Roger Watkins

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    Wellington’s 60’s scene: Abdulluh’s Regime

    19.09.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By

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    [Transcript:]

    ABDULLAH’S REGIME
    November 1968

    Original line-up was:
    MARK DALLEY – vocals/lead guitar/piano/organ
    ROBERT COULTER – rhythm guitar
    GREGG COBB – bass guitar
    MARK HANSEN – drums

    In November 1968 the label ODE became a reality: it was one of the first independent labels to challenge the stranglehold held by the major labels on the local recording scene. To commemorate the event, this band was put together specifically to record the label’s inaugural pop disc. To my knowledge, they never played live, and apart from this session, never played together again. It was a toss-up whether to include them here or not, but as their line—up included an ex ‘Kal-Q-Lated Risk’ member in Bob Coulter, and Mammal’s drummer, Mark Hansen, I figured they deserved to be in at the sharp end.

    Release:
    Sally, I Do/Silver Ship ODE- 3

    Grateful acknowledgment to Roger Watkins for allowing us to use this material from his book When rock got rolling : the Wellington scene, 1958-1970.


  • General

    Wellington’s 60’s scene: Cellophane

    28.07.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By

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    [Transcript]

    CELLOPHANE
    1969-1970

    Original line-up was:
    DAVE WELLINGTON – lead guitar/vocals
    PAM POTTER – organ
    MICHAEL HILL – bass guitar/vocals
    JOHN VAN DER RYDEN – drums
    IAN HEWITTSON – lead vocals

    Cellophane was formed from the remnants of two other bands, as is often the case. Dave and Mike came from The Intruders (who, incidentally, also had in the line-up Phil Hope, later to become a Kal-Q-Lated Risk). And from the late, lamented Sebastians Floral Array came John, Michael and Ian. Cellophane was Pam’s first, and as it turned out, her last band. During her time with them, she was a schoolteacher at Taita.

    About eight months into their career, Cellophane entered and won the Wellington heats of Benny Levin’s Battle of The Bands at the Monaco, Hill Street. They did it with their slowed-down version of Arthur Brown’s Fire, which they subsequently released as their only single. They exhibited a predilection for long, drawn-out intro’s into songs; this was, after all, the psychedelic era.

    Having secured a place in the national finals to be held in Auckland, Cellophane continued to play around the region and nervously wait out the interval. It was an unsettling period, and although they went on to win the national finals, several changes in the line-up took place soon afterwards. Although their prize was a trip to Australia, with gigs laid on, John decided to leave. His replacement was Dunedin drummer Dave Kirkland. And when Mike left, Robbie Mackie, also from Dunedin, joined. But, as they say, the writing was on the wall. It wasn’t long before the group disbanded, with Ian and Pam going to Australia anyway. Soon afterwards, Pam was killed in a car crash.

    Dave Wellington kept his hand in by playing in a variety of social bands whilst pursuing a career as a schoolteacher. John works as a sound engineer in the film industry. Dave Kirkland and Robbie ended up as the rhythm section in Tapestry during the early seventies.

    Release:
    Fire/Mind Patterns Pye 7N -14009

    Grateful acknowledgment to Roger Watkins for allowing us to use this material from his book When rock got rolling : the Wellington scene, 1958-1970.


  • General

    Wellington’s 60’s scene: Bari and The Breakaways

    05.07.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By

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    [Transcript]

    BARI AND THE BREAKAWAYS
    1964-1967

    Original line-up was:
    BARI GORDON – lead guitar/vocals
    KEITH (MIDGE) MARSDEN – rhythm guitar/vocals
    DAVE ORAMS – bass guitar/vocals
    BRIAN (GRUDLEY) BEAUCHAIVIP – drums/vocals

    Bari and Dave first played together in a New Plymouth band known as ‘The Nite Lites’ back in 1963. However, Bari’s playing career started quite a lot earlier: in 1961 he could be seen playing the drums in his father’s band, and a year later, with another local band, ‘The Crescendos’. But it was as a guitarist that he made a name for himself – firstly in ‘The Nite Lites’, then with ‘The Breakaways’.

    The Nite Lites were a big attraction in Taranaki in the early sixties, playing a fair representation of the current hits as well as some of the more straight—ahead legit. dance selections. Dave and Bari, happy with their lot by and large, were gradually being exposed to the more deadly and insidious influences of rhythm and blues by the band’s gopher, one Keith Marsden. It had an unsettling effect on the lads, and eventually they decided to form a band on the side, as it were, to play some of this exciting R’n’B music. They remained a part of ‘The Nite Lites’, but began to move further afield as ‘The Blue Diamonds’. The line-up was: Bari, Dave, a drummer from Auckland in Bryan Beauchamp, and Keith, who’d persuaded Bari to teach him the basics of rhythm guitar, thus allowing him to take his first faltering steps along the rocky road to local stardom.

    For one reason or another, Dave preferred the security of life with The Nite Lites, dropping out of The Blue Diamonds for a period. His place was taken by a friend of Bari’s from Hawera, Tim Nuku. By degrees, they left The Nite Lites, eventually joining Johnny Cooper’s travelling Talent Show on epic jaunts around the provinces. Their job was to rev the audience up, and to back young hopefuls lured on stage by the promise of fame and riches should they ever win a heat. They were also required to back such celebrities as Howard Morrison, Dinah Lee and Tommy Adderley. They developed into a tight R’n’B combo, and the work was rolling in. Then Tim got married. So old side-kick Dave Orams was dragged screaming into the line-up, where his striking resemblance to Bill Wyman caused many a young girl’s heart to flutter. The stage was set: all they needed now was a break. It came in the form of an early morning phone call one Saturday to Bari’s parent’s music store in Stratford.

    Phil Warren had moved into the burgeoning Wellington music scene with his Prestige nightclub circuit. He’d been let down by a band, and desperately needed a replacement. Asking around, he’d been told by Tommy Adderley of this hot band up in New Plymouth. On the phone to the Gordons, Warren offered ‘The Blue Diamonds’ the gig if they could be in Wellington ready to play that very night.

    At Tommy’s suggestion, they changed their name to the more mod ‘Bari and The Breakaways’, and by 1965, they were more or less a household name. Girls swooned whenever their battered van hove into sight. Bari was attacked by scissor- wielding fans desperate for a lock of his hair. ‘So this is fame,’ they thought glumly as they were forced to cower behind locked doors. But, what the heck, this was the swinging sixties, and life was a gas! The first full-time R’n’B band in the country, they toured extensively, promoting their first single – a cover of The Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’. It was a fair-sized hit for them, and they quickly followed it with ‘Sea Cruise’ and an album of the same name.

    However, problems were looming large on the horizon. Back in those days, conscription was still in vogue, and even if you were a pop star you were expected to do your duty. Midge got his call-up papers. Bari had decided to get married. This seemed like a good time to quit the scene. Bari moved back to Taranaki, but the rest of the band decided to battle on. With Midge in the army square-bashing somewhere up north, they recruited Dave Hurley (ex ‘The Saints’ from Palmerston North), and as a three-piece they moved to Nelson to play out time until Midge got out of camp.

    In 1967 they once more hit the trail, touring up and down the country and recording material for a new album. But it was all too much. Bryan who’d sung lead vocals on all of their records (even though Bari had often taken the lead on stage) wanted to have a crack at it as a solo performer, so he left the band. They brought in Doug Thomas from New Plymouth’s ‘Rex and The Roadrunners’ to replace him, then Dave Hurley departed, being replaced by Tim Piper from ‘The Chants’. But the group lasted only a few more months before breaking up, the members drifting off to other bands, or getting ‘proper’ jobs.

    Dave Orams was to spend time in ‘Tom Thumb’, ‘The Bitter End’, ‘The Underdogs’, and ‘Quincy Conserve’. He now lives in Melbourne. Midge joined Radio New Zealand where he laboured in the Programmes department, worked as a producer on The Sunset Show, and ran his own blues programme ‘Blues is News’ on 2ZB. But life inside the Corporation is carefully designed to stultify creativity, and finally he could stand it no longer. The lure of the road was too hard to resist and so he formed ‘The Country Flyers’, one of the more popular country-rock bands of the seventies. Midge now splits his time between Dallas, Texas, and New Zealand.

    Bryan’s solo career petered out, and he faded from the scene. Where are you now? Dave Hurley went to the UK, and who knows to what exalted heights he rose? Upon his return to New Zealand, he became a partner in a top Auckland recording studio. Currently he is a freelance sound recordist in the film and commercials business. And Bari? Well, back in New Plymouth he kept his hand in by singing with various groups. He ran a night club, Caesar’s Palace, and he became a group and artiste promoter. Sadly, things went to pieces on him in late 1968. By January 1969 he was dead, too young at only 22 years of age. Since then there have been any number of grisly rumours and much speculation surrounding the manner in which he died. None of them are true. Out of deference to his family, I won’t labour the point. Suffice it to say that he died from entirely natural causes, a tragedy nonetheless for a talented and likeable bloke who only ever wanted to play the guitar in a rock’n’roll band.

    In their relatively short time together, ‘Bari and The Breakaways’, and ‘The Breakaways’ in their own right, achieved a number of firsts. As already stated, they were the first full-time R’n’B band in the country. They had enough faith in their ability to do away with any safety nets in the form of back-up jobs. It was all or nothing for them. They were also the only group to appear and play live on Let’s G0, Teen Scene and C’Mon. They were also the first professional group to appear in Christchurch, Dunedin and Nelson on extended visits. And they were the only Wellington band at that time to have all of their records make the Auckland hit parade, even though they didn’t appear in the Queen City until the weekend before they broke up in May 1967.

    Releases:
    I Can’t Explain/Long Tall Shorty HMVHR235
    Sea Cruise/Tough Enough HMVHR246
    Old Man Mose/I Got That Feeling HMVHR256
    A Travelled Man/Perhaps I’ll Settle Down HMVHR264
    Despair/Milk Cow Blues HMVHR281
    Walk Right Back/Baby, Please Don’t Go HMVHR287

    Albums:
    Let’s Take a Sea Cruise, with Bari and The Breakaways HMVMCLP6221
    (Bari does not appear in the cover photo of this album. The fourth member is Dave Hurley – even though the title is – ‘with Bari and the Breakaways’.)

    The Breakaways – album two HMVMCLP6245

    For more information on ‘Bari & The Breakaways’ check out their Audioculture profile here.

    Grateful acknowledgment to Roger Watkins for allowing us to use this material from his book When rock got rolling : the Wellington scene, 1958-1970.


  • General

    Wellington’s 60’s scene: The Librettos

    24.03.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By

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    [Transcript]
    THE LIBRETTOS
    1960-1966

    Original line-up was:
    ROD STONE – lead guitar
    JOHNNY ENGLAND – rhythm guitar/vocals
    PAUL GRIFFIN – bass guitar/vocals
    ROGER SIMSON – vocalist/piano/bass
    DAVE CLARK – piano/also manager
    GORDON JENKINS — drums

     

     

    All of these guys met whilst attending Rongotai College, and the inevitable outcome of their shared musical interests was the formation of the group to play at school dances, local youth clubs and bible class hops.

    Styling themselves firmly after ‘The Shadows’, they quickly gained a reputation for being a top band, mainly because of the abilities of their guitarist, Rod. Indeed, Rod was to become one of the most influential guitarists of the early sixties, an honour he shared, perhaps reluctantly, with arch-rival Neil Harrap of ‘The Premiers’. In any event, Rod was a trained classical musician, and he put his knowledge to good use with ‘The Librettos’, the arrangements he created setting the group apart from their contemporaries and helping to establish them as something of a muso’s band.

    The first members to leave were Dave Clark and Roger Simson. At this stage of their careers, the band was working regularly at Teenarama in Hill Street, and they stayed as a four-piece for quite some time. However, in 1964 they decided to turn full-time professional, and this led to Johnny England and Gordon Jenkins reluctantly bowing out. They were both nearing the end of their apprenticeships, and rather than waste the efforts they’d put into their studies, they elected to finish their time.

    This left Rod and Paul in a quandry: they had a lot of work lined up, and a big and loyal following, but there was little future for them as a duo. The problem was solved by recruiting Lou Parun to replace Johnny on rhythm guitar and vocals. Lou had already enjoyed a degree of local success as a solo artiste, both in live perform- ance and on record. He’d begun dabbling in music in the late fifties with Dave Brown (Avengers) in a schoolboy band called ‘The Vampires’. His solo career followed a ballady line, and his Cliff Richard style of singing gave no hint of the frantic, raging style he was to feature in ‘The Librettos’.

    His singles started with Why, Little Girl, with excellent backing provided by The Premiers. Then there was You Know What I Mean, a composition by Libretto bass- man-to-be Brian Peacock, and A World I Can’t Live In, backed by The Librettos. In a way, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Lou would join the band at some stage.

    To digress briefly: it’s a little known fact that The Librettos also backed Lou and Christine Barnett on a record, but because of vague managerial and record company politicking they were not credited as a band. In fact, Rod Stone’s early solo release, SkyeBoat Song/Friendly Persuasion on Lexian LS-3, featured the original Librettos line-up, and a tasty piece of work it is, too.

    Now back to the tale. Paul was the next to leave, and Brian Peacock joined. Shortly afterwards Gordon left, and his place was taken by the Christchurch drummer, Dave Diver. So this was the line-up that was to burst on to the national and international scene: Rod Stone, Lou Parun, Brian Peacock and Dave Diver.

    Their vehicle into the limelight was a slot on the Billy J. Kramer Tour. They were, to put it mildly, a raging success. So much so, that they were booked as resident band for WNTV’s pop show ‘Let’s Go!’. Indeed, this booking was to provide the band with their first taste of how to deal with the ultra-conservative chaps who ran (and some would say still run) the entertainment media.

    Here was a group – many insisted the group in the country – and here was a vehicle to launch them on their climb to fame. Yet the producer of ‘Let’s Go!’ refused to allow them to wear their hair on TV the way they normally wore it – semi-Beatle style. After much protest, he allowed one of them to wear his hair that way, but the other three had to revert to the old fashioned gravity-defying quiffs. However so popular was the band that their 13 week engagement was extended by a further six weeks. And they all got to wear their hair the way they wanted to. Aah, the perks of fame!

    In celebration of their success on the show, they recorded their first album, appropriately titled ‘Let’s Go! With The Librettos’. Amazingly enough, the album contained a total of six original tracks, all from the pens of Rod Stone and Brian Peacock. One of the album tracks, The Girl Can’t Help It, is a perfect example of how Lou’s vocal style had changed from his ballad days: he fairly bawls the vocal in a typical Lennon style, a real rager. Never ones to pursue the mundane, even on their covers of classics, they re-arranged songs in new and challenging ways, a good example being their single, Great Balls of Fire. Very different.

    After Let’s Go! had done its dash, the lads took the plunge and headed for Australia, content in the knowledge that at the very least they’d been voted New Zealand Band of the Year for 1964. Their first gig in Sydney was at the Arcadia pub. It was a disaster. ‘You’re too loud,’ said the manager. They turned their guitars off. ‘You’re still too loud,’ said the manager. They were fired – an inauspicious beginning. But all was not lost, for in due course they landed a gig at The Sound Lounge in King’s Cross. Here they rapidly gained a legion of new fans, astounded at the tight rocking sounds of unison male vocals driven by walloping drums, thundering bass and supremo guitars. The Librettos were on their way again.

    Pretty soon, they were booked to appear at Suzy Wong’s, and then at The Bowl, a swish disco in George Street. Now fully hitting their stride, the long hours served to hone them to razor-edged sharp-ness. They played a lunch-time session each day, then a supper session, followed by the night shift. At their peak, they were capable of playing a six-hour stint virtually without pause, and without repeating a number. It was about this time that they became friendly with Aussie singing sensation Normie Rowe – of whom more later.

    The Librettos toured inter-state, appeared on TV and recorded prodigiously. They probably hold the record for playing before the biggest crowd of any sixties New Zealand band – 200,000 people in Melbourne, on the Seekers tour. So far as Lou was concerned, that was it. How, he wondered, could they ever top that? So he began to think of getting out while they were ahead. Dave Diver had had enough, and his replacement was a young Australian drummer named Craig Collinge. Soon afterwards Lou split for home.

    The band continued for a time as a three-piece, but eventually split. Rod and Brian joined Normie Rowe’s backing band, ‘The Playboys’, for an abortive UK tour. In 1967 Rod joined Aussie super group, ‘The Groove’, with fellow Kiwi Peter Williams on vocals (ex Max Merritt and The Meteors). Today, Rod lives in Melbourne and is in great demand as a session player. Brian went back to the UK as tour manager for ‘The New Seekers’ but hated it, and returned to Melbourne where he opened a bakery. Always more interested in ideas and concepts than in money, he found the riches that quickly accumulated to his business too hard to deal with. He walked out, and moving to Perth, he apparently joined a commune.

    The quiet life was not for him, however, and he returned to Melbourne to join forces with Craig Collinge and two UK players he’d met while on tour in the UK with Normie- Mick Rogers, a guitarist, and Trevor Britten on keyboards. They called themselves ‘Procession’, and in no time flat became very popular, releasing the first (or very nearly so) live album to be recorded in Aussie, titled ‘Live, at Sebastians’. On the strength of their local success, they went to the UK, but promptly broke up. Mick and Craig joined ‘Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’. Brian returned to Perth, where more recently he discovered, managed and produced ‘The Eurogliders’ to international success. So at least he’s still keeping his hand in.

    Dave Diver almost joined The Avengers but joined ‘The Countdowns’ instead before moving back to Christ- church. Lou resisted all temptation to enter the world of television and stayed with the family business for a while before immersing himself in the computer game. He never played a note in a band after leaving ‘The Librettos’.

    Releases:
    Funny Things/I’ll Send It Your Way HMVHR218
    Young Blood/That’s Alright With Me HMVHR2l9
    Baby, It’s Love/Great Balls of Fire HMVHR221
    It’s Alright/Walkin’ The Dog HMVHR232
    Ella Speed/I Cry/She’s A Go-Go Sunshine QK1162 Aust
    Rescue Me/What Do You Want To
    Make Those Eyes At Me For Sunshine QKl25l Aust
    Kicks/What ‘Cha Gonna Do ‘Bout It Sunshine QK1341 Aust

    As Rod Stone:
    Skye Boat Song/Friendly Persuasion Lexian LS3

    With Lou Parun:
    A World I Can’t Live In/Outsider Lexian LS8

    Lou Parun Solo:
    You Know What I Mean/One Last Kiss Lexian LS1
    Why Little Girl/It’s You Lexian LS6
    Lonely Boy/Like I Love You Lexian LS16

    Album:
    Let’s Go With The Librettos EMI MCLP 6191

    Grateful acknowledgment to Roger Watkins for allowing us to use this material from his book When rock got rolling : the Wellington scene, 1958-1970.


  • General

    Wellington’s 60’s scene: Mammal

    26.02.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    ‘Mammal’ were the third of three 1960s bands to feature iconic Wellington Soul-man Rick Bryant…

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    Mammal II, at Lucifers. The line up is basically that of MK I of the band.
    (Photo: Graham Nesbit collection)

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    Mammal 111….a future Crocodile, two future Dragons and a future Jive Bomber

     

    [Transcript]

    MAMMAL
    1969-1974

    Original line-up was:
    BILL LAKE – guitar/vocals/harmonica
    SIMON MORRIS – guitar/vocals
    TONY BACKHOUSE – bass guitar/guitar/keyboards/vocals
    MARK HANSEN – drums

    The university music scene was a disparate one in the sixties – a merry melange of classical, folk, jazz, blues and whatever else is happening, man. Pass the joint. The history of Mammal is best described in three stages: let us call them Mammal 1, 2 and 3. In the beginning was ‘Original Sin’, of which more is to be found in the section that deals with them. Out of The Sin came Bill, Tony and Simon, who enlisted Mark on drums to form Mammal 1 (fondly remembered in academic terms as ur-Mammal, ur meaning primitive, or original).

    This line-up began with the idea that they would cover songs of a more progressive nature – Zappa, Jack Bruce and the like. One of the attractions of this band was the way they determinedly slogged their way through attempts at this avant-garde stuff, giving the impressions that everything would fall to bits at any moment. Mostly it didn’t, but they quickly realised that they were reaching beyond their abilities and settled for a more commercial selection of material. Winning a residency at The Southern Cross Tavern, they turned more and more to simple, danceable pop standards, a move dictated by Simon, who to this day continues to demonstrate a penchant for that type of material. Inevitably, there was a clash (musical differences, I believe, is the term most commonly used) and Simon departed, taking Mark Hansen with him.

    The result of this split was the creation of (you guessed it) Mammal 2. Bill and Tony recruited the rhythm section of Gutbucket – Steve Hemmins on bass and Mike Fullarton on drums – together with the sometime singer from that band, Rick Bryant, and guitar supremo Robert Taylor. Mammal 2 returned to their original musical influences (Zappa, etc.) and began to develop their own material – mainly written by Tony, who exhibited a predilection for convoluted and complex harmony structures. This assured fans of the band that yet again they could enjoy the anticipation of chaos breaking out on stage at any time.

    However, Rick’s influence began to exert itself and the band shifted its emphasis to working out some big arrangements of Stones things. All good rocking stuff, but again those musical differences caused a change in the line-up. Steve left and was replaced by Patrick Bleakley on bass. Then Mike Fullarton decided to leave: he wanted to study drumming on a more serious level, and was later to be found playing with ‘The Golden Horn Big Band’. When Bill decided that he too had had enough, he left to concentrate on his beloved (and by then, much neglected) jug band, ‘The Windy City Strugglers’. And so, we come to Mammal 3.

    This line-up was probably the most successful version of the band in terms of being commercially acceptable. New members were: Mark Homibrook on bass, Kerry Jacobsen on drums, and Julie Needham on violin. Hugely popular on the university circuit, they were also acclaimed as a festival band. Indeed they became essentially a touring group, covering God knows how many hundreds of miles in their faithful old bus before finally calling it quits.

    Kerry and Robert were to find international fame with ‘Dragon’. Bill Lake nursed The Strugglers from their jug band roots to the semi—electric Strugglers II, which evolved into ‘The Ducks’ and then’ the more widely known, popular pub band ‘The Pelicans’. At the time of writing, his new vehicle is called ‘The Living Daylights’. Rock on. Tony spent time with ‘Tapestry’ to further develop his guitar technique before moving across the Tasman with ‘The Crocodiles’. He now lives in Sydney where he runs a bistro in fashionable Glebe, and has put together an acapela group, leaving the hassles of humping gear far behind him. Rick, of course, hit the commercial jackpot in the eighties with ‘The Jive Bombers’. So, Mammal were an important element on the local music scene, spawning players of enormous durability and even some who achieved international fame.

    Release:
    Wait/Whisper Red Rat Records RRR/002

    Album:
    Beware The Man: Sam Hunt & Mammal Red Rat Records (no catalogue number)

    Audioculture
    Discogs

    Grateful acknowledgment to Roger Watkins for allowing us to use this material from his book When rock got rolling : the Wellington scene, 1958-1970.


  • General

    Wellington’s 60’s scene: Gutbucket

    16.02.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    ‘Gutbucket’ were the second of three 1960s bands to feature iconic Wellington Soul-man Rick Bryant…

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    [Transcript]
    GUTBUCKET
    1968-1970

    Original line-up was:
    BERNARD SCHMIDT – lead guitar/vocals
    LAWRENCE COOPER – bottleneck guitar/vocals
    STEVE HEMMENS – bass guitar
    MIKE FULLARTON – drums

    New Plymouth may seem an unlikely sort of a place for a blues band to spring from. It may seem an unlikely place for anything to spring from unless it is oil or dairy produce. But over the years, that city has given us Bari and The Breakaways (and thus Midge, of whom more later), Lew Pryme (sorry), Bruce Lynch, Wayne Mason, Desna Sisarich and Barry Saunders, to name but a few. To this list we must now add Gutbucket.

    They started life in New Plymouth as The Revised Edition back in 1968, the line-up being Steve, Mike, Owen Christensen (who went to Auckland and joined The Challenge) and John Fahy (who died in a motorbike crash and is buried next to Bari Gordon in New Plymouth’s Awanui cemetery.)

    When Steve and Mike moved to Wellington in late 1968, they formed Gut- bucket more or less for their own enjoyment rather than for public appreciation. Part of the reason for this apparent lack of desire to appear in public was the fact that Bernie was still living in New Plymouth, and anyone who would come all the way down to do a gig for an hour or two and then drive back is crazy. However, as the word spread and they were bombarded with offers to play at one or the other of Wellington’s two blues clubs, they persuaded Bernie to take the plunge. Obligingly, he plunged.

    Their music was the blues, but it was different from the sort of blues their contemporaries were playing. This worried some people. But those hip to where these guys were comin’ from knew, man, they knew, that they were witnessing the emergence of a form of jazz blues not dissimilar to that practised by The Graham Bond Organisation or early Jethro Tull.

    Gutbucket were firm believers in the gentle art of persuasion rather than the blitzkrieg approach when it Came to winning over new followers. Blues was a minority interest anyway, and they figured that the best way to keep an audience interested was not to play for more than an hour at any one gig. This arrangement had the added benefit of allowing them frequent changes in repertoire; it also meant that this repertoire needn’t be bigger than necessary, leaving them time to pursue other interests.

    Gutbucket can be heard on the ODE ‘In A Blue Vein’ compilation album, but they also released a single for the independent Tree label in June 1969. Wild About You, the A side, was written by their occasional singer Rick Bryant. The flip is Spanish Blues, and together these two songs total just over seven minutes of this unique style of blues music from one of the best blues bands of their day.

    It must be said that by its very nature, blues lends itself to the pastime commonly known as jamming. This is great fun for participants, but it can be confusing and tedious in the extreme for onlookers. So it happened that quite often you would see Gutbucket performing with Rick Bryant out front hollerin’, and Bill Lake huffing and puffing on an assortment of mouth- organs. Then the next night you might go and watch Original Sin, or Mammal, or Capel Hopkins perform, and see the mighty sweating and vein-popping Rick in tandem with the wailing Bill fronting any of them. This was Rick and Bill jamming with everyone, a situation quite acceptable to all concerned.

    Gutbucket can be fondly remembered for their pioneering efforts in the blues scene. Eventually, most of the members ended up playing together in other groups around the country before going their own ways. Ain’t it just the truth.

    Release:
    Wild About You/Spanish Blues Tree 7

    Grateful acknowledgment to Roger Watkins for allowing us to use this material from his book When rock got rolling : the Wellington scene, 1958-1970.


  • General

    Wellington’s 60’s scene: The Original Sin

    16.02.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By

    ‘The Original Sin’ were the first of three 1960s bands to feature iconic Wellington Soul-man Rick Bryant…

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    [Transcript]
    THE ORIGINAL SIN
    1967-1968

    Original line-up was:
    SIMON MORRIS – lead guitar
    BILL LAKE – rhythm guitar, harmonica
    ALASTAIR (AFF) FRASER – bass guitar/vocals
    NORM MCPHERSON – drums
    ROD BRYANT – harmonica,/vocals
    RICK BRYANT – lead vocals

    Here was a band who are fondly remembered for their determination (or so
    it seemed) to adopt a less contrived, rawer approach to their music. But this attitude often gave one the impression that everything could collapse into -utter chaos at any moment. In a way, Original Sin became the patron saints of the numbers of revolting, also-ran R’n’B groups of the
    time.

    They were heavily influenced by the blues, tackling a wide spectrum from the
    wastelands of rock and soul to the more earthy exorcisms of Muddy Waters, plus a generous smattering of lengthy, meandering originals. Fuelled by generous nips at mysterious brown-paper-bagged bottles, and driven on by Rick’s hollering of various blues laments, they appealed enormously to the university set, and were often spellbinding in their attempts at extended jams. They appeared frequently at the Hard concerts up at Vic, and also
    featured at all the Mystic gigs – even, in the early days, entering a Battle of The Bands.

    As with every band, members came and went. Norm McPherson departed and was replaced by Jeff Kennedy, later to find fame as a restaurateur. Then Aff left, and was replaced by an old pal from their school-days band (Us Five), Steve Robinson. By 1968, they’d called it quits. Rick, Bill and Rod were to re—emerge in due course in another Uni band – Mammal – with Simon.

    Grateful acknowledgment to Roger Watkins for allowing us to use this material from his book When rock got rolling : the Wellington scene, 1958-1970.


  • General

    Wellington’s 60’s scene: The Avengers

    29.01.16 | Permalink | Comment? | By

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    [Transcript]
    THE AVENGERS
    1966-1970

    Original line-up was:
    CLIVE COCKBURN – lead guitar/organ/vocals
    DAVE BROWN – rhythm guitar/vocals
    EDDIE MCDONALD – bass guitar/vocals
    IAN (HANK) DAVIS – drums/vocals

    One of the most polished pop groups this town has ever produced, these guys
    were also probably one of the first ‘manufactured’ groups of the era. Ken
    Cooper, the fiendish bongo-playing ex member of The Swamp Dwellers, turned
    entrepreneur, decided to create a super- group to play at his club, The Place. Herecruited Clive from The Mustangs, Dave from The Wanderers, and Dave Diver (ex Librettos) from The Countdowns. Just as Ken was about to winkle out a bass player, Dave Diver decided to move back to Christchurch. Undaunted by this set-back, Ken dragged in Eddie (from Miramar’s The Strangers) on bass, and Hank (who worked for NZR) on drums. With this line- up completed, all they needed was a name.

    So a competition was organised and on13 March 1966 the results were published
    in The Dominion Sunday Times. The name decided upon was, of course, The
    Avengers. Those responsible for naming the band were: Mailyn Tronsen of
    Taradale, Napier and Dalvanius Prime (yes, the very same large and soulful
    crooner who, in his turn, found fame in the 70’s) then of Aro Street, Wellington. They got three LP’s from EMI for their trouble.

    The Avengers took the stage for their debut performance at The Place on
    Queen’s Birthday weekend of 1966. In no time flat, they established a big following and quite a reputation for their mode of dress. Dapper would sum it up more than adequately. They carried commercialism a bit further than the norm by having their dresser’s logo painted on the front of Hank’s bass drum: no doubt The Vault made a quid or five from the arrangement. Not content with local fame, the band industriously toured the length and breadth of both islands, gaining more fans all the while.

    Quite apart from their very competent instrumental prowess, they
    developed their vocal abilities as well, and after a year of honing the act on the road they were ready to make their initial foray into the recording studio in 1967. The resulting debut single was Everyone’s Gonna Wonder and it soared into the No 7 position on the national Top 20 that October. Naturally, more furious touring followed in the wake of this unexpected (but very welcome) success. The boys were hot! ‘Where’s the money?’ they cried. ‘I’ve got expenses,’ came the reply from their delirious manager. Rumours began to circulate about an impending trip to the USA – or even Australia!

    Reassured by the success of their first disc, a follow- up was released in January 1967. Only Once In My Life was another national Top 10 hit for them – they were on a roll. And so it went on – touring, rehearsing, new stage outfits, writing, TV appearances, interviews, more new clothes, yet more touring. By now household names, rumours of a possible USA trip for The Avengers grew to fever pitch with the news that Cashbox had selected Everyone as their Cashbox Newcomers Pick of the Week. But for one reason or another, it was not to be. Instead, the band continued to record singles and albums, among which is the excellent LP, Dial AAA – Alive! Avengers in Action at Ali Baba’s.

    Their first jaunt across the Tasman was a success. They filled in for The Castaways (who were visiting Godzone briefly) at the trendy Prince Albert Disco in trendy Sydney, ‘sending’ the locals might-ily. Returning to Wellington, they released Love, Hate Revenge and hit the trail once more, blowing away the switched-on set in Auckland with their act. But having once tasted the delights of international acceptance, it wasn’t long before they headed back across the ditch. So 1970 saw The Avengers begin a round of inter-state tour-ing, TV appearances and club engagements in ‘the big country’. A problem they had to overcome almost immediately was the confusion that arose over their name. There was a Brisbane band also called The Avengers, and they weren’t about to change for these Kiwi upstarts. Our plucky lads simply began to call themselves The New Zealand Avengers and carried right on blowing away our Aussie cousins. Then, just as they seemed set to make a major impact, disaster struck.

    Dave was ordered into hospital for a hernia operation. In order to fulfil contractual obligations, the guys brought in Melbourne musician John Pugh (from a band known as The James Taylor Move) as his temporary replacement. However, this hiccup proved to be the death knell for The Avengers, and shortly afterwards they decided to call it quits. Dave and Clive came home while Hank, Eddie and John joined a band in Perth. Dave resumed his ‘ career as a builder, and Clive joined TVNZ as a floor manager before rising to exalted heights as a director. It didn’t take long before he came to his senses, and he re- signed to do what he does best – music. By now married to local blues shouter Val Murphy, and living in the romantic ambience of Katherine Mansfield’s Eastbourne summer home, the pair composed- in rapid succession – two rock operas: Jennifer and Valdramar. Clive now works full-time as a composer of TV and film music, whilst supplementing his income by writing and recording commercials. Eddie eventually returned home to take his place in the family electrical business, and Hank now lives in Sydney, where he runs a furniture business.

    Surely one of the finest bands this country has produced. The Avengers have left us a healthy collection of records to remember them by.

    Releases:
    Everyone’s Gonna Wonder/Take My Hand HMVHRBOO
    Only Once In My Life/Water Pipe HMVHR308
    194 1 /W hat Price Love HMVHR312
    Love, Hate, Revenge/Only Last Year HMVHR320
    Days of Pearly Spencer/Daniel The Postman HMVHR337
    Night In the City/Nights in White Satin HMVHR345
    Out of Sight, Out of Mind/You Better Come Home HMVHR354

    Others:
    Lovin’ Sound/My Darling, Why? (Keith Richardson) HMVHR32l
    The Avengers Fan Club Christmas Special
    (a gentle send-up of NZ bands)
    People Are Waiting/Lucky For Me (Clive and Val) HMVHR412
    And the ‘mystery band’ single – Valeria Vengers
    (Avengers and Val Murphy)
    Lovers Of The World Unite/1“here’s A Scarlet River Running. HMVHR297

    Albums:
    Electric Recording CSDM 6266
    Dial AAA – Alive! Avengers in Action at Ali Baba’s CSDM 6297
    Medallion CSDM 6304

    Cover imageCover image

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Check out The Avengers on Amplifier & Discogs.

    RNZ’s Keith Newman catches up with the surviving members of The Avengers to capture their memories of life as 1960s pop band for a 2010 edition of ‘Musical Chairs’…

    The Avengers – Love Hate Revenge

    Avengers – Everyone’s Gonna Wonder

    Covers courtesy of Bruce Sergent. Grateful acknowledgment to Roger Watkins for allowing us to use this material from his book When rock got rolling : the Wellington scene, 1958-1970.