Human Instinct: Midnight Sun (Ode)

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Human Instinct: Midnight Sun (Ode)

When thirtysomething guitarist Joel Haines invited me to the launch of the new Human Instinct album he told me he'd joined the group. I said, “ You've joined what used to one of the most dangerous bands in the country! Good luck.”

They might not have been, but in the late Sixties/early Seventies New Zealand bands like Human Instinct, Ticket and the Underdogs were impressively adult to me. A few years older, they didn't fanny about with pop music and knew dark things like the blues and illicit substances.

Human Instinct's second album Stoned Guitar (1970) is a Kiwi classic and evidence Billy TK was the Maori Hendrix.stonedguitar

Human Instinct grew out of the Four Fours – a mid 60s pop band – which included guitarist Bill Ward and Maurice Greer, the singer, standing-up drummer and sole constant in HI.

The Four Fours toured with the Stones, went to London in 66, changed their name, grew their hair, released well-received but not chart-bothering singles, supported Cream and returned home after two years. Ward was replaced by Billy TK and the story really began.

Their sound was loud and psychedelic, they went back to London, scored a following, came back to record, Neil Edward replaced bassist Larry Waide, TK left, keyboard player Graeme Collins joined, then guitarist Martin Hope from the Fourmyula.

They released five albums -- Burning Up Years, Stoned Guitar and Pins In It (with TK), then Snatmin Cuthin? and The Hustler (with Hope).

In the late Nineties a German label Little Wing of Refugees released the first three on vinyl in a limited edition box set, then the other two in a solid gatefold as The Zodiac Years. There was something a little suspicious about the deal as I recall, but I was just real glad to have them.

In 2001 Greer belatedly delivered Peg Leg, an unreleased '75 album recorded at Stebbings.

And now Human Instinct – Greer (who still has Brian Jones' hair), Edwards, the fiery Haines at the core – have this new album which features Murray Grindlay (Underdogs), former Enz-man Eddie Rayner on keyboards and a cover of Split Enz' Dirty Creature.

Haines conjures up kiss-the-sky attitude when required and Midnight Sun – mostly revisits to material from those first three albums, two with TK – is highly respectable, but I suspect will be mostly of appeal to greybeards who remember the band from their heyday in Auckland clubs like the notorious Bo Peep.

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