After writing about it over the past couple of months I’ve finally got a copy of the Kiss-FM Kiss-Picks flash drive in my hot little hands and very cool it is too.
In case you missed the build-up, Max Christoffersen at the Mount’s independent radio station Kiss-FM, has put together a collection of music spanning the last 25 years from the Bay of Plenty, Taupo and the Waikato. This is hoped to be the first of many such ventures and something which could become an annual event.
It has been assembled on a flash drive, all ready to plug into your computer, and includes 14 songs as both WAV files (CD quality, ready to be burned to disc) and mp3s, and a crossfade mix so the songs play sequentially without breaks, much as you might hear them on radio (but without the ads and annoying jocks interrupting). There’s also a file which has cover art for the albums from which the songs are taken and some liner notes
Best of all is that this comes on a flash drive which is modelled on a Gibson Les Paul guitar. And you could just download the whole thing onto your PC and then reuse the flash drive if you were so inclined.
As it costs a very reasonable $20 I’d suggest you all grab one right now, even if you just stash it away as a groovy Christmas present for someone come December. Given the size it would be ideal for sending overseas. So far Kiss-Picks is only available from the radio station’s website – www.kissfm.co.nz – though should it be distributed through shops, as it certainly deserves to be, I’ll let you know.
And what about the music?
Things start off in fine fashion with Brilleaux’s ‘PhD In Stupidity’, an epic chunk of British rhythm ‘n’ blues, showcasing Bruce Roland’s ability to create chunky layers of guitars. Moving back 15 years, suddenly you get a largely forgotten shot of Hard To Handle from their (only) studio album, The End of the Beginning. I’m not going to second-guess Max – who chose all the songs personally – but ‘Mind Over Matter’ seems a strange choice from the band, given that central guitarist Tipi Elkington isn’t playing on it. Brian Hatcher supplies a great Ian Moss-like solo but fans will miss Tipi.
From there things get a bit heavier. Contemporary outfit Enercia turn in a big heavy metal ballad with ‘In The Darkness’ before we again leap back into Kiwi rock history with Knightshade, a Te Puke band originally, which relocated to Hamilton, pointing to Christoffersen’s roots as an early pioneer of student radio in that city – and the band still sound surprisingly fresh.
There are another 10 tracks and though space doesn’t allow for a song by song review they are a surprisingly, and impressively-varied lot, all of which would stand up quite happily against anything you hear on commercial radio.
From Tauranga there is ‘Get A Grip On Yourself’ from Kokomo’s live album and ‘Bleed’, one of Luke Thompson’s catchy folk-rock songs, while Aaron Saxon provides a solid guitar assault and shows himself adept at commercial rock on ‘Moving Higher’.
There are also a couple of blasts from the past: the Kaimai Cowboys were a relatively short-lived country band from the early ‘90s – our very own Warratahs – fronted by singer Noel Beasley (who has since concentrated on country-gospel music). They are represented by their debut single ‘Heartaches For Dreamers’ a sterling piece of recession story telling.
Then there’s the late great Ritchie Pickett, aptly closing the collection with ‘Pissed at the Oceanside’, a reminiscence on Tauranga nightlife and the bars and clubs that were its lifeblood.
And – forgive me for leaving this to last – there are some wonderful women on here. Taupo’s Jamie Fitzgerald has a voice (and songs) made for radio and local Hanna Fryett’s acoustic rock is literate and likeable. Hamilton all-girl group Slipping Tongue bring it on with harmony guitars and an aggressive attitude.
There’s also Grace Falls and Kindred, rounding off a well-chosen and most enjoyable collection.
Congrats to Kiss-FM for putting this together – may there be many more. In the meantime, get yours now!