I need to excise stuff.
Firstly I need to excise the fact I’ve not posted here for 5 months.
A block? I guess so, mostly created and driven by the fact that my life since mid-2012 has been one of constant evaluation of other’s written words, pressure to deliver these words and an increasingly overwhelming panoply of extraordinary images, archival material and just stuff that Murray Cammick and I are trying to give some order to, with varying (but increasingly pleasing) degrees of success. All done under the canopy of an enforced and unhappy physical separation from Brigid (no we have not split — circumstance has put me in a different bed to the girl with whom I’m happily co-dependent, for much of the last six months and it’s bloody hard).
After all that it’s hard to write to relax as I’ve always done. I had to apologise to my friend Jim Pinckney the other night. I’ve interviewed him and not had the mental means to create the work in the gap since. I will, Jim, I will.
Another thing I need to excise comes from my night three days back. It was a big night. Maybe not for me although I had big fun. But it was a big night for SJD (known to his family as Sean James Donnelly). Sean won the 4th IMNZ/PPNZ Taite award for his fabulous long player Elastic Wasteland. And despite the fact that he was up against arguably the strongest competition the awards have ever seen, he deserved to win.
He deserved to win…
And yet, despite the fact that award is one where we celebrate the highest artistic standards (the Vodafone awards are more commercial in intent) in an industry that is going from strength to strength in so many ways in this country, you’d be forgiven for not knowing the next day that it had even happened — that SJ Donnelly had won the highest award for musical excellence in this country in 2013. Only the NZ Herald went the extra mile and streamed the event. Everyone else in the MSM ignored it.
I’ve been in the UK when the Mercury (the rough equivalent) is handed out and there’s a fuss. The next day the stores are full of the winner and their album gets a hefty bump up the chart.
So what happened in New Zealand? I went into JB Hi-Fi in Queen Street. Nothing. Not just nothing but they seemed to have just a single copy of the album, well hidden in the racks (let’s be generous — the stock had roared out the door that morning).
iTunes had no mention of it. None of the other online stores had it fronted in any way whatsoever. In fact, the only place I saw that had taken advantage of what could reasonably be called a hefty selling point for a universally praised local landmark album was Rhythm Records in Ponsonby. Then they always do — they couple their stock with reviews and are proactive in telling customers what’s worth their attention.
So who to blame? I certainly don’t blame the label — I know how much time, sweat and energy Round Trip Mars have put into telling the world about both this long player and Sean himself. Stinky Jim was absolutely over the moon after the win and so he should be. It was his triumph too.
No, it’s retailers, both on and offline who still haven’t understood the glaring lessons of the past decade, who just lazily front whatever the big labels dump on them (I wonder how many copies of the ‘platinum’ Led Zeppelin Celebration Day box are still sitting a year on in every JB Hi-Fi? Every shop has dozens. Hell, every big record store worldwide seems to be sitting on volume of this turkey).
Righto — excised.