Orinoco Flow

New releases in New Zealand, 29 January 1989.

Enya – Orinoco Flow

I was duped into giving Enya more of a go than I should have because of Clannad’s soundtrack for Robin Hood.  Somewhat awkwardly  Enya had left the band two years beforehand, so had nothing to do with any of it, but I thought she was in Clannad then so, you know, it counted in my head as a reason to listen to her when she released Watermark.  And then there was In A Lifetime with Bono which I fricken loved, and yes, I know now that it’s not Enya singing in the bloody thing, but – again – I was under that impression at the time and it was another part of the reason I gave Enya more time than I should have.  Am I racist? Do I think all female Gaelic singers from the mid to late 80s look the same?  Maybe I do.

When Robin of Sherwood came on TV I was so enamored of the music that I bought the soundtrack on cassette.  I can still sing you some lines from it (“Rooo-bin…… the hooded man”).  I was nervous re-watching an episode of this show because I remember it as mysterious, and gritty and moving whereas it would probably turn out to have been naff, clunky and obvious.  In fact it has aged very well.  The episode I watched was well written, well acted and well filmed.  It didn’t feature any of the supernatural stuff about Herne but I remember that as being good too: an added layer that felt authentic to the period and the characters.

I also watched The Celts on TV around the same period.  It was one of those great British documentaries I had forgotten about, like The Story of English.  The descendants of Civilisation.  It seems to me that nothing very much like these shows gets made anymore, and much like I regret not being able to watch Robin of Sherwood with my kids, I wonder if they would like watching The Celts.

I suppose this takes us quite a long way from Enya (although she did do the soundtrack for The Celts).

I will admit to being initially impressed by Orinoco Flow.  I can sometimes like quite indefensible things.  To this day I will defend certain Jean Michel Jarre albums.  It’s just that, once the gimmick has worn off, I realised I was just listening to synthesised pap.  Orinoco Flow itself is done with ideas or urgency about two thirds of the way in; the titular river meandering off into a swamp somewhere.  Thinking I was going all Celtic and mystical with Watermark I had just ended up listening to someone twittering around on a synthesiser and layering on so many tissues of vocals that suffocation was induced.

Except that if I imagine someone strumming an acoustic guitar and an un-augmented Enya singing Evening Falls it would probably be quite moving and beautiful.  I need my imagination though because a feature of the album is what I always imagine as a seedy older guy in a shitty restaurant playing rubbish covers on his Casio keyboard in the background.


Here I am in 1989 with one of my birthday presents.  It was a surprise present from my mum and purports to be the Powley family crest.  My mother has always been a bit burnt by how I reacted to this present.  It would be fair to say I was underwhelmed and unappreciative.  Partly because I was a dick, and partly because I think it might have been a con.  Family shields seem like things only a very small percentage of people would have had, and I don’t feel optimistic about my pedigree.  The motto is “Love an Loyalty” which is nice, and the image on the shield is a lion rampant.  It was the lion rampant that made it all seem unlikely.  A badger prostrate seemed more probable.

I still have it though.  It’s even hanging up.  As true or untrue as it may be in fact, it is now 30 years old and – if I hang onto it long enough, and it passes through enough generations – it might become true in people’s minds.  There is something quite appealing in that idea.

My actual ancestry is English.  Which I  always felt was a let down.  I wanted it to be Irish but it wouldn’t cooperate.  It could still be Celtic though.  Probably stinking Norman knowing my luck.  As far back as it has been traced it leads to the Lake District, which is nice I hear.  Perhaps I will go one day, but perhaps not.  The couple of times I have been to England it has felt both very foreign and quite familiar.

Like meeting an old friend who has changed.



This was a grim week for new releases in the New Zealand charts.  Scritti Politti are a band that genuinely sold out their beliefs (Marxist; independent artists) in order to cash in and the results are not very savory.  Cat Among the Pigeons is the worst song I have heard in a very long time with an equally bad and incoherent video.  Boy Meets Girl, Will to Power, Kylie and Jason.  Sheesh.  What a fizzer.  Ice-T has a great backing track, but the message is lame.  Only Roy and Erasure can hold their heads up.  I thought of Roy as ancient when he died but he was only 52.  Erasure’s single has a cute video featuring the line “give a little respect to me” as one man quite literally passes a little respect to another.

New releases in New Zealand, 29 January 1989 / Rated

  • Kylie and Jason – Especially For You (2/10)
  • Enya – Orinoco Flow (4/10)
  • Will to Power – Baby I Love Your Way (2/10)
  • Roy Orbison – You Got It (8/10)
  • Bros – Cat Among the Pigeons (1/10)
  • Ice-T – I’m Your Pusher (6/10)
  • Erasure – A Little Respect (6/10)
  • Scritti Politti – Boom! There She Was (2/10)
  • Boy Meets Girl – Waiting For a Star to Fall (2/10)



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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō