Hallelujah Picassos: Rewind the Hateman (HP/Rhythmethod)

 |   |  1 min read

Hallelujah Picassos: Crack Dub
Hallelujah Picassos: Rewind the Hateman (HP/Rhythmethod)

In one of the liner note essays here Ross Cunningham says when he first got a copy of Auckland band Hallelujah Picassos debut album Hateman in Love he kept playing it because "it sounded like a compilation".

I always felt the same.

Cunningham says he came to them through hip-hop, I'd heard them from the reggae direction but, again as Cunningham notes, when you saw them live you "believed them". Up there on the small stages they played, they gave it all in the manner of an angry rock band. And Lisa van der Aarde, formerly of bFM, says in her notes she enjoyed them because she'd always been a fan of garage music. Simon Grigg calls them "happy misfits" and says it was "both exhilarating and exhausting to be in their presence".

I always assumed you could still get their albums and CD singles simply because I had them and used to play random tracks on my radio show. But apparently they've all been out of print, which makes this cleverly programmed compilation brought together by the band's Peter McLennan (aka Dub Asylum) more than just interesting but essential.

Hard to believe there is a generation or two which have never heard the Picassos.

Emphasising their dark reggae and dub sound ("Murder!" is still an arresting opening line) up front, then diving into their raw guitar grit on Bastardiser, this one drops the hook then slowly reels you in for 18 diverse but oddly coherent tracks. A compilation from a band whose albums sounded like compilations, for sure . . . but this still sounds utterly coherent and from the same source.

Dark and sometimes malevolent they may have often seemed -- Harold's leathery personae and clothes doubtless enhanced the perception -- they could also be funny I thought (I'd cite Sister Stacey here by way of supporting evidence) and here -- wrapped in a cover by the late comix artist Martin Emond -- is evidence of their broad musical church: reggae, dub, garage, electro, wit and menace.

And Shivers could have come from a Flying Nun band like the Bats.

On the back cover is a photo of a live gig and on every face there is a glow of liberating enjoyment.

That sums them up too.

Oddly enough to coincide with this long overdue compilation the Herald has retrieved a '92 interview I did with them (here). McLennan says he finds it funny how serious they were back then.

I took them seriously, still do.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Vorn: Down For It (Powertools)

Vorn: Down For It (Powertools)

In an alternative universe Frank Zappa would be the head of the music school, radio would refuse to play anything by someone who did a photoshoot before writing a song, and Vorn's bent pop would be... > Read more

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

At some time in the mid Nineties I spent an afternoon in Melbourne talking with David McComb, the former singer-songwriter with the Triffids then Blackeyed Susans. He was as intelligent as I had... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

STEVE WILSON OF PORCUPINE TREE INTERVIEWED (2011): Setting controls to the heart of his prog

STEVE WILSON OF PORCUPINE TREE INTERVIEWED (2011): Setting controls to the heart of his prog

Steven Wilson doesn't sound remotely angry, just weary, when he says a major British newspaper declined to review his new album Grace For Drowning. They said he was too under-the-radar and no... > Read more

SLY DUNBAR INTERVIEWED (2003): Pull up to the drummer, baby

SLY DUNBAR INTERVIEWED (2003): Pull up to the drummer, baby

Silly question maybe, but you have to start by asking drummer Sly Dunbar -- one half of the legendary Sly'n'Robbie rhythm section alongside bassist Robbie Shakespeare -- what he's been up to... > Read more