Saturday, April 4, 2015

Peter Gutteridge - Pure


This post will eventually be about Peter Gutteridge, the legendary New Zealand musician who died September 15th, 2014. But first, a few words about a well-respected drummer for my favorite band.
If you’re a fan of The Fall, then you may already know who Simon Wolstencroft is. He was the band’s drummer for more than a decade, and contributed keyboards and computer effects as well, on every Fall album from 1987’s The Frenz Experiment to 1997’s Levitate. In addition, Wolstencroft holds the distinction of co-writing one of the bands only three singles to make the British Top 40, and the only non-cover song, “Free Range” off of 1992’s Code Selfish.

However, in some music circles, Wolstencroft is known for another more dubious reason, and by another name: “The Nearly Man”. Why? Because Simon had the misfortune of being part of or nearly a member of at least three other popular and legendary bands before they hit it big, missing out of their huge success every single time.

As a 17-year-old student in Altrincham, England in 1980, he formed a punk band called The Patrol with two classmates, Ian Brown and John Squire. After much initial enthusiasm and a number of gigs that year, The Patrol just sort of petered out. Simon moved on, and in the following year became drummer for Freak Party, an instrumental funk band that he formed with two other schoolmates, bassist Andy Rourke and a guitarist named Johnny Mahar, who later became known by the name Johnny Marr. Marr quickly grew tired of funk and found a vocalist for the group’s new rock sound, but after a couple of demo recordings, Wolstencroft quit in late 1982, allegedly because he didn’t like the new singer, Steven Morrissey’s, voice and overall attitude. The

band, known as The Smiths, recruited another drummer and released their first single, “Hand in Glove”, six months later. The rest, of course, is part of music history.

He then rejoined his old friends Brown and Squire, who were just starting up a new band and going through months of rehearsals. But Wolstencroft’s reunion with them was half-hearted. During the rehearsal period, he was also auditioning for other groups, and in the summer of 1984 he left his friends to join The Colourfield, ex-Specials frontman Terry Hall’s band, as a touring member. Less than two months later, 

Brown and Squire’s band, now known as The Stone Roses, played their first gig and inaugurated the ‘Madchester’ sound.

The Colourfield thing didn’t work out for him, so Simon eventually joined The Fall in the summer of 1987. But while in that band, he was approached by musicians from a local Manchester 

band, The Rain, who were looking for a live drummer to replace their drum machine. The group’s lead guitarist, Noel Gallagher, asked Wolstencroft if he would leave The Fall to join their group, but Simon declined. The Rain shortly thereafter evolved into Oasis, one of the most successful British acts of the 1990s.
Why have I spent so much time and space detailing the career of a musician unrelated to this post? Because in many ways, Peter Gutteridge was the Kiwi Simon Wolstencroft . . . the Nearly Man of New Zealand. Gutteridge was involved in the founding of some of the country’s most seminal bands, but in each case never stayed around long enough to enjoy the fruits of the groups’ successes.

Peter Gutteridge was born in the South Island city of Dunedin in 1961. He was the kind of kid who took to music naturally, eschewing formal lessons and just bashing about, learning how to play on his own. His family had a piano that he noodled with at a young age until he got fairly proficient, and when he was in his teens he taught himself to play guitar and bass. While still in high school, he teamed up with two classmates, brothers Hamish and David Kilgour, to form The Clean in 1978. The Clean’s sound – made up of David’s angular guitar notes, Hamish’s simplistic, shambolic beats and Peter’s melodic, throbbing bass lines - was unlike pretty much every other band in New Zealand at the time, and the group became very popular and influential in their hometown. Within a few months, The Clean became proficient enough to play gigs around Dunedin, even opening for the premier punk band in the city, The Enemy, fronted by Chris Knox. The two bands became close, drawing inspiration from each others styles. And their combination of raw punk and ringing guitars, filtered through a Kiwi sensibility, led to the development of the celebrated “Dunedin Sound” of the 1980s.

After less than a year of existence, the Kilgour brothers began to feel that Dunedin was getting too small for them. Envisioning a move up to the ‘big time’ in New Zealand music, in 1979 they decided to relocate The Clean to Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, where they felt there were more advantages in terms of venues and opportunities for recording contracts. Peter wanted no part of this relocation, however, and quit the band just before the move. However, he did leave with The Clean a riff he created that evolved into one of the bands finest, most popular songs – “Point That Thing (Somewhere Else)”.


Initially, it appeared that Peter made the right move by staying in Dunedin. The Clean’s move to Auckland was, by most accounts, a disaster, and within a year the Hamish brothers came back to the South Island chastened, with their tails between their legs. Meanwhile, Gutteridge hooked up with another musician classmate, Martin Phillips, and in 1980 helped form The Chills. The Chills later became hugely successful and an important part of New Zealand popular music history. But Peter didn’t stick around long enough to revel in the band’s success. In fact, he only played a handful of gigs before leaving the group less than nine months after he joined.

By the time Gutteridge quit The Chills, the Kilgour brothers had reformed The Clean in Dunedin with new bassist Robert Scott, and had released their debut single “Tally Ho!”, one of fledgling indie music label Flying Nun’s first releases. The single became the band’s and label’s first hit, reaching #19 on the national charts. Peter did not have a role in any of this; instead, he spent the next couple of years as a member of various short-lived minor bands, including The Cartilage Family and The Craven A’s.

After a couple of years, The Clean fell apart. Hamish Kilgour moved to Christchurch to work on some of his own acoustic, more folk-focused material, and his brother David came to the city shortly thereafter to help him work on the tracks. The resulting music was released under a new band name, The Great Unwashed (the opposite of The Clean – get it?), and the
brothers went out on the road to support the album, Clean Out Of Our Minds (another pun). Needing some additional musicians for the tour, the Kilgours reunited with Gutteridge, just coming off a brief stint with another aborted band project.

Since the group refused to include Clean songs on their setlist and only had a limited number of songs off of their only album for their gigs, the Kilgours asked Peter if he too had some solo material to add to the sets. He responded enthusiastically – over the years, he had composed quite a few original works somewhat different from what was the New Zealand alternative mainstream at the time, but up until then had no viable outlet to present his music. Gutteridge flourished under his first real taste of artistic freedom; his songs proved to be popular, so much so that for The Great Unwashed’s next release, the 1984  
Singles EP, three of the five songs on it were written by Peter. By the time the band broke up at the end of that year, Peter had gained the confidence to go his own way musically.

He moved back to Dunedin and started a new band, The Phromes, all the while looking for the ‘right’ musicians to start a new project he had in mind. After a couple of years, he found the people he was seeking – drummer Alan Haig, guitarist Dominic Stones, and keyboardist/backing vocalist Christine Voice – and formed Snapper in 1987.

In many ways, Snapper was Gutteridge’s protest of and response to the commercialization of New Zealand alternative music, embodied in the movement he had some hand in creating. As he told a national music magazine a few years ago, “When I formed Snapper it was a deliberate reaction against the Dunedin Sound, I couldn’t fuckin’ stand it.” The music he was creating was definitely a far cry from those early days, with a sound more akin to that of The Jesus & Mary Chain, Suicide, and late-80s/early 90s Kiwi noise rock bands like The Dead C and Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos. A music critic described an early Snapper gig as “a relentless throb… the enormous keyboard sound must be like getting a crew-cut with a Masport… cathedrals of electricity… great swinging mass of harmonics…” However, this journalist was one of the few at the time who understood what Peter was up to, writing that “Gutteridge, who’s finally got a band to play his songs en masse clearly has a wider vision for this band.”

Snapper’s first record, the four-song Snapper EP, was released by Flying Nun in 1988. It was welcomed with rave reviews both at home and abroad. In the UK, the EP was selected as Single Of The Week in the NME and even made John Peel’s playlist. The band continued gigging and prepping songs for an eventual full-length album. But in 1989, Peter couldn’t resist an offer from local independent record label Xpressway to release his demos and solo material under his own name. In 1989, the cassette-only Pure hit the shelves.

Pure was . . . well, I think that music journalist Richard Langston described the album best: “… it shows the full range of Gutteridge’s talents, so besides raw over-loaded guitar-and-keyboard-fed- electro-boogie we get some stuff that treads with the melodic delicacy of your favourite moments from The Chills, yep that damn good…just bloody wonderful …”

And Mr. Langston was right – there’s some brilliant stuff on this disc. Here’s the album lineup:
1. Lonely
2. Exhibition I
3. First Instrumental
4. Hang On
5. Ocean
6. Dead Pony
7. Fuck Your Mother to Hell
8. Suicide
9. Oil
10. Pure (Nr. 1)
11. Thumbaline
12. Cause of You
13. Rubout
14. Planet Phrom
15. Sand
16. Exhibition II
17. Having Fun
18. Bomb
19. Fifty-seven Seconds
20. Chinese Garden
21. Pure (Nr. 2)
Snapper’s first album, Shotgun Blossom, was released the following year. It received superb reviews as well both in New Zealand and in England; Melody Maker called it “a solid-gone, stone-cold, down-under classic.” Gutteridge finally had a winner done his way, and it seemed that he and his band’s star could do nothing but continue to rise.

But shortly thereafter, problems began to arise in Peter’s personal and musical life. Typical of many New Zealand bands of that period, the original Snapper line-up started slowly falling apart. Dominic Stones began having success with his own band The 3Ds, and left Snapper in early 1992. The group managed to release a single in 1993, “Vadar” b/w “Gentle Hour”, but these songs did not have the power or impact to the band’s earlier tunes. It was also around this time that Gutteridge got hooked on some fairly hard-core drugs. His addiction drew his attention away from his group, and as the gigs became fewer and far between and Peter’s health declined, most of the remaining members drifted away.
Snapper released one last full-length album, A.D.M., in 1996, but it was mostly a solo effort, with Gutteridge singing and playing almost all of the instruments. Snapper never really broke up after that – Peter reformed various versions with varying lineups for one-off gigs in 2000 and 2012. But due to his drug problem and resulting reclusive nature, the band was pretty much kaput before the end of the millennium.

While Gutteridge spent most of the 2000s hunkered down, the reputation of Snapper continued to evolve and grow, especially abroad. American bands began covering Snapper songs, and the name “Peter Gutteridge” began being tossed around in some music circles as a symbol and indication of being “with-it” and “in-the-know”. However, only a few people had ever heard the man’s music – the Pure cassette had by then long been out of print, up to that point the only Xpressway release never reissued on vinyl or CD. But a small New York label made a special effort, assisted by David Kilgour, and in 2013 Pure was finally re-released as a double LP.

The release relaunched Peter’s career. By this time, he appeared to have kicked his drug addiction, and was healthy and ready for action. He reformed another version of Snapper with Dominic Stones and a new keyboardist and drummer, and went on a much-celebrated tour of New Zealand’s North Island in early 2013. While the band’s glory days were far behind them, most people were glad to see Peter up on stage again where he belonged, doing what he loved. It seemed that he was back, and this time for good.

In the summer of 2014, he made his first trip to the States, spending time in New York seeing the sights and visiting his old friend Hamish Kilgour, who’s now a resident of Brooklyn. He even got the opportunity to perform his first American show that September 1st, at Palisades in Brooklyn, where he played his Pure album in full to a packed house. He was billed that night as "The man who launched a thousand Flying Nun bands."

No one knows what may have been going through Peter’s mind when he returned to New Zealand a week later, where he saw his future or envisioned what his legacy really was. Would he be known as the innovative, visionary musician behind Snapper and Pure . . . or as just the guy who missed his chance, over and over again? That’s a question that he will never answer . . . since shortly after arriving back home, Peter Gutteridge died.  Details on the circumstances of his death are still sketchy, but it appears he took his own life.

Below, I’ve provided a copy of the liner notes from his solo album. I find the last line very poignant . . .
Compiled by Peter Gutteridge & Peter Jefferies
Mastered by Peter Jefferies

Remastered by Tom Bell and John Golden, 2013.

PETER GUTTERIDGE vcls/gtr/kydgs on all the above. CHRISTINE VOICE gtr/vcls on 7, 8 & 14. ALAN HAIG drms on 4, 6, 7, & 14. DOMINIC STONES gtr on 7, 13 & 20. RUSSELL MOSES drm mchns on 2. GEORGE HENDERSON gtr on 15. BRUCE MAHALSKI vcls on 18. (c) and (p) PETER GUTTERIDGE 1989. ALL TRACKS RECORDED ON PORTA-STUDIO BY PETER GUTTERIDGE, 1986-87. More to come.

Peter Gutteridge has been making music for ten years or so now. A former member of various Dunedin bands (the CLEAN, GREAT UNWASHED, CHILLS and PUDDLE, to name a few), his musical and compositional talents currently form the nucleus of SNAPPER.

However, while all the members of SNAPPER (as well as several other friends) contribute to the music on this tape, the total result is not the work of a band. It is, as the title suggests, 'Pure Peter Gutteridge', 4-track prota-studio demos covering a two year span, compiled from his work-tapes. Peter's songs are here presented 'in the raw;, just as they came to him, from the first piece he ever recorded on his 'Fostex', through to early versions of some SNAPPER material.

This collections presents the widest variety of Peter's music yet to reach the public, and we think some of the best too. What's more, there's at least as much again currently recorded, and more going down all the time - so look out for vol. 2!
Volume 2 never arrived, and never will; sometimes in life you don't get those second chances. There will be no more new music from him. . . but I am very happy that he did manage to leave us with what he did. R.I.P., Peter.

So, for your listening pleasure, here is Peter Gutteridge’s Pure, released on cassette by New Zealand’s Xpressway Records in 1989 and re-released by American label 540 Records on double vinyl discs in 2013. This copy was burned off of my mint-condition LPs, and is impossibly hard to find on the Web; as far as I can tell, this is the only digital source for this album currently available. Anyway, 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(s) ASAP:

Send Email 


Finally, here's a live version of "Point That Thing Somewhere Else" performed by the reformed Clean during a New Zealand gig in early 2014, with Peter guesting - kinda nice that he finally got to play his song with his old bandmates:



24 May 2015 - I've recently received a message from Mr. Zach Burba, who played bass for Peter Gutteridge at his last show in Brooklyn last September. Here's what he had to say regarding the Palisades gig:
"My band had a show in Brooklyn booked and the people that were setting it up ran into Peter at The Clean's reunion show. He told them he was trying to play a show in NYC and they asked him if he would want to play at Palisades with us. I was a fan of Kiwi music and The Clean and had heard some of Peter's music but wasn't deeply familiar. At the show I started talking to him back stage. He was helping me fix a Casio keyboard, he mentioned he wanted to play with a band and my friend Erin and I stepped in. He showed us his songs in the bathroom of the venue and then we just went for it. It was a lot of fun, I hope we did the songs justice. I'm about to upload our version of 'Born in The Wrong Time' which, for me, was the highlight of the show. We some how managed to play for 2 hours. IT seemed like 15 minutes. After the show we were all buzzing with excitement. Peter was SO HAPPY. He just kept going on and on about how much fun it was to play with a band again. He got our phone numbers and mentioned that we should try and record together sometime. Erin was texting him every now and again until the end. We were shocked to hear only a few weeks later about his death."
Here's the show video Mr. Burba mentioned above and so kindly provided - enjoy:

34 comments:

  1. Kiwi music is the unknown gem that needs to be explored. Their heritage is rich in Maori tradition and (the unsuccessful) British colonization. This combination has produced some of the best music on the planet, Yet virtually unknown except in Oz where we so admire our brethren across the ditch on so many levels. Before Sonic Youth was Bailter Space to shout one example. My advice is as soon as you see the tag 'New Zealand' hit download and you'll always be surprised and delighted Thanks PeePee can't wait to listen to this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for the d/l link. I was after a rip of this for what seemed like an eon. You are a star, sir. I salute you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Could I please get a d/l link to the fantastic 'Pure' album. I tried to use the 'send email' link above but it is dead. Cheers and many thanks Paul

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm… as far as I know, this "Send Email" link's not dead… Anyway, send me another message as you did above with your email address - I won't publish it, but I need to know where to send the link to. Thanks!

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much for sending me link. You've made me very happy indeed. Really appreciate it man. Pure is simply unreal!
      Paul

      Delete
  4. Thanks for the digital copy of PURE. I had a cassette back in the day, lost it, and now own the 2XLP vinyl (orange) from 540 Records. Peter was a dear friend of mine. RIP Gutman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Sir - Thank you for your comment. Peter was a legend and a driving force in modern Kiwi music; you were lucky to have known him. I hope that, as his friend, you feel that my writeup above was a fitting tribute and respectful acknowledgement of his life and work. He left this world way too soon.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for the copy! This is what I'm listening to on my drive to work tomorrow and I'm not really sure what to expect. I listened to "Planet Phrom" on youtube and it sounded cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pleasure is all mine! I hope that you get into some of the other tracks off of this disc - write back and let me know what you think!

      Delete
  6. What a wonderful write up on one of our great musical treasures!
    Peter sound defined so much of my youth growing up in New Zealand,Im so happy that I got to see him play with Snapper and the clean.As siad above NZ music is quite something else, im not sure what it is but it sure makes me proud to come from this far away land.
    Kia kaha Pee Pee for this link.I proudly own the tape and the Reissue on Vinyl but to now being to lose myself in my urban environment with Peter in my head is exceptional!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Jamus -

      Thank you very much for your kind words regarding this posting. It is sort of sad that more people, both in NZ and beyond, are not as fully aware of Peter's impact on rock as they should be. You're lucky to have been able to see him live. I'm happy that this posting managed to revive your memories of Peter; you were lucky to have seen him live in his prime.

      Thanks for the comment, and come back soon!

      All the best to you from Pee-Pee Soaked Heckhole

      Delete
  7. This is a great bit of writing. Thanks very much! Gutteridge was the man and is sorely missed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much, Gavin - I'm happy to help continue to bring Peter's music to wider recognition and anknowledgement. Thanks for the comment!

      Delete
  8. Thanks for the link, I bought this on cassette when it first came out eons ago, but I don't have a cassette deck anymore! Tragic story about his death, but his music lives on.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This blogger is awesome. I don't feel able to convey my gratitude well enough in words for the pleasant surprise of being provided the link, and so quickly. PG is legendary and to be able to listen to Pure again in it's entirety is fantastic. Thank you PPSHH.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pleasure's all mine, miss! Enjoy!

      Delete
  10. Thanks for this! Your site is amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! We TRY to be continually amazing (dearth of recent posts notwithstanding…)!

      Delete
  11. was super gutted when i found out gutteridge passed combined with my loss of this cassette.

    you've helped ease my pain today!

    can't wait to peruse the rest of the blog and bother you for links in the future : {} }

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank-you for a stone-cold Kiwi classic. If here are other (obscure) kiwi music you wish drop me an email line.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK - for starters, do you have Ambivalence, The Pin Group compilation from 2012?

      Delete
    2. …or the 3Ds Hellapoppin album?

      Delete
    3. …the three-disc JPS Experience comp I Like Rain?

      Delete
  13. Oh, this is outstanding. Thank you so very much!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks - I think Snapper are quite underrated, and was just reading about Peter's solo tape in Roger Shepherd's book, "In Love With These Times" -- cheers!
    -The Shrieking Howler Monkey

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you so much for this! I have been listening non-stop since I got the re-issue on vinyl. Amazing bit of info you've written too - did not know that about The Enemy.

    Chinese Garden on repeat x1000

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much for this lost gem. It fits right in with who I am now, and is making the more difficult things life less so.
    -Jazzo

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks so much for sharing, over the years shotgun blossum has become one of my all time favorites and this may well too. Very sad his early passing, looks like he still had a great deal to give..
    cc

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for this great album!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Happy 56th birthday tomorrow Gutty X

    ReplyDelete
  20. Came across this album while I was having breakfast in a small cafe in Hackney, London. Had never heard the music before but it sounded just awesome. It had to ask the staff who was working there and they showed me the vinyl. Searched everywhere for the songs then, so glad you're sharing them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's extremely cool to hear that Peter's music is still being played and appreciated in the most obscure and out-of-the-way places! Glad I could get this to you!

      Delete
  21. Thanks so much for this exhaustive overview of Gutteridge's work, and for making the album available. This is the beauty of the web, keeping things like this alive! JK

    ReplyDelete