Various Artists: Ten Guitars, the New Zealand Heartland Soundtrack (Universal)

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Patea Maori: Poi E
Various Artists: Ten Guitars, the New Zealand Heartland Soundtrack (Universal)

Walking in to a CD/DVD store recently I heard the most unexpected song playing, it was Amigo by Black Slate, a British reggae band which had a brief fliration with the charts at the dawn of the Eighties with this pop-reggae crossover single.

They came to Auckland and played a Town Hall gig with Herbs and my recollection, seared in my memory actually, was of going to the gig and being one the very, very few Pakeha in the crowd.

A massive dreadlocked Mongrel Mob member stood at the centre of the lobby and, with a fist raised, shouted out, "This is our night, brothers".

And it was. Back then reggae, and especially that by Herbs, was a political music.

I don't think I have heard Black Slate's Amigo -- or even heard of the band -- since that night.

So why might they have been playing it on the shop's soundsystem? Because of this canny collection.

Whoever put this together knew that songs like Amigo, Eddy Grant's I Don't Wanna Dance, Freddy Fender's Before the Next Teardrop Falls and Wasted Days and Wasted Nights, Toots and the Maytall's Beautiful Woman, and Musical Youth's Pass the Dutchie actually mean something to New Zealanders. Some of those songs were hits in this country and few other places.

Then of course there are locals: Netherworld Dancing Toys (For Today), the Yandall Sisters (Sweet Inspiration), Ardijah (Watching You), Herbs (Sensitive to a Smile), Annie Whittle (Tequila Sunrise), Southside of Bombay (What's the Time Mr Wolf?), Patea Maori Club (Poi E) and others.

Yes, there are some dodgy inclusions (Pussycat's Mississippi? And Ben E King's Stand By Me comes from an earlier era) but overall this is a no-brain-required collection for a slightly sentimental bbq or party over summer.

And it lets Black Slate's Amigo get another airing after almost three decades. Who would have thunk it.

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Vicky - Oct 29, 2012

This album actually does a good job at picking up some of the gaps in the Nature's Best collection, especially songs that were huge hits but ostensibly didn't make the cut in the APRA voting given they were covers (Sweet Lovers, anyone?) or just not 'cool' enough (Mark Williams, Jon Stevens etc).

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