In this month of Bowie connections, from New Zealand in 1975 comes this fantastic no.1 album of Bowie influenced visionary rock.
Moving on from a band he formed in ‘72 (that included drummer Paul Crowther and guitarist Wally Wilkinson) Riddell began writing songs of sci fi imagery and named his new project Space Waltz. Enhancing the imagery by designing and tailoring dramatic costumes from acres of curtain material, like Bowie, it was not for him the de-rigeur denim uniform of the day.
His debut single Out On The Street with an irresistible bad attitude “she’ll vamp around town, trying so hard to be cool…” visceral yet voyeuristic, hit no.1 down under.
So too the album, released by EMI NZ, as Alastair Riddell won a New Faces style TV contest towards the end of 1974 and toured extensively on the back of it.
A New Zealand review:
“The characters in the songs of Space Waltz populate an imagined world, it is androgynous and disquieting, a planet that shifts on its tectonic plates as Alastair’s guitar modulates from ferocity to tenderness. In a land that has neither flag nor borders and its citizens dream of cyber-love, to the strains of keyboardist Eddie Rayner’s synthesizer. It is Godzone, yet devoid of god; a paradise comprising metal-flake, eyeliner and nine precocious idylls created by a guitar virtuoso from the back of beyond.”
Given this is the early 70’s at a time of Ziggy Stardust, the Spiders from Mars, Space Waltz is everything you want from an album of the period and a parallel to the UK scene. The album created a major impact down under. One of the runners up in that ‘New Faces’ contest were the group Slit Ends, who by now included Crowther and Wilkinson in their line up. When Space Waltz had scored and been toured, the Keyboardist, Eddie Rayner, joined Tim Finn and that group took off supporting Roxy Music on tour as, Split Enz.