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Peter Cape: Coffee Bar Blues

They are found at the back of cartons at record fairs, under beds in long abandoned houses and sometimes stored lovingly -- but rarely played -- in the collections of the obsessives. They are those great, and not that great, singles by Kiwi artists which existed either in limited pressings or were simply so awful the artists themselves tried to buy and destroy every copy.

They are Kiwi rarities, singles with an interesting story behind them -- often more interesting than the music itself. Here are a few examples, more as they come to light.

KINGS: She'll Be Right, S'all Good Bro, Don't Worry 'Bout It:

Tapping into Kiwi laissez-faire attitudes and aspects of local indolence, this 15 minute 12 inch single tried to link across the generations with references to common phrases from the past ("she'll be right" and the more recent, "s'all good bro") but by the time he got to his own contribution to the lineage ("don't worry 'bout it") he had forgotton what he wanted to say. The final five minutes were just instrumental with KINGS sometimes being heard to mutter "Ahh . . . yeah, nah . . ." A fortnight later he had another crack at it and just shaved off the first historical ideas and jumed straight into his own take with "don't worry 'bout it" . . .  although in an unedited version which appeared on the internet he can be heard to say at the end, "Jeez bro', there's a shitload to worry 'bout when you think 'bout it, eh?" 

SixSix60: The Devil Went Down to George Street: Few people know that before they became famous, Dunedin's Six60 were actually Satan-worshipping, baby-eating black metallers. As SixSix60 they recorded this one-off single inspired by the Charlie Daniels Band hit The Devil Went Down to Georgia. The fiddle part was played by a member of the NZSO who they had drugged up on P, which explains her furious playing style. Shortly after however they actually met Satan and he offered them riches and fame as long as they converted to the MOR/reggae religion. Which they did. But he now owns their immortal souls.

Anika Moa with Babymetal: Bubbas, Live at Budokan: While she was holidaying in Japan, a chance encounter between Anika Moa and local metallers Babymetal (three young poppets backed by a hard rock band) resulted in a day-long saki session and Moa joining the band onstage at Budokan that night for a thrash metal medley of material from her Songs for Bubbas album. Bootlegs appeared in Tokyo and copies now go for in excess of $500. Encouraged by this, Moa started a Crowdkicking campaign to raise funds to get her and Katchafire to Denmark for a festival there to record a live album . . . Bubbas, Reggae From Roskilde.

Lorde-Dobbyn: Call Me Royal: This ill-conceived duet seems to have been instigated by the New Zealand Monarchist League in the months before the 2014 visit of Prince William and his lovely wife Kate Middleton. It was well known Dave Dobbyn was angling for a knighthood at the time but quite why new 12-year old sensation from Hillsborough, Lorde (aka Ellie Hypenated-Something) got involved is a mystery. But lyrics like "call us royal and keep it that way" did seem to capture something of the pro-monarchy sentiment of the time, and got them a cover story on the New Zealand Woman's Weekly.  

Aaradhna, Wake Up, Yeah-Nah: This previously unheard demo of her Wake Up hit recently slipped out via Simon Sweetman's excellent website Blog on the Tracks. Word has it it was leaked to him by United Future MP Peter Dunne. Sort of a South Auckland slacker anthem celebrating sloth, KFC and lying in bed with bottles of booze.

Dave Dobbyn; Welcome Home, Yeah Riiight: Those who were there when Dobbyn recently re-recorded his Welcome Home hit say it seemed he'd fallen off the wagon after being burned by financial advisors now living in luxury homes on the Gold Coast. YouTube footage -- since deleted -- showed a clearly angry and possibly intoxicated Dobbyn on Paratai Drive carrying a can of petrol and shouting profanities at builders working on the former home of an investment advisor while the soundtrack played this brutal and offensive song. Mr Dobbyn was unavailable for comment.

Fat Freddy's Drop, Wandering Hands: Some say this captured the band in their P-period, others are less kind. But this thrash-metal shout-out to kiddie-fiddin' teachers was only briefly released as a download through their website and instantly deleted when their manager woke up and discovered their website had crashed. It is said the song had over three million hits in 24 hours because it was leaked with a photo taken at five-year old girl's birthday party. Mr Freddy was unavailable for comment.

Ray and the Reptiles, She's a Gob: Ill-conceived project by John Baker (of Wild Things fame) who aligned Ray Columbus with the reformed Suburban Reptiles for this '87 punk version of She’s A Mod. Wreckless Eric covered it on his '89 comeback album. He didn’t come back.

D.D. Smashed, Outlook for Thirst Day: After the boozy Bliss, Dave Dobbyn briefly fell prey to commercial interests from breweries and threw his lot in with an Irish metalhead pub band. Liberally applied sponsors’ products resulted in this rather off-key single which Dobbyn later reworked to greater effect.

Chris Knox, Address to the Third Soviet Congress 1921: Those who were there say it was late and the background noise intolerable, so perhaps Chris misheard. But being a Beatles fan he felt he had to immediately record what he took to be the lyrics of a previously unreleased John Lennon song. The 37-minute cassette-only single began with unpromising line: “Comrades and fellow party members . . .”

Greg Johnson, Shave Yourself: Indulging his interest in things Brazilian -- body grooming, not the music -- Johnson demoed this interesting song with the chorus "first you shave yourself, then you shave the girl". Three days later when he sobered up he rejigged it to become "first you save yourself, then you save the world" for Save Yourself on the album Here Comes the Caviar. (Not the first time Johnson had changed a lyric: If I Swagger was formerly the inebriated and barely coherent If I Stagger).

Mika, Out in the Street: Genuinely inspired reworking of the old Alistair Riddell/Space Waltz hit but, naturally, given a gender flip. Released on the eve of the ‘81 Springboks tour with a flamboyant street parade to promote -- which regrettably clashed violently with a pro-tour march. All copies of the double A side single, being carried by lightly oiled boys, were destroyed in resulting melee.

Swingers, Counting the Sheep: Terrific folk-rock song hampered by lyrics that were clearly drawn from the band's rural isolation on a high-country run in the South Island. A move to Sydney saw a toughening up of the band’s attitude (the bagpipe solo was dropped) and lyrical rewrite. Remaining copies of this early version ruthlessly sought by Phil Judd and the Bats.

La De Das, How is the Air Up There '89: Ecologically-conscious former rockers reformed to rework their Sixties hit as a new-age plea to ban “spray cans and stuff because of the ozone layer and all that.” Picture sleeve single recently valued at $45 ($35 if record still in cover).

Mutton Birds, Karangahape Road (But Not That Boring Bit Up By the Sheraton): Somewhat limp follow-up to Dominion Road and not among Don McGlashan’s best. Two versions exist; collectors favour the one with 27-second euphonium solo after the words “and I’m lying in a coma, outside Verona.”

Elsewhere readers are invited to contribute their own Great Lost Kiwi Singles by using the Post A Comment option.


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Ross - Oct 4, 2010

Craig Scott, When Flo Jo Runs: In the wake of the 1988 Olympics, New Zealand crooner attempted his big comeback with his adapted heartful peon to a flying black fingernail. He followed up this spectacular failure a decade later at the fingernail's LA funeral with 'Viva Dodgy Jo.'
God! I've got to get out more!

Greg - Oct 4, 2010

Blam, Blam, Blam, Don't Fight It Muriel It Is Bigger Than Both of Us: The follow up to "There is No Depression..." and used in the soundtrack for an Australian matrimonial film.

Earl B. - Oct 5, 2010

The Rumour "L'Amour Est L'Enfant de le Fromage" ... an unsuccessful entrant in the Loxene Gold Disc competition of 1973, it was later used in a prize-winning Chesdale commercial.
I need to get out more too.

Glenn Cassidy - Oct 7, 2010

Newmatics - Diet Squad. After the success of Penknife Glides "Taking The Weight Off'' The Newmatics released a lite version of their double single featuring "Diet Squad'' on side A and 'Lardass' on the B Side.

Moza - Oct 11, 2010

How about the Crowdies original "One Season for Three Months"?

Moza - Oct 11, 2010

or maybe Shayne Carter's lost Mother's Day anthem "She Breeds". Rewritten as a thoughtless ode to roadrage.

Jeremy - Oct 12, 2010

One of NZ's most covered songs... She Speeds by Chris Carter. Posing as Shayne's long lost cousin and disguised with a bushy MOT Officer moustache, this was an early, typically unsubtle attempt by the "rogue" MP to oust his leader Helen Clark after her speeding limo incident. Mostly bought by Young Nats, who later held mass burnings due to hidden "satanic" lyrics that encouraged people to rort their expense claims.

Bevan - Mar 31, 2014

Um, Dave Dobbyn again. Space Junk, theme to the puppet series Space Knights, an outer space take on knights of the round table: Sir Lancelot de Laser, Sir Ralph Retro, Lady Guinevere Galaxy, etc. I don't actually mind it, although it hasn't shown up on CD I don't think.

Anita - Apr 1, 2014

I’ve Got a Rocket in my Pocket by Johnny Devlin has been reissued to coincide with the launch of his new vegan whole-food takeaways venture. Rocket with almond oil aioli and pomegranate seeds in a seaweed wrap:  $ 4.95 to go.
Sometime in a Dystopian future: The Coming Generation by the Gremlins has been chosen as the jingle for the National government’s inaugural atomic energy public share issue. Unfortunately real gremlins were found in the core reactor, requiring the reactor to be shut down for cooling and sealing off on its first day of operation. The youtube posting of the band miming their follow-up hit Blastoff 1970 on a Happen Inn show enhanced with psychedelic visuals has been  attributed to a left wing lobby group and been described as unhelpful by the Energy Minister.
The lyrics of the La De Da’s House-Sitting in the Rain written in 1969 following an unfortunate three-month experience the previous winter in the Coromandel, have been recorded by remaining members of the band. The La De Da's drummer mistook the remote community’s open-ceiling policy for a metaphor.

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