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Top Ten Tunes

Phil O'Brien

Vintage DJ

My Lords, Ladies, Gentlemen, and Australians! The swing doors to the Dayglo are swinging once again! And tonight, by popular demand, direct from the Rapa, our own Phil O'Brien -- "Whispering Phil" to you; New Zealand's answer to -- well, pretty much any question you might want to ask. A star of almost every radio station in New Zealand over the years, (at some he lasted but a week), he has been described as a "veteran DJ" -- we prefer "vintage." This after a distinguished career in a number of bands best forgotten, as a drummer. As a drummer it is believed he was known as having more, well, enthusiasm than anything else.

But you know him best from the sensationally brilliant Matinee Idle, on the National Programme over the summer, afternoons, and now by courtesy of The Wonderful Interweb, simultaneously around the planet. Phil and his offsider Simon Morris have been thus causing a worldwide plummet, a veritable crash, in popular taste and standards in general. Moral Rearmament -- where are you when the world need you?

Phil lives in the Wairarapa, next door to comedian and comedy filmmaker Vincent Ward. They are locked in a deadly dispute over whose over-proof homebrew beer is best, and who buggered the ride-on mower they bought together. Phil lives there with his secret live-in lover, Olivia Newton-John. We at HQ are prepared to disclose the address to Who Magazine or somesuch for a very large donation to our Nigerian bank account. So here he is, the man himself, a living national radio treasure -- bounding up to the Dayglo stage, strobing under our brand new Ukrainian lighting system ("Our Citizen's Safety is our First Concern")...clutching his original 45's, larger than life, ladies stand back please, our owm one-and-only, the great....PHIL O"BRIEN!!!

  1. True Love - Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby

    I still listen to this song at least once a week... I had this ridiculous crush on Grace Kelly and always thought she could have done better than Bing Crosby (yes, I used to believe that movies were real, until I found out that Sam DOESN"T know how to pilot a submarine....). Crap lyrics, but it"s Cole Porter so everything"s fine. Peter Skellern did a terrific version of this - Elton John"s was rubbish.

  2. Eloise - Barry Ryan

    Guilty pleasure time (and I suspect there'll be a few more in this list). An under-rated voice, and one of the best screams in the business. Barry Ryan sang 'em, his brother Paul wrote 'em. Brilliant OTT arrangement from this Yorkshire chap in the late sixties.

  3. At Home, At Work, At Play - Sparks

    I always thought Sparks would be absolutely terrifying to interview - eccentric doesn't even start to describe their stage personas. Then I heard them on a BBC podcast and they were just the loveliest guys. LA born, but moved to the UK at the dead right time, the start of Glam Rock. Songs about people who deliberately crash into other cars as a way of meeting others; about buying gadgets that don't work, destroying said gadgets in a fit of frustration, only to see the words "Batteries Not Included" on the packaging... And that voice ...

  4. You Can't Do That - Harry Nilsson

    Harry Nilsson - famously, the Beatles "favourite group." A voice from heaven, ultimately destroyed in a screaming contest with John Lennon (the blood on the microphone was a giveaway). In this song, he pays tribute to The Beatles by giving them some of their own back - tremendous vocals, outstanding harmonies and a great arrangement. And not an auto-tune for miles ...

  5. Magdalena - Danny O'Keefe

    My brother got me listening to this guy back in the seventies. OK, there"s a certain amount of poetic license in the lyrics (“Ooh Magdalena… nothing like the saint you are”…) Something about that voice... Very haunting, and not a good idea to listen to this if you"re driving and a bit tired. It just kind of drones ...

  6. Any Other Face In The Rain - Dennis O'Brien

    This is my big brother, singer/songwriter/pianist extroadinaire. He was in the UK recording while we all sat 12,000 miles away, waiting for the postman to deliver copies of the new albums (where was the Internet when we needed it?). Incredibly proud of all his music, and made him play and sing live in his living room to me on my 50th birthday. Some fantastic session musicians on this track, including members of Costello's band The Attractions and a great sax solo from Raphael Ravenscroft, the man who brought us the fantastic intro to Baker Street...

  7. I Was Born Blind - Geoffery Gurrumul Yunupingu

    This is a song that was scheduled to play at about 3:30am on Radio NZ when I was doing an all-night programme. Knew nothing about Geoffrey so I did a bit of research. I suggest you do too.

  8. Born To Be With You - Dave Edmunds

    I've been a fan of Dave Edmunds for about a hundred years. His work with Rockpile (featuring the incredible Nick Lowe on bass) is full on, hundred miles an hour pub rock - the best sort of rock. However, he"s also a bit of a genius in the studio and recorded an album called Subtle As A Flying Mallet in which he plays all the instruments, does all the vocals ( and there are LOTS of vocals) and produces and engineers the whole thing himself. This version of an old Dion needs to be played very, very loud. The best song Phil Spector never produced…

  9. Maybe Tonight - Nicole Atkins

    Her album Neptune City is another one that turned up on the ol' wireless at some peculiar hour. There are a million female singer/songwriters out there recording some good stuff, but Nicole has that New Jersey edge to her songs. Check out this clip, and watch Metallica's reaction at 1:09 - jaws hanging on the ground. She's as funny as hell too…

  10. Cuddle Up - Dennis Wilson

    In honour of the proprietor of this very webpage, I give you one of the Wilson Brothers. Not trying to sound sexist or anything, but ... whenever this is played on Matinee Idle, we get a ton of emails thanking us for playing that oh-so beautiful song. And they're ALL from women.

Honour duly accepted Phil, and with much thanks, not only for this set, but all the good work you do -- pulling us through the predictably grim NZ summers. You boys ROCK! Love to O N-J...

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