Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos

Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos were a Dunedin-based duo consisting of Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals – before forming the Dead C, 2 Foot Flame, Angelhead, Tanaka-Nixon Meeting, The Weeds) and Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals) – though in an early video recording Morley states the group had formed ‘Up North’ before heading to Dunedin. The duo released a handful of handmade cassettes and had an affiliation with Bob Scott’s Every Secret Thing label, with both album releases and compilation appearances. Their most well known material is the River Falling Love EP which was released on Flying Nun in 1986 before being expanded and re-released by US label Ajax in 1993. Morley formed the Dead C in 1987, effectively bring an end to Wreck Small Speakers.

Featuring performances from other Dunedin musicians: Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals – Look Blue Go Purple, The 3Ds, Ghost Club), Ivan Purvis (Guitar – Love In A Gas Oven, Alpaca Brothers), Lesley Paris (Drums – Look Blue Go Purple, The Puddle, Olla), Bruce Blucher (Drums – CyclopsTrash, Fats Thompson, Brown Velvet Couch, Alpaca Brothers) and Martin Kean (The Chills, Doublehappys, Fats Thompson, Stereolab). The groups recordings are based around strong rhythm tracks – usually plucked bass guitar and drum machine, with shout-sung vocals, fractured guitar riffs and organ squeels, with samples and other sound manipulations added into the mix. Though experimental, Wreck Small Speakers retained a high level of musicality and accessibility.

Both their creative genius and the quality of their songs really shines through on the groups lo-fi cassette recordings. The slinky, funky bass and proto-rap vocals on ‘Over My Skull’, the low-key beauty of River Falling Love highlight ‘All Of This’, and Denise Roughan’s wonderful appearance on their most well-known song ‘Rain’. Small scraps of the bands fairly substantial discography have appeared in the digitally archived era, however if ever there was a Flying Nun associated act that could use an anthology release it would be Wreck Small Speakers – its been almost two decades since Morley’s Dead C band mate Bruce Russell released A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers on his own Xpressway label.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • My Blue Fairy Godmother [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK14]
  • 3.V.M. EP [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK20]
  • Over My Skull Cassette Single [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 06]
  • Cave Cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 21]
  • Worlds Fall Apart cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 24]
  • A Summer In Taradale Cassette [1985 self-released]
  • River Falling Love ep [1986 Flying Nun FN068]
  • A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers Cassette [1988 Xpressway XWAY03]
  • River Falling Love Reissue [1993 Ajax AJAX 029]

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Worlds Apart

Worlds Apart - Time Will Tell
Worlds Apart - Time Will Tell

I know very little about this New Zealand group other than what I can gleam from their 1986 12″ single ‘Time will tell’.

The record lists Dave Cammock, Si Jaxn, Steve Entwhistle and Astrid Muller as performers.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Time will tell 12″ single [1986 self-released WA001]

Wilberforces

Not to be confused with Wilberforce, this group made a big splash with their debut single ‘Tidal Waves’ (get it?). Featuring Thom Burton, previously of Yokel Ono.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Tidal Waves [2008 Etch Recordings ETCH004]
  • Haunted [2009 Etch Recordings ETCH005]

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The Weeds

[Profile thanks to Tim Davey]

The Weeds were around for about a year in the mid-80’s, formed with the intention of having fun and seeing just how stupid they could be, while also entertaining people. The band provided a great distraction for its members from the more ‘serious’ music they were making in other groups at the time. The name supposedly came from the fact that all the members were quite skinny at the time.

Robert Scott and Michael Morley had been playing together in the Pink Plastic Gods in late 1984. Following the end of the group Scott (Bass, Vocals) And Morley (Guitar, Vocals) got together with Jeff Harford (Vocals) and Chris Healey (Drums) and The Weeds was born. All except Healey had had much experience in other bands; Scott had been in The Clean and was frontman with The Bats, Morley was in Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos and Harford had played with Bored Games. Following the tragic end of Doublehappys in mid-85 Shayne Carter (Guitar , Vocals) And John Collie (Drums) were also added to the line-up. An odd feature of the group was that they had two drummers.

Every gig they played involved some sort of dress-up theme which the whole band would participate in. One night they would be playing draped in foliage and weeds, another would be in glam gear or bad taste clothes. Their most outrageous ‘dress-up’ was playing in their underpants on the town hall stage as support to the Verlaines and the Rip at a 4XO dance. Their only out-of-town gigs were at the Gladstone in Christchurch as support to Look Blue Go Purple and in Auckland at Windsor Castle. The latter gig didn’t go down very well and the band realised that dressing up stupidly and playing music was best done only around people who knew you.

The essence of the weeds was not about serious music or writing meaningful lyrics but about having a good time. A review by Sharon Guytonbeck following a gig at the empire spelt this out:

with a couple of friends helping out The Weeds were a lot of groovy fun. Who needs ‘Live Aid’ when you can have this. Yes, The Weeds confirmed my belief that Dunedin is where it’s all happening musically. We don’t need the rest of the world when we can be at The Empire with The Weeds.

– Critic 6/8/85

Band rehearsals were for the sole purpose of writing new material which gave their on-stage sound a very fresh feel. In mid-85 the band made some recordings at Dockside Studios on Wharf St which emerged as the Flying Nun single ‘Wheatfields’, a very Velvets-influenced piece that buzzed along with the chorus line ‘It’S Been A Hard Day On The Wheatfields …’. further recordings were made later in the year at Chippendale House which to this day remain unreleased.

By late 1985 the members of The Weeds were being pulled away by their other musical projects and the band faded away. Scott continued with The Bats and Carter And Collie went on to form Straitjacket Fits. Morley was later involved in Dead C, Gate and This Kind Of Punishment while Harford became part of My Deviant Daughter.

The Weeds played only around 15 gigs but will almost certainly be remembered by everyone who saw them for their mix of shock, humour and good music.

Discography (picks in bold)

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The Warners

Jon Baker, Deby Turner, John Micham, Chris Koole, Allen Stephenson, Mike Howie, Mike Mcdonald. Fairly popular outfit who started out with a couple of EPs (including their signature release Satellite Surfing) and an album in the late 80s, before resurfacing again in the mid 90s.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Elsie’s Got A Gun EP [1986 Meltdown]
  • Hit and Run [1988 Onslaught / Ima Hitt Cnt005]
  • Satellite Surfing 12″ EP [1989 Raw Power / Flying Nun Fn141]
  • Sitting Pretty Compilation [1994 Wildside D31142]
  • Crazy Horses Cd EP [1995 Wildside]
  • Bogan’s Heroes [1995 Wildside D31363]

See-Also

Wadd

Haydn Sharp (Guitar / Vocals), Stephen Nicholls (Guitar), Hamish Mccaul (Drums), Andrew Hampton (Keyboards) and Walter Friedel (Bass). Put out a self-titled debut in 1995 after featuring on Failsafe‘S Good Things compilation.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Wadd [1995 Self-Released]

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The Wallsockets

Highly active in the Wellington scene during the early 80s, the Wallsockets featured Fran and Martin Walsh (lead guitar and bass respectively), Brett Carstairs (rhythm guitar), and originally Tennessee (another guitarist) and drummer Nezzie, though the band brought in new vocalist Lynette Moss and drummer Simon by 1980 – and it was this line-up that completed their recordings.

The band were one of the more persuasive Wellington outfits, organizing gigs and parties, along with establishing practice and performance spaces in central Wellington. Spending time in Sausage Studio’s made the band much tighter, and by the time of their initial recordings, they were a honed and professional outfit, capable of pop-flavored punk with a dark edge.

Fran was also a one-time member of fellow wellington band Naked Spots Dance – both bands contributing to the Wallsockets-organized **** compilation featuring four post-punk bands from the era.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • **** [1980 W/ Beat Rhythm Fashion, Life In The Fridge Exists, Naked Spots Dance Sausage]

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Wazzo Ghoti

Rex Nairn, Chris Goodall, Mark Roxburgh, Bill Morris, Andrew Downes, Steve Cochrane. Wellington punks (pronounced Wazzo Fish) that are still going, at least in an occassional live capacity as of 2004.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Gone Ghoting!

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Wait

John Davidson, Tony Doe, Keith Taylor, Rowan Swannack, Rick Currie and Chris Dench. Put out 2 EP’s on ode in 1985, the first of which featuring the song ‘The Burma Road’, which was playlisted on commercial radio. After the group’s demise, Tony Doe released a solo LP as the Dough Boys before traveling across Japan and the UK in the 1990s.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • The Walls EP [1985? Ode]
  • Odd Numbers EP [1985 Ode Sodep230]

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The Wart

Sharon Boyd, Andrew Leggott, Brendan And Justin Ryniken. Short lived late 80s band with just a sole self-titled EP to their name.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Title Format [June 2011 self-released]

See-Also