3 Feb 2023

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Album Review: The New Blue - Pixie Williams Reimagined

06 Apr 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Before starting on the music on this tribute album, we first need to understand who Pixie Williams was and the impact she had on NZ music. Pixie was the first wahine Maori vocalist to reach number one on the New Zealand singles chart, with the song Blue Smoke in 1949. Written by Ruru Karaitiana, this was the first hit record wholly produced in New Zealand from composition to pressing and provided the debut for the TANZA record label (and was later covered by Dean Martin and many others). It topped the New Zealand radio hit parades for six weeks, selling more than 50,000 copies in a country which at the time had less than 1.9 million inhabitants. Over the next few years, she sang on more songs such as Let's Talk it Over and Windy City, before leaving the music industry to raise a family in Dunedin. In 2011, her daughter Amelia Costello was behind the release of an album which preserved her collection of Williams’ shellac recordings, and in 2019 Williams, composer Ruru Karaitiana and guitarist Jim Carter were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in recognition of the importance of Blue Smoke, and to tie in with the 70th anniversary.

Costello’s original aim was to preserve the recordings, but after that had been achieved, she wondered if it would be possible to have the songs reimagined with contemporary artists, and discussed this with sound engineer Mike Gibson, who had restored and remastered the recordings on For the Record - The Pixie Williams Collection. He in turn brought in Riki Gooch (Eru Dangerspiel, Trinity Roots) and singer Lisa Tomlins (Fat Freddy’s Drop, L.A.B, Hollie Smith), and together they started looking for artists who would be able to do the songs justice, while at the same time ensuring they never moved far from their roots.

The result is an album which is a time machine: there is no way this could have been recorded in 2020, as the sound is from a time at the very beginning of modern popular music, before Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats released Rocket 88 in Memphis in 1951. This is music which makes me think of the old black and white musicals I used to watch with my grandad when I was just a kid myself, with the likes of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, when music had a soul and there was never any need to rush, as it would take whatever time it needed. Thanks to modern technology, Pixie starts her most famous song herself before Lisa Tomlins and Kirsten Te Rito come in to take it on – they are also the only singers to have more than one song, yet everyone involved has done an incredible job. The arrangements are sedate, slow, full of passion, with room for everyone to shine. I must confess to having not heard of Pixie prior to this album but having been listening to this a great deal in recent times, I know I am going to have to search out the release from 10 years ago. This is a true tribute, with musicians and singers combining together to produce a remarkable piece of work, packed full of emotion and feelings, showing off their own skills but also ensuring we never forget the person who came before, a trailblazer in NZ music, Pixie Williams.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Flying Man - Single Review: Under The Stars
31 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Flying Man is the stage name of Dunedin based Irish-born live-looping guitarist and singer/songwriter Alan Ned Gray. Flying Man’s song-writings sit in the electroacoustic realm - playing programmed beats, live looping and layered harmonies.
Crying Club - EP Review: Big Water Bottle
31 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
It is some 18 months since I last reviewed a recording by Crying Club, which was the single Taxi Man, but I did see them at EmoFest last year where three of the songs on this five-track thirteen-minute-long EP were played. While their music is solidly rooted in the indie scene, they manage to also bring in other genres as they cross genres, bringing rock and metal quite strongly into their poppy mix.
Gig Review: Midnight Green & Kazia @ The Thirsty Dog, Auckland - 21/01/2022
21 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
After being blasted the previous night at Dead Witch, tonight I was at The Thirsty for what promised to be a very different affair indeed, with two soul/jazz/pop bands. Beforehand I was talking to the bar manager who told me that soon they will be closing for renovations, after which they will open up with the stage in a different place, and it promises to be much improved, so I am really looking forward to seeing the end results.
Gig Review: The Rising Tide @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 20/01/2023
20 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Back to Dead Witch tonight for my first time seeing The Rising Tide who were up from Palmerston North in support of their excellent new EP, The Hope We Die For. They had also invited a few other bands who I have seen before, namely Brawler NZHC who I saw supporting Xile, plus favourites Unwanted Subject and Pale Flag who were both at the Downfall of Humanity release show.
Gig Review: Music In Parks - Helensville @ Helensville River Reserve, Auckland - 15/01/2023
15 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Each Summer, the Auckland Council put on a series of free outdoor concerts in different places around the city, and today was the second this year, and definitely had a country flavour with Keith Pereira, Louis Jarlov and Sam Bartells. Not only are the shows free, but they all take place in the afternoon, so this gig was set to take place between 1 and 4!
Gig Review: Ovus @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 14/01/2023
15 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Having spent an incredible two weeks at home on South Island, it was now back up to Auckland and it was soon back into the live scene with my first gig at Dead Witch for 2023. Tonight was going to be interesting as I recently reviewed Ovus’s EP, Lucid, and it would be the first time I had seen Afterlight since they changed their name from Antebellum.
Adam McGrath - Album Review: Dear Companions
08 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Due to many reasons, I have been somewhat late to the underground NZ scene but over the last few years have been fortunate enough to meet some incredible people, see some amazing performances, and hear some wonderful music. All of these come together in one man, Adam McGrath, leader of The Eastern.
Holy Crime - Single Review: Play Toy
08 Jan 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Holy Crime are a relatively new band from Auckland, comprising Benny Richards (guitar, vocals), Tom Anderson (bass, vocals), Jacob Stutton (guitar) and Mat Hinton (drums), with Play Toy being their debut single. Sometimes, just sometimes, one hears a song and immediately a smile comes across the face and it stays there right until the end and that is the case with this one with its unabashed influences of The Darkness and Eighties glam rock.
View All Articles By Kev Rowland

NZ Top 10 Singles

    Miley Cyrus
    RAYE feat. 070 Shake
    Sam Smith And Kim Petras
    David Guetta And Bebe Rexha
    Metro Boomin, The Weeknd And 21 Savage
    Taylor Swift
    venbee And goddard.
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem