What I Listened To In 2010

Rock (and funk, and disco, and metal, and punk, and blues)

I started listening to rock music in the early 1970s, and the sorts of music I like mostly date from that era: progressive rock, heavy metal, punk and new wave, funk, disco. For a long time I was like a dinosaur trapped in amber (actually, make that a mosquito trapped in amber which has sucked the DNA of a dinosaur trapped in the La Brea tar pits), listening to old and new albums by the same groups I used to listen to in the 1970s.

Then along came YouTube, letting me get a little taste of new bands that sound intriguing. Now I roam across the landscape of new music like a dinosaur that avoided the La Brea tar pits and passed through a temporal rift into 2010 – oh, all right, 1974 then. But at least I listen to some new music sometimes.

Here’s a selection of current favourites:

Warpaint, Bees (2010). Some say “shoegaze”, but I hear echoes of later King Crimson and of Public Image Ltd in their sound. Their late-2010 album The Fool is well worth listening to.

Arcade Fire, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) (2010). For me, the best song on The Suburbs.

Ana Popovic, Blues for M (2010). A live performance of the final track from her 2009 album Blind for Love. There’s 50 secs of Ana talking to the crowd before the song starts, but if you like blues guitar, it’s worth waiting for.

Joan Jett, A.C.D.C. (2006). Her cover of the old Sweet song.

Opeth, The Drapery Falls (2001). Gorgeous progressive metal – and cookie monster vocals never sounded so good.

Metallica, Fade To Black (1985). I never get tired of this. The sound is not brilliant on that 1985 version (with iconic bass player Cliff Burton), so here’s a 1989 version with better sound.

A Taste of Honey, Boogie Oogie Oogie (1978). Forget the silly song title and, as the song itself suggests, listen to the bass now.

Boston, Don’t Look Back (1978). You can make a whole career out of songs that sound a lot like “More Than A Feeling” so long as they are all as good as this.

David Bowie, Stay. A 2000 performance of Bowie’s funky excursion from 1976’s Station to Station – and the same song from the Dinah Shore Show in 1976. Check out Bowie’s crazy legs in the 1976 version, and Earl Slick on guitar.

The Isley Brothers, Summer Breeze (1973). Their version of the Seals & Croft song, with Ernie Isley outstanding on guitar – as recommended by Chris Bell.


I got a CD of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Symphony No. 1 for Christmas (thanks, Dad!). I was especially pleased to get Symphony No. 1, Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony, on CD: a charming 14-minute Haydnesque pastiche. Here is the lovely 4th movement.

Beethoven’s Triple Concerto has been one of my favourite pieces of classical music from the time I first heard it. I have a version with David Oistrakh on violin, Mstislav Rostropovich on cello and Sviatoslav Richter on piano, and the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan: heavy hitters indeed! Here are the same three soloists playing the opening of the first movement in Moscow in 1970.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra recorded all three of Douglas Lilburn’s symphonies, and I have them on one CD. Here is the NZSO playing Lilburn’s single-movement Symphony No. 3.

And The Winner Is …

The winner of the signed copy of Nalini Singh’s UK edition of her novel Angels’ Blood is blog commenter Edna (see my interview with Nalini). Congratulations to Edna, and thanks to everyone who commented and tweeted in response to the interview and the competition – a special thanks to Nalini for her responses to comments.

That about wraps things up for 2009. Until about the end of January 2010, I’ll drop down to my “summer schedule” of roughly one blog post per week. But I have already lined up my first three author interviews of next year, and in between those – well, I’m sure I’ll think of something to post…

The highlight of this year for me from a writing/editing point of view has been the success of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry for New Zealand. I haven’t had quite the same level of success in meeting my self-imposed deadline of Christmas Eve to finish my novel draft: I still have a little under two chapters to go. They are more or less complete in my head: I just need to channel them through my fingers.

By New Year’s Day, maybe?

After that, while the draft sits for a few weeks, I want to turn my attention back to my much-neglected, partly-completed next poetry collection. Furthermore, there’s a world to save …

But this is Christmas, this is the holiday season. Family time. Then, as the robots say, I’ll be back.