Monday, October 17, 2016

Oh, look around you, all around you, riding on a copper wave (Patti Smith)

Music is love (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 7: The Seventies Part 2)

Roger in his new pop/rock Marbecks Records
Welcome to the second part of my seventies celebration - the AM (After Marbecks) period - 1976-1982.

Three important life changing events happened in this period. One and two, as I indicated in the previous post, involved meeting Greg Knowles and starting to write to Noel Forth in Adelaide. And the third? I met Roger Marbeck and started working for and with him.

During AM, Greg and I established a weekly pattern of record buying that fed both our habits. 

It went a little something like this: after school on a Friday we would catch a bus into K Rd.

We'd start with George Courts and Rendells in K Rd, then cross the road to The Record Exchange in St Kevin's Arcade, take a wander through Myers Park to Queen Street and work our way down to the end of the road, taking in some of the record shops we came across until we got to Marbecks Records in the Queen's Arcade and the EMI shop in the new Downtown Mall. 

Along that route during these years were a exceptionally large number of record stores: 246's record bar on the second floor, Direction Records, the Record Warehouse, Lewis Eady, Arthur Eady, Taste Records in Lorne Street, down the stairs to Music City in Vulcan Lane, Peaches, Rock'n'Roll Records, and a few more on the side streets whose names I've forgotten.

Watching Split Enz with the Knowleses
This would take hours! We'd walk, chat, spitball, browse, buy - but mainly browse, laugh, joke, people watch, grab a coke (me) or a milkshake (Greg), walk, laugh...

Then we'd get the bus home. I had my drivers' licence by this time so I'd sometimes drive to Greg's and I'd often bus from there. 

Enz at the old His Majesty's 
Greg and I have different tastes so we were never really competing for the same records. It was always supportive. We'd even try to find things we knew the other would like. We'd often trade/swap records - notably I got a lot of Apple singles from Greg. It has been a great relationship and a lasting friendship that I REALLY value.

According to Neil Young, there ain't nothing like a friend who can tell you you're just pissing in the wind.

Often with his big brother, Mike, we also went to gigs together. We saw loads of NZ bands in these years - Split Enz, Golden Harvest, Waves, Streettalk, Hello Sailor, Citizen Band and so on.

During AM, in 1977, we both started student life at Auckland University. While our old school day era routine obviously changed, our frequent trips to Real Groovy (now on Queen's Street after a short stint at the top of Mt Eden Road) and Marbecks, didn't. We also inducted other like minded music lovers, like Kevin Simms, into our arcane routines.

Haydn and Murray as I knew them. Great guys!
Marbecks Records was a special place. It was thanks to Noel that I discovered Marbecks. He alerted me to the delights on offer in that funny little shop in the Queen's Arcade. 

They had a box of Apple singles that I would often ask to see and buy from for Noel and for me. In the shop were two old guys in their white business shirts and ties: Avuncular Murray Marbeck was clearly the boss; Haydn Marbeck was the mischievious, sarcastic, younger brother. A very cheeky female shop assistant was also there to serve us. They were never condescending, always very knowledgeable and obliging. I must have asked for that box of Apple singles dozens of times!

Then one day there was a young guy behind the counter as well (it was getting pretty cramped back there) -  a guy about our age. Another Marbeck had joined the family firm. We would chat with Roger who immediately impressed us with his musical knowledge and his easy going manner. We were speaking the same language! 

Apart from Apple singles, Marbecks also had a range of Apple albums and weird stuff that was unmatched by the other stores. AM was timed around the punk outbreak remember and a lot of those other stores were practising a sad devotion to that ancient religion. Marbecks Records suited me. Clearly, with shirts and ties, it wasn't a slave to punk fashion.

Around this time, end of school, start of University, I had a summer job working as a chain man/gofer for a surveying company. The engineers and surveyors were cool to work for during my holiday breaks. I had a lot of fun there, but I'd had had enough of painting boundary pegs.

Roger Marbeck loves music.
The Rock and Roll lure was strong! When I asked Roger if he needed a hand during the peak holiday periods to help him and shop assistant Vanessa in the new pop/rock shop opposite the classical one in the arcade, he said, "Yeah! Okay."

Brilliant! Not only could I sift through the bins for free, I could take my pay in records (some weeks I actually paid Roger to work in the store).

And that's what happened in my long summer holidays from 1978 until 1982 (and again later - whenever we found ourselves living in Auckland). It was glorious fun! Ness, Roger and I got on really well. The arrangement suited us all. I would have a weekly pile of records put aside and collect them on pay day! Ness had a co-worker and Roger had someone else to share the load and order about! It was perfect.

Murray and Haydn were also great guys. Haydn gave me heaps! Murray was always a real gentleman. Mum remembered having dealings with young Murray when she worked at Lewis Eady and she always regarded him highly. She always referred to him as Mr Marbeck.

Friday nights were my favourite time in the store. Not only were there slower hours and that meant I got to choose what we listened to, but it also meant food. Haydn would order Chinese takeaways and we'd take it in turns to eat across the arcade, upstairs in the classical shop.

Somehow, I would often (I hesitate to say, always, but it felt like that) get to share my meal time with Haydn and he was hilarious! And rude! His jokes were always accompanied by twinkly eyes and a dirty laugh. Great times!

I especially loved working with Roger. He's like Greg - a funny, fun, genuine guy who is into music. Our friendship developed naturally. I met his girlfriend, Deirdre Dunn, and we'd all spend time together. I would even stay over at their place in Canongate Street from time to time. I helped out with digging out their basement and Roger gave me a boxed set of Cream albums as a bonus. I enjoyed his company and we listened to a lot of great music.  

I went to his wedding to Deirdre with my date, Lynley Wood, and, in 1984, the Marbecks came to mine, all the way down in New Plymouth. Then we started having our children around the same time: Jessica was matched by Keegan and Adam; Logan/Samantha; Briar/Jade - we were ahead 4 to 3 when we each decided that was enough. Through those young years we shared holidays and family time (more to come in the Family Man chapter). 

Over the years, Roger became a big brother figure and like a big brother whose record collection is really cool, he hugely influenced my listening!

The collection in the AM era
One upshot of this friendship was that my collection expanded and expanded. Both in quality and quantity. For three reasons: one, working at Marbecks meant access not only to its resources but also to Roger's musical brain and superb taste; two, my teaching studentship - I now had discretionary income; and three, I had no dependents - there was just me. 

My university years were great self indulgent times. No one to think about, other than me, and what records I was going to buy. Oh and my studies. I did study hard, too.

Nice one Rory!
Two concerts from the AM era need a mention: Rory Gallagher's 1980 visit to Auckland's Town Hall and George Thorogood at the same venue. For both, somehow, I went on my own. Along with the Nambassa festival, they were amazing experiences and the Rory one tops my gig going list!

The AM era contained the golden years! From 1983 onwards record buying would take a back seat and dry up, as you'll read about in part 3 - AJ (After Jacky).

But before then, let's luxuriate in my second seventies list - my top 20 picks of AM!

20 Easter - Patti Smith (1978)

In a lecture room in the Old Arts Building at Auckland University, Roger and Wystan played BabelogueRock and Roll Nigger to us during their 20th century American poetry paper. I was transformed by the experience!

19 The Clash - London Calling (1979)
Cousin Christine sent me a punk special cassette with White Riot on it among other delights. Life in cosy sleepy NZ was light years away from what The Clash and others were railing against. It would take me some time to get into bands like The Clash. London Calling was much more accessible.

18 Jackson Browne – Jackson Browne (1978)
This is a prime example of someone I wouldn't have discovered without Roger and Marbeck's influence.

17 Rastaman Vibration – Bob Marley and the Wailers (1976)

16 Exodus – Bob Marley and the Wailers (1977)

15 American Stars and Bars - Neil Young (1977)
Watching him do Like A Hurricane on TV (Barry Jenkin's Grunt Machine I think or early Radio With Pictures) with the wind machines howling along with the guitar was similar to my Ed Sullivan/ Beatles moment.

14 Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols – Sex Pistols (1977)

13 Live – Status Quo (1977)

I taped this off the radio - I did that a lot back then because I didn't have unlimited financial resources. Then at Marbecks I'd play this in the shop during quiet moments (in between the best sellers that Roger needed to promote with high rotation).

12 Parallel Lines - Blondie (1978)

11 Terrapin Station – the Grateful Dead (1977)
Roger was a fan of the band - Mars Hotel era especially. I hadn't seen the appeal until then, but I somehow got hooked and this album in particular went on high rotate.

10 Bat Out of Hell – Meatloaf (1977)

I'm instantly transported to the games room at Ramelton Road when I hear this album. I was normally suspicious of mega sellers and avoided them but this was too much fun!

9 Moonflower – Santana (1977)

8 Aja – Steely Dan (1977)

7 Marquee Moon – Television (1977)
Dad, now Managing Director of Wellcome NZ, went on business trips to Sydney from time to time during the AM period. I would put in orders of records and he was a trooper - always came back with a few from my list.

6 Horses – Patti Smith (1976)
Lynley Wood was a fan. She told me about this record as we were standing around outside the University library in 1977. She was so enthusiastic, she talked me into it and she was right!

5 Hard Rain – Bob Dylan (1976)

4 Tejas – ZZ Top (1976)

3 If You Want Blood You’ve Got It – AC/DC (1978)

2 Showtime – Ry Cooder (1977)  
I read an amazing review of this record in Sounds by Barbara Charone (she always wrote well and I kept a clipping of the review). Coincidentally, I heard Jesus On The Mainline on the radio around the same time. Combined, these events convinced me to take a punt.

1 Hejira – Joni Mitchell (1976)  

Of all these albums and of all of Joni's albums - this is the one I play most often. Every time, I convince myself that I'll get it this time (what she's talking/singing about) and every time she leaves me daydreaming about an image and my thoughts wander. I love that.

Love and peace - Wozza

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