The Treadmill Tapes

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Everybody has a continuously updated Top 20 or so favourite songs. Here is a one-man Top 20 band that may answer Cilla’s plaintive enquiry: ‘What’s it all about, Alfie?’

Launched on Ringo’s birthday, this personal history of popular music was 50 years in the making. It starts with the first liberation of hopscotching down a Bay of Plenty footpath humming ‘Jambalaya’, finds teenage release with Elvis and Johnny Devlin, student sixties with Ringo and friends, OE flowerpower journalism with Jools in Jesus Field, Mick and his mates in the studio, Jimi’s tragic last gig. Back home reconciliation relies on Van Morrison and Tina Turner, finds closure with Split Enz and Don McGlashan.

From diaries and cassette tape collections, the author has recreated the sounds and social changes of each decade, the tapes serving to soften the daily treadmill grind, presented here as a meditation on popular music and its impact at the time and retrospectively. This pop odyssey charts the development of rock’n’roll and the infiltrations of Cajun Music, Irish and Pacific sounds, ponders the way songs, often as misheard mondegreens, trigger memories. Each chapter ends with a Top 20, at the end a Final Top 20. The one-man band is balanced by Top 20s from Carmen, Max Cryer, friends and family.

‘Barmy but charming.’ Chris Bourke, Sunday Star-Times

NZ$30.00, 317 pages

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