Hallelujah Picassos to release retrospective album

By Hugh Sundae


Musical-genre-destroying misfits Hallelujah Picassos have released their first music video for 16 years, with a retrospective album on the way.

The Picassos, who enjoyed cult status for their energetic and unpredictable live shows, started out in 1988 as The Rattlesnakes. The new video for God Gave Us Boom Boom Washington, was edited from Super-8 footage of a 1994 concert, found by guitarist Peter McLennan during a clean up.

"I don't remember the show exactly, but I do remember how much fun it was to play at the Powerstation, cos we had plenty of room to jump around," says McLennan.

"Unlike other venues round Auckland at the time, which didn't have particularly spacious stages."

Rewind the Hateman will feature 18 songs from the Auckland band whose reign of live-terror ended in 1996. It will also contain liner notes (extract below) written by record label owner and New Zealand music impresario, Simon Grigg.

McLennan says it will be great to have an answer for fans who regularly ask where they can get replacements of lost or stolen albums.

"It's my musical history, and I want people to remember it, as it's important to me. And hopefully some folk will remember us, and we'll also get some new fans who may have heard of us from their older siblings."

Extract from Simon Grigg's liner notes for Rewind the Hateman

The Picassos arrived in 1988 and Auckland, and indeed, New Zealand, had seen nothing like them.

Whereas most of their influence-mashing contemporaries combined two, or at most, three of the above musical revolutions together, Hallelujah Picassos took absolutely no prisoners and slammed them all together in an almost violent and ruthless amalgam of joy.

And you either loved them or hated them. There was no middle ground. Harold's performance and Bobbylon's sweet noise didn't offer you the non-committal option.

I loved them, and found that it was both exhilarating and exhausting to be in their presence. You thrilled at the energy and seductive melody, but found yourself utterly shattered as they walked off... and I'm not a dancer. I can but try to imagine how the band felt.

In almost any other nation they'd likely have been adopted by the fringes of the mainstream and done quite well given their look and sound, but in an era when airplay for their sort (y'know: NZ bands) on any radio stations outside of student radio was non-existent, their sales remained steady but unspectacular, driven mostly by live shows.

But their influence was undeniable, and a generation of local acts who refused to accept the boundaries that those Pink Floyd and Dire Straits-loving critics defined owe massively to the Picassos, often without realising exactly how much they broke down the barriers of musical conservatism in Auckland and beyond.

However their catalogue has languished since then, being largely unavailable, aside from a track here and there, throughout the 21st century.

Until now... and this, I guess, is as good a place as any to encourage you to take a leap into the recorded work of one of the most important New Zealand acts of their time.

Enjoy. I will."

*Rewind the Hateman is released October 31, read Graham Reid's 1992 feature on Hallelujah Picassos here.

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