Be Mine Tonight - track by track analysis by the WIUO

Be Mine Tonight - track by track analysis by the WIUO

The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra is currently on tour with their first ever full-length album, Be Mine Tonight. (Full details of where they are playing are at
As they were on the road, I asked the band to take us through the album of Kiwi classics one by one....
Read the review of the album here -

We did this track by track “analysis” of our new album for you over the past couple of weeks on the road. You can probably spot a bit of cabin fever. The people who were awake at the time answered the questions. See you in Auckland!
The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

Be Mine Tonight (originally by Th’ Dudes)
Dan: There are lots of ukes on this one. And the whole album. Possibly too many.
Sam: We went with female lead vocals – that’s the nice juxtaposition I reckon we gave it. The outro by Steve on the electric uke is mind-blowing.
Bek: It really brings out the celtic mystic folk! When we played it in Dunedin I was standing on the stage thinking “This is folk! We’re a folk band!”
Amanda: You play the ukulele and you didn’t believe we were a folk band?
Andy: I’m leaving.

Wake Up (originally by Aaradhna)
Sam: This is a great song for the mornings. James Hill [the great Canadian ukulele star] carves up a great solo on the end of it.
Amanda: Is that the one he recorded in the bathroom?
Sam: Yep, a bathroom ukulele solo. 
Bek: This song is the insomniac’s power ballad.
Amanda: I love performing this one on stage because we’ve got our dance moves going.
Carmel: I love it because I get to bring some Aaradhna sauce and Sharon Jones sass. 
Dan: I want to put an Aaradhnaphiliac joke somewhere in there.

Counting The Beat (originally by The Swingers)
Dan: We’ve counted the beat so you don’t have to.
Gemma: A Kiwi classic and so much fun to sing. In the recording studio I was just laying down a guide vocal and we weren’t sure who was going to end up singing it. We auditioned everyone in the band! My guide vocal won out.

Team (by the great Lorde)
Dan: There’s no “i” in team. There’s no bass in this version, either. Well, I don’t “play” the bass. I hit the bass until it sounds like drums. I call it sound music.
Sam: The ukulele arrangement (it’s mainly plucking) makes it feel like Andy is singing in a jewellery box – you know the ones you open up and the ballerina spins around? Andy’s the ballerina.

Long Ago (a Herbs classic)
Steve: Long Ago has a subtle shift in the shuffle.
Gemma: Our friend Pi’ikea Clark came in with his six-string ukulele and showed us a crisp rhythm that echoes the reggae of the original but in a ukulele kinda way.
Dan: Lisa Tomlins sings it. What can you say about Lisa? Jesus. How many takes did it take her to do it? One take, two takes? That’s Lisa.
Sam: She’s pretty incredible. She nails it.


Today Is Gonna Be Mine (from David Kilgour’s album A Feather in the Engine)
Gemma: Quite a challenge turning a David Kilgour twelve-string guitar epic into a ukulele anthem, but I hope we did him proud. This song is a recipe for a good day!
Sam: It’s quite an epic song. When we first recorded it I remember thinking oh man this sounds too much like a choir, but in the final mix it came up really rocking.
Gemma: James Hill plays ukulele on this one, too. He slams it.

Howzat (originally by Sherbert)
Steve: I play the baritone part – it was diabolical fun. Age rocked the solo out.
Gemma: Age’s solo sounds really dirty in a good way. And the choruses are just too much fun to sing. Over the whole album we were going for a general vibe of beloved Kiwi hits, but also songs that are great fun to do on the ukulele and reflect our sense of humour. That’s why a few of these songs crept in.

Jezebel (made into a hit by Jon Stevens)
Gemma: This song made a star of Jon Stevens back in 1980, with his high waisted leather pants and all. As a Hutt girl, I’m thrilled we’ve done a ukulele version.
Sam: I can’t hit Jon Stevens’ vocal heights so I took it down a few notches. If you can’t hit the heights, go Barry White.  

E Ipo (written by Prince Tui Teka and Ngoi Pewhairangi)
Bek: I’ve never seen Prince Tui Teka in the form of such a beautiful woman before.
Amanda: We had to transpose it to a new key so that I could sing it. We wondered about changing the gender – it’s a love song to Tui Teka’s wife Missy – but we decided to keep it in its pure form. The words are so beautiful, but you don’t need to know what they mean – it’ll still get ya.
Bek: If you’re a Kiwi, you’ll love this song.

Slippin’ Away (a Max Merritt classic)
Bek: This is an absolute classic, a total 4.00am song.
Andy: I love the way Age and Steve’s voices work together. It’s not a combo we’d heard before in the band.
Gemma: Steve’s voice suits that particular harmony. He’s our most-decorated rock star in the band and you can really hear the years in his voice, in a good way. I love the simple repetition in the song.

Something in the Water (Brooke Fraser)
Amanda: Our version makes me want to have a glass of wine or two and swing in a hammock on a balmy evening.
Carmel: There’s nothing cynical about it. It’s pure sweetness and it’s a lovely thing to fall into. And I love watching Megan bang the back of the double bass on stage.
Dan: I don’t love that.
Amanda: I love watching Dan’s face while Megan hits the crap out of his bass.

Second Chance (From Liam Finn’s album I’ll Be Lightning)
Gemma: I have loved this song since Liam first released it. I wondered if it would be possible to do it on ukulele because the most exciting thing about it when Liam performs it live is all the wild looping. We figure it out.
Amanda: Gemma and Age are my Linda Rondstadt and my Aaron Neville, my Kenny Rogers and my Dolly Parton. They make a song that’s bitter and twisted sound beautiful. And bitter and twisted.
Gemma: I asked Age to freak out on his ukulele at the end. He went there! It’s exhausting to sing, but worth it.

Till We Kissed (made famous by Ray Columbus in 1965)
Bek: Thanks, Ray Columbus.
Amanda: I like hearing that one sung by a chick.
Bek: I’m really drawn to songs that have the same chords over and over. This song has the same chord progression all the way through but it builds and builds and drops and climbs again. Like a mountain range.
Amanda: Speaking of ranges, it’s just the right place in her vocal range for Bek to sound vulnerable and strong at the same time.
Gemma: Our version is faster than the original – we wanted to give it a tango feel. I love it. I think it will be the wedding hit of the summer.

Hine e Hine (Princess Te Rangi Pai, 1907)
Bek: One of the most beautiful ballads ever written, and it’s from Aotearoa! Goodnight, Kiwi. 



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