Another Life – Tuning Fork: September 30, 2022

Another Life is some of New Zealand’s finest music’s royalty, above-ground and under-the-radar.

They demonstrated from start to finish why the Boomers rule the roost and produced the music that will be timeless and one of the pinnacles of human achievement. That is the TWO great decades, from 1962 Beatles to Neil Young warbling his tribute to the Sex Pistols in 1979.

Another Life is the great debut album. There is a second coming, I think I heard them mention.

Another Life is the closing song tonight, and one of the many highlights. Like a dream/ Are you ready for another? After your soul successfully negotiates the Bardo, you are ready for another life.

Eddie Raynor on keyboards. A member of Space Waltz, Split Enz, Crowded House, and has played on a Paul McCartney album somewhere in the Eighties.

Andrew Snoid McLennan lead vocals, is the familiar face of New Zealand pop music in the Eighties with Coconut Rough and especially Pop Mechanix. Some will remember singer Richard Dick Driver from Mechanix. There was also the mysterious and seldom seen Phil McCracken.

Patrick Kuhtze on drums is a top session musician and would be the Kiwi Hal Blaine, legendary drummer for the Wrecking Crew of Los Angeles. Gold Star studios and the bells of Phil Spector. Kuhtze lays it down and everyone follows.

Rounding it out, Justin McLean on guitar and Dan Antunovich bass, complete with ZZ top’s beard.

Starts with an instrumental, Double Happy, sounding similar to the opening of the B52’s Planet Claire. It stays as a vamp with McLennan prancing around with a cow-bell. No one yells for more cow-bell.

Some Days is a bright sunny song with generous amounts of Two-Tone ska in the rhythm. With God up above/ Endless love/ Hail Mary/ Tell me that you love me.

After giving a tribute to one of the Enz founders, Phil Judd, they cover Whisper from Schnell Fenster, which included Rayner and Judd. Arty pop keyboard drones sounding similar to the Fall’s How I Wrote Elastic Man.

Danny McCrum

Danny McCrum is a best-kept secret to the extreme. No one seems to have heard of him as I asked prior, even how his surname was spelt.

But with a brace of original songs to start, he has a soulful white tenor voice like Graham Parker, and at times can match John Hiatt.

He is playing solo with electric guitar, and he sounds like a full band with minimal use of gadgets. Jangle rock and pop riffs

A little bit of research reveals he’s played with Clapton and Beck. Maybe Page too to complete the Yardbird’s triumvirate. A host of others like John Mayer, Tommy Emmanuelle and Brian, Lord Ferrari of Roxy.

A blues guitar intro leads into Come Together and here come old flat top/ He come groovin’ up slowly.

Beatlesque is a tired over-used phrase to describe a whole tsunami of bands in the wake of Sgt Pepper. It implied the commercialisation of pop in its wake to pure product. That’s part of it. When it’s done well, it’s as much arty, cerebral and avant-garde as the Velvet Underground or Dylan. Check out the Ramones to remind yourself.

The thrill is not gone. Both from the band and the solo warm-up act.

McCrum covers the Police’s Roxanne and Message in a Bottle. Vocally more like Graham Parker. I don’t hear much white reggae here, just good power pop. I prefer this with its big and simple guitar sound.

He briefly starts on I See Red and stops, thinking better of it. Last of his is One People, which is more rocksteady to reggae, and has a little of the Bob Marley style.

Another Life

I remember the old Split Enz as quite arty and given to extended work-outs on stage. At the first Sweetwaters in 1980, they played on Sunday evening, and after two days of the music marathon the energy in the crowd was waning. They fronted a miraculous resurrection and that was the best show of theirs I attended.

Tonight, the pop is accented. The band is as tight and locked-in as an old Sixties Soul revue.

My Mistake has an oom-pah rhythm and could be a Brecht-Weill song from a German stage.

Missing Person, Give It a Whirl, Nobody Takes Me Seriously, I Got You. Bright punchy power pop. Somehow, Rayner manages a saxophone squark to start a song.

Never Again. McLennan is in fine form and time has not diminished the voice. You hear it here on this slower ballad. Emotional, soulful pop with a slight rasp in the voice.

Jumping Out a Window. The old Pop Mechanix song has some surf punk guitar.

Sierra Leone, a big local hit from Coconut Rough, has been given some different make-up and is a nice disco dance number. In the manner of Chic.

The new music, whilst coming from the past legacy, continues to build on that and sound fresh. Cabin Fever races off in galloping Tom Petty or Buddy Holly fashion whilst throwing out angular quirks.

This was the Boomers night out and they had a ball to I Got You, close to the end and near-perfect.

That was Another Life. Great fun, great theatre. The band enjoyed it the most. Are you ready for another!

Rev Orange Peel          

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Leonie Moreland: