Strikemaster: Sun For A Change

As reported first in the Kapiti Observer, Strikemaster have finally released their debut album – 35 years after forming. Thundering across your speakers as if 1986 never rolled ‘round the trio have found the perfect blend of pre-glam metal pomp and AC/DC chest-beating. People will no doubt be quick to make Steel Panther references, but there are no jokes to be found here, just three (now) old geezers giving it hell. Having knocked it on its head back in 1992 after a decade of rocking Wellington, three years ago the band performed at Bodega ‘for old time’s sake’. Blown away by the crowds that turned out they haven’t looked back since. Well, two tracks are from their earlier days, but the other eight here are new. Let’s not beat around the bush, their music is dated, but that’s not the point. ‘Sun For A Change’ feels like a thank you to the fans and a victory lap for Steve Elliot (bass/vocals), Paul Cullen (guitars) and drummer Brian Desmond. Recorded by Mike Gibson, care has been taken to make it walk the line between studio record and live album, cheers and jeers can be heard over the top of fretboard heroics. Still influenced by the likes of Deep Purple while heavily informed by the punk/metal mix that shook up the metal world via the likes of Motorhead, tracks Obsessed and Neighborhood Spy show more than a touch of classic Mötley Crue. While certainly applaudable (these boys do have some serious chops), at times the songwriting is more than a tad cliché – the chorus to Dangerous Man downright cringey. They released an album of live takes back in 1984, but there’s no doubting this is the record Strikemaster were (eventually) always going to make. • Sammy Jay Dawson

Helen Henderson: London

From her musical beginnings in Invercargill to arriving in London in the late ’70s with a handful of songs and 50 quid, timing and musical fortune were kind to Helen Henderson. After landing a record deal with a label that was home to The Boomtown Rats and Sinead O’Connor, to name a couple of prominent label mates, Henderson proceeded to pair up with prominent session musicians and record the collection of songs that only now has surfaced as ‘London’. The master tapes languished in a vault for a quarter century until co-songwriter Bob Rosenberg uncovered them. Henderson’s gift is the ease in which the songs seem to come to her and her storytelling ability is obvious, songs painting vivid pictures of the characters involved contrasting with others sung in first person. Listen To The Wind is filled with hope while Anyone’s Baby is possibly more autobiographical. Children Of The Night stands out as the album’s gritty rocker amongst a collection of retrospective love songs. With quality songs, musicians and engineering, time has been kind to these recordings and the songs still stand strong. With stylistic parallels to Sharon O’Neill and a confident songwriting individuality, Helen Henderson proves a timeless treasure worth (re-)discovering. • Stu Edwards

Abbie: Giving It Back

Launched in September last year, about the same time Maori Television’s fun music competition show Homai Te Pakipaki‘s nine year run ended, Waatea Music was established to provide a platform to release and support Māori music. The two intersect in the person and developing talent of 28-year old singer Abbie Harker-Ferguson. Abbie talked with Poppy Tohill about her debut album ‘Lost / Found’, released at the end of July.

From singing over the family TV at a young age, to singing her way into our homes as a teenager on Maori Television’s hit show Homai Te Pakipaki, Abbie Harker-Ferguson had already come a long way.

The past four years have provided a steep learning curve for the young songstress as she moved away from her family home in Tokoroa to live in Auckland, signed on to the city’s music industry and alongside that, stepped out of her musical comfort zone to dive into the unknown world of pop.

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