Come & See Me: Dream Babes & Rock Chicks From Down Under
What an incredible history lesson. Here compiler/curator and label head Grant Gillanders impresses once again with his knowledge and great skill – a double-CD, nearly 60 tracks of ripping-good fun from a range of Australian and Kiwi female singers. There’s a lot of obscure stuff here but it fair rips along – Toni McCann with The Blue Jays sounds like some of those old Brenda Lee recordings with Ritchie Blackmore on lead, Gwynn Owen’s Hard Loving Loser has that swinging 60s beat-combo feel of some of Nancy Sinatra’s tracks and there’s really not a dud track here. Amazing quality – and mostly very impressive sound quality too (a few little dips like April Byron’s See You Sam still have a charm to them even if they don’t sparkle audio-wise).
There are some big names of the day here – The Chicks of course. Allison Durbin (singing a coke ad among other offerings), Sandy Edmonds and Dinah Lee to name just an obvious few.
There’s also a great range of styles from surf and Hawaiian guitar to country-rockers, dramatic pop in the style of Dusty Sprinfield (Lee’s I’ll Forgive You, Then Forget You certainly channels Dusty) and hints of folk as one of the antecedents.
Even when big covers are being attempted – When You Walk In The Room kicks off this collection, the Sandy Edmonds version – there’s a sass and style that lifts them up and away from the obvious covers circuit.
I still think of New Zealand music from the 50s and 60s (and even sometimes into the 70s) as being so wholly derivative, not progressive at all. Not at all the case. As this fine compilations attests. Gillanders is doing such great work with these compilations and reissues on the Frenzy label. This is a treasure trove. So much of it still feeling vital – not merely fascinating just for seeing the light of day again.