Graham Reid | | 1 min read
In the decade before hip-hop became the distinctive voice of South Auckland, the Polynesian soul-funk of Ardijah was the most prominent and carried to a wider audience by the singles Give Me Your Number, Watching U and Time Makes a Wine from their platinum-selling 88 album Take a Chance.
Helmed by multi-instrumentalist/writer/producer Ryan Monga and singer
Betty-Anne, the band went to Australia where record company
litigation prevented them from recording for three years. But they
never stopped working there – and here when they returned five
This 19 song collection (with some new
tracks and guests) picks up career highlights where classic Motown
styles (Smokey, the Jackson 5) sit easily alongside tougher urban
funk and seductive reggae grooves. And they always made a fine fist
of covers (McCartney's Silly Love Songs went number 1, there's
a soul-cruise through Midnight Train to Georgia among the new tracks)
although Leo Sayer's Moonlighting sounds a little dated, as
does the synth-sound in places.
But the Polynesian influences (Pacific
rhythms, ukulele) elevated them into their self-described “PolyFonk”.
Here are new versions of Haere Mai and E Ipo alongside
Polynesian Girl and their take on Somewhere Over the
Rainbow (more recently made popular by the late Hawaiian singer
Betty-Anne's soulful voice doesn't
resort to Idol-like over-emoting and this collection reminds
you what an important, influential band they were. And remain.