Then I wake up / And your name is on my tongue

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.

A1062---Deborah-Smith

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.

Lis­ten:

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.

3 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Robyn
April 20, 2013 at 06:04 PM

The oth­er thing to con­sid­er is that the Taite is rel­a­tive­ly new. It’s only been award­ed four times, where­as the Mercury’s been around for two decades. The UK award has had a long time to build up a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion, while the Taite is still estab­lish­ing itself. Per­haps it’s a case of you just haven’t earned it yet, baby. It’s also tricky when the Taite award cri­te­ria is specif­i­cal­ly not focused on com­mer­cial or sales fac­tors. Regard­less of the award, the win­ners aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly going to have broad appeal. On the oth­er hand, if retail­ers start embrac­ing the sell­ing point of the Taite, then that will add to the award’s clout and may encour­age cus­tomers to take a chance on a Taite win­ner.

Simon
April 20, 2013 at 06:04 PM

Most­ly I think major retail­ers don’t give a toss. It scary how bad big stores are at fronting NZ stuff these days. The Queen St JB has a token rack hid­den in a walk­way nobody uses.

It ain’t hard to stick a few copies of the Taite win­ner in a place where some­one can be remind­ed sure­ly.

And look at the win­ners of The Mer­cury: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_Prize#Winners_and_shortlisted_nominees Most­ly artis­tic tri­umphs that have sold real­ly well too, from the very first win­ner onwards.

james brad­field
April 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM

I went into Real Groovy to buy it when it first came out. Looked in the NZ sec­tion. Looked in alter­na­tive sec­tion. Looked in the gen­er­al sec­tion. No luck. Found it in Dance.!!!!!!!!!!!

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