Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Various Artists - Tuatara: A Flying Nun Compilation


After their early wave of success producing and distributing the first records by The Clean, The Chills and Sneaky Feelings, New Zealand's Flying Nun Records released a couple of compilation albums in the early 1980s. These collections showcased the burgeoning underground/alternative sound emerging in various locations around the country, especially in the South Island cities of Dunedin and Christchurch.  These early comp
releases (which included the seminal Dunedin Double EP in 1982 and the live recording The Last Rumba in 1983) had fairly limited distribution - essentially only within New Zealand, where they both were popular and influential albums. But it was the 1985 release of the label's Tuatara compilation that gave the rest of the world the first real indication that there was something special happening musically in Aotearoa.

During 1984-85, Flying Nun entered into limited distribution deals with a number of small international labels, including Normal Records in Germany and Strange Weekend Records in North America.  They also established their own overseas subsidiary, Flying Nun Europe, for distribution on that continent. Tuatara was their first test of that international network, and for all intents and purposes it was a resounding success. By 'success', I don't mean that it was a huge seller. It was successful in that here in America, it was pushed along via college radio and word-of-mouth, and the 'right' people got exposed to it. I found a quote from Nils Bernstein, current Director of Publicity at Matador Records (who formerly owned Seattle store Rebellious Records in the '80s) which sums up the impact of Tuatara here in the States:
“People were really floored by songs like "Death and the Maiden" and "Pink Frost". It was an album that new-wave girls, brainy pop geeks and noise rock fans all loved. You know how they say about the first Velvet Underground album: it sold terribly, but everyone who bought a copy started a band. It’s kind of like that with the Tuatara comp.”
High praise indeed.

As mentioned above, this album contains "Pink Frost", probably The Chills' most famous song, along with cuts by Tall Dwarfs, The Clean and The Verlaines. But there is also gold here in the tracks by the more obscure, less heralded Kiwi bands, including Look Blue Go Purple and Marie & The Atom. Pretty much every song on here is a winner, and in total they provide a superb overview as to what sort of cool stuff was happening in the New Zealand music world of the early '80s.

This thing is hard as heck to find online, so here's a copy burned off of my meticulously maintained CD. For your throwback listening pleasure, here's Tuatara: A Flying Nun Compilation, released by said label on 1985. Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think.

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link ASAP:

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18 comments:

  1. Solid write-up. The quote:

    "You know how they say about the first Velvet Underground album: it sold terribly, but everyone who bought a copy started a band. It’s kind of like that with the Tuatara comp."

    is fantastic. A history of Flying Nun records is something that is needed.

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    1. Regarding a history of Flying Nun - check three posts below this one . . .

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  2. thanks so much for the quick reply! really sick

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  3. Another impossible compilation tracked down via this blog! Excellent :)

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  4. I recently bought a batch of records that included this album, and had no clue what gems this comp offered! There's a lot of music from New Zealand suddenly on my want to buy list thanks to this album! Thanks for helping me with the digital assist! You're aces in my book! What a fine site!

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  5. A fine site with loads of hard to find music. Curated by a great dude.

    This is a perfectly cromulent blog.

    Can't go wrong with a site whose name references "Cape Feare."

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    1. Well, shucks - thanks for the high praise! But I shall try to remain humble - you know what they say about having "a noble spirit" . . .

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    2. Thanks for sharing the music from New Zealand. These albums are hard to find and very often only available at outrages and way over inflated prices.

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  6. thanks again from California, friend! your doing a service to music fans everywhere.

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  7. Hey there. Thanks for sending me this set. So many good songs. Specially the stuff by Chug. And Marie & The Atoms. Which I now want to ind more by that band

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  8. Hey- thanks so much for this! Been looking for it for a long time. Classic.

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  9. Many thanks for this very tricky to find piece; a service to NZ music

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  10. thankyou for download There is a God!

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  11. Thanks a bunch for this great comp!

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