Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos

Biography

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 – Cyclops, Trash, 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.

Members

  • Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals, 198?)
  • Lesley Paris (Drums, 198?)
  • Ivan Purvis (Guitar, 198?)
  • Bruce Blucher (Drums, 198?)
  • Martin Kean (198?)

Discography

  • 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]

Links

Robert Scott

Bass player for the Clean and highly prolific singer-songwriter for the Bats (whom he formed while the Clean were on hiatus in the mid 80s), Rob Scott released his own solo album in 2000, and took the albums name (Creeping Unknown) as his moniker for subsequent tours around New Zealand, Europe and the United States.

However closely linked to the Bats, The Creeping Unknown was a darker album aimed at being an organic cross-pollunation type release (it encompassed a lot of electronically produced soundscapes and texture) than any of his Bats recordings. It faired pretty well, being a pretty clean progression towards a more modern sound (though not quite as effectively as say, Shayne Carters’ Dimmer project).

Scott made his start as an underground tape enthusiast, forming the Every Secret Thing cassette label in the late 70s, and releasing a handful of albums from his own projects (primarily Electric Blood) and many others by the likes of Michael Morley and Denise Roughan (including a very rare Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos release).

Since 2002 Scott has become increasingly prolific once more, with a variety of home-recorded releases appearing on the low-rent Powertools label, on more professional efforts on Flying Nun, and a couple of joint singles.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Black Forest 7″ [w/ Alastair Galbraith 1998 Self-Released]
  • The Creeping Unknown [2000 Flying Nun FN447]
  • Tudor Gates EP [2002 Self-Released]
  • @Radio One CD-r EP [2003 Self-Released]
  • Songs of Otago’s Past CD-r [2004 Powertool Records]
  • Tascam Hits [2004 Powertool Records PT065]
  • Moonlighty Potato [w/ Ginna Rocco 2006 Powertool Records PT065]
  • Too Early 7″ Single [2010 A Small Number of Things]
  • Moonlight Potato [w/ Ginna Rocco 2006 Powertool Records PT044]
  • That’s What I Heard 7″ [w/ Adalita Srsen and the Puddle 2010 Fishrider Records]
  • Ends Run Together [2010 Flying Nun FN507]

See-Also

The Spies

Psych-influenced Wellington-based psuedo punk outfit that proved to be the starting point for legendary Puddle front-man George Henderson (Guitar / Vocals), along with Chris Plummer (Drums), Susan Ellis (Keys / Vocals) and Richard Sedger (Bass). With many song-writers in their line-up, and with addition of Mark Thomas as a second guitarist, the Spies had a unique and eclectic sound, with songs veering in many different directions.

Unfortunately the band was short-lived, only lasting 8 months through 1979 and putting out a solitary 7″ release from a band set-list that was almost all original – though with left-field covers of Pere Ubu’s classic Non-Alignment Pact and Thomas Leers’ ‘Private Plane’. Soon the majority of the band, plus additional friends and like-minded muso’s reconvened in Christchurch to establish a secluded band house where both the And Band and the even more eclectic Perfect Strangers lived, wrote, practised, and performed.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘Give Me A Reason’/’Daddy Was A Dj’ 7″ Single [1980 Ripper Rip010]

See-Also

The Clean – Compilation

1986 Compilation, Flying Nun, NORMAL51

In 1978 the New Zealand underground scene was on the verge of explosion. The Enemy, Bored Games, and The Spelling Mistakes were showing that New Zealand could produce great punk music, and all with a great ‘do-it-yourself’ gusto. The Enemy later developed into seminal early 80’s punk outfit Toy Love, and with their eventual collapse, guitarist/vocalist Chris Knox formed the infamous lo-fi pioneer duo the Tall Dwarfs with fellow Toy Love member Alec Bathgate. David Kilgour was a great fan of the Enemy, and had developed a relationship with the musicians that made up the Dunedin scene at the time. In 1978 he set about learning guitar, then forming a band that would eventually capture the essence of the 2nd wave of New Zealand underground music, the so called ‘Dunedin Sound’.

After a period of almost 2 years and a plethora of line-up changes, Kilgour settled on his brother Hamish on drums and original bass-player Peter Gutteridge (who after leaving the band before the majority of their output was an original member of the Chills, The Puddle, and then eventually his own band Snapper). This formation would go onto write a handful of The Clean‘s early songs, and eventually resurface in 1983 as The Great Unwashed (for a short tour and subsequent album), but it was Robert Scott (also of The Bats) who secured The Clean’s line-up in late 1979.

After touring haphazardly for there first three years of existence (often supporting The Enemy), Kilgour was propositioned by young upstart Roger Shephard, who had come up with the idea of forming a record label to release The Clean’s noticeably inspirational music to the masses. Shephard put together Flying Nun records in 1981, and The Clean’s breakthrough single Tally Ho! Was the label’s 2nd release (following The Pin Group‘s ‘Columbia’). Featuring a young Martin Phillips on organ accompaniment and recorded for no budget whatsoever, the single rocketed into the New Zealand charts – which was considered impossible for a self-distributed minor label recording at the time. Phillips’ catchy, driving organ and the gentle sing-song nature of Kilgour’s vocals had immediately struck a chord with the New Zealand public, but the band failed to fully capitalize on this early success.

Over the course of the next two years, the clean only put out two EP’s, Boodle Boodle Boodle was recorded by Doug Hood and features a stunning array of pop-classics (“Anything Could Happen”, “At The Bottom” and the Gutteridge penned classic “Point That Thing Somewhere Else”) and the equally superb ‘Great Sounds Great, Good Sounds Good, So-So Sounds So-So, Bad Sounds Bad, Rotten Sounds Rotten’ EP (track highlights included the instrumental “Fish” and jangly masterpiece “Beatnik”).

This complacency with relative seclusion eventually led to a number of self-imposed band break-ups, and delayed their eventual debut album release till 1990, which brought Vehicle – by which time the Clean had become a part time band for all three members, due to the demands of their various other musical exploits.

Compilation documents the high-times of the early Clean. Released by Flying Nun as an LP (then re-released during the 90’s CD reissuing phase), the album gathers together Tally Ho! And the original 2 EP’s, several tracks from the ‘Oddities’ self-recorded album, as well as live material recorded crudely on a fan’s cassette recorder.

The quality of the recording is of no concern though, as it becomes immediately apparent on listening to these lo-fi masterpieces that the Clean were on to something special. From the twin-guitar and bass onslaught of pounding pop opener “Billy Two”, the chugga chugga bass and steaming lead-guitar of “At The Bottom”, through to the quirky pop highlights of “Beatnik”, “Oddity” and “Hold On To The Rail” – there isn’t a single dud in this wonderful archive of one of pop-rock’s truly great bands.

Ear-marked by a stunning live rendition of signature tune “Point That Thing Somewhere Else”, the live tracks are murky, but show the band in full flight. Waves upon waves of guitar distortion, pounding bass and drums and kilgour’s enigmatic, hushed vocals characterize a band that did more for the New Zealand live scene than any other band has done before or since.

Rough and ready, this is a compilation of the most well-honed, dynamic guitar music your ever likely to hear. Simmering solo’s, bass that gets your foot tapping, and primal, aggressive drumming lead to a winning combination. Though the Clean may have since failed to live up to the expectations that this album documents, they have become a crowning monument for New Zealand in the history of pop-rock, and i’d recommend anyone with more than a passing interest in music to give this classic a try.

The And Band

Biography

Extremely discordant and unusual Christchurch-based 4-piece comprised of George Henderson, Susan Ellis, Richard Sedger and Mark Thomas. Put out a joint untitled and notoriously hard to find EP with Perfect Strangers in 1982, before Thomas left the band for their sister outfit, replaced by Lindsay Cooke.

The And Band were an outgrowth of influential but undiscovered Wellington punk-oddities The Spies. When feed up with the limitations of the Wellington scene, the band, along with several of their friends relocated to a small Christchurch flat, sharing a recording space (and the actual 4-track) with the perfect strangers.

The And Band and Perfect Strangers basically shut themselves inside for 6 months, working together to pool their resources and struggling to find any opportunities to play live (their and in particular Perfect Strangers free-form approach to playing was hardly a crowd-pleaser).

Both bands essentially split on the release of the EP, with members scattering across New Zealand. Henderson soon established the long-time underground favorites The Puddle and has achieved a bit of cult celebrity for his unusual approach to making music. The EP stands as an intriguing document of two notoriously outcast bands.

Members

  • George Henderson (Drums, 1982)
  • Mark Thomas (Guitar/Vocals, 1982)
  • Richard Sedger (Bass, 1982)
  • Susan Ellis (Keyboards, 1982)

Discography

  • Noli Me Tangere 7″ EP (w/ Perfect Strangers 1982, Self-Released, PR1041)
  • Noli Me Tangere 7″ EP (w/ Perfect Strangers 2017 Reissue, Look Plastic/Noisyland, LPN75)

Links

 

The Axemen

Biography

A well-known, yet thoroughly underground troop that often swelled in numbers (sometimes up to as many as 10 members in the mid 1980’s). The group have been known for their artistic endeavors as well as their music – with drummer Stuart Page (aka Stu Kawowski) a renowned film-maker and photographer.

Barely out of Cashmere High School, Steve McCabe played alongside Bob Cardy (aka Bob Brannigan – later to form the legendary Shaft up in Auckland) in a variety of pre-cursor bands, before Page jumped on stage at one of their shows. This was the birth of The Axemen, and the core line-up of all the groups earliest recordings.

The group released three albums on Flying Nun Records in the mid to late 1980’s – guitarist Dragan Stojanovic joining the line-up in time for 1989’s Derry Legend. Several releases on their own Sleek Bott imprint followed – following a very make-shift, punk approach to recording, their albums were often of-the-moment pieces…

The story of [Big Cheap Motel] is: Bob and myself went down to check out the Christchurch botanic gardens, the scene of the local council/”Big M” milk drink-sponsored “Summertime” concert-in-the-park series of free outdoor events, only to find the park plastered with billboard-sized posters of skimpily-clad young ladies advertising the sponsors wares.
We immediately proceeded home and wrote the enclosed set of ‘protest’ songs about the travesty, which were performed at the event, to the mild annoyance of the council & the sponsors.
– Taken from Mayday: The Little Stevie McCabe / Axemen / Sleek Bott webpage

Members

  • Steve McCabe (Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals, 1983 – )
  • Bob Brannigan (Guitar/Vocals, 1983 – 2011)
  • Stuart Page (Drums/Vocals/Trumpet, 1983 – )
  • Dragan Stojanovic (Guitar/Vocals/Mandolin/Bass, 1989 -)
  • William Daymond (Bass/Guitar/Keyboards/Drums, 2011 -)
  • Mick Elborado (Guitar/Bass/Vocals, 1991)
  • Paul Lee (Saxophone/Vocals, 1991)
  • B. B. Ryan (Bass/Guitar/Vocals, 1991)
  • Pete Rees (Vocals, 1991)
  • Arthur Sheep (Saxophone, 1991)
  • Shorty Hamilton (Drums, 1991)
  • Jessica Walker (Violin, 1991)

Note: This is an abridged list of musicians listed on The Axemen’s various recordings – see the groups Wikipedia page for an extended roll-call.

Discography

  • Big Cheap Motel (1983, Sleek Bott)
  • Three Virgins Three Versions Three Visions (1986, Flying Nun Records, FN049)
  • Derry Legends (1987, Flying Nun Records, FN120)
  • Ak87 (W/ The Shit Pop Boyz 1987, Sleek Bott)
  • Scary! (W/ The Sleek Bott Gang 1989, Sleek Bott)
  • Peter Wang Pud (1991, Flying Nun Fn204)
  • Dirty Den Sessions (1991, Sleek Bott)
  • Recliner Rocker (1992, Sleek Bott #921)
  • Three Rooms (An Elton John Tribute Album) (1992, Sleek Bott)
  • Across The Universe In 27879 Days Ep (1992, Sleek Bott)
  • The Axemen Singles Collection (Compilation 1998, Sleek Bott)
  • Nutsack 7″ Single (2011,
  • Sac Tap Nut Jam (2013, Spacecase Records, SCR006)

Links

 

The Puddle

A revolving line-up of a flying nun outfit – george henderson, lesley paris, norma o’malley, peter gutteridge, ross jackson, lindsay maitland, jenny crooks, rochard cotton, norman dufty and vikki wilkinson.
as george hendersons’ project the puddle are considered as possible [i]the[/i] great under-appretiated new zealand band, most probably hastened by the groups lack of recorded output and the notoriety of henderson himself over the years. thankfully in 2005 the group started to gain moment once more, with henderson again recording material, and the group performing live with more regularity. 2006 saw the release of songs for emily valentine on the powertool distribution label.
discography
picks in bold

  • pop. lib [1986 live recording flying nun FN This 001 / PUD001] rn
  • live in the palm of your hand [live recording 1989 infinite regress IR977]
  • live at the teddy bear club [1991 live recording flying nun FN172]
  • into the moon / pop. lib [1992 flying nun FN164]
  • ‘thursday’/’too hot to be cool’ 7″ single [1993 flying nun FN278]
  • songs for emily valentine [2006 powertool PT047]

Music Videos

The McGoohans

Biography

Christchurch-based punky proto-grunge outfit that formed after the dissolution of Ian Blenkinsop’s Drowning Is Easy, a 4-piece that featured Blenkinsop along with future Scorched Earth Policy band-mate Mick Elborado, Craig Davison and Andrew Valance.

Blenkinsop formed the first line-up of the McGoohans with Davison resuming his drumming role and George Churton replacing Mick on bass in 1983 – though Davison was later replaced by Churtons’ brother Darren (essentially forming the original incarnation of the Soundbites line-up), and then Norman Dufty (later of the Puddle) in 1984.

By late 1984 Susan Heney had joined the band as bassist (leaving both Ian and George to concentrate on guitar), and the band recorded and released an EP and album on Campbell McLays’ Onset/Offset label. though the band had soon faded away, Churton later resurfaced as an author of several seminal accounts on the New Zealand underground scene, particularly notable is his excellent history of New Zealand punk ‘Have You Checked The Children?’.

Members

  • Ian Blenkinsop (Guitar/Vocals/Bass/Harmonica, 1983 – 1985)
  • Craig Davison (Drums, 1983 – 1985)
  • George Churton (Bass/Guitar/Piano/Vocals, 1983 – 1985)
  • Mick Elborado (Backing Vocals, 1984)
  • Darren Churton (Drums, 1983 – 1984)
  • Norman Dufty (Drums, 1984 – 1985)
  • Susan Heney (Bass/Backing Vocals, 1984 – 1985)

Discography

  • The McGoohan Touch [1985, Onset/Offset, PRA2312]
  • Ultra-Violet 7″ EP [1985, Onset/Offset]

Links