26 May 2022
UsernamePassword

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

Michael Signal - Single Review: Magnetism
25 May 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Now, I must confess to being as much a fan of short song as I am of long ones and given how much I listen to Napalm Death that is probably a good thing. But all short songs I know tend to fall into one of two camps, in that they are either complete in their own right (and are generally brutal), or are introductory tasters for a longer piece of music and I cannot help but feel that what we have here is the latter and my only complaint is that it stops after 90 seconds and I feel somewhat bereft.
Read More...
Max Hill - Album Review: M.H.
23 May 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Max Hill (they/them) originally started as Slow Rage, which became a duo with the addition of drummer Sam Hatley, building quite a reputation in the all-ages scene. However, like many other musicians they decided to make the most of the first lockdown in 2020 and started work on what would turn out to be a totally solo album recorded in their bedroom.
Read More...
Stephen McDaid - Album Review: Trail Maps
23 May 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Here we have the debut solo album from Stephen McDaid, who has been somewhat busy helping out his in-law’s by playing on both Guy Hobson and Kay Duncan’s recent releases, but now he has found time to go out on his own. Given that he has been adding guitar to both those other albums it is no surprise that this is the primary instrument, but here it is an acoustic which is the perfect accompaniment to his strong vocals.
Read More...
Kay Duncan - Album Review: Interstellar Refugee
23 May 2022 // by Kev Rowland
On this her debut album, Kay Duncan provides vocals and guitar, and she is joined by her husband Guy Hobson on keyboards and brother-in-law Stephen McDaid on lead guitar. I was initially listening to this while working outside on the farm and it took me a while to work out who her voice often reminded me of, namely Karen Carpenter.
Read More...
Guy Hobson - Album Review: Latitude
23 May 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Guy Hobson is a Christchurch-based composer and performer who specialises in instrumental music for film and was featured most notably on one by Force Five Films about the unveiling of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two SS2. He is a classically trained pianist who describes his music as Ambient, hypnotic and alt/modern classical, bringing in influences from classical, jazz, blues, and funk.
Read More...
Cafe Fistfight - EP Review: Mourning Brew
19 May 2022 // by Kev Rowland
It feels like a lifetime ago now, but I guess it must be closer to 18 months, when I started daring to head into central Auckland and Dead Witch. I had agreed, in a moment of madness, to cover all the heats for the local battle of the bands competition and had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
Read More...
Antebellum - Single Review: Resolve
16 May 2022 // by Kev Rowland
There has never been any doubt in my mind that the most difficult musical format to get right is that of a trio, as while it is expected that the sound will be full and complete, there is also no room to hide. That is even more the case when that trio decide to be instrumental as there is no singer to take some of the load, and then what about when the musical grounding is in metal?
Read More...
Gig Review: French For Rabbits @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 13/05/2022
15 May 2022 // by Kev Rowland
So it was back to The Tuning Fork for the first time in quite a while. I am struggling to remember the last time I was there, but possibly it was for Dragon, which was well over a year ago.
Read More...
View All Articles By Kev Rowland

NZ Top 10 Singles

  • FIRST CLASS
    Jack Harlow
  • N95
    Kendrick Lamar
  • AS IT WAS
    Harry Styles
  • ABOUT DAMN TIME
    Lizzo
  • GO (GODDARD. REMIX)
    Cat Burns
  • DIE HARD
    Kendrick Lamar feat. Blxst And Amanda Reifer
  • UNITED IN GRIEF
    Kendrick Lamar
  • FATHER TIME
    Kendrick Lamar feat. Sampha
  • COLD HEART (PNAU REMIX)
    Elton John And Dua Lipa
  • HEAT WAVES
    Glass Animals
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