Album I can't live without: AK-79

Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012
KIWI COMPILATION: Dave Smith has bought four copies of the AK-79 album over the years.

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I can remember my first local gig. It was a Labour Weekend Saturday night in 1979 at Mainstreet: Four bands for $5.

We were fired up with the punk explosion but had missed out on the whole Zwines thing and were desperate to see local live bands we were reading about.

Despite being a year underage we decided to try and sneak in. A bundle of nerves the guy took our cash without comment and we were in.

Mainstreet was a lovely old place with an upstairs balcony and a bunch of couches around the dance floor. We chose a couch to be near the action and drank in the scenery.

A sudden flurry of noise alerted us to art theatre punks The Plague who were on stage with their unusual music. It seemed like they were all playing in different bands but some how it seemed to work. Sadly my only enduring memory of them was they were bouncing an inflatable beach ball back and forth during one number. A talented bunch though who would later provide key members for many New Zealand bands.

Next up left a black hole in my memory. I can't remember anything about them which is both interesting and sad. Following them were Terrorways, one of the two reasons we were here. They played a sensational set packed full of energy that had us all up and pogoing. One of the guys I noticed was using a weird looking guitar. Sprinkled through the set were cover versions that had been sped up and terrorised. I loved them.

Last up was the prime reason for us being here: Phil Judd's new outfit The Swingers. Our age had denied the option of seeing Phil with Split Enz or punk scene leaders Suburban Reptiles so no way were we going to miss this.

Judd was with his Swingers trademark white Rickenbacker guitar and after a few short moments they were away. My friend and I stood there gobsmacked while Judd and crew played one sensationally brittle catchy pop song after another. Songs like Over the Teacups, One Good Reason, Yellow Sun, All Over Town, The Jinx, Certain Sound, Baby and Never Never. Unfortunately most of this era of the band would go unrecorded and would sadly soon be forgotten once Counting The Beat was released.

We were never the same after this - sneaking in to gigs on a regular basis - especially if the Swingers were playing. 

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A couple of months after that gig the compilation album AK-79 would be released.

It was amazing! A record I could listen to at home during the week full of local bands that I could go out and see playing live Thursday, Friday or Saturday. This was the first time this had happened for me as most of my music was from punk explosion in the UK at that point.

All participants had two songs each and that odd guitar I had noticed in the Terrorways was on the front cover.

The Terrorways' Never Been To Borstal and the wound up cover of She's a Mod were great live but on record they sparkled. The two Swingers songs Certain Sound and Baby were all fragile pop beauty. The menace of The Primmers on You're Gonna Get Done was countered by a reckless joy in slice of life mini-epic Funnie Stories. Proud Scum's I am A Rabbit was lewdly funny (and covered by the Lemonheads) and the tongue-in-cheek Suicide about a former band member was a bit close to the bone for some. The two tracks by the Scavengers (soon to be Marching Girls) are just amazing with True Love being my candidate for best New Zealand love song. The other, Mysterx, being a barb at a previous band member who went ran away from the punk circus to join the corporate world.

Over the years I have bought this album four times. The first in 1979 then in 1982 after a long search when the first one was played to death. Then came the CD with all those lovely extra tracks from the era and finally at the AK-79 reunion show 2008 a lavish double disc vinyl copy.

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