The police are a surprisingly popular subject choice for musicians, albeit usually those at the punkier end of the spectrum. In the 1980s clashes between police and punks were not uncommon. It was the tactics of the special Auckland Task Squad team policing unit at one of their gigs that prompted The Newmatics to pen 'Riot Squad', a song that went on to have special poignancy during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand. The song was originally released on the Broadcast O.R. double 7" single and was later included in a retrospective collection of Newmatics material, Riot Squad where it was proceeded by a short piece incorporating an excerpt from Riot Squad with the sound of a police riot squad in action titled 'Cops 198111'.
Around the same time as The Newmatics tune a band called Riot 111 released a song of the same name. The song collaged English and Maori versions of the 'Ka mate' haka with the sound of the crowd roaring at protestors when they forced a test match cancellation during the Springbok tour. That song surprisingly reached the upper reaches of the singles charts, as did their second single 'Subversive Radicals' which reached number 19. Riot 111 continued witht he police theme on single 'Move to Riot' (featured on the podcast) and PR24, the name of the baton used by riot police. For more info on The Newmatics and Riot 111 check out the highly recommended blog Mysterex.
The Features, who are best known for their song 'City Scenes' which features on the AK79 compilation, were another band of the same era who made comment about the bullying attitude of the police on their song 'Police Wheels', a B-side to 'City Scenes'. The Features were a great post-punk band with rumbling bass and a guitar sound like shards of glass. They were blessed with the talented and innovative writing of Jed Towns, but also had a thing for performing Beatles covers. In recent times The Features have been back out and about on the live music scene and there are hopes that material recorded back in the day but never released may see the light of day.
It's not all in the past though. Twenty odd years on and Auckland ska punk band The Poisoners keep the traditions alive on their song Pt Chev Cops. And solo bearded folk/parodist Vorn gets stuck right into the cops on his cheeky number 'Get Better Work Stories' with lines like "There is no point calling the cops, they're too busy raping teenage girls". There is a great video for that song posted on the video page. Also featured on the podcast are Deja Voodoo with their take on seventies TV cop show themes, 'Funky Cop'.
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