Kokomo: Batten Down the Hatches (kokomo.co.nz)

 |   |  1 min read

Too Many Words
Kokomo: Batten Down the Hatches (kokomo.co.nz)

Those who don't "get it" or take any time with the blues tend to dismiss it as all sounding the same.

Certainly there can be superficial similarities, but it is an idiom with an infinitie capacity for reinvention. Every old black bluesman has a descption of the style -- "Blues is the truth", "Blues is a feeling") and so on -- but ironically it was John Lennon (who was never much interested in it) who had a telling description.

He said, "the blues is a chair, not a design for a chair or a better chair . . . it is the first chair. It is a chair for sitting on, not for looking at. You sit on that music".

That would seem to encapsulate it . . . and we all know how different chairs are.

Kokomo -- originally Kokomo Blues -- out of the Bay of Plenty have playing and reinventing the blues for 25 years now and across this double CD retrospective which comes in a DVDs-zed box with an excellent, illustrated booklet giving details of the various line-ups around founders Derek Jacombs and Grtant Bullot.

To their undying credit they -- like Windy City Strugglers playing folk-blues and beyond in Wellington -- they wrote original and locally-referencing songs. The first disc here includes Rainy Night in Taupo, the wry Superheroes ("if we lived in China they'd would lock us up and torture us but stranded here in paradise they barely give a fuck for us") and Wasteland in quick succession. And they shift from slow folk blues to early Dylan-styled blues to an almost romantic shuffle.

Over the years -- decades actually -- Kokomo constantly drew on new and old sources, whether it be ragtime or Alabama 3, literate singer-songwriter tropes or harp honking, jazz-influenced sounds.

So here you'll find rolling piano, folk-blues ballads, New Orleans-coloured party music (the end--f-days dance into the abyss style of the title track), traintime harmonica blues live material,  their terrific Bigger Than Brando which gives Tom Russell a run for his money, a Dylan song (Cats in the Cradle from their Bob covers album In the Well from '08) and so much more.

Kokomo have carved out a very large niche for themselves through constant work (they've played every kind of music festival imaginable) and a steady stream of album . . . from which they could draw from for this impressive career overview.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing: Songs of Sodomy and the Compost of Aethyr (Muzai)

Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing: Songs of Sodomy and the Compost of Aethyr (Muzai)

For reasons we can't and won't fully explain, Elsewhere has always found something of considerable interest in the archly arty, post-punk/experimentalism and enjoyably indulgent shadowland... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Tempest (Sony)

Bob Dylan: Tempest (Sony)

While music magazines and rock bloggers are exercising their opinion about the Rolling Stones announcing a new tour after five years – just four dates so far – to celebrate 50 years... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET REVIEWED (2017): Don't knock this rock

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET REVIEWED (2017): Don't knock this rock

Here's the thing: ignore the nay-sayers, the smarter-than-thou critics and those who haven't seen this stage show but will be prepared to be dismissive in advance. Of course this isn't what... > Read more

The Undertones: The Undertones (1979, reissue 2009)

The Undertones: The Undertones (1979, reissue 2009)

It's a measure of how obsessed rock music is with the present tense that in 1979 Paul Morley in the NME would proclaim, "The Undertones have created the greatest pop of this age and thus every... > Read more