They named themselves after a great song by The Clash. A good start.
But before I had even worked that out I was kinda struck by their song Struck. My mate who I shall refer to here only as Justin (because, well, that’s his name) knew how to play this song. And one night, after many drinks, he jumped up to perform it at a small venue in Havelock North. I was in a covers band that was taking a break and he played this song Struck which had the great line “I’m kinda struck by the way I f**ked up” which was a little bit like a Pixies song I guess.
It had more good lines in it. Something about “I have regrets/I have no/cigarettes/please play me Bennie And The Jets”. It went on to conclude “Billy Joel is an asshole” (a sentiment I fully support, but that’s already been covered here).
Turns out Struck was a b-side, you could find it on the band’s Comeback Special EP.
But then there was Fingerpops – when the singer screamed “I miss you every single day” spitting out each syllable, he sounded a bit like Sting in the early days of The Police. And then there was Beelines To Heaven – a fun song with stolen chords that seemed to sing of the great old student-loan scheme we would get to know… “I just got given what I owe/Blown it on a stereo/Can I have some more?”
The debut Garageland album was called Last Exit To Garageland. It was an album that my friend Justin had. And an album that we all liked; a group of us. We would play it on an evening where some drinks were had. We would play it on the morning after some drinks were had.
One time a friend who I will call Ross (because I always have) managed to change the words from “Tired and bored/Close the door/Let’s go to bed” to “Tired and bored/Close the door/Let’s shave Ross’s head”. The song Tired And Bored was playing. And, yep, we had just dragged clippers out on to the front lawn with an extension lead, on a morning after a night of drinks. And we were going to shave Ross’s head.
Away to university and Fingerpops and Beelines became staples in the live set of the covers band I was in; the one that had seen a cameo performance of Struck at our very first gig. And then to watching Garageland play regularly – checking them out on each tour.
The difficult second album was Do What You Want – it’s a good album to revisit. It’s got some great songs on it, the opener, Love Song still works, seems a good continuation – but it didn’t stand much of a chance, for some reason, against Last Exit and the early EPs.
There was another album and other EPs but really it’s that first stuff I remember the best.
Last Exit To Garageland is the sort of debut album that pretty much plays out (especially now) as a greatest hits, essentially. Every song a gem – and as poppy and happy as those singles were, the song Nude Star is the one, for me. What a gem. What a great, great song.
I know Garageland reformed the other year for a one-off Auckland show. I was kinda hoping for a full national tour. I’d still like that to happen. They were one of our best bands. Sure there were a heap from that time, either just before or just after (Superette and The Stereo Bus spring instantly to mind).
In a perfect world I’d like to see Garageland and Superette and The Stereo Bus all touring – imagine all three playing those debut albums in their entirety. Superb. Could we make that happen? I don’t know. I doubt it. But it would be fabulous. Could we see a compilation of Garageland songs released – and called, perfectly, Come Back Garageland, All Is Forgiven?
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see that.
What do you reckon? Were you a Garageland fan. Would you like to have them back – even if just for one night in your town? And would you like to see the best of the band’s work all together on one great disc – perfect still in the warm-up to a night out and the wind-down the day after…