The Upshot: Kiwi legends’ 1986 anthology gets a welcome re-release.
BY TIM HINELY
I’m not sure where to even begin in the importantance of this band to me. In the late ‘80s these amazing and pastoral bands from New Zealand began showing up in American record stores in the import section, all from this label called Flying Nun (and they may have begun appearing a few years before that but I didn’t catch hold until about 1987-’88). The Chills, led by enigmatic songwriter Martin Phillipps, were my absolute favorites of all the New Zealand bands (other favorites included The Bats, The Clean, The Able Tasmans and many others). Their jangly, chiming pop songs just seemed, well, magical. Though they’d been around since the early 80’s (when Philipps was just a teenager) they began releasing a series of singles that were then collected in 1986 on this superb compilation (they didn’t release their first proper full- length, Brave Words, until 1987).
Kaleidoscope World showed the world what a real talent that Phillipps was both lyrically and musically and amazing pop gems like “Rolling Moon,” “Pink Frost,” “Satin Doll’ and the whimsical title trace were a testament to his unique talent. This 30th anniversary reissue includes all of those plus the The Lost EP, the “I Love My Leather Jacket” single and even more extras including a real early version of the pumping “The Oncoming Day,” “Dan Destiny and the Silver Dawn” (an uplugged version) and more. Also, we can’t forget the b-side of the “…Leather Jacket” single, the absolutely stunning and mysterious “The Great Escape.” Let’s not forget that the Chills can rock when they want to as in the final cut, the stunning “Smile From a Dead Dead Face.”
The compilation is a real beauty and will especially be appreciated by fans of current acts like Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura. Let’s also not forget that as great as these thirty plus year old songs are, that Phillipps has a new version of the Chills and even released a full-length last year, the very good Silver Bullets. That LP proved that Phillipps still has it as a songwriter, but see where he came from, his humble beginnings that showed the promise of a truly remarkable songwriter. One of the greats, really.
DOWNLOAD: “Rolling Moon,” “Pink Frost,” “Satin Doll,” “Kaleidoscope World,” “The Great Escape”