Graham Reid | | 2 min read
Among the many interesting and unreleased things I have at home is a CD burn a friend made of the original versions of songs which Kiwi acts turned into homegrown hits. And the remarkable thing is -- and I will safely say this without pulling some reflexive bullshit Kiwi/nationalistic stroke -- the local versions waaaay oustripped the originals.
Frankly, you don't want or need to hear the originals of She's A Mod, How is the Air Up There, Sittin' in the Rain and so many other songs New Zealanders now rightly claim as their own.
And among that selection are the originals of I Feel Good and Painter Man which I'd never heard previously. Larry's Rebels' treatments cut them dead in terms of desperation, urgency and . . . Ah, fuggetabout it. Larry's Rebels' versions are the definitive treatments. Simple as that.
I'm old enough to have seen Larry's Rebels play any number of times in Auckland clubs in the mid Sixties -- and at An Old Person's Concert recently was introduced to drummer Nooky Stott whom I'd shared a school hall with -- so I can claim to be something of a Longtime Fan.
(And incidentally . . . damn, I wished someone had recorded my local heroes Lika Street Choir whom I followed around suburban dancehalls in Auckland, but I think went unrecorded and unacknowledged. Answers on a postcard please).
But to be honest, this double disc of Larry's Rebels -- and the the Rebels' Madrigal album after Larry Morris left and was replaced by Glyn Mason -- has left me cold and disappointed. Aside from their dyspeptic version of Painter Man, their superb treatment of Inside Looking Out which crams psychedelia into fewer than four minutes and the lightlydelic Let's Think of Something . . .
Other than that?
As I mentioned in a previous comment about bands from that era being little more than covers acts (here), that is how most of this lovingly compiled disc comes off. Covers, and sadly few as good as their most outstanding one.
Also Larry's Rebel mostly just sound flat, poorly recorded (the sound levels and immediacy changes, be warned) and too dependent on threadbare or bettered covers (Midnight Hour, What Now My Love, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Dancing in the Street among other inappropriate atrocities)
I remember Larry's Rebels as being more rebellious at that Hauraki/1480 Village in about '66 . . . but maybe that's my underage drinks and early encounters with dope talking. I wouldba been 15, so what would I know? (Other than what I liked.)
I liked their version of the Skye Boat Song (I was born in Edinburgh, what can I say? For me that was my own My Bonnie) but . . .
Nice packaging, authentically re-presented but . . .
I won't choose remember Larry's Rebels this way . . . or those subsequent Rebels whom I only saw maybe a coupla times - if did at all -- and thought , "Yeah, nah, but . . ."
They went sorta went jazz-rock or something like Chicago/Quincy Conserve and I've always thought that stuff was dull and full of itself. It wasn't rock and I wouldn't wake kids to say, "You gotta listen to this version of Georgia on My Mind".
Actually I wouldn't wake myself for it.
So I wanted to like this compilation more but . . .
Much as we get into Wilson Pickett tropes and the enjoyable My Son John, the Cocker-like/lite To Love Somebody and the extended treatments of Ticket to Ride (Jeez, Vanilla Fudge have a lot to answer for) on the Rebels' Madrigal I had to tune out because . . .
History maybe doesn't translate quite as well as it we'd like it to sometimes.
But . . . I Feel Good and Painter Man?
Oh, maaate. Heard the dull originals?
And the adolescently thrilling (and fashionably well-dressed) Lika Street Choir?