Hayley Theyers spent her formative years in Dunedin and her colourful connections with that city’s music scene will surely appear in her memoirs. A newly-discovered talent for photography has seen her art used for the cover of the Puddle’s Secret Holiday/Victory Blues LP, and she is currently making cover art for Brother Love and Matthew Bannister. She also works for the Human Rights Commission, and lives in Huia with her family. “We is simple mountain folk”. Here are five albums she’s loving right now…
1 – The Byrds, Ballad of Easy Rider: My parents threw lots of parties, and the best part of these for me was finding cassettes that their wild friends had left behind; this is how I was introduced to The Byrds, and to this album, which has become like comfort food for me, like eating a plate of porridge. At 17, during a long ride in a police car, with only my walkman to keep me company, I made the jump from childhood to adulthood, listening repeatedly to It’s All Over Now Baby Blue and There Must Be Someone I Can Turn To (while fast-forwarding past Jesus is Just Alright), till the batteries wore out. Later the cassette too wore out, to be replaced with vinyl, which many years later melted in the sun, which I cried at. Eventually I found another copy at Slow Boat Records in Wellington (which also made me cry). Fido.
2 – Devendra Banhart, Mala: I found Devendra Barnhart after reading about him in Rolling Stone. I was immediately struck by his vocal similarity to Tyrannosaurus Rex (Marc Bolan). Mala also has echoes of The Shirelles, The Pixies, The Beatles, and even some German disco tech. The lyrics are oftentimes very twisted, very clever. Through Devendra I have tripped into the genre of Freak Folk, finding the son of Alejandro Jodorowsky – Adanowsky, and most recently, the equally intoxicating music of New Zealand’s Connan Mockasin.
3 – Darondo, Let My People Go: I spend hours upon hours travelling down the avenues at YouTube. I only discovered Darondo shortly before he died in June this year. He was enjoying a revival of his music, sweet soul and funk from the 1970s that had gone mostly unrecognised. Darondo’s music is sexy and romantic, and he should have been as big as Al Green or Marvin Gaye. His voice ranges wildly from falsetto notes to growls, he’s a particularly interesting character with old-school pimp style and charm. Let My People Go was remastered and rereleased by Ubiquity records in 2006. More people learned of his music recently when it appeared on the show Breaking Bad (which I have yet to watch, but it obviously has an impressive soundtrack).
4 – Kevin Ayers, Joy of a Toy: This album is a joy that brings me joy I never tire of. This is Kevin’s first solo album after leaving The Soft Machine and it features them as his backing band. What I love about Mr Ayers is his posh voice, both demure and word-weary. Town Feeling always reminds me of my favourite family doctor and the way she shuts her eyes when she speaks to me. Song for Insane Times captures the insanity of the 1960s; “and we all sang the chorus/ of I Am the Walrus”. Sadly Kevin Ayers also died this year; I had dreamt of seeing him live, and now I never shall.
5 – Bob Dylan, Self Portrait: This record has been at the back of my record pile for years, never played because of the terrible art on the cover. A friend recently heard Dylan’s Blue Moon chosen as “The Best Song Ever Written” on National Radio, and when he was going through my records pulled out Self Portrait. We played it and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. At least, to the half I have (which seems to be plenty – though I wouldn’t mind swapping my extra sides 1 and 2 of Masterpieces for the missing sides 1 and 2 of Self Portrait – funny how these things happen). I am a fan of cover versions – I am always interested in how one artist interprets another’s song – and I love Dylan’s versions of Blue Moon, Take a Message to Mary, and Copper Kettle, and his reworking of It Hurts Me Too (for which he seems to have taken all the credit). Why this album was slammed by the critics is beyond me.