Ritchie Venus (real name: Michael Braithwaite) is a bit of an oddity in the Christchurch scene. A quiet, timid man in conversation, he’s been creating music since the first wave of New Zealand rock’n’roll way back in the 1950s – idolizing our original superstar Johnny Devlin.
Yet, unlike a number of other kiwi musicians, he languished in obscurity, even in his own home town – being known more for his Elvis impersonations (which he has done regularly for quite some time at Lyttleton’s brilliant Wunderbar) than his original music, yet has released a number of albums, full of his own original rock’n’roll classics. In the mid 90s and poignant documentary and the Renderers brilliant cover of his live favorite original Forbidden Planet led to a bit more exposure, but Venus still remained a relatively unknown character.
Discography (picks in bold)
‘Bleeding Heart’/’Josephine’ 7″ single [1981 Flying Nun FN008]
Rebel Blood [1987 Onset/Offset PRA2387]
You Can’t Fight It [1989 Onset/Offset RV008]
Rockin’ to the Grave [1989 Onset/Offset]
The Ballad of Ritchie Venus [2000 Onset/Offset RV11]
Appearing as a one-off 7″ single in 1995 (during a speight of similar projects from the likes of King Loser and the 3D’s side-projects such as Chris Heazlewood‘s solo debut Spacious etc), the rather dubiously Australian-themed ‘A Sort of Holiday’ single was something of an undiscovered gem – and the recording debut of Auckland wacko Edmund Cake (aka Edward McWilliams.
Though the single itself went nowhere, Cake later resurfaced as a critical member of bizarro-pop trio Breast Secreting Cake (later redubbed to the slightly less vulgar Bressa Creeting Cake), who in turn released a heck of a debut album and the left-of-centre video-hit Papa People.
Dark and electronic flaboured studio recordings from Hadley Cylkk and Geoff Ljiraq. With Ljiraq’s vocals, synth, piano, electronic and guitar textures, the duo released their debut album in 2004 with plans for a stripped down ep release to come.
Violinist Alastair Galbraith‘s first band. Flanked by Robbie Muir (who went on to make his name with the Dead C)and Peter Jefferies they put out 2 extremely hard to find eps in the mid 80s that show-case Galbraith’s brilliant talent for song-writing at an early age.
Galbraith was originally inspired by witnessing the Clean playing a series of hall gigs back in Dunedin, and immediately formed the Rip with Muir. Both were only 15, so early live performances were a bit of a struggle. Thankfully after a particularly tragic debut (their even younger drummer Nicholas couldn’t make the show – a roped in replacement murdering the 2 songs they managed to play), Wayne Elsey (the Stones / Double Happys) offered a helping hand:
[Wayne Elsey] was there and asked me to come and sit on the steps with him, and just…Blew me away. He told me that i had something, something that he couldn’t really describe, not a great musical talent or instrumental proficiency, more of a spirit that he could see when i played, and that i had to keep doing it. He offered to help me any way he could, and he actually did that over the next few months. He got Robbie a better bass, let us use their practice space, got us gigs supporting the Stones and just encouraged us the whole time, saving us from a very, very short career.
– Alastair Galbraith
Wellington dub outfit immediately recognised for their ‘Clav Dub’ single – which featured a distinctive video themed after the classic kiwi chase film Goodbye Pork Pie. Quite a pop outfit, they’ve been quite high profile through-out 2003 – which was compounded by appearances by Salmonella Dub‘s Tiki Tane (aka MC Rizzla), and MC Mana on guest vocals, joining the core unit of Imon Star (vocals), Koa Williams (DJ) and producers Thomas Voyce (percussion / bass / keys) and Simon Rycroft (sampler / live mix).