Various Artists

How Was the Air Up There?

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Compilations of '60s New Zealand rock are still pretty thin on the ground. Back when this came out (it certainly predates the early '80s), it was one of the very few, if not the only one, available. Admittedly there wasn't a huge population pool to draw from, but still, this 22-track compilation is pretty derivative and unimpressive, with too high a percentage of faithful cover versions of American and British hits. Some first-rate cuts break through the sludge: Ray Columbus' "She's a Mod" is a fine early Beatle knockoff, Chants R&B's cover of John Mayall's "I'm a Witchdoctor" is fairly tough, the La De Da's "How Is the Air Up There?" sounds like a good lost Standells single, and Fourmyula's "Nature" is beguiling late-'60s pop-folk-rock. The liner notes are detailed and excellent, but the music's not that durable, making it primarily of historical value.

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