Hamiltune - Rockin' The Tron in the 80s
Reviewed by Ian Duggan
Hamiltune – Rockin’ the Tron in the 80’s is a compilation that has been released as a fundraising venture, with proceeds going towards the rebuild of the ‘Vilagrad Winery’, following the fire in late-June that destroyed around 70% of the premises. The album, produced by Phil Walsh and Zed Brookes for Doublebass Productions, provides an interesting record of Hamilton’s music from the 1980s and early 1990s.
Overall the compilation has a number of highlights. Some of the songs that best stand the test of time include Hoola Troupe’s ‘Smouldering’ and 3 Men Missing’s ‘Days on the Island’, both penned by Andrew Johnstone. Step Chant Unit’s ‘Painting Pictures’ is also included which, as far as I am aware, was Hamilton’s first charting single. Another song of interest is the 1984 single ‘Places’ by Echoes, composed by Mark Rimington, which the band played on the television show ‘Shazam!’ that year. Rimington went on to play the role of ‘Rocky’ in the 1986 production of the Rocky Horror Show, also starring Sir Rob Muldoon and Russell Crowe. As such, the compilation provides a great record of some of Hamilton’s music taonga, making it a worthy addition to the collections of anyone interested in the history of Hamilton bands. Beyond the historic value, there will also be significant nostalgic value for many who saw these bands play live in their prime.
Is it a perfect compilation? Probably not. But, it is difficult to be too critical. Firstly, the compilation has been impressively produced and released within the space of a month since the Vilagrad fire. While the inclusion of more than one song by some bands might be critisised, the inclusion of two songs by ‘Echoes’ can as easily be seen as one of the strengths of the compilation. The inclusion of two tracks by ‘Illegal Green’ can also be justified, being from a band that featured Jacob Nooyen, Vilagrad Winery's winemaker. While there are perhaps other bands that might have been included, their exclusion is perhaps because those bands did not have the same relationship with the Nooyen’s, the owners of Vilagrad Winery, while the rapid turnaround likely also has had an effect on the breadth of bands included. Nevertheless, the compilation was likely never intended as a definitive retrospective, and therefore perhaps should not be judged as one. My only genuine criticism is that, despite the title, there are a number of songs included that were written or recorded beyond the 1980s.
Overall, despite the misnomer, the producers have done an admirable job in providing an interesting collection of songs by Hamilton bands from the 1980s and early 1990s, and it does include some rare gems that are otherwise not readily available. And, as is its intention, it is providing funds for a worthy local cause. The compilation can be purchased from Doublebass Productions, by digital download or on CD: http://www.doublebass.co.nz/ Ian Duggan