Tag Archives: New Zealand

Rocks In The Attic #349 Bob Dylan – ‘Another Side Of Bob Dylan’ (1964)

RITA#349I like this stage of Dylan’s back catalogue: completely solo, pre-electric, and just before his fame got in the way. But Another Side is probably my least favourite of his first four albums. To me, it’s his Beatles For Sale – he sounds stuck in a rut with nothing particularly innovative on offer. A change of direction is on the horizon, but not just yet. Well, at least he didn’t resort to rewriting children’s nursery rhymes like Lennon and McCartney did in their desperation to get an album together in time for Christmas 1964.

I’ve just watched the latest Coen brothers’ film, Inside Llewyn Davis – about a struggling folk singer in New York’s Greenwich Village in the early ‘60s. As well as a perfect of the time novelty song – Please Mr. Kennedy – which I laughed at more than anything else I’ve seen in a long time, I really enjoyed the ending of the film where (SPOILER ALERT!) Dylan is glanced at, just as the film’s titular protagonist is about to give it all up and missing out while folk explodes into mainstream America.

There’s an element of openness to the ending that I liked. You don’t get to fully find out whether Davis calls it a day. In the final scene, he gets a beating for heckling a performer the night before, and that might be enough for some people to think twice about their options. But Davis’ character was loosely based on Dave Van Ronk, a contemporary of Dylan’s, who did go on to have a career in the folk boom of the mid- to late-‘60s, although nowhere nearly as successful.

I like to think that Davis didn’t quit – but maybe that’s the muso optimist in me. In the past I’ve had to quit a few things as a guitarist – some bands, some partnerships. Sometimes you just have to. The regretful thing is that I feel by moving to New Zealand, I’ve quit being a musician completely. I looked into joining / starting a band when I first moved here, but I could never find any other like-minded people. Everybody just wanted to play New Zealand music. Musicians here are blinded by a parochial mindset that I’ve never encountered anywhere else.

There is good Kiwi music out there, but it’s few and far between. That’s why nobody outside of New Zealand has ever heard of Dave Dobbyn or Anika Moa. Even Shihad are at best a whisper of a memory in the minds of overseas rock fans. World famous in New Zealand is just that – it’s mean to be an amusing way of embracing the country’s size and limitations, but it ends up being Kiwi music’s epitaph. And why would that ever change? The most successful musical export of this country was Crowded House – a band so to blame for putting New Zealand into the artistic middle-of-the-road, that it’s not surprising that foreign drivers have so much difficulty remembering to drive on the left when they get here. Even tall poppies like Lorde are derided by Kiwi music critics, because her music is so typically un-Kiwi, and how dare she achieve worldwide fame without playing barbeque reggae or singing about Dominion Road.

Still…Slice Of Heaven, what a tune!

Hit: It Ain’t Me Babe

Hidden Gem: I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)

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Rocks In The Attic #193: The Rolling Stones – ‘Voodoo Lounge’ (1994)

RITA#193As a late-career album (their 20th British studio album, and 22nd American studio album), this should be pretty bad. In fact, it’s relatively inoffensive.

Voodoo Lounge came out when I used to watch MTV religiously, so the lead single from the album, Love Is Strong, really makes me think of the great video where the band – now minus Bill Wyman – are slow-mo giants playing their instruments whilst walking through a cityscape. Looking back, the video just reminds me of The Goodies’ giant cats roving through a miniature London.

I’m not sure where the fashion for overly long albums started. I guess somewhere along the way somebody decided that more content on an album is better for the fans, or a bigger selling point perhaps. Voodoo Lounge clocks in at just over an hour, which is far too long for what is considered a single album.

I never got to see the Stones play live, and it looks increasingly unlikely given their age, and my location in the world, that I’ll get to see them. I really regret this, but I seem to remember ticket prices on this tour and the following Bridges To Babylon tour were astronomical. I should have paid to see them in Germany, supported by AC/DC no less, on the A Bigger Bang tour.

Despite it being unlikely to see them play in New Zealand, there is one thing that might make them come here. Keith Richards’ brain surgery (after falling out of a coconut tree in 2006) was performed in Auckland, so maybe he’ll come back to thank the doctors and surgeons who saved his life. Hopefully he’ll avoid climbing coconut trees in the future, as the band will cease to exist without him.

Perhaps it’s a good thing I never got to see them. I recently saw them on TV playing their 50th anniversary concerts and they sounded terrible. I think they can hit magic from time to time in the studio, but they don’t seem to be able to cut it live.

Hit: Love Is Strong

Hidden Gem: Brand New Car