Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Outside of folk songs (eg this droll one), New Zealand has had no great history of name-checking local places in rock music.
But back in 1959 Jack Urlwin of the Christchurch label Peak scribbled down some words and handed them to young singer Peter Lewis and his guitarist Pat Nihonihoni. The scribble didn't have a title but they were words to a song which name-checked Auckland (the Queen City with its then-new harbour bridge), Wellington (the Windy City that looks out on Cook's Strait), Christchurch (The Garden City) and Dunedin in the south.
Lewis and Nihonihoni didn't much rate the thing, but Urlwin was insistent so Nihonihoni, who was band leader of the Trisonic, put them to a driving beat.
They got it down on the second take.
As with Dancing in the Street, this is an inclusive call to people around the country where they are "rocking in the milk bars and rocking in the halls". It linked the separate cities in song . . . although Urlwin did manage to rhyme "Dunedin" and freezin' "
Whatever, it is a great slice of Kiwi rock'n'roll which, as Lewis later noted, succeeded because "good rock and roll is simple and uncomplicated so it reaches everybody".
This reached out to the four main cities . . . but doubtless also called to the quiet rural towns and held out the notion that, in 1960 when this was released, things were really going off in "the big smoke".
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