William Dart looks at New Zealand poets set to music by New Zealand songwriters - including Sam Hunt set by the late Fane Flaws with his band The Bend.
Fane Flaws, one of the real characters of New Zealand music, passed away on 17 June.
While hesitating to bandy about clichés such as Renaissance Man, Flaws’ talents were impressively extensive — he was a songwriter and guitarist, of course, but also a film-maker and an artist, who showed his work around the country.
On the musical side, his stint with The Crocodiles in the 1980s followed some years with Blerta and Spats. Then, after a period across the Tasman, he returned to New Zealand and once more made music with his friends, very much in his home territory of Hawke’s Bay — and undertaken with various bands including one titled The Bend with his old Crocodile cohorts, Peter Dasent and Tony Backhouse.
To many, Flaws’ highest profile came in 1998 with splendidly titled The Underwater Melon Man and other unreasonable rhymes. This was a fanciful book and CD of children’s songs, created with Arthur Baysting and Peter Dasent, very much in the classic tradition of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear – the book zanily illustrated by Flaws, and its songs dashingly delivered by a who’s who of the local music scene back then.
Fane Flaws lived to see the release, just last month, of what could almost be called a career-long project.
Titled We Disappear, the album consists of twelve lyrics by poet Sam Hunt, half of which were recorded back in the mid-1980s. Flaws explains it all in his eminently readable booklet essay: just back from Australia, he was keen to get his song-writing again, but didn’t think he had it in him, having returned from the northern beaches of Sydney to the less inspiring hills and cows of Aotearoa. But then, as fate would have it, a book of poems by Sam Hunt made him realise that a bovine subject might have its own untapped potential.
In the programme, William leads into his tribute to Flaws with a review of the recent live performance of Charlotte Yates' Mansfield project, the studio album of which he covered last year in New Horizons.
'Song title' (Composer) – Performers
'High Country Weather' (Reyne, Baxter) – Jordan Reyne
'The Fiery Shirt' (Yates, Baxter) – Charlotte Yates
'Tangi' (Grace, Baxter) – Rawiri Grace
'To K.M.' (Coddington, Mansfield) – Anna Coddington
'The Wounded Bird' (Singer, Mansfield) – French for Rabbits
'Malade' (Milne, Mansfield) – Lawrence Arabia
'Tears' (Flaws, Baysting) – The Crocodiles
'The Man with the Elephant Nose' (Flaws, Dasent) – Che Fu, King Kapisi
The Underwater Melon Man
'Black Cattle at Dawn Wairua' (Flaws, Hunt) – The Bend
'We Could Just Disappear' (Flaws, Hunt) – The Bend