Music Review: Midge Marsden Collection

Midge does the Marsden name proud.
Midge does the Marsden name proud.

I'm sure someone will correct me but I can't recall more than a handful of Kiwi musicians who have been able to deliver a collection spanning more than 50 years.

In that sense maybe Midge Marsden is not unique. However, as a talisman for the blues music he has championed from his modest beginnings in Taranaki, he has no equal.

Early photos of Marsden playing with Bari Gordon and the Breakaways show him with a guitar almost as big as he was.

This was a deep-end gig for Marsden but he made the most of it, and with Gordon's tragic death, Marsden stepped up to a key role in the Breakaways, leading to the first track on the Midge Marsden Collection, a cover of Big Joe Williams' Baby Please Don't Go, by way of Van Morrison's Them.

In the 27 tracks that follow, Marsden appears in numerous settings proving that, while the music is always rooted in the blues he loves, he's also no one-trick-pony.

From those 1960s rhythm 'n' blues days, Marsden assumed the mantle of band leader for the country-infused Country Flyers, even played in a big band line-up, and apart from a stint in radio programming, hit the road relentlessly across the country, Australia and the States. It was there in the land of his beloved blues heroes that he hung out with Stevie Ray Vaughan.

All of those Marsden persona are represented on the two-CD collection, demonstrating clearly what a massive debt New Zealand's music world owes to this man.

Burning Rain, Struck Down By the Blues, Travellin' On, Sea Cruise, Baby Please Don't Go, Slow Walk Jive Talk, Mystery Train, even the rare historical Country Flyers track Rangitoto is there. And the packaging does justice to the music, with a 12-page glossy booklet. Midge, you've done the Marsden name proud.

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