Graham Reid | | 2 min read
Among the many pleasures of my life is meeting young students in the music papers I teach at the University of Auckland where I am a "professional teaching fellow" in the School of Music.
The young are so full of enthusiasm, uncertainty, promise and failure . . .
What always thrills me is when Maori students come to me and say, "Thank you, sir" after a lecture in which I have introduced "their music", be it songs in te reo, Maori showbands, Herbs or hip-hop.
It's a weird and slightly sad thing to observe, but it seems it validates their musical taste. And from what they tell me, the music of their grandparents, mums'n'dads, cousins and so on. They have "their music" right there at university alongside all that other stuff like classical music and left-field rock etc.
The Maori showbands however are always an interesting topic.
It's in the nature of how some students read their world -- or are told a perspective to adopt -- that they will tell me the reason these bands went overseas was "because of racism in New Zealand".
I then explain the commercial imperatives of trying to find enough showcase opportunities for these exceptionally talented bands in a country which simply didn't have the venues or population to support them . . . when Sydney, Las Vegas, Manila etc all did.
However when it comes to the music these bands made -- and no one would ever dare doubt the talent of these musicians -- what they did, with extremely rare exceptions, was cover the popular hits of the day. They were popular and populist entertainers.
So, as Elsewhere has previously noted, any CD collection of a showband is just going to sound like a retro-comp of other people's songs.
So here -- despite the astonishng roll call of talent that was the Quin Tikis: Eddie Low, Lisa Nuku, the great Rim D. Paul, Bill Rawhiti, Rufus Rehu etc etc -- you hear mostly familiar old hits like Vaya Con Dias, What Now My Love, I've Got You Under My Skin, a drearily earnest Let It Be Me, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Route 66 etc and, somewhat improbably, an excellent and fast horn-driven instrumental take on Donovan's Sunshine Superman.
All good but . . .
There are a couple of points when this 20-song collection really hits the spot for my students and me: the Hoki Mai Medley and -- of course -- the terrific Poi Poi Twist written by the absurdly gifted Rim D. Paul (pictured) which implodes Hoki Mai and the trend for twist songs.
It's a real party song.
Could have come from nowehere else but here.
My students really get that one.
As do I.
I refer you to a writer better than me about the Quin Tikis: Chris Bourke has distilled them in this excellent article at audioculture.
Terrific photos there too.
Go to that.