PURE, with original Xpressway cassette

PURE, with original Xpressway cassette

“Music is the food upon which our souls thrives. Its not a luxury. Its an essential. Children simply don’t grow up properly without it.”

When it comes to writing about the 25 year old wonder that is Peter Gutteridge’s ‘Pure’ album, all the hard work has been done. By PG himself. Above, and below:

“Once in a while, I believe u become a kind of channel, even if slightly muddled. The tainted shamen? I don’t know. What I can say is this record yer hopefully holding in hand had its genesis long b4 I ever picked up a guitar. Ive always loved a dirty drone. Notes corrupted and split apart by the miracle of the sympathetic note- ie. Bagpipe, chanters, organs, piano’s, ad infinitum. Throw a few clear notes in and you achieve creation on yr own terms. Link it up 2 the background hum of the universe doing its thing and u have hypnosis in a sound. Shmaya.”

You can read the whole wonderful introductory notes to ‘Pure’ right here.

‘Pure’ originally came out on a cassette on the (then) cassette label Xpressway Records. Bruce Russell start Xpressway in Dunedin (Port Chalmers in fact, a nearby harbour port town within Dunedin City boundary) as a reaction to what he saw as the more commercial direction of Flying Nun Records.

During the 1980s Peter left his imprint on earliest line-ups of The Chills, The Clean, and The Puddle and was also a key part of The Great Unwashed with the Kilgour brothers before forming Snapper.

‘Pure’ came out in 1989, shortly after the famous EP with ‘Buddy’ on it and just before the other, early 90s, releases. ‘Pure’ pre-dates those Snapper recordings and gives an insight into the genesis of drone that became the distinctive Snapper sound. It has been a largely forgotten remnant of a bygone era for ages.

I’m not sure if it is the case, but I wonder if Matt Mondanile of New Jersey bands Real Estate and Ducktails is at least in part responsible for ‘Pure’ being re-discovered in 2013. Matt knew all about ‘Pure’ and his band Ducktails recorded a great version of ‘Planet Phrom’from ‘Pure’ for the 2013 album ‘The Flower Lane’.

I met Matt in 2012 when I brought Real Estate down to Dunedin to play when they were touring NZ. It seemed the proper thing to do, seeing as how Dunedin was clearly in that band’s DNA.

Matt from Real Estate (& Ducktails) in Too Tone Records 2012

Matt from Real Estate (& Ducktails) in Too Tone Records 2012

Not long after the tour he got in touch and asked if I could get Peter’s OK to cover ‘Planet Phrom’ and also find out what some of the unintelligible lyrics were. Most of the lyrics were decipherable from the Pure tape but there were a few indistinct smudges of words in later verses.

Peter was bemused someone in the US even knew about the song. He couldn’t remember the lyrics, saying it was just stuff he made up at the time, many years ago now. He said it was just about Planet Phrom and the people on it so nothing special. (It is actually about living in a drug haze and, on Planet Phrom, “all the trees are dripping drugs/ In this space paradise”. I think he remembered the words alright).

He asked me to tell Matt he should interpret what he thinks the words were himself and, if he can’t make out the words, just to make up his own and add his own observations about Planet Phrom into the song. That way it would give it his own perspective and mean Planet Phrom was still living on.

[UPDATE: Turns out no, it was just a ‘pure’ coincidence that Matt covered ‘Planet Phrom’ on the Ducktails album just prior to the album being re-issued on vinyl later the same year. The album was re-issued by the same label – 540 Records – that did The Clean ‘Oddities’ and on the recommendation of David Kilgour. Still, a cool coincidence that the Ducktails cover happened just prior to its re-release.]

Here’s Ducktails performing Planet Phrom live in New York.