Various Artists – Tuatara
Flying Nun Records, 1985 (Strange Weekend US reissue)
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007
This, along with the Topless Women Talk About Their Lives comp, was my introduction to Flying Nun Records, which would eventually become one of my favorite labels in the history of music. It's amazing, how this little island nation at the bottom of the world could basically figure out indie-pop in a way that was slightly different from what was going on in the UK and in the States and put out some of the most outrageously good tracks and bands nobody's ever heard. Tuatara kicks off with the Clean's awesome instrumental “Fish” and the whole first half is dedicated to bands whose stuff is really, really hard to find. Even on bittorrent. The Gordons, Fetus Productions, Children's Hour, I can't find their stuff anywhere! “Pink Frost” by the Chills is here though, and jesus christ, a jam like that is worth $20 on its own. It's also got “The Brain that Wouldn't Die” by Tall Dwarfs, who I'm only now getting into in a sad way. Chris Knox, as you may know, recently suffered from a stroke and a whole bunch of awesome artists put together a two-disc comp of Tall Dwarfs and Knox-related band covers, and this is what has led me to listen to the originals with vigor.
There are plenty of gems here. The Verlaines “Death and the Maiden” embody the word “jangly” in terms of guitars and is a perfect little capsule of a pop song that could put most mainstream pop groups to shame. AND it features a weird, woozy little carnival organ solo (like one of my other favorite songs from the southern hemisphere, “Annabel Bleach” by the Ampersands (which will be coming up shortly in the 7”s section) seemingly out of nowhere for a half a minute before launching back into the song. The gatefold has a little bio about all of the bands, which is totally rad. Pictures too! Some bands, like Children's Hour have a hardcore post-punk bent, but mostly this is a mass of indie rock gold, catchy indie pop jams and just plain weirdo shit (see: Marie and the Atom's hauntingly odd “Isol”). Awesome comp, weird comp, totally worth having comp.
"Pink Frost" as performed live by the Chills!