Graham Reid | | 2 min read
I'm sure this has been mentioned previously at Elsewhere, but some years ago the conversation turned to prog-rock and I sagely said there hadn't been much made in New Zealand.
My wiser friend disagreed and not long after a double CD compilation of Kiwi prog-rock he'd put together – entitled Taniwha from Topographic Oceans – turned up and I was suitably chastened.
I would not make the same mistake about local disco-funk rock from the late Seventies . . . because for sure there wasn't that much of it.
And again I am proved wrong by the release of this 17-song double vinyl collection pulled together by local DJ Alan Perrott and Kiwi music archivist John Baker.
Taking its title from the '74 song by the great Prince Tui Teka, this compilation includes some of the biggest and best soul-funk singers it has been the pleasure to have had come out of this country: Mark Williams (with Disco Queen and House For Sale), Tina Cross (You Can Do It), Golden Harvest (the recently reissued I Need Your Love which bridges pop, soul and disco), the Yandall Sisters (their classic interpretation of Sweet Inspiration) and others . . . including the smooth American import Herb McQuay with “audience participation” on his '83 single Night People.
What elevates this isn't just the authentic and sophisticated soul-funk horns, groovy beats, popping bass, electric piano and singing but the often unexpected slashes of hard rock or wah-wah guitars (the 1860 Band!). This might have been the late Seventies but the spirit of the guitar gods of a few years previous still hovered.
Which explains former psychedelic rockers Ticket appearing here with thump-funk My Music (which they recorded for the UK Vertigo label) with the guitar panning between the speakers.
And bad boy Larry Morris (formerly of Larry's Rebels but now out of prison and getting on his good foot) appears with the rock'n'soul of Who Do We Think We're Fooling?
Here is the first reissue of Dalvanius and the Fascinations' 12” disco mix of Voodoo Lady, the full six minutes of which (backed by Collision from Tokoroa who are real stars here) which opens this set.
But it is the lesser known (if known at all names) from the past who are here adding real heft: the Johnny Rocco Band with the tough soul burner She's Knocking At My Door (with wah-wah) which is a real lost classic; the 1860 Band with the punchy burner That's The Kind of Love I've Got For You with one of those archetypal dancefloor bass parts; the Pink Family bringing Jesus to a spot under the mirrorball; the handclap gospel-reggae of Sonia and Skee on There's a River Somewhere . . .
And who knew about the Totals' song Total Man?
In fact, who knew of the Totals?
Well, Alan Perrott and John Baker did and it's thanks to them we can hear the Totals in all their dark, growling, Barry White-as-nightstalker glory.
These are rare grooves (literally, try finding the original records) and they have been given a loving reissue on gatefold double vinyl with liner notes by Perrott, plus images of the artists and record covers.
An ear-opening collection. And just Volume 1 we hope.
Heed the Call is released on limited edition vinyl (1000 copies only) on December 1 through selected record stores. Also available on CD but Voodoo Lady on that is the edited single version.