Thursday, March 29, 2012


Picasso Core Jukebox review by's Graham Reid

Hallelujah Picassos: Perfect (1995)

"Thanks to the enthusiasm of former member Peter McLennan, Auckland band Hallelujah Picassos -- once a fixture on the New Zealand music scene in the late Eighties to mid Nineties -- are being given their dues through a series of reissues.

First out of the blocks was the compilation disc Rewind The Hateman (reviewed here) and now there is an 11 track collection of their covers entitled Picasso Core Jukebox (which is available digitally here).

As mentioned previously, the HPicassos were pleasingly uncategorisable and often sounded like a collision between someone's classy reggae and ska collection and bus driven by a funkmaster containing a metal band. In fact when you think their peers were Supergroove, Head Like a Hole, Salmonella Dub and various hair-metal bands playing the "five bands for five bucks" nights at the Powerstation it all maks sense. Sort of.

They were like all of those (without the poodle hair) but sometimes hopped up on anger and most likely other things.

The Picasso Core Jukebox collection tosses out some very bent covers, among them Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love, Sixties garageband the Sonics' Psycho and Strychnine folded into one, Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown as reheard through Britain's The Beat, local singer-songwriter Greg Johnson's Talk in this Town . . .

In their own strange ways, they all made sense.

But this, a one-off previously unreleased run-through of The The's poised ennui of Perfect seems an unusual choice.

In the notes which accompany the collection, McLennan says they originally did it as a noisy grunge version as far back as '89 (that makes sense) but this version evolved over a day in the studio and what you hear is the first run-through with Bobbylon trying out a new drum pattern.

He thought they were just rehearsing it.

But folks, that was a take."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jukebox review - Groove Guide

"I’ve always been a sucker for a good cover version, but suspicious of an entire album's worth. The willfully eclectic Hallelujah Picassos have cobbled together a range of favourites recorded over the last 20 years, and their dub/thrash remains incomparable, if somewhat of a mixed bag.

The James Brown, Bo Diddley and Smokey Robinson tributes are all dementedly worthy ...  the extensive e-booklet is jam-packed with behind the scenes insight into each songs genesis, and hearing them deliver an angry and evil take on ‘Air’ by Head Like A Hole (who have previously made the Picasso’s ‘Hitskin’ entirely their own) is worth the price of admission alone."

By Chris Pole, Groove Guide.

Available from AmplifieriTunes and Bandcamp...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jukebox review: The Listener

Auckland’s Hallelujah Picassos may have been predominantly politics with a small P back in their day, but compared with the current crop they were fully seditious. PICASSO CORE JUKEBOX (Loopy Fruit) continues their excellent reissue programme with a selection of distinctive and worthwhile cover versions, including previously unreleased takes on Tears of a Clown and The The’s Perfect. It’s a delightfully uneven affair that typifies the band, showing that although they might not have claimed to have all the answers, they were definitely asking the right questions."  The Listener, March 24, 2012, review by Jim Pinckney (Stinky Jim).

Stinky Jim contributed to the digital booklet liner notes for Rewind The Hateman, late last year (buy it here on CD/digital). If you haven't seen that, here's what he wrote. Thanks, Jim.

"Gotta to be honest, it's hazy….. good hazy though - Picassos’ gigs, and in fact a fair chunk of time spent with the band (DJing, loafing, shuffling at gigs, call it what you will etc etc), was just like that back then - and you wouldn't have it any other way. So 20 odd years later (and the years were even more refreshingly odd back then, it should be said) and here's some random thoughts on one of the randomest bands Auckland, hell ….New Zealand, maybe even the Southern Hemisphere has ever thrown up (pun fully intended).

They blurred lines, constantly.... on all fronts. Sometimes it may not have been deliberate, most times it was. As a fully operational and downright rockulating live band they engaged with technology and the use of the mixing desk as an instrument, in a way that was infinitely far more effective, genuine and successful than the vast majority of their dilettantish so-called contemporaries.

When they covered a song it was delivered like a lovingly given shiner. Most times their covers sounded like originals, and conversely some of their originals came across like covers. Them kind of grey areas are sadly all but gone in today's overly sanitised, depressingly genrified, and stomach churningly commodified, conservative music scene.

We really don't need any f#cking reunion tour (from anyone at all any more... thanks) to remind us, but a few bands with the awareness, adventurousness and downright danger of the Picassos certainly wouldn't go amiss in Kommander Key's blighted millionaire’s playground right now.

Even as four individuals (and yeah.. I know.. there was more later, but no disrespect intended - the original four person iPicasso Classic line-up is the one that I refer to) they shouldn't have fitted together, yet... like all the wrongest right things, and many of the best…they just did.. gloriously.

Live they were a force of nature, some might say not always necessarily a force for good… but sod the sad sacks - they were never to be underestimated. Their releases weren’t so far away from exceptional radio shows or masterful mixtapes, some might say that you need to know the rules to ignore them but that doesn’t apply when you’re making it up as you go along.

They were, and remain, a bright splash of colour amongst a predominantly dreary monochrome music scene - for sure they didn’t do it entirely alone (potty mouth Hornblow, LVDA et al ...take a bow) but Bob, Harold, Peter and Johnny you cop the broader than Broadway biggest salute, Picasso core for life!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Talking Heads: Hallelujah Picassos and Trevor Reekie

Photo: Ted Bagurst/Volume

Talking Heads: Hallelujah Picassos and Trevor Reekie, Volume magazine

"With their groundbreaking fusion of everything to reggae to nascent hip-hop to thrash, the Hallelujah Picassos defined a vibrant, close-knit and avowedly non-conformist time in the Auckland music scene that’s gone undocumented since – but a pair of retrospective compilations are putting the record straight.

Trevor Reekie was there from the start as a producer, Pagan Records owner and fan - for this Talking Heads, he and Picassos Peter McLennan and Harold 'Roland' Rorschach talked about what their music means now, fitting in then, and finally reveal why they ditched Trevor's label."

Listen to the full interview below or here. Thanks to Trevor Reekie and Sam Wicks at Volume.

Friday, March 9, 2012

PCore by Martyn P

Hallelujah Picassos – Picasso Core Jukebox (album stream)

March 7th, 2012 by Martyn Pepperell, Vanguard Red 

"Simon Grigg (@Opdiner on twitter) has already written about Auckland, New Zealand art-punk/reggae auteurs Hallelujah Picassos with an almost definitive degree of passion and experience, excerpts of which you can read over on the Hallelujah Picassos Bandcamp by CLICKING HERE

While I’m not comfortable with (or interested in) scaling a monolith already so thoroughly conquered, I am very keen to hip you to their new release Picasso Core Jukebox, a collection of far-too-long-hidden cover versions of songs as recorded by the Picassos, including amongst others, a fuzzy version of ‘It’s A Man’s World’

Revisionist history is a funny thing, and within the documented historical narrative of New Zealand music, there are a few sources which would have you believe that Flying Nunn Records were the be-all-and-end-all of local music in the eighties and early nineties; and the only people pushing the boundaries. 

That blatantly isn’t true though, and looking over the existing Hallelujah Picassos catalogue and the extensive e-liner notes associated with recent re-releases, it’s amazing to reappraise how stylistically fearless they were in their era.

You can stream Picasso Core Jukebox below. Afterwards, consider purchasing a digital copy, complete with extensive, illuminative liner notes."

Radio Ponsonby

Peter interviewed on Radio Ponsonby by Nick D'Angelo, have a listen...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

P-core with Wammo

KiwiFM interview with Wammo, from monday. Cheers, fella!

Tune in to Radio BFM this afternoon at 315pm, I'm chatting with Cameron about the new reissue, Picasso Core Jukebox

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

P-core Jukebox review

Johnnie and Roland, photo from the ebooklet that comes with the album. 

Review: Hallelujah Picassos 'Picasso Core Jukebox'
By David Carroll (aka Bro90)

"I want to educate people to the fact there are always more possibilities than the situations you have encountered. Naivety is still so strong among people. The Picassos are about social and cultural observation." - Harold 'Roland' Rorschach, Hallelujah Picassos (1992)

I remember coming to Auckland from a rather rural upbringing in Waihi Beach, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and first encountering the Hallelujah Picassos. I was gobsmacked. As a young man wanting to get my teeth into playing in a proper band, these guys blew my mind. They played reggae. They played rock. They played most everything - hard, and loud. I was sold.

What's more, they hung out at what became my local: DKD Cafe. What was curious to me was they never really received their dues. Shit, there are kids worldwide right now trying to piece together what these guys did years ago! Perhaps Picasso Core Jukebox (alongside last years' originals collection, Rewind The Hateman) might address that? Probably not. 

That's a shame, as these guys were the real deal and even now, well over a decade later, the excitement, the genine intent, the sheer passion seeps through these incredibly diverse grooves. Imagine what this sounded like to a fifteen year old kid from the country!? It was like nothing I'd ever heard before. Scratch that. It was like everything I'd ever heard before, thrown together in an aggressive, vibrant, liberating whole. 

Put aside the decidedly average recording quality on some of these tracks and put yourself into the shoes of early 1990s New Zealanders as the Hallelujah Picassos tore through a set littered with these (severely) re-imagined covers alongside their own material. 

One of the criticisms these guys have always copped is that their records sounded like compilations. Fuck that. And fuck the Great New Zealand Songbook, while we're at it. If you want some proper NZ music history, and you want to pay respect to some of the actual originators in our scene, buy Rewind The Hateman, and then buy this. Makes me proud to be a Kiwi again.

4 out of 5 stars.

Available from AmplifieriTunesDigiramaMarbecks Digital, and on Bandcamp (MP3, FLAC, etc).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Out now!

The brand new Hallelujah Picassos reissue Picasso Core Jukebox hits digital stores (see Amplifier, iTunesDigiramaMarbecks Digital, etc) today! Very exciting. It's a collection of our cover versions, newly remastered and sounding rather splendid. Listen to it here, on Bandcamp.

You can catch Peter talking about the new reissue on the radio today (Monday) on KiwiFM at 835am, and on Radio Ponsonby at 1130am, and also on Tuesday morning, Peter will be on GeorgeFM at 7.20am, and  BaseFM Breakfast around 8am.

We've also had coverage online from NZ Musician, Cheese On Toast, and Conch Records.  Cheers! More coming. And big thanks to BFM's Stinky Jim and Andrew Tidball for giving us a spin last week.