Russell Baillie: What do we see in them?

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The Exponents. Photo / Supplied
The Exponents. Photo / Supplied

So has this week's cover line stuck that tune in your brain? Sorry about that. Blame the guys who wrote it and all those sing-alongs since.

Yes, that's a rather old pic of The Exponents on the front but it is their 30th anniversary tour being celebrated, so something from their early-90s second wind seemed to fit.

No, the band haven't lacked for long service honours in the latter part of their career. I've lost track of how many times they've been re-compiled into greatest hits collections. But much of the focus has been on Jordan Luck. After all, he wrote 'em and he sang 'em. But dragging out their most recent compilation, I was reminded that the Dance Exponents, as they were first, were quite a band.

Sure members came and went and eventually left Luck to his own devices. But this reunion tour features the original band-as-gang, the quartet that delivered the songs we remember them by.

And listening to that compilation, I was reminded of a few other things.

Yes, Mr Luck has always had a way with a chorus and a melody but there are some magic moments in all that music.

Here's a random selection ...

Why Does Love Do This to Me?: At 1.33, the audible sad sigh from Luck before the refrain "I miss you, you know that ..." is a melancholy moment which makes the next chorus so much more rousing. Also the spectacular drum fill of Michael "Harry" Harallambi delivers in the closing overs.

Who Loves Who The Most?: At 2.58, just when you think the funky Happy Mondays' early-90s rock groove is going to fade out, in comes Luck and co with plaintive Beatlesque harmonies above a climbing bassline before it roars back into life.

Victoria: Having lit a slow fuse with Brian Jones' lovely chiming guitar lines and swelling strings beneath Luck's tale of a Christchurch call girl, the song finally explodes with a bit of the ol' scorching pick-down-the-fretboard.

Sex & Agriculture: Yes, the stuttered tr-tr-tr-tractor lyric is the Kiwi answer to My Generation and Changes, but so too is the punchy bass and drums intro. The song also contains the best use of magpies in NZ writing to illustrate life in the backblocks since Denis Glover's famous poem. And its guitar harmonics have a bit of "quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle" about them too ... either that or someone is trying to extract themselves from a big roll of barbed wire.

Only I Could Die (And Love You Still): Luck's octave-leaping vocals in this 1986 track might be attached to a very Morrissey song title, but he still sounds like he's doing his best to out-Bono Bono in the choruses.

Know Your Own Heart: No, not their best song, but the sound of early 80s pop-rock is all here - the effects-heavy guitar, the busy bass and drums which includes a snare sounding like God's biscuit tin and toms, which resemble R2D2's mating call.

I'll Save Goodbye (Even Though I'm Blue): I've always hated this song. But after nearly 30 years, I'm warming to it.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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