Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teenagers From Outer Space: Thirteen Christchurch Nuggets 1980 - 1983

Today is my birthday, so here is yr prezzie: the debut of this comp, TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE! I'm very excited about this; having been sitting on it for far too long, it's time to share.
Very, very tasty tracks here, blended and rolled up for you by a true connoisseur, the inimitable Mr Andrew Schmidt. Here's his words:
Teenagers From Outer Space – Thirteen Christchurch Odds ‘n Sods – 1980 – 1983

Ballon D'Essai – False Projections – 1983
Three D covers, vividly coloured screenprints, insert comic books - Ballon D'Essai records were an arty treat. And while the music didn't always live up to the packaging both of their EPs threw up some worthy sounds. The most interesting of which is False Projections. Written by Stephen MacIntyre, you can hear early hints of his work with All Fall Down in the slow prowling beat and VU-like serpentine lead that evokes Mainly Spaniards, and predates Flex era JPSE. The Christchurch sound anyone? Simon Says from the same EP is also worth checking out giving the best example of their later funky post-punk sound.

The Builders – Alien / Bedrock Bay – 1982
Bill bounced these two from EST’s Songs From The Lowland after the first run which we had. Two rocked up versions of Alien and bedrock Bay that showed Bill coulda been a (left field) mainstream rocker if he wanted.

The Gordons – Quality Control / Mengus Fugit - 1984
This is The Gordons that dare not speak its name. The second Gordons - John Halverson (guitar), Vince Pinker (bass) and Brent McLaughlin (drums) – that emerged out of Sheep Effect to record The Gordons’ Second Album. Unavailable still its tracks are a fairly pale version of the Parker-era Gordons bar Quality Control, a wired must-hear Gordons rocker and Mengus Fugit, which is equally relentless but less linear twin. Two of their best.

The Great Unwashed - Bad News For Jesus – 1983
The Great Unwashed with Peter Gutteridge on board in Christchurch with an E chord strummer full of the same infectious swing he'd bring to his masterful contributions to Singles in 1984. Taken from The Clean/ The Great Unwashed - Oddities 2 – 1987. Check the lyric. "Bad news for Jesus today, God got married, and had another son. "Zombies at the door, zombies at the door, all dressed up, in Sunday chains, there's Zombies at the door."

The McGoohans – Psychedelic Texas - 1983
Christchurch pean to Pebbles heartland, Texas, that few would have recognised back then. Only available on 20 Krypton Hits (Onset Offset Records tape) - 1984

The Newtones – Christchurch Part 2 - 1981
The Newtones EP debuted on the NZ pop charts at number 19, sold out its first pressing quickly then dropped out the next week. This popular Christchurch trio, who featured ex-Vauxhall/Streets Of Flowers guitarist Mark Brooks on bass and vocals, and Vandals/Aliens/Streets of Flowers singer Tony Peake on guitar and vocals, needed no gimmicks on the fuzz propelled rocker, China, a Tony Peake song echoing the aggression of the punk years and hinting at Peake’s love of sixties psych. The flanged pop/ rock of Christchurch part 2 is a deliberate and effortless Christchurch anthem.

The Newtones – My World – 1982
More flat street pop from the prolific Newtones. My World is a Mark Brooks song taken for a long stroll by Brooks’ bass, Martin Archbold’s drums and Tony Peake’s guitar. Second Top 50 single from early 1982.

The Pedestrians – Looking Out My Window – 1982
The Pedestrians – Kevin Stone, Stuart McLachlan and Peter Wood - were a Napier power pop trio who moved to Christchurch in 1981 then hit their stride in 1982 after picking up drummer Lloyd Morgan. This lineup played regularly at new club PJs, the Gladstone, and the Star and Garter, and released the only Pedestrians single. Guitarist McLachlan’s spry pop stroll down a cracked Napier street, Looking Out My Window, backed with bassist Stone’s Jam-ish The Boys and The Girls. Lisa Bouillir sang in a late version of the group.

The Terraces – A Place Like This - 1982
The spooked sound and feel of a chill bright morning rapping over the Canterbury Plains. Roland de Beer (vocals/ drums), Brendan Cheyne (vocals/ guitar), and Peter Brennan (bass) were The Terraces, a post-punk trio who later added sax. Flipside on The Terraces’ only single from 1982.

The Vauxhalls - Teenager From Outer Space - 1980
Thank god The Vauxhalls managed to get into Christchurch’s Orley Studios in late 1980. That the recordings included a song this good is a bonus and real meat to the myth. Unfortunately by the time they got to record The Vauxhalls were minus Scott Brooks, the bass player so Mark Brooks plays bass and guitar. Martin Archbold drums. On the best track Teenager From Outer Space Mark Brooks lets rip ‘bout a quarter of the way through a wild chunk of garage R&B lead that burns the carpet. Unreleased.

The World – Mystery - 1983
You don’t hear much about Christchurch’s The World (Charles Heyward/ Allen Meek/ Malcolm Grant/ Andrea Cocks/ Bridgit Mulcahy) these days but it seems John Campbell in his haste to big up the Scottish originals has overlooked a Kiwi Orange Juice. Wrap those ears around the first track here, John, Mystery, it’s an upbeat funky joy with scratchy VU guitaring. The World released a tape in their own right in 1983 from which this track was sourced.

When the Night Gets Long


  1. It seems the almighty Gordons were a beacon in the fog of the local music scene back then. The great unwashed has some interesting music and thir track here ain;t too bad and the Mcgoohans track is ok too, but the rest of this lo=fi amature dribble is not a pretty picture of CHCH music scene back then. I remember, not seeing any of thses bands, seeing some other equally lame nameless local bands back in the day and was just as unimpressed as i am with this lot. no wonder I brought overseas realeases. Thank god the localscene is better today.

  2. Another braindead mainlander speaks.

  3. Just because someone does not agree with your obvious poor taste in music, doesn't mean you have to insult them, or maybe it's just a reflection of your lack of intelect also.

  4. When you can back up your argument with names and actual music then I'll take it seriously. Playing the victim is a bit lame when you've made the accusations. Bill Direen and Mark Brooks are responsible for some of the best Chch music made and are smart creative guys to boot.

  5. And intellect and amateur are spelt like this, genius.

  6. Hey all -- this post and the download have been updated, thanks to a note from Brendan Cheyne regarding the title of the Terraces track. Both the post and the download have been updated with the correct song title, "A Place Like This" (not "Pictorial" as previously posted). Cheers, Brendan!

  7. Hey,don't listen to that boring and ungrateful olde Twat!I am just downloading this comp and have been wanting to hear the Vauxhals for a few years.Thank you and keep up the great work!!

  8. Awesome stuff. Thanks. Saw the Vauxhalls and other bands such as Enemy play at Al Park's Mollet St club back in late '70s ChCh. A great time for live music in ChCh was the late '70s through the '80s. The Unwucht comp "Krypton 10" also a must have collection from that period. http://www.unwuchtmusik.org/kryptonten.html

  9. Thanks Stuart -- that Krypton comp is fantastic, and don't forget Bruce Russell's terrific F.Nun comp 'Time to Go: The Southern Psychedelic Moment 1981-1986' https://www.flyingnun.co.nz/shop/121 All around an excellent time and place in NZ Music History.

  10. Thanks John and Andrew -- but I surprised that no one's pointed out that the Builders track named as 'Alien' is actually 'America'.

    It's nice to have some record of of The Vauxhalls, but I can't help but wonder if there were any decent live recordings. They were a blazing R&B power trio at their best -- great version of 'Mannish Boy', as I recall. They all went to the same school as me -- I didn't know Mark well, but Scott was a smart, funny guy (and, oddly enough, well into his reggae before most people even knew what it was).