Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chris Knox - Beat

Today's post is a brilliant write by John an regular
reader and contributor round here at the striped sunlight
blog. John shares with us his passion for New Zealand
living legend Chris Knox. This is a fantastic album, one
I hadn't heard before. Thanks John for all you hard
work and introducing me to some fine music.
So lets hear from John.

My thanks to Bob for letting me contribute to his fine blog.

I have been a massive fan of Kiwi lo-fi supremo Chris Knox
from the day I first heard a song called Not Given Lightly.

Not Given Lightly - Chris Knox

This is a wonderful love song written to his wife but was written
without any sense of saccharine. Hence the attraction.
If he could write a song this good he must have had something to
offer so of I went and grabbed what ever I could by this man
and am still doing so to this day.
Knox was a New Zealand punk pioneer with a band called The
Enemy. Knox had a reputation for being an Iggy type character
when on stage with The Enemy. Knox's next band was Toy Love.
The interesting thing to come out of Toy Love was Knox and
guitarist Alec Bathgate starting the wonderfully idiosyncratic
Tall Dwarfs. Tall Dwarfs have put out a few albums over the
years and are a must for the Knox aficionado.
For those looking for a starting point I would recommend
Hello Cruel World. This is a bunch of EP's as a 22 track album.
The opening track Nothing's Going To Happen was a minor hit.
Knox's has put out a few solo efforts that in my opinion are at
times lo-fi genius. Knox has an ear for a melody and is a lyric
writer of mean and acidic wit. A good starting point would be
his 1995 compilation Meat. Meat is made up of parts of his
album's Seizure and Croaker. Seizure I know is a pointed
comment on the fact he is an epileptic. Who knows with why
Croaker is titled why it is. 1995's Songs Of You And Me
gave a lot of the punk attack of previous efforts a miss and
headed towards a more arty pop/rock lo fi ethos. 1997's Yes
continued along the lo-fi art. 1999's Almost is an album of
tracks our hero rejected from various albums
and like the good song writer that Knox is his rejects are
better than some artists best.
2000 came and presented us with Beat. I could write quires
on the brilliance of Beat. It struck a chord with me.
It was an album about life and death. I had in fact lost my
father to an industrial disease a couple of years before
and when I purchased this on release it immediately struck
a hard chord. Knox wrote some of the most poignant lyrics
about his fathers death that I was initially shaken.

To quote Knox on a couple of these songs:-
Becoming Something Other was written after a phone
conversation with Dad during which he first told me of his
mental decline and that he felt he was close to death.
Musically, it’s a small tribute to Bill Smog who has never
shirked from revealing his deepest
(and darkest...are they synonymous?)
feelings. The Pulse Below the Ear had its genesis the night
before his death while lying awake at 3am in Invercargill.
I can do nothing but say that this is the most important
record I own. For those of you interested her it is. I hope
that you get as much enjoyment out of it as I have.

Knox produced an album and went under the alias Friend
in 2002. I have not been able to get a copy so any leads
would be gratefully excepted. The next effort was
Chris Knox and the Nothing in 2005.
Knox reverted back to a band for the first time since his
Toy Love days and stayed that way with another release
by The Nothing in 2008 called A Warm Gun.
I like both of these albums and they have, dare I say it,
a certain warmness that the lo-fo ethos of the past did
not have. The two Nothing recordings leave, at times,
Knox's love of The Beatles right out there for his audience.
A Warm Gun? Good grief how pointed do you want to be
Chris? So for those of you who like some punk,
melodic pop/rock, lo-fi ethos and a heady mix of influences
from Iggy punk through to Dylanesque rants with
Beatleish melodies you will hopefully not be disappointed.

Sadly Chris Knox has recently had a stroke at the too
young an age of 56.
His recovery can be followed at this blog here.

Get well soon Chris.

Download Here


BenoƮt said...

The man's a genius, and this album is a gem. Nothing more to say? Absolutely!

Hingehead said...

My only real knowledge of Chris's work is seeing him live at the UNSW Roundhouse in 1980 with Toy Love, and a friend subsequently buying the Squeeze EP. They were tight and odd, and Chris came across as part court jester part twisted ring master, "This one's about love with inanimate objects."

Given your enthusiasm I'll definitely give this a listen John. Get well Chris. Invercargill? Brrr!

Holly said...

Link dead already?

Any help much appreciated!

Thank you - Holly :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great music!
I'm getting an error message from Rapidshare on this one though.

Bob, Brisbane, Australia said...

New link up

John said...

You got to see him live Hingehead? My jealousy know no bounds, in a nice way of course. I was away from Brisbane the last time he came here so my loss.

"This one's about love with inanimate objects." Haa haa. He does have a wicked and acidic sense of humour. He is the only person I have ever heard sing a song about being a snail and make it sound relevant.

Glad some of you are enjoying this. Thanks.

Holly said...

Thank you _so_ much for new link.
I was fortunate enough to see Chris live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina some years ago - one of my fave shows from one of my favorite artists ever.

Thanks again -

Bob, Brisbane, Australia said...

This proving very popular John, can you think of a follow up