18 Jan 2019

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Alastair Galbraith


One of the most admired yet paradoxically ignored NZ musicians is Alastair Galbraith. Starting out in Dunedin in the early 1980s Galbraith's first group The Rip recorded two EPs for Flying Nun, 'A Timeless Piece' and 'Stormed Port'. The first pretty much reflected the sounds defining South Island music at that time and Galbraith's singing and song writing, even at that young stage, had a big impact on those listening.

'Stormed Port' was even more impressive. A change in line-up saw original members Galbraith and Robbie Muir joined by Peter Jefferies (This Kind of Punishment) and Galbraith began to really make explicit his song writing/performing skills. Unfortunately these EPs are long gone, only ever released in the typical miniscule Flying Nun quantities because really, who was listening back then?

Well, a few people luckily including Bruce Russell, a longtime champion of and co-performer with Galbraith in Russell's free noise unit A Handful of Dust. First up was the "solo" 'Hurry On Down' cassette made of live recordings and a bunch of studio material differing based on which of the two versions of the cassette you happen to hear. A lot of this material has been reprised on later releases

Next up came the 'Timebomb'/'Bravely Bravely' single with Graeme Jefferies (Peter's brother, co-This Kind of Punishment member) quite simply one of the best singles from Xpressway's formidable catalogue, twin guitar melodies encapsulating as well as anything the grace and sense of yearning at the center of Galbraith's music.

While the single is gone you can hear it on the 'Making Losers Happy' CD, a compilation of Xpressway singles from 'Drag City' or Galbraith's 'Seely Girn' release ('Feel Good All Over'), a compilation covering material from Stormed Port and the Xpressway years. Including of course the 'Plagal Grind' material, Xpressway's "supergroup" made up of Galbraith, Muir, Peter Jefferies and David Mitchell of Goblin Mix and The 3Ds fame.

They made their first appearance on Xpressway, eventually getting signed to Flying Nun, released two very good EPs, 'Swarthy Songs for Swabs' and 'Fish Songs', both from 1990 and played live shows of barely restrained freaked-rock action where the music always seemed poised to tear your lips off.




  • Dunedin

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