katchafire

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Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI)

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI)

About six years ago I first encountered Hamilton reggae band Katchafire playing in a pretty ropey provincial bar. I'd met them backstage beforehand -- actually in a room full of beer barrels -- and I knew within minutes these guys could be huge. They were genuinely nice people and had a repertoire of almost 200 songs -- mostly covers, and...

KATCHAFIRE (2005): Slow burning their way to consciousness

KATCHAFIRE (2005): Slow burning their way to consciousness

Reggae is one of the bloodlines of New Zealand music. It is there whenever an acoustic guitar comes out on the marae or suburban barbeque, and you can hear it in the hi-tech dub incarnation in clubland and dance music like that from Salmonella Dub, Trinity Roots, Pitch Black and the many bands out of Wellington. Yet since indigenous reggae...

Tahuna Breaks: Black Brown and White (Chocolate)

Tahuna Breaks: Black Brown and White (Chocolate)

I'd be astonished if Tahuna Breaks don't have hugely successful concerts on their current tour, and sell truckloads of this album -- because they tick every stylistic box that New Zealand audiences seem to like: you want James Brown-styled soul-funk (you've got it on Giddy Up which isn't the Katchafire song, and Funky Mama), or you want light...

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI CD/DVD Edition)

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI CD/DVD Edition)

This will be brief because the original 2008 album (the third by this constantly working New Zealand reggae outfit) was reviewed at Elsewhere here, but just to note this expanded package now comes with extra tracks (two album tracks remixed and two live songs, one being Collie Herbsman off their debut album Revival, the other this album's title...

NGATAHI: KNOW THE LINKS, a documentary series by DEAN HAPETA (Kaha DVD)

NGATAHI: KNOW THE LINKS, a documentary series by DEAN HAPETA (Kaha DVD)

Technology may have made the world smaller, but it has also divided it. Consider this: if you are a Satan-worshipping death-metal band in Sweden (and there are an alarming number) you can now have a valid and validated career by selling your music on the internet to like minds across the planet. But at the same time you are also marginalised...

BILL SEVESI INTERVIEWED: Light of the Pacific

BILL SEVESI INTERVIEWED: Light of the Pacific

Bill Sevesi says he speaks three languages, but he actually speaks four. The three he will admit to are Tongan (he was born in Nuku'alofa almost 88 years ago), English which he learned when he came to Auckland at age 9, and Italian, picked up during World War II. "I found out that making love to Italian girls was better than fighting...

BOB MARLEY; RASTAMAN VIBRATION RECONSIDERED: The legacy is music and the message

BOB MARLEY; RASTAMAN VIBRATION RECONSIDERED: The legacy is music and the message

The bassist with Hamilton reggae band Katchafire, Ara Adams-Tamatea, said it: "You go to parties now and they are still playing the same '70s Bob albums 20 and 30 years later. Why is that? Because Bob's message is still alive and the things he was singing about are still relevant." The Bob in question is dread rebel Bob Marley,...

Te Kupu: Ko Te Matakahi Kupu (Kia Kaha)

Te Kupu: Ko Te Matakahi Kupu (Kia Kaha)

Dean Hapeta, of Upper Hutt Posse, always aimed for more than bragging and a catchy hook. He styled himself D-Word and has done spoken-word performances. His new nom de disque is Te Kupu (aka the Word). I guess that all confirms it: Word values the power of the word. As the volatile founder of the Upper Hutt Posse - sometimes favouring...

Various Artists: The Great New Zealand Songbook Vol 2 (Thom/Universal)

Various Artists: The Great New Zealand Songbook Vol 2 (Thom/Universal)

The previous volume in this series (see here) sold eight times platinum which proved two things: that well packaged and intelligently compiled collections of New Zealand are popular and in short supply, and that a lot of Kiwis living abroad probably got one for a birthday/Christmas. If that set -- 42 tracks over two discs -- came up a little...

TrinityRoots: Music is Choice (Rhythmethod CD/DVD)

TrinityRoots: Music is Choice (Rhythmethod CD/DVD)

There was good news for Flight of the Conchords fans this week: Jemaine Clement confirmed, yet again, there wouldn't be another series. Strange as that sounds, some things are so perfectly formed they are best left alone: Fawlty Towers and the English version of The Office . . . or the never-ending Lost and drearily drawn out V?...

Katchafire: On the Road Again (EMI)

Katchafire: On the Road Again (EMI)

The title song/opener here is appropriate: for most of the past decade this hard-working band have been playing everywhere from small town bars and main centres around New Zealand to “London, Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii, Vegas, Cali, LA . . .” and more, which they tick off on the promise of “Fire layin' it down” in...

Easy Star All-Stars: Dubber Side of the Moon (Easy Star/Southbound)

Easy Star All-Stars: Dubber Side of the Moon (Easy Star/Southbound)

Almost a decade ago the Dub Side of the Moon album appeared and through word of mouth, then touring shows and a live DVD, the thing -- a dub take on Pink Floyd's milestone/millstone in rock -- became a sub-cultural phenomenon. And, as is the nature of such things, it now undergoes another reworking as "The Dubber Side" because...

General Echo: Bathroom Sex (1980)

General Echo: Bathroom Sex (1980)

General Echo (Earl Robinson, shot by police in 1980 shortly after this song appeared) is generally credited -- if that's the right word -- with shifting Jamaican reggae away from consciousness lyricals (morally uplifting and philosophically profound sentiments ) to something rather more . . . base, shall we say? He's the man we can thank for...

Max Romeo: War Ina Babylon (1976)

Max Romeo: War Ina Babylon (1976)

When Max Romeo's Holding Out My Love to You album was released in '81 it came with heavy patronage: Keith Richards was a Romeo fan and had produced some of the tracks . . . so there was a cover sticker proclaiming "Featuring Keith Richards -- Free Colour Poster of Keith and Mick Inside". Romeo had moved from Jamaica to New York a...

The Maytals: Disco Reggae (1977)

The Maytals: Disco Reggae (1977)

You could almost understand Kay Starr singing Rock and Roll Waltz as the waters around her rose in the Fifties. Her style was being swamped by the likes of rockabilly and rock'n'roll, so she was probably just trying to keep her head above water. But quite why the Maytals would have wanted to lean towards disco for this single when reggae was...

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 lately. In the past couple of years the formidable Riddum Twins have played on No Doubt's career-reviving Rock Steady album, shared equal billing...

House of Shem: Island Vibration (Isaac)

House of Shem: Island Vibration (Isaac)

If it's true, as I am told, this album went to number one on the New Zealand charts it confirms two things: in this part of the Pacific we love them familiar summertime reggae grooves; and also that we have an indiscriminate love of them familar summertime reggae grooves to the point of ignoring the obvious. The obvious here is that House of...

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Live Forever (Universal)

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Live Forever (Universal)

Some albums are accorded greater cachet because of the circumstances of their creation. Does anyone really think George Harrison would have won a Grammy for his instrumental Marwa Blues if he had been around to collect it? That was a vote driven by sentiment -- and probably regret and embarrassment that his contribution to music post-Beatles...

Herbs: Whats' Be Happen (1981)

Herbs: Whats' Be Happen (1981)

History, according to Napoleon (among others), is written by the winners. True in one sense. But if the losers are still out there they are often so forgetful of their history as to be worthless and absent witnesses. Many buy into the narrative of the winners whom you might have thought would be their adversary. Take the New Zealand reggae...

Apanui: Matariki (Frequency)

Apanui: Matariki (Frequency)

Ngahiwi Apanui, formerly of the seminal reggae band Aotearoa, was in the vanguard of the use of taonga puoro (traditional instruments) with his autobiographical solo album Te hono ke te Kainga/The Link with the Homeland in '89 which also brought in reggae and folk. A staunch advocate of te reo and cultural pride, he opens this album with...

Ziggy Marley: Wild and Free (Tuff Gong)

Ziggy Marley: Wild and Free (Tuff Gong)

After a faltering start with the Melody Makers, Ziggy (now 42) uncoupled his music from overly familiar reggae rhythms and incorporated African sounds, hooked up with rap artists, kept a political agenda and all the while didn't veer too far from his father's path and sometimes the classic sound. Here his collaborators include Woody...

Various: Te Whaiao -- Te Ku Te Whe Remixed (Rattle)

Various: Te Whaiao -- Te Ku Te Whe Remixed (Rattle)

In time to come the late Hirini Melbourne, who died in 2003, will get national recognition for what he did in reviving and revitalising interest in traditional Maori instruments, and -- with Richard Nunns -- making them come alive again in contemporary recordings. In one way this album -- remixes of the Melbourne/Nunns '93 album Te Ku Te Whe...

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