By late 1980 The Crocodiles lineup had splintered. GARY STEEL wrote this review of their Wellington gig at shortlived venue Billy D’Club.
The Whizz Kids were fading fast on this, their second-to-last-ever gig. It’s ironic that they break up when they are, for the first time, showing real promise.
The majority of Whizz Kids material never was much shakes, and the playing is as messy as ever (intermittently), although to be fair, the set is plagued (ha-ha) by more than its fair share of technical problems.
Andrew Snoid’s vocals sounded thin, the lyrics unintelligible (and I’m sure this was not the intention) – but what’s this? Do I hear some particularly interesting musical constructions? Some effective guitar/synthesiser (yes, synthesiser!) discords and a bevvy of excellent percussion noises courtesy Don McGlashan?
The most memorable song, for me, was ‘Animals’, which apparently describes what cows think about being chopped up and inserted into meat pies. So sensitive.
But the unfortunate question remains, for all their troubles – will they be missed?
The Crocodiles begin with a sad whimper, voice-mike problems and sludgy sound producing an air of muted desperation. They would have to prove themselves.
It wasn’t until the second set that the band found its groove, and so did the itchy-footed audience. The Crocs suddenly became an old-fashioned rock’n’roll dance group and for the first time expressed their music winningly through interband communication. It was here, in ‘Any Day Of The Week’, and a grand-finale of (what else?) ‘Tears’, that the band justified its existence.
But The Crocodiles are an, albeit promising, band with possibly insurmountable problems. With the absence of leader and songwriter Fane Flaws, who knows where the band is now headed? Along with Bruno Lawrence, Flaws provided stage identity for the band. Now, the complete focus is on Jenny, who has a great voice and presence; so much at times one could be forgiven for thinking this was Jenny’s band. Fane was a visual counterpoint to Jenny. Now there’s no Fane. Similarly, where Lawrence provided humour and drum pizazz, the new skinsman taps a leaden stick.
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The other major Croc problem is that, while they cherish ‘60s pop music, they play it like competent musos and write it like intellectuals. Perhaps these people need to do some unlearning. It’s too often like early 10cc, without the ‘progressive’ technology, but with the asset of one hell of a fine lady vocalist.
And, the most scaring thing of all: The Crocs have barely got together enough top-class material for one set, let alone two, and even that consists of album tracks and unoriginals. The album was recorded nearly a year ago, so where’s the new stuff?
I hope for all concerned that things improve in The Crocs’ camp, because, if nothing else, Jenny Morris deserves the right vehicle for a great belter of a voice like that.
Note: If I could go back in time I’d love to experience this gig again with the benefit of hindsight, and review it with a bit more useful info, like the exact lineup of both bands at this particular time. Both bands crumbled but the individual members went on to have stellar careers. In fact, both the Whizz Kids and The Crocodiles were practically bursting with talent.