Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Although Flying Nun has been down the compilation path in the past (Getting Older 1981-91, Under the Influence, the box set and a number dedicated to collections of individual artists), on the occasion of its 30th anniversary and with a new roster of younger acts, this double disc overview (subtitled Flying Nun's Greatest Bits) is not just forgiveable but thoroughly enjoyable on a number of counts.
The first disc collects early classic Nun pop songs by the Clean (Tally Ho!), the Verlaines (Death and the Maiden), the Chills (Heavenly Pop Hit), Sneaky Feelings (Husband House) and Look Blue Go Purple (Cactus Cat) through to the more recent Mint Chicks (Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!), the Phoenix Foundation (40 Years), Robert Scott (Too Early) and Grayson Gilmour (I Am A Light!) with pitstop for the Bats, Straitjacket Fits, Able Tasmans, Garageland and others.
This -- as much as 20 tracks can -- wraps up some of the best Nun pop which should be in any collection.
The second disc however is where this one really brings it home in songs which were more edgy, often raw and more challenging, especially to radio programmers.
So here are the Pin Group (Ambivalence), the Gordons (Machine Song), the Stones (Down and Around) and Children's Hour (Looking for the Sun) through the Double Happys, Tall Dwarfs, the 3D's, Bailter Space and the Skeptics to HDU, Ghost Club, the Shocking Pinks and F in Math.
If the first disc reminds just how much Nun acts imprinted themselves into the Kiwi psyche, the second illustrates what a damaged and dark psyche that could be. These were own musicians -- influenced by the Velvet Underground et al -- exploring emotional territory which had been common in literature, painting and film, and putting an aural spin on discomfort, unease and barely suppressed rage.
And sometimes -- as represented here in the case of the DIY approach of Tall Dwarfs, the mechanical relentlessness of Snapper and the explosive Skeptics -- inventing a sound that was as distinctive and personal as it was influential.
A double disc which celebrates a happy anniversary, and measures unhappiness at the same time.
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