The second, double-sided Toy Love single 'Don't Ask Me' / 'Sheep' was released in April 1980 and reached number 10 on the Kiwi pop charts. That year the band signed a contract with Michael Browning — a former manager of AC/DC — and made the move to Sydney, the prize being a studio album and a way bigger audience, but disillusionment soon set in. Sheep jumps out of the gates with driving drums and guitars and lyrics about numbness and confusion, all confirming Toy Love's punk roots. The band wander aimlessly around city streets and rock out in a cramped flat. Punk lives!
This follow-up to 1984 Narcs hit ‘Heart and Soul’ marked the first single off the trio’s second album. Recorded with US engineer Tim Kramer, 'Diamonds on China' got to 15 on the New Zealand charts. Influenced by Brit pop band Go West, 'Diamonds' is full of punchy guitar and synthesizers. Prolific music video director Fane Flaws showcases massed horns, street racing video games, his own distinctive illustrations, and drumsticks hitting the skins "like diamonds on china". Flaws' efforts resulted in one of his first accolades: Video of the Year at the 1985 NZ Music Awards.
Taika Waititi's 80s extravaganza wouldn't have been complete without the man himself arriving on set in a DeLorean — the time-travelling car from Back to the Future. The clip for The Phoenix Foundation is another homage-packed example of lo-fi genius from the Oscar nominated director. Note how Eastern European-derived keyboardist Luke Buda is playing a 'Poland' synthesizer. Said Waititi: "I spotted the DeLorean parked near our flat in Mt Cook, and left a note under the wiper saying 'what year are you from?' Turns it was one of two owned by a local doctor."
'Sierra Leone' was one of those songs that quickly stood out from the pack. Andrew McLennan's synth-pop track won his new band Coconut Rough a deal with Mushroom Records, then became a runaway hit in 1983. The video, slick for the time, features bright colours, a running motif, and African imagery. But the pressure of being in demand for a single song became an albatross around the band's neck. As McLennan told website AudioCulture, "‘Sierra Leone’ became the only song from our repertoire that people wanted to hear and no matter what we did we couldn’t follow it up."
"If you don't like the beat, don't play with the drum". Taken from Sharon O'Neill's 1983 album Foreign Affairs, the song chronicles "case 1352, a red and green tattoo". It was inspired by a prostitute who worked the streets of King's Cross. The clip starts with O'Neill hitting Auckland Airport. Look out for leopard skin tights and a dress straight off Logan's Run. Other highlights: a steamy sax solo, heavy eye shadow and backlit silhouettes in "rain-slicked avenues." Two clips for 'Maxine' exist: the Australian version won controversy for images of a fictional prostitute, shot in King's Cross.
'Travellin' On' could be a theme song for veteran musicians everywhere — and blues legend Midge Marsden has recorded this Murray Grindlay song on three occasions. This version is quieter and more reflective, in keeping with the Europa commercial Marsden appeared in during the 1980s (for which Grindlay took lead vocal). Later the pair joined American Stevie Ray Vaughan for a far rockier take. Footage from the various adverts is reprised here, but the blue/gray wash, along with shots of Midge's travels, make this rendition more of a remembrance of a life spent on the road.
This weather-themed Kiwi classic spent 21 weeks in the charts, and became one of DD Smash's biggest hits. The quirky, light-hearted video was played repeatedly on Saturday chart show Ready to Roll, and won Best Music Video at the 1983 New Zealand Music Awards. It was directed by a young Andrew Shaw (of Hey Hey It’s Andy fame, later an executive at TVNZ). DD Smash singer/songwriter Dave Dobbyn hams it up in Adidas tracksuit and yellow raincoat, while drummer (and 1980s heartthrob) Peter 'Rooda' Warren appears in his speedos.
K'Lee was just 17 when this song took the New Zealand charts by storm, peaking at Number two. Her self-titled album produced another three hits for the Rotorua-born teenager. She was the first female NZ artist to achieve four top 20 singles off a debut album. The song is a cover of a 1980s ballad by UK band Mr Mister. The video, directed by Greg Riwai, features multiple K'Lees in the same scene, while singing in sync. Further sharply rendered visual effects work sees doves flying out of torn-up photographs.