UP UP AND AWAY, AGAIN (2024): Balloon D'Essai and the Instigators fly once more

 |   |  3 min read

You Don't Matter, by the Instigators
UP UP AND AWAY, AGAIN (2024): Balloon D'Essai and the Instigators fly once more

The small independent Christchurch label Leather Jacket Records has had a number of favourable mentions at Elsewhere, as much for their reissues of post-punk rock (and the terrific Grim Ltd live album from '66) as for their new releases.

But communication and self-promotion isn't the label's long suit. So we have had to rely on others to tell us when albums have been released.

Thank you Facebook.

Two forthcoming releases, both on vinyl, attract our attention again and largely because the music by these artists has been all but impossible to find in many decades, and some of it not at all.

Attention first turns to the early Flying Nun band Balloon D'Essai from Christchurch who appeared in 1983 with their self-titled EP. They initially featured two bassists, had a love of PiL and the Fall, and launched themselves – after a fashion – with their 16-page Balloon D'Comic which spoke of vocalist Mark Rastrick's love of comics and the band's desire to be about something more than just music.

lj1New member Matt Campbell also drew and so the EP came with a second edition of the D'Comic and a screen-printed cover.

A different line-up reappeared with their Grow Up EP at the end of '83, a very belated release to the chagrin, if not outright anger, of the band.

It was not well received by critic Colin Hogg (“take this band outside and shoot it”) and the band broke up in early '84.

Their sound was primitive and cheap but they walked a smart line between reductive pop and indie rock.

Balloon D'Essai had a small output but – with material from their unreleased third EP, which appeared on a Failsafe cassette-only release in '86 – it has been remastered by Angus McNaughton and collated for the limited edition vinyl compilation “Woot” Is The Word! with examples of their comix.

Isolation, by Balloon D'Essai

Also out (on March 29) is The Best of the Instigators; Auckland Ska Punk 1981-1982, in a very limited edition (150 copies) on white vinyl, and in a black vinyl edition.

The five-piece Instigators were a much more disciplined and tight band than Balloon D'Essai.

lj3They had two vocalists – Ed Geddes who also played saxophone and Sonya Waters, also on organ – which gave them more diversity.

They won a 1981 Battle of the Bands and had their two cornerstone singles released on Ripper Records.

Not Really Bad and its flipside In Line were produced by Don McGlashan, and Hope She's Alright (produced by Steve Kennedy) appeared later on Propeller's '88 Bigger Than Both of Us compilation.

They confidently covered Desmond Dekker's Israelites punching up the ska and included a wiry guitar line by Tom Rothsey and a lively sax solo from Geddes.

All round, a damn good band. 

Simon Grigg who has been a prime mover behind the Instigators reissue says, “one of the reasons I bought Ripper from Bryan Staff was to see records like these classic 45s reissued and here they are, coupled with a side of live tracks that illustrate rather well why the band was so popular back in the day and why their legacy has lasted and grown. Extreme Ripper pride!”

It's a typically danceable collection from a band that played at Sweetwaters in '82 but split up later that year.

So, here are two more albums which have involved the passionate excavation by believers and, with additional material, have become albums in their own right . . . fortysomething years on.

Strange to consider this, but probably everyone on these songs has a Gold Card these days.

Well, they earned it.

.

You can hear and buy the Balloon D'Essai “Woot” limited edition vinyl collection at bandcamp here

You can hear and buy The Instigators at bandcamp here

These albums on vinyl are also available through Flying Nun in Auckland (see here)

lj2

.

lj4


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Absolute Elsewhere articles index

AUGUST 18 1962, WHEN THEY BECAME THE BEATLES (2022): One night in Port Sunlight

AUGUST 18 1962, WHEN THEY BECAME THE BEATLES (2022): One night in Port Sunlight

There had been Beatles before August 18 1962, of course. But on that night at Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight, south of the River Mersey, they became the Beatles as we know them. That was the... > Read more

BOB DYLAN: MURDER MOST FOUL, CONSIDERED (2020): Mind out of time

BOB DYLAN: MURDER MOST FOUL, CONSIDERED (2020): Mind out of time

On December 13 1963, just three weeks after President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Bob Dylan – who had watched the coverage on television and was depressed by the death of the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

SEDUCED BY SOUND: The passion as the passport

SEDUCED BY SOUND: The passion as the passport

In his readable and funny Autobiography, Rod Stewart said when he was young his dad told him he needed three thing in life: a job, a sport and a hobby. Rod has singing, soccer and model... > Read more

TEAK LEAVES AT THE TEMPLES: Where free jazz and Javanese music meet

TEAK LEAVES AT THE TEMPLES: Where free jazz and Javanese music meet

On the face of it, there would seem little common ground between European free jazz and the traditional music and Buddhist culture of Java. But for Aucklander Winston Marsh -- co-producer of... > Read more