Ebony Sye - Their debut album 'If You Want To Be King' (Ode Records - SODET 270) is a tour de force and has been voted one of the most underrated albums of all time on international web lists, they have even had a racehorse named after them.
Their raw talent and youthful energy has stood the test of time and is as valid in today's techno punk revival as anything from the mid 1980ís.
Once touted as New Zealand's hardest working band they cut their first record before any of them had turned 20 and had covered most of the country from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island on their exhaustive tour schedules. Having influenced many bands that followed in their wake, their personal differences and final demise in 1989 signalled an end of an era, An era many have tried to put behind them but an era which is now being rediscovered with gusto. Singer/Guitarist Niel de Jong would later go on to form the popular Voodoo Love which was the darling of student radio in the early 1990's.
Ebony Sye, The music: ďPink Floyd meets The CureĒ as one critic called it.
My own impression was more along the lines of The Stranglers or maybe even The Violent Femmes
with the faintest hint of Jethro Tull (Hmm). Strong and full of spunk for an eighties four piece with surprisingly edgy guitar riffs for a period of synth-dominated mediocrity. Donít get me wrong there is some fine synth playing on their record from keyboard man Iain Ballantyne. Tracks like 'Girl At School' and 'The Visitor' are inspired, examples of Moog madness at their best.
Criticised for their sometimes adolescent lyrics the band found wide appeal among their own age group with lyrics that cut deep into the teenage psyche - remember the group was only 18 or 19 themselves and delved into such heady topics as the Queen street riots 'Canít Blame Rock & Roll' and the Falklands war 'Tin Soldiers' as well as the usual teenage, They donít understand me type lyrics of 'Iíd Hate To Be' and title track 'If You Want To Be King'.
Side Two begins with the eighties club anthem 'Staring At Me' whoís driving bass pulse sets the tone for a darker more brooding second half to the record. The album ends with the frantic punk thrash 'Iíd Hate To Be' which will leave your ears ringing and begging for more.
For Videos of Ebony Sye on YouTube http://youtube.com/results?search_query=ebony+sye&search=Search
Niel de Jong (vocals, guitar)
Roseanne Greenhalgh (bass)
Iain Ballantyne (keyboards)
Robin de Jong (drums)
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Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 1:12 pm
The best band I have ever travelled with. The memories will always remain. Long live Ebony Sye
Location: Outside NZ
Posted: Sat Nov 5, 2005 3:34 pm
My interest in the New Zealand music scene began and ended with the band, Ebony Sye. In my opinion, one of THE most underrated bands of the 1980s! An old friend of mine, Daryl, gave me a tape back in 1988 by Ebony Sye (an exchange student from New Zealand had forgot it at his high school). I don't think anybody ever heard of them, at least not in our parts. I must have played that tape to death. I was very pleasantly surprized to find a site where I could download some of their material. I made an audio CD which I have been playing over and over in my car! Can anybody tell me where I can find/purchase a complete compilation of Niel De Jong's music? Both his personal music, and stuff from Ebony Sye?
Thank you kindly.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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