Graham Reid | | 1 min read
New Zealand may not have much of a lineage of purely political rock music, but there has always been a strong thread of social dissent.
Punks certainly didn't invent songs about boring people living in the suburbs (there were dozens in the psychedelic era of course) and any number of mid-Sixties bands stood in opposition to whatever normal life might have beckoned.
Among the greatest songs were Social End Product by the Blue Stars, but Auckland's La De Da's also tossed out two great singles, one a cover and the other an original -- and both raged against social norms.
How is the Air Up There, the cover, contained the great line "next time I'm in prison row", the implication being the singer has already been in the slammer. Their original was equally tough.
Don't You Stand in My Way -- also driven by fuzz guitar -- was a warning plain and simple: back off.
Right from the start of their career, the La De Da's -- notably guitarist Kevin Borich, keyboard player Bruce Howard and bassist Trevor Wilson -- wrote for the band, although their sets and albums were typically made up of covers (Small Faces, tough r'n'b and garageband rock).
But even their covers were done with their own edge. Their version of Crispian St Peter's Pied Piper was hardly an invitation to follow and they also dug into Little Red Book (a surprising song from Burt Bacharach), Land of a Thousand Dances, Parchman Farm, I Got My Mojo Working and so on.
Later in their career they went a bit hippie (Thank You For the Flowers, their rock opera) but this single 28-song disc pulls together all their hits, better album tracks and raw power (well, raw and powerful for its era).
In the absence of the Rolling Stones, the La De Da's on a good night sometimes seemed a very adequate substitute.