THE INBETWEENS, REISSUED AND DISCOVERED (2023): Play that funky music guitar boy

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THE INBETWEENS, REISSUED AND DISCOVERED (2023): Play that funky music guitar boy

When you've written about music for almost 50 years – often in very visible outlets which run your photo – you have to expect a bit of flak when out in public and minding your own business.

The disgruntled friend of band member in a bar is usually easy to talk down after a disarming handshake, the genuinely menacing emails are something different.

The most annoying thing is also more common. It happens like this.

Someone who is, at best, a very casual acquaintance you see at a gig every couple of years will approach you to tell of some obscure artist they are into.

When you look a bit nonplussed or say you don't know that artist they get to do the whole Ha-gotcha, I-knew-you-were-useless reaction.

“What? You don't know them! I can't believe you don't. Hah hah hah.”

The artist in question is usually some unknown songwriter from Texas who released one album back in '69. Or a band on an indie label which is run out of someone's bedroom at their mother's house.

Because I've always freely admitted when I don't know an artist I'm going to do it again with the Inbetweens whose self-titled debut album has just appeared on vinyl through the agency of Grant Gillanders and Stebbing Studio where the five-piece recorded in late '75.

hero_thumb_innetweensI had never heard of them.

Fortunately AudioCulture is a source of information and writer Keith Newman tells of a band from Dunedin (with numerous line-up changes over the years) winning the regional finals of the '68 Battle of the Bands and being pipped in the final by Fourmyula.

Then lots of gigs and growing popularity, a move to Auckland, signing to Impact, singles (covers originally), the schism between manager Benny Levin positioning them as teenager's band and the group pulled towards Hendrix and Led Zepp . . .

They won the 1970 Battle of the Bands, went to Australia, lost their singer (Rob Guest) to a solo career, reconfigured, guitarist-songwriter Chris McCarthy arrived and brought his bass player brother Neville . . .

They played the Auckland clubs (at the time I was a young father so wasn't getting out much, in fact not at all) and then started recording originals at Stebbing with producer Phil Yule. They signed to Stebbing's Key label alongside Golden Harvest and Hello Sailor.

And so the story went.

You can read the rest at AudioCulture, it's a good story with digressions to LA where the Sailor boys were living. And living it up.

As to the album now released on vinyl (and on Spotify here) . . . 

You can hear that pull between pop and hard rock in material which sometimes sits along the Hendrix-cum-Doobies guitar-funk axis (Far Away).

Sole remaining founder Tony Rabbett is a strong if not exactly distinctive vocalist and the rhythm section (drummer Dave Bailey, bassist Neville McCarthy) is solid.

Screenshot_2023_08_08_at_9.58.27_AMBut their sound most often belongs to guitarist Chris McCarthy who has technique to burn and at times comes off like the progeny of Billy TK. Many of the songs are vehicles for his playing, and that of the keyboard player Len Worthington.

You can also hear their nightclub appeal in songs like the rather lame Mr Funky which follows in the footprints of the Average White Band and was included on the Heed The Call compilation.

Some of the material sounds lyrically undernourished, notably I Can't Stop Loving You which -- by the end of its six minutes – might leave you wondering if there were any words other than that in it.

But what do I know? Apparently it got onto high rotate on Radio Hauraki.

There are songs where worth discovering – the radio-friendly I Will Always Remember, the ballad All My Life and, yes, I Can't Stop Loving You – and you can't help feel that Chris McCarthy was one of the great New Zealand guitarists who got away.

So there's the debut album by the Inbetweens, remastered and repackaged.

And yes, they were new to me.

“What? You don't know them! I can't believe you don't. Hah hah hah.”

Well, I know them now.

But this being an election year I'm going to borrow words you are unfortunately going to hear quite a bit and repurpose them about this album: It's a nice-to-have but not essential.

Unless of course you knew them when I didn't.


This album is available at all good record stores

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Your Comments

Mark Simmonds - Aug 14, 2023

Saw them play at the Crypt (under the Civic) back in the day. Excellent live band.

Relic - Aug 15, 2023

Yep, me too, used to see them at the Crypt when in the mood for a toasted sandwich in a different location, and just liked something about their bright sound. A lot of line up changes for sure.

Was in my V8 parked outside the Crypt one night about to go in, and some D’s pulled up in an HQ Holden and nudged the rear bumper quite firmly, I hopped out all righteous as a wine bottle fell out of the car and rolled under it to the kerb, not deterred I bollocked the cops about their driving anyway!

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