"We don’t pride ourselves on our underground music taste.”
It was 1991 and Flying Nun, the label founded by Roger Shepherd, was issuing a ten-year retrospective, Getting Older, a history of the label to date. We weren’t on it. Sneaky Feelings, who’d made more albums than any Nun band except the Verlaines, and was one of the supposed founders of the Dunedin Sound. The best fucking band on the label, in our humble opinion, had just been officially Rogered.From Positively George Street, a very personal (as well as very readable and very enjoyable) history of Sneaky Feelings and the Flying Nun label, by Sneaky Feeling Matthew Bannister.
'You’re writing us out of the label’s history. It’s as if you’re saying we never really existed.'
A more balanced view would be that Sneaky Feelings weren’t a founder of any sound. According to the press release to their final album, 1988’s Hard Love Stories, they:
Found themselves somewhat outside of what one of the band called “a cosy little scene” in Dunedin, which had built up around the success of New Zealand’s leading post-punk godfather-types The Clean. Why Sneaky Feelings fell outside the prevailing scene might have something to do with their immediate record collection; as Bucketful of Brains said, Sneaky Feelings ‘drew on The Beatles, The Byrds, Neil Young and Fairport Convention among others, by-passing punk completely’.
Just about all of Flying Nun’s other acts swore their allegiance to either 1977 punk noise or 1967 Velvets drone, and all you can safely assume had a copy of Nuggets. Sneaky Feelings, however, were the pop band. They were also the best Flying Nun band.
I realise placing Sneaky Feelings at the top of my FN ratings is thought of as eccentric by a few friends; about four years ago I was introduced to Roger Shepherd at a Marshmallow (whatever did happen to them? Their eponymous album is great) gig in London and shared my opinion of Sneaky Feelings with him.
He agreed: they were his favourite Flying Nun band, too. Contrary to Bannister’s opinion, Sneaky Feelings weren’t “Rogered”; I think that they were omitted because they just didn’t fit in to the ‘label sound’ or the Flying Nun scene.
But misfits often make the best music. Positively George Street is also the name of a 22-track retrospective of this band with three great songwriters, which newcomers to the band should buy. Oddly, though, it doesn’t include the David Pine composition, Wouldn’t Cry, described by Bannister as “a perfect, complete song”. So here’s Wouldn’t Cry, because it’s not available and it's the best song Sneaky Feelings ever did and it’s definitely one of the finest Flying Nun moments and this is a public service…
Bannister released a fine album, Moth, last year under the band name Matthew Bannister & the Weather. I don’t know about the solo efforts of David Pine or Martin Durrant, but if anyone’s got any tips, please share them.