OK, so bearing in mind that the greatest NZ thinker / actor / human / musician of all time is Russell Crowe (I recently had an argument with deer hunters in a pub in the deep south who dared disagree with me), then obviously his band 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts should occupy 7 of my top 5 picks. However, I’ll break with the mainstream thinking here and choose 5 lesser known (than Russell) and less celebrated (than Russell) musical ensembles and performers. In no particular order…
Split Enz – Pioneer / Six Months In a Leaky Boat: Of all the songs that use the mutiny on the Bounty as a loose metaphor for a nervous breakdown, this would have to be my favourite. There’s so much happening throughout the song – all those ephemeral moments that make the Splitties so great. Thanks to FM radio editing, I never heard the end section of the song until I had the CD in the early 90s, and that last bit still blows my mind.
Shihad – Alive: I have a lot of memories attached to this song, heard it on a one speaker stereo driving a truck home at the end of a particularly physically demanding 30+ hr shift at work. It just kind of stuck since then. Perhaps they were channeling my beloved Fear Factory in a way. Cool clip, too.
Liam Finn – Second Chance: Phenomenal song, phenomenal performer. Search out any of the live versions for something special, particularly the Letterman show. I initially thought it was a sad song about dementia or something, turns out it’s an angry, frustrated song about how a woman just turns into a whole different person he doesn’t recognise. The desperation really comes through, the drumsmithing is on another level.
Paua – One Time: The best song of a terrific first album. I was lucky enough to tour with these guys a couple of times, they really are something special. Hearing the song takes me back to some of those intense early shows – there was a lot happening, often for days at a time, but with a relentlessly positive energy.
Supergroove – If I had my way: I must have been the only person in the world to think the Backspacer album was terrific – but it is! Saw this clip late on the telly one night but can’t find it anywhere onthelines now. I had it on VHS and wore it out – basically it was an exercise machine vibe that pre-dates OK GO by at least 10 years. I still listen to Backspacer a couple of times a month, and this is the stand-out track.
So that’s my pick. Obviously I wasn’t allowed to pick Russell Crowe, so feel free to take up your fight against this great injustice in the comments section below…!