Able tasmans (3)Our song for day 24 of New Zealand Month 2020 is a 30 year old gem from Auckland ensemble Able Tasmans – the opening track of their “Hey Spinner!” album – “Dileen” –

“Dileen” opens their third and best album “Hey Spinner!” Able Tasmans were one of many bands on Flying Nun Records that didn’t really fit the Flying Nun Records stereotype. Too accomplished as musicians, a bit nerdy and uncool, having too much fun on stage. Vocalist Peter Keen was a velvet-voiced crooner, Graeme Humphries a classically trained pianist playing piano and guitar, Leslie Jonkers on organ, Ronald Young on synth, and, by the time of “Hey Spinner” they had added Jane Dodd (recently arrived from The Verlaines in Dunedin) on bass and Craig Mason on drums – one of the best rhythm sections of that era.

Able Tasmans music was full of clever, unconventional folk-rock and borderline prog-rock touches, making them distinctive and hard to pigeonhole. Listening afresh from here in the future, it could be argued they were ahead of their time more than of their time. Or maybe just out of step with the time.

Here’s Able Tasmans performing “Dileen” at the Kings Arms in Auckland on a one-off reformation gig in 2009 supporting their subsequent off-shoot Humphreys & Keen. who self-released one extraordinary album “The Overflow” which was Able Tasmans in all but the name.

NZMM 2020