I once knew a woman in the early 90s named Sharon McKenzie who had just come off a college stint as a â€œdisc jockeyâ€, as had I (she at KDVS in Davis, CA; me at KCSB in Santa Barbara, CA and KFJC in Los Altos Hills, CA). She went to every show I did â€“ and at that time we were averaging 2-3 per week â€“ and when she told me she was starting a record label, I thought that was pretty cool. She stumped me with her first artist, though, telling me it was something by BILL DIREEN & THE BILDERS, and then getting a little annoyed when I didnâ€™t know who that was. She was all, â€œYou donâ€™t know who that is?â€, and I was all, â€œNoâ€. So she goes, â€œHeâ€™s a New Zealand outsider pop legendâ€, and then I go, â€œOh, well I havenâ€™t heard of himâ€. So sheâ€™s all, â€œlaterâ€. Of course I bought Direen’s â€œAlien/Skullsâ€ 45 that came out a few months later on Sharonâ€™s HECUBA RECORDS, and became a BILL DIREEN convert shortly thereafter.
His story is arguably the most unsung of the great New Zealand 1980s outsiders (I say arguably because thereâ€™s also THE KIWI ANIMAL and SHOES THIS HIGH, not to mention THE GORDONS), and youâ€™d be well advised to pick up the FLYING NUN series of CDs that came out in the mid-90s that collected his early works. Direen still records music to this day and is a published poet of much renown; Hecuba folded up shop very quickly after this single; and I havenâ€™t seen Sharon in a coonâ€™s age (you can still say â€œcoonâ€™s ageâ€, canâ€™t ya?). Iâ€™m posting â€œAlienâ€ because itâ€™s my favorite of Direenâ€™s many eerie, organ-heavy loner pop records, which always seem to be uplifting in their way but are full of strange stumbles down dark musical alleys. This particular version is a later (1990?) run-through one of his earliest songs, originally from 1981. Itâ€™s a good one, and you will like it.
Play or Download BILL DIREEN & THE BILDERS â€“ â€œAlienâ€ (from 1991 45)