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9.6.08

Shona Laing




Shona Laing - South - 1987 - TVT

Shona Laing is a very talented New Zealand singer-writer, who despite having recorded quite a few albums, is barely known outside the Australasian region. This is an album of well crafted songs. The lyrics are very intelligent, and Shona deals with many socio-political issues in her catchy songs. This takes a rare talent. "Soviet Snow" is plea for empathy that relates life in the declining days of the Soviet bloc with the seasonal migration of whales in the Pacific. "The Bishop" is a celebration of the eminent human rights campaigner, Desmond Tutu. Very unusual topics for a songwriter, but "South'" was a successful album, in the late eighties, selling many units worldwide. This is not your average eighties commercial pop album, but it is a n excellent album full of quality. If you can find it, listen to her "New on Earth" album which is also a quality recording. The quote below says a lot about Shona Laing and "South."

"even the most adept of record companies would have had a hard time selling Shona Laing to the masses. Treading an iffy tightrope strung from politically conscious college rock to Magic Lite FM adult contemporary, with a voice too husky and plain to be merely pop, and too jazzily melodic to win over the Melissa Etheridge crowd, with lyrics too smart for VH-1, but not poetic or angsty enough to win the undying devotion of sensitive English majors, Shona Laing is both readily accessible as an artist, and utterly uncategorizable. South is only the fullest, most concise manifestation of these qualities. " plorentz, epinions.com, Written: Dec 11 '06, www.epinions.com/content_287134092932
There is a very interesting interview with Shona Laing from the "Times Online" @
SHONALAING/IVIEW

TRACKS

1.Drive Baby Drive (4:35)
2.Caught (4:51)
3.Neat And Tidy (4:00)
4.The Migrant And The Refugee (3:55)
5.Soviet Snow (6:00)
6.(Glad I'm) Not A Kennedy (3:26)
7.Your Reputation (3:52)
8.The Bishop (4:27)
9.Dockyard On A River (4:57)
10.Highway Warriors (4:32)
11.South (3:22)

All songs by Shona Laing.

CREDITS

Shona Laing (Keyboards, Vocals)
Peter Wilson (Mixing)
Graeme Myhre, Stephen McCurdy, Bruce Lynch , Shona Laing (Producers)
Richard Allan (Art Direction)
Richard Allan (Cover Design)
Kerry Brown (Photography)

REVIEWS

New Zealand singer/songwriter Shona Laing had spent some time touring as a backup singer for various acts including Manfred Mann's Earth Band by the time she released her solo record South. In addition to playing keyboards and handling a share of the programming, Laing also wrote all eleven tracks. As a lyricist, she is more than adequate as she often writes about big-ticket issues like environmental and social ills without being too heavy-handed. Unfortunately, most everything gets lost in a wash of programmed drums and techno-pop keyboards that give South a dated feel. There are some worthy tracks here like "Drive Baby Drive," whose melody is too catchy to be sandbagged by the processed bounce, "The Migrant And Refugee," which features a truly powerful vocal performance from Laing, and "Soviet Snow." Although it's Cold War theme is an anachronism, lush layers of keyboards, strings, and backing vocals, and the overall sonic rush of the song make it memorable. Also included is "(Glad I'm) Not A Kennedy," which managed to snare some college radio airplay. © Tom Demalon, All Music Guide

In six years, America's perception of pop from down under has evolved from the ale-swilling friendliness of Men at Work to the belligerent social activism of Midnight Oil. South, the slickly produced and often mesmerizing American debut album by New Zealander Shona Laing, fits in neatly with the region's new-found militancy and emergent pop culture. Ironically, singer-songwriter-guitarist Laing may be best known on these shores for the hooky "(Glad I'm) Not a Kennedy," a tasty slice of American hero worship that includes snippets of John Kennedy's speeches. Never mind that JFK would have mocked New Zealand's recent rejection of America's nuclear protection – the song is a sublimely attractive piece of propaganda. Laing's huskily emotional vocals, melodic arrangements and good intentions are put to better use on the bracing antinuclear song "Soviet Snow," the soaring anti-drunk-driving plea "Highway Warriors" and the jazz-flavored song "The Migrant and Refugee," a detached comment on the West's treatment of third-world immigrants. Appropriately, the album ends with the title track, a homey ode to New Zealand's remoteness, which has spared the country many of the modem age's ravages. For all its earnestness, South is at heart a shimmering celebration of pop. Unlike such socially minded newcomers as Tracy Chapman and Suzanne Vega, Laing paints with a broad, multicolored brush, often using horns, synths and backup vocals with Spectorian abandon. Like Bruce Hornsby, she rescues liberalism from the clutches of the solemn and puts it in the service of remarkable and accessible pop. May her heart bleed forever. (RS 540), © Cary Darling, Posted: Dec 1, 1988, © 2008 Rolling Stone



ABOUT THE ARTIST

Singer/songwriter Shona Laing was a star in her native New Zealand before the age of 20 and has remained a notable artist known for her insightful lyrics since the early '70s. Born in 1955, Laing's musical career was given a boost by her successful appearances on television talent contests, which led to her signing a record deal with Phonogram in 1972. Her first single, "1905," was a Top Ten hit in New Zealand and, over the next three years, she released a series of songs that duplicated that feat, earning numerous regional recording awards. Relocating to London in 1975, she continued to perform at folk clubs and at the beginning of the '80s, she released several singles through EMI, which culled them together as the full-length Tied to the Tracks in 1982. Enlisted by Manfred Mann, who had heard one of her songs, Laing joined his Earth Band, singing backup on their Somewhere in Afrika release. Returning to New Zealand in 1985, she released Genre, which received little notice until the track "(Glad I'm) Not a Kennedy" became a hit. The song was picked up by college radio stations in the U.S. when it was included on her South set in 1987, along with the driving "Soviet Snow," which enjoyed some play from MTV. The attention earned her a deal with Epic, the label on which her 1992 release New on Earth was issued. Well-received critically, the album was lost in the shuffle and Laing was dropped. She remained a respected artist in New Zealand and continued to record through the end of the '90s. © Tom Demalon, All Music Guide

BIO

Shona Laing was born in New Zealand in 1955 and spent much of her early teens writing and practicising songs at home. As early as 1972 Shona shot to overnight stardom by singing her way into the New Faces finals with a song called '1905'. Even as a 17 year old schoolgirl, Shona composed all her own material. After her success on New Faces, Phonogram signed her up to a recording deal. They released her first single '1905'/'There Are No Words (To Describe)' on the Vertigo label. '1905' peaked at #4 on the National Charts in February 1973. A second single, 'Show Your Love'/'Don't Expect Me To Be Your Friend' also peaked at #4 in September 1973. Later that year, Shona entered the Studio One television competition with a song called 'If Only', but this time failed to place. However, any disappointment was soon forgotten when she picked up two RATA Awards, namely 'Best New Artist' and 'Recording Artist Of The Year'. Shona also took top prize at the Tokyo Song Festival with a song called 'Masquerade', and was awarded two gold discs for '1905' and 'Show Your Love'. 'Masquerade'/'If You Could Read My Mind' was released as a single in 1973 and reached #11 in November on the National Charts. Her forth single 'Someone To Be With'/'Lady Dipton' failed to chart. Late in 1973 Shona released her first album 'Whispering Afraid', which sold very well. A third RATA Award for Top Female Vocal Performer came her way in 1974 and she also released a second album, the Australian produced 'Shooting Stars Are Only Seen At Night'. At a second visit to the Tokyo Song Festival, she met Roberto Danova, an Italian producer based in London. He urged her to go to London to further her career. So in 1975, Shona flew to London, and was to stay in that part of the world for the next seven years. While in England, Shona performed regularly at folk clubs and restaurants. EMI were interested in her and through them, she recorded some songs. During 1980 and 1981 she released a total of four singles on EMI and most of these songs found their way on to an album released in 1982 called 'Tied To The Tracks'. Shona's last two years in Europe were spent as a member of Manfred Mann's Earth Band, working on the album, 'Somewhere In Afrika'. Shona had recorded a song called 'Don't Tell Me' which had received a lot of airplay in Britain on Radio 1. Manfred heard it and got in touch with her because he wanted to record the song. As a result she ended up singing for him and during that time learned a lot about synthesizers, sequencers and similar equipment. Shona featured prominently on the tracks, 'Eyes of Nostradamus', 'Third World Service and Demolition Man' on the Afrika album and on the single 'I Who Have Nothing'. Shona left the band before the corresponding tour. In an interview with Manfred a few years ago, he described Shona as a great singer with a great voice. Shona returned to New Zealand and in 1985 signed to the independent Pagan label, with whom she released the album 'Genre'. The first single it was "One In A Million" backed with an instrumental version. Unfortunately the New Zealand public had forgotten who Shona was and the single and album were ignored. The second single from the album was 'Not A Kennedy'/'Haunted' and was also ignored by every major radio station, even when 'Kennedy' won a 1986 Pater Award in Sydney for 'New Zealand Song Of The Year' and was released in Germany by RCA Records. The real breakthrough came when Australian music publisher Chris Gilbey heard the song and brought it to the attention of Virgin Records. He arranged for the song to be remixed by English producer Peter Wilson and this gave the song a new edge. It was included on Shona's next album 'South' released in 1987 and the song suddenly took off to international success, reaching #2 on the National New Zealand charts. 'South' was a very successful album, selling well all over the world. Further singles were released from it. 'Drive Baby Drive'/'Somebody Found You', and also with 'The Bishop' on the reverse, 'Soviet Snow'/'South' and 'Caught'/'Highway Warriors'. In 1991 a new album of greatest hits was released, called '1905-1990 Retrospective'. Shona still continues to release new material and has released the following albums, 'New On Earth' in 1992 and 'Shona' in 1994. Since recording 'Shona', she has spent her musical energies doing shows, playing live acoustic versions of many of the songs she recorded over the years. These songs have now been recorded and released on a new album called 'Roadworks'. In 2001, APRA celebrated its 75th Anniversary and invited guests to vote for the Top Ten New Zealand Songs of all time. 'Glad I'm Not A Kennedy' was voted into 24th place. Finally, in late 2002, a new compilation 'The Essential Shona Laing' was released, and is a recommended purchase for anybody who wants a thorough cross-section of this artist's superb body of work. © www.muzic.net.nz/artists/456.html

10 comments:

PaulNZ said...

Hi Thanks for this I have listened to her in some form or another since 1972 as I live in NZ.

http://ezhevika.blogspot.com/2008/05/shona-laing-whispering-afraid-1973.html

Yours Paul

A.O.O.F.C said...

Cheers! Paul...great link. Until reently I was unaware of Shona. The extent of of my knowledge of NZ artists was probably limited to Split Enz. But this lady produces good music, and she has a social conscience. Really worthwhile stuff. Talk to you soon, and TVM

Anonymous said...

HEY!!!!
The file could not be found. Please check the download link.
Please fixx it!!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, Anon. Expect new link in 1-2 days. Thanks

A.O.O.F.C said...

LINK

Anonymous said...

wooww! (i'm not the same anon as above ;))

that's what i call excellent support. normally, you rather get funny answers like "if you dont grab it first time, your loss".

BTW about NZ artists: YES there is one more, but VERY hard to find. They're called FAN CLUB, they're a bit more disco/synthpop and their lead singer was AISHAH.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,& Welcome "The Other Anymous"! Thanks for comment. I'm always on the lookout for good music. I'm not aware of Fan Club, but I'll be checking them out! Thanks for comment, and keep in touch! ATB!

Anonymous said...

thanks for this nice post 111213

Martin Abel said...

Hi A.O.O.F.C., it seems the link is dead, any chance you could re-upload the file please? Thank you very much!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Martin. Thanks for enquiry. I have had a 1 Tb hard drive stolen and lost thousands of albums. I can't re-up at the moment. Sorry. Maybe somebody reading this could help with a link? Thanks very much