Episode 332: Flying Nun – The Bats, Straitjacket Fits, Jean Paul Sartre Experience, 3Ds
April 25, 2018
- The Axemen “Spots Of Glue Telling” Three Virgins, Three Versions, Three Visions (Flying Nun Records) 1986
- The Gordons “Sometimes” The Gordons (Flying Nun Records) 1981
- Bailter Space “I’m In Love With These Times” Nelsh Bailter Space (Flying Nun Records) 1987
- Snapper “Dark Sensation” Shotgun Blossom (Flying Nun Records) 1992
- Able Tasmans “What Was That Thing?” A Cuppa Tea And A Lie Down (Flying Nun Records) 1987
- The Bats “Treason” Daddy’s Highway (Flying Nun Records) 1987
- The Bats “Simpletons” Free All The Monsters (Flying Nun Records) 2011
- JPS Experience “I Like Rain” Love Songs (Flying Nun Records) 1986
- JPS Experience “Inside And Out” The Size of Food (Flying Nun Records) 1989
- JPS Experience “Flex” The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience (Flying Nun Records) 1986
- 3Ds “Beautiful Things” Beautiful Things (Flying Nun Records) 1993
- 3Ds “Ritual Tragick” Swarthy Songs For Swab (Flying Nun Records) 1991
- Straitjacket Fits “She Speeds” Hail (Flying Nun Records) 1988
- Straitjacket Fits “Down In Splendour” Down In Splendour (Flying Nun Records) 1990
- JPS Experience “Loving Grapevine” The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience (Flying Nun Records) 1986
As we reach another Wednesday, we continue our ‘Flying Nun Week’ with Nick Scalera. If you keep reading, we also have a Top 10 list from both Nick and Patrick.
Visit their official website at flyingnun.co.nz.
Follow Nick on Twitter @nickscalera
As requested, our Flying Nun Top 10s!
Able Tasmans: “Hold Me 1” (1990)
- So this song begins oddly with a run of grand piano and bold two minute intro. But don’t be fooled, the rest is classic Flying Nun quirky (yet orchestral?). A bit of an outlier in this list, but a fabulous song from a criminally underrated band.
Jean-Paul Sartre Experience: “Flex” (1986)
- From the band who attempted (unsuccessfully) to share their name with an existential philosopher comes this sinister, yet subtly uplifting ditty about god knows what. One of the best examples of jangly guitar counter-pointed by a bouncing bass line and guttural, snarly vocals. Or maybe the only one. And the video only serves to accentuate the meaninglessness of everything.
The Verlaines: “Death and the Maiden” (1982)
- I had to put two Verlaines songs on this list because it was almost impossible not to put five or six. This song is the quintessential expression of Dr. Graeme Downes, Head of the Music Department of the University of Otago, and his musical genius — combining complex time signatures, rapid strumming, lots of key changes, Classical overtones and erudite literary references.
Tall Dwarfs: “Nothing’s Going to Happen” (1981)
- Anyone who pretends to know anything about Flying Nun Records must include something from the label’s spiritual and musical mentor, Chris Knox. Simply put, without Chris Knox this whole music scene is something else, or nothing at all. Among many great options, this track remains an all-time favorite, despite the fact that the Knox-directed video still haunts my nightmares occasionally.
The Clean: “Beatnik” (1982)
- I’ve got a lot of favorite Clean songs, but this is the one that has stayed endlessly stuck in my brain for over 30 years. It has all the classic jangle, tinny drums and cheesy organ. But also the lyrics cover an issue that has plagued me since college, namely: “Is it wrong, or is it right to be a Beatnik?”
The Chills: “Wet Blanket” (1987)
- This song was originally from the somewhat crappy sounding “Brave Words” LP, but this remixed version from their greatest hits compilation really lets the shimmering guitars shine and propels Phillip’s masterful vocal range from just above whisper to a hell of a shout. Lyrics highlight: “I have nothing to say to anyone, but we can really talk us two” — if you find that one connection in life you are pretty much set.
The Bats: “Treason” (1987)
- The Bats have put out so many quality songs, this was tough choice. But for me the vocal harmonies between Robert Scott and Kaye Woodward just leap out at you from the get go here and soar through the whole track. The melodic bass line from Paul Kean (ex of Toy Love) counterpoints the jangling guitars perfectly. Is this song happy or sad? I have no idea. It’s bouncy yet weighed down somehow, and in that sense a classic illustration of the “Dunedin Sound.”
The Verlaines: “Slow Sad Love Song” (1987)
- This song is so achingly beautiful and desperately haunting, it’s hard to talk about without losing it emotionally. So I won’t.
Look Blue, Go Purple: “Cactus Cat” (1986)
- Pure pop perfection from Flying Nun’s most notable all-female outfit. This tune is pure bliss — lovely harmonies and endless jingle jangle guitars accented with a driving bass line that sounds simple but was deceptively difficult to record. And it’s about a cat. And cats are awesome.
Straitjacket Fits: “Down In Splendour” (1990)
- The classic lineup of this band featured two visionary songwriters — Lennon-esque Shayne Carter and McCartney-ite Andrew Brough. Though I’ve always leaned slightly Lennon, in this case I’m going with Brough’s lilting, gorgeous voice and somewhat fey lyrics. It’s all back-ended with a psychedelic gauze and soaring guitars that would fit well on the first couple Radiohead albums.
He chose to make a Spotify playlist
FUN FACT: The Straitjacket Fits formed from the remnants of the Doublehappys. The group was created by classmates Shayne Carter and Wayne Elsey; along with Elsey’s friend, John Collie. Collie was the replacement for the band’s drum machine (which was nicknamed Herbie F***face). Carter said that their machine was not named after anyone in particular, rather…
“We called it that because we could never figure out how to turn him off – he was a very problematic character.”
AudioCulture has a fantastic article on the group. Read more here: https://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/straitjacket-fits/stories/straitjacket-fits-part-1