It’s where I do my raindance / Just to weather the crop

Maybe it’s me, but it’s an odd-ish year musi­cal­ly. I’ve gone through dull spots when I’ve con­vinced myself that 2012 most­ly sucked or was very aver­age at best — and then *bam* some­thing comes along and knocks you over again. And like last year I noticed a fill­ing of the wow cup as the year draws to a close.

I liked lots and lots of records this year but — per­haps appro­pri­ate­ly as you get old­er, a pret­ty good per­cent­age were records from past ages. How­ev­er, it amazes me just, despite hunt­ing and buy­ing vast amounts of music over the past forty plus years, there is still so much old stuff to still dis­cov­er. Mur­ray Cam­mick turned me on to my cur­rent favourite from years past, the George Faith album Super Eight pro­duced by Lee Per­ry. I mean, I knew and loved his cov­er of Diana, but nev­er looked beyond it. Like­wise the two incred­i­ble Philadel­phia Inter­na­tion­al col­lec­tions, the 4 CD Tom Moul­ton remix­es and the 10 CD 40th Anniver­sary box set have nev­er been away from my play­er.

I real­ly liked the last three tracks on The Beach Boys album and kin­da dug much of the rest of it despite the fact that these tracks were deemed uncool, even the Mike Love track (I didn’t say that). I thought the crit­i­cism point­ed in their direc­tion vis-a-vis surfing/beach lyrics was at best disin­gen­u­ous — real­ly what on earth do you expect The Beach Boys to sing about? Third World debt? Espe­cial­ly with an odi­ous old prick like Love at the finan­cial tiller, a man whose relent­less greed dri­ven thug­gery would cow­er emo­tion­al­ly far stronger souls than Bri­an Wil­son. It was the most sur­pris­ing­ly love­ly record of 2012.

I bought loads of old NZ 45s, on labels like Zodi­ac, Peak, Impact, and La Glo­ria. Some I bought just for their sleeves and acci­den­tal­ly dis­cov­ered they were quite good (The Howard Mor­ri­son Quar­tet — yes, seri­ous­ly — the live rou­tines are absolute­ly hilar­i­ous and John Bak­er pushed me towards a real­ly pass­able ’67 cov­er of The Spencer Davis Group’s Keep On Run­ning on a Howard (that’s SIR Howard to you boy.… as he once instruct­ed me and Paul Fue­m­ana) Mor­ri­son solo album on arguably the most reli­ably awful label in NZ ever, Joe Brown — would you real­ly call a label that unless you were being some­how iron­ic?). Many were not.

I found an almost per­fect­ly pre­served, includ­ing paper sleeve, copy of an HMV Max Mer­ritt & The Mete­ors 45 from 1959 and thought I’d found a minor pot of gold. It was a good day.

I bought a copy of the first John­ny Devlin album, also from 1959. It was bat­tered but that was part of the charm. I also bought old go-go records (not The Go-gos, the Wash­ing­ton R&B genre), large amounts of very old but scar­i­ly con­tem­po­rary sound­ing house music — all on vinyl; two copies of the live Toy Love album and a sin­gle copy of the recent TL com­pi­la­tion, there was a fab­u­lous dou­ble Lee Per­ry dis­co-mix col­lec­tion, I bought just to have them all in one place, as I own many of the tracks already on oth­er records. That is dumb but it’s also addic­tion. So be it.

I gath­ered in, from the mighty Vinylic­ca in Bangkok’s For­tune Town, var­i­ous Japan­ese press­ings of old Ram­sey Lewis albums on Argo, Bil­ly Paul on TSOP, John Tav­ern­er and the Mod­ern Jazz Quar­tet on Apple, both to replace typ­i­cal­ly limp NZ press­ings.

It was neat to reis­sue the debut 3 The Hard Way album, after 15 years unavail­able, and also the first Nathan Haines album, delet­ed for over a decade. And then, a few days back, for the video from that album, long thought lost, to be redis­cov­ered by Peter McLen­nan.

I prob­a­bly bought few­er new albums than any year since — well since I start­ed buy­ing albums. Blame Spo­ti­fy, as the urge to buy on whim has more or less passed. Now I save the playlist. I buy if the playlist remains on rotate after a few weeks.

I bought the Home­brew album and loved it, but on reflec­tion, a few months lat­er have decid­ed it would make a hell of a dou­ble EP — a dou­ble album it is not. So I pro­gram and exclude.

The SJD album is insane­ly great. It’s called Elas­tic Waste­land and opens with a wist­ful song about a human rep­tile of sorts. At least I think it does, but it mat­ters not to me. I some­times take years to work out lyrics, often because I don’t lis­ten, which per­haps is an insult to the writer of said words, but I’d rather see it as a com­pli­ment to the envelop­ing nature of the attached sound­scape. Or some­thing.

http://sjdnz.bandcamp.com/track/the-lizard-kings-2

A friend explained the lyric to Pete Townshend’s I’m A Boy last night. After 40 years, I had no idea…

The SJD album — love it — is the best Kevin Ayers album since Joy Of A Toy. There can be no high­er com­pli­ment.

The Goat record, World Music, occu­pies a sim­i­lar space to Tame Impala but does it with more dark grace and gnarly sub­stance I think. It has na-na-na-na lyrics in the killer sec­ond track, Goat­man, rather like The Stooges meets The Hon­eys and I’ve always liked artists with the uncow­ered deter­mi­na­tion and dri­ve to pro­ceed with a song despite the lack of a ful­ly formed lyric. The Fourmyu­la — the won­der­ful 60s New Zealand psych-lite pop­sters — made unfin­ished songs an art-form, as did Paul McCart­ney (Hey Jude’s first half of semi-baked lyri­cal noth­ing­ness is only jus­ti­fied by the 4-minute fade out unsur­passed in its con­fi­dent and arro­gant­ly deliv­ered lyri­cal inani­ty).

You can almost for­give (sor­ry I’m back to Goat now) the sub-Step­pen­wolf/S­ab­bath riff on Run To Your Mama. Almost. Ok, I can, par­tial­ly, but not only, because the brief but mighty solo in the next track, Goat­lord, some­how sanc­ti­fies the rest of this extra­or­di­nary but crazed Swedish odd­ball album.

Cooly G made Playin Me and released it on Hyper­dub. It was per­fect UK pop. No, it was per­fect pop full stop, albeit per­fect­ly British, and casts a care­ful long­ing glance back towards 90s UK lover’s derived street soul and Bris­tol pre-bass. It stum­bled (slight­ly) in a cou­ple of places but songs like What This World Needs Now and Playin’ Me meant each time it was only momen­tary. A won­der­ful record.

I didn’t quite know what to make of Le1f’s Dark York when I first heard it. It’s per­haps the most intrigu­ing and instant­ly addic­tive record of 2012.

And then there was (and is) Trax­man. Da Mind Of Trax­man was the moment when Chicago’s Foot­work scene took leave of its booty-hop roots and enveloped itself in the ghost of Sun Ra, the spir­it of ear­ly DJ Shad­ow, and the har­mon­ic soul of Steve Reich. I sus­pect there may be more than a few who think I’m mad here. Once again, so be it.

So that was part of my 2012, and, aside from Mike Love, who we can hap­pi­ly ignore, nary a beard in sight. Yay.

12 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Nigel Hor­rocks on Face­book
December 08, 2012 at 06:12 PM

Always enjoy your sum­ma­ry Simon. Goat was one of my top picks.

Simon Grigg on Face­book
December 08, 2012 at 06:12 PM

Cheers Nige. It’s a crazy record!

james brad­field
December 09, 2012 at 01:12 AM

Nice sum­ma­ry Simon. The SJD is a great album and Goat is tru­ly excel­lent. Check out The Impend­ing Ado­ra­tions.http://theimpendingadorations.bandcamp.com/

James Brad­field on Face­book
December 09, 2012 at 01:12 AM

Ah ha some one else who liked The Beach Boys. Goat is tru­ly excel­lent. Check out The Impend­ing Ado­ra­tions.http://theimpendingadorations.bandcamp.com/

James Brad­field on Face­book
December 09, 2012 at 01:12 AM

Ah ha some one else who liked The Beach Boys. Goat is tru­ly excel­lent. Check out The Impend­ing Ado­ra­tions.http://theimpendingadorations.bandcamp.com/

Simon Grigg on Face­book
December 09, 2012 at 02:12 AM

Thanks James, will do. The serv­er at my host is play­ing up at the moment so the site goes on and offline. Semi-use­less techs try­ing to fix I’m told.

Simon Grigg on Face­book
December 09, 2012 at 02:12 AM

Thanks James, will do. The serv­er at my host is play­ing up at the moment so the site goes on and offline. Semi-use­less techs try­ing to fix I’m told.

Simon Grigg on Face­book
December 09, 2012 at 02:12 PM

hope­ful­ly fixed now.…

Garth Cartwright on Face­book
December 09, 2012 at 05:12 PM

Not this morn­ing, Si’.

Simon Grigg on Face­book
December 09, 2012 at 05:12 PM

no, just mov­ing it to a new serv­er. It was fixed then the guy went home and it went down again. 6 hours for a tech to respond!

Simon Grigg on Face­book
December 09, 2012 at 06:12 PM

should be work­ing now on a new serv­er

Chris Bourke
December 15, 2012 at 06:12 AM

That’s Joe Brown ENTERPRISES to you, boy…

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