Various Artists: We've Got You Covered (Frenzy)

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Lydia Pense: I'll Forgive You and Forget You
Various Artists: We've Got You Covered (Frenzy)
One result of an increasingly inward-looking society – exacerbated by Covid isolationism – is a belief in national exceptionalism which elevates its own above all others.

New Zealand music has fallen for some of that. But not every album ever released is a lost classic or every artist could’ve been a contender.

However the reissue of the self-titled Ragnarok album confirmed they are worthy of rediscovery and elevation, just as the four CD set of the Fourmyula a decade ago showed a band of international stature who wrote all their own songs.

In the Sixties, when the Fourmyula emerged, local acts most commonly covered international songs, often quite obscure ones.

Who at the time heard the original She’s a Mod (by Britain’s Senators), Do the Blue Beat (Ray Rivera), How is the Air Up There (the Changin’ Times) or Thanks To You (Bobby Hanna)?

Our versions wrote themselves into people’s autobiographies and the canon of Kiwi pop.

We’ve Got You Coveredgathers 29 of the original versions and -- without falling for the myth of our exceptionalism -- in some instances the local variants were far superior. And our producers had stepped up too.

Ray Columbus reconfigured She’s a Mod into a more vibrant slice of Beatle-pop and his rewrite of Arthur Alexander’s Where Have You Been as Till We Kissed was inspired, Dinah Lee channelled cheeky enthusiasm into Blue Beat and the La De Das brought firepower to How is the Air Up There and John Mayall’s On Top of the World.

However here are some fine, if familiar, songs: Morgana King’s slick and swinging mainstream country on I Have Loved Me A Man (covered by Allison Durban), Aphrodite’s Child’s dramatically baroque Rain and Tears (Hi Revving Tongues), The Ides of March horn-funk of Aire of Good Feeling which sounds written for Wellington’s Quincy Conserve . . .

Here too is the obscure belting soul of Lydia Pense with the New Invaders (covered to a lesser result by Dinah Lee), Walter Jackson's Opportunity (more raw and soulful than Mr Lee Grant's hit version), Terry Knight's Saint Paul . . .

There are also some interesting sidebars here: Aphrodite's Child was fronted by singer/bassist Demis Roussos and had Vangelis on keyboards (both of whom went on to successful solo careers; the much recorded Where Have You Been aka Till We Kissed was written by the great Arthur Alexander who was one of the young John Lennon's favourite writers; I Feel Good was written by Allen Toussaint under a pseudonym, famed British arrangers Charles Blackwell wrote Don't Come Any Closer and Mike Leander penned Let's Get a Little Sentimental, Leander who arranged for Jon Rowles when he was in Britain was also in Friendly Persuasion whose Make a Wish Amanda (covered by the Inbetweens) was sung by Paul Gadd who later became Garry Glitter . . .

More than just a curiosity, this obverse of a covers album allows comparisons and – for many – a chance to hear Kiwi classics as they once were.

1964_copyFootnote: An interesting double disc companion to We've Got You Covered is The Kiwi Music Scene 1964 which scoops up more than three dozen local acts, some oddities (songs about the Beatles like Dinah Lee's Yea Yea We Love Em All and Rochelle Vinsen's My Boyfriend's Got a Beatle Haircut) and well as artists who have never really had their due (Jimmy Sloggett).

The second disc is interpolated by quotes from the Beatles recorded during their New Zealand tour that year.

Howard Morrison and the Huhu's: I Wanna Cut Your Hair
 

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