Flight of the Conchords

Starring: Bret McKenzie, Jemaine Clements, Rhys Darby and Rob Brydon
BBC Audio
RRP: 15.99
ISBN 1 846 07070 8
Available 01 May 2006

Flight of the Conchords are Bret McKenzie (guitar and vocals) and Jemaine Clement (vocals and guitar) and they're New Zealand's fourth best folk guitar-based jazz, techno, hip-hop due. Over six episodes we follow their attempts to crack the UK's novelty music scene with songs such as Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring ("Magical Bling Bling"), Fudafafa, Hiphopapotamus and Think About It (Think, Think About It)...

If, like me, the thought of listening to a novelty music band fills you with dread, then let me reassure you that this is not a CD collection full of rubbish songs with badly rhyming lyrics. Flight of the Conchords is best described as a folk guitar-based jazz, techno, hip-hop homage to Spinal Tap - or rip-off, if you like.

Over six 30 minute episodes, this spoof documentary follows the attempts of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement to break into the UK music scene. With their manager, Bryan, who is attempting to get them gigs, a record deal, as well as managing their fan club - which numbers less than half a dozen members.

Why is he managing The Conchords? Well, apparently when he saw them he realised that they had the "A" factor. What's that? Apparently it is something special, when you look at them you go: "Eh?"

And then there are the songs. Having heard some of their live material (not really advised unless you really do like novelty music bands) the songs are much better in their edited form as presented here.

Examples of some of the better material include, from Think About It (Think, Think About It):

They're turning kids into slaves just to make cheaper sneakers,
What's the real cost? 'Cos the sneakers don't seem that much cheaper,
Why are sneakers still so expensive when you've got little slave kids making them?
What are your overheads?

And, from Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring ("Magical Bling Bling"):

I don't rap about bitches and hoes,
I rap about witches and troll,
Frodo, don't wear the ring (magical bling bling)
You'll never be the Lord of the Rings.

This series charts the band's rise and rise on the UK music scene; the release of a single, which they write for a producer (played by Greg Proops) who manages a Britney Spears-like teenage pop star; their eventual split-up and reforming; and finally their reflections on the whole music business. Along the way they have to deal with the problems of being the support act for a panda; bring out their street alter egos Hiphopapotamus and Rhymenocerous; while their manager constantly phones ex Crowded House front man Neil Finn (who he once met at a wedding) for music advice.

There are also explanations of how the band formed. Apparently Bret couldn't play a guitar. Jemaine had a video and had mastered the basics even though he didn't have a guitar - he played air guitar. And one day the two met... and the rest is history.

They also reveal that they wrote a song for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie - he hadn't asked them, they just thought it would be cool. Actually, this whole segment is made all the funnier when you know that Bret is the son of Peter McKenzie, who plays Elendil in The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings, and that Bret appeared briefly in the The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King as an elf escort.

The whole series is linked together with narration by Rob Brydon, whose "Hi! You might remember me from..." dialogue is not a million miles away from the Simpsons's Troy McClure character.

If you ignore the fact that this is Spinal Tap with Troy McClure narrating, you'll have a folking good time.

Darren Rea

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