Review by Ryan Leach
Although recorded quickly and on a miniscule budget,Boodle, Boodle, Boodle remains one of the great records of the early 1980s.
The album was recorded by The Clean and scene mavens Chris Knox and Doug Hood on Knox's Teac 4-track recorder; it would be Flying Nun's third release (and first EP). Bassist Robert Scott remembers the recording and mixing sessions well: "We just selected a group of songs we wanted to do and recorded them quickly. We were in a small, wooden hall—40 foot by 40 foot. The hall had a really nice and natural sound. We just set our equipment up like we were doing a gig. We recorded and mixed it all in two days (September 7 and 8, 1981)." (Leach, Razorcake #62)
Vocal duties on Boodle, Boodle, Boodle were handled democratically, with all members—guitarist David Kilgour, drummer Hamish Kilgour and Scott—singing lead on at least one track. As with all of The Clean's music, the tunes on Boodle are minimal; Hamish keeps a steady backbeat while Scott pounds out root eighth notes. The songs gain their strength through the group's incredible songwriting and David Kilgour's inventive guitar playing. These elements are taken to the extreme on "Point That Things Somewhere Else".
At 5:30, the song relentlessly employs Velvets' minimalism: David's guitar caroms out the speakers, coated with reverb and indebted to Lou Reed's playing ("What Goes On") throughout the instrumental break. Hamish's sing-speak vocals simply add to the droning effect of the song, sounding more like an instrument than a voice.
"Anything Could Happen" became a staple for The Clean. And for good reason. The track's lyrics are incredible—poetic yet ambiguous, leaving listeners the opportunity to construct their own interpretations: "Look for an answer in empty doorways/Talk to a dancer, said it's out on the highway".
Boodle, Boodle, Boodle sold in relatively large numbers, hitting number 4 in the New Zealand charts. It enabled Flying Nun to continue releasing records with much-needed capital. Boodle, Boodle, Boodle remains a highwater mark of New Zealand music.