jam, Cold Chill­in’, Eric B & Rakim, EPMD and more); Manchester/Liverpool/Glasgow/Bristol); the dubbed out down­beat of inner city Britain lat­er in the decade; and the inven­tive­ness of the New Zealand and Aus­tralian indie rush from 1980 onwards – which brings me back to The Scream­ing Blam-mat­ic Road­show…

The idea to take the three Pro­peller bands on the road togeth­er was mine, Paul Rose and Dave Merritt’s (the orig­i­nal Scream­ing Meemees man­ag­er) in March or April 1981.

Paul, who was also The New­mat­ics man­ag­er, and my part­ner in the label, and I put it to Tim Mahon, the Blam Blam Blam bassist (and de fac­to man­ag­er) in their shared flat in Brighton Road.

Tim came up with the name on the spot.

It was broad­ly accept­ed as a con­cept but remained just that until the Blams took it to the next lev­el. It was their idea to tie the con­cept to the New Zealand Stu­dents Arts Coun­cil and utilise the net­work first set up in the 1970s by Bruce Kirk­land (lat­er US man­ag­er of the leg­endary Stiff Records and a men­tor of the equal­ly leg­endary Trevor Reekie). Don, as I recall, made the approach.

The idea that we would take three bands, three vans, three lots of crew and man­age­ment around the coun­try was poten­tial­ly a logis­ti­cal night­mare and a mas­sive mon­ey los­er.


For the rest of the sto­ry, includ­ing a bunch of nev­er before pub­lished Blam Blam Blam shots (the one at the top is one) from Jen­ny Pullar, head here.

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Tweets that men­tion There are no sheep on our farms…. :The Opin­ion­at­ed Din­er —
January 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm

[…] This post was men­tioned on Twit­ter by oharris69 and Sacha Dylan. Sacha Dylan said: The *oth­er* epic 1981 NZ tour — Blam Blam Blam, New­mat­ics, Scream­ing Meemees @opdiner […]

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