It’s a bleak, grey Saturday morning and I’m feeling picky. There are innumerable things I could feel picky about, but I’ve chosen something utterly inconsequential.
Today’s Your Weekend magazine, which comes with my Dominion Post, contains a review of Ray Columbus’ autobiography in which the claim is made that She’s A Mod, the 1964 hit by Columbus and his backing band the Invaders, was the first New Zealand record to reach the top 100 in the United States. It’s not clear whether this claim is made in the book or whether the reviewer got it somewhere else, but it didn’t ring true with me, so I checked.
Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles: 1955-2002 is the bible of the Billboard chart, listing every song that made the top 100 in the US during that period. It’s a treasure trove for tragic students of pop minutiae, among whom I count myself, and it makes no reference to Ray Columbus and the Invaders. In fact there are very few New Zealanders listed. Among those I’ve stumbled across in its 1000 pages are Auckland-born Gale Garnett, whose We’ll Sing in the Sunshine went to No 4 in 1964; John Rowles (Cheryl Moana Marie, No 64 in 1971); Split Enz (I Got You, No 53 in 1980); Dragon (Rain, No 88 in 1984); Crowded House (whose Don’t Dream It’s Over went all the way to No 2 in 1987, one of five Neil Finn songs that made the Billboard chart) and the late Pauly Fuemana’s OMC (How Bizarre, No 4 in 1997). Keith Urban has four entries too, but I’m not sure whether we can claim him. In fact I’m not even sure we can claim Crowded House, strictly speaking, but Whitburn generously describes them as a New Zealand band and that’s good enough for me.
Alas, however, no Ray Columbus and the Invaders. This is not to diminish that group’s considerable achievements: they went to No 1 in Australia and in so doing, cracked open the Australian market for countless other New Zealand outfits. But we must keep the record straight.