Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Dunedin Sound

The Dunedin Sound

Some Disenchanted Evening

by Ian Chapman

Bateman: November 2016: Hardback  RRP $49.99

There are very few geographical locations in the world that are privileged enough to have an internationally acknowledged ‘sound’ attributed to them. Mention Liverpool’s Mersey Sound, the Nashville Sound and the Seattle Sound and you can expect people to instantly know what you mean. Remarkably, New Zealand has its own sound . . . and it comes from Dunedin.
The Dunedin Sound is known and respected the world over. Equally revered are the bands involved, such as The Clean, The Chills, The Verlaines and many others you will encounter in this celebration of Dunedin’s finest. Kicked off by the inimitable punk-infused force that was The Enemy in the late 1970s, and carried to the world throughout the 1980s and beyond in true seat-of-the-pants style by the Flying Nun record label, nobody could have foreseen the huge impact and lasting legacy that a pool of young songwriters and musicians from unfashionable Dunedin would create. Within these pages their extraordinary feat is revisited, with the stories and select discographies of an array of bands, and critiques and reminiscences from band members, fans and those in the music scene.

The Dunedin Sound is celebrated with a veritable feast of photographs and memorabilia, which in the words of Graeme Downes, from The Verlaines, ‘is a testament to a bunch of people desperate to create something in any way they could. And that something is pretty darn special.’

After Ian Chapman put out an appeal for photographs for The Dunedin Sound, via social media and an article in The Otago Daily Times, he began getting extremely excited by the quality of the images coming to light, the majority of which had never been seen in public before. ‘The notion of preserving visual history began steering the book in an even more pictorial direction, to the point where the text has ended up supporting the images rather than vice versa. However, this in no way lessens the wonderful efforts of those luminaries whom I have invited to make written contributions to the book. Outlining their own personal stories and engagements with the Dunedin Sound, these pieces offer a variety of perspectives and experiences.

‘The many photographs that have lain unseen for decades, the beautifully crafted posters that once adorned walls and bollards around the university and wider Dunedin, only to be torn down and thrown away, bar a precious few kept by those with more foresight than most — in these images, the pioneering, non-conforming and rebellious ethos of the Dunedin Sound can be seen.’ says Ian.

Also included is a priceless poster by The Bats’ Robert Scott, ‘Sound of Dunedin’, which provides a comprehensive family tree of the bands playing in Dunedin in 1977–1992, when the Dunedin Sound was born, and something both remarkable and lasting was created.

Ian Chapman is not a Dunedinite by birth, but has lived in Dunedin for 19 years — five as a student at Otago University in the 1990s and returning for 14 more as a lecturer in the Department of Music, Theatre and Performing Arts, from 2002 until today. He numbers several of the prime proponents of the Dunedin Sound among his friends, and continues to be enchanted by the unique artistic environment that Dunedin offers. A specialist in popular culture of the 1970s, and on David Bowie and the glam rock period in particular, Ian plays a flying-V guitar and collects platform shoes. This is his sixth book.

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