Annie Crummer came to attention with her cameo in ‘For Today’ in 1985 and she was a member of the high profile late 80s act When The Cats Away — but her debut solo album Language didn’t appear until 1992. This cover of a song originally recorded by Eric Clapton was its first single. It features Pacific reggae band Herbs (with the late Charlie Tumahai as duet partner). Fred Renata’s stylish video is a study in monochrome as it alternates black and white backdrops (and wardrobe for Crummer), and augments them with photos of loved ones and shadow play.
Margaret Urlich's first solo album Safety in Numbers went triple platinum in Australia, and took away three gongs at the 1989 NZ Music Awards. It was not her first brush with fame: Urlich had already scored hits with band Peking Man, and done her first stint with live favourites When the Cat's Away. Since then she has been mainly Australian-based, though she returned to NZ for third album The Deepest Blue (1995) and a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. In 1999 she covered her favourite Kiwi songs on Second Nature.
A NZ Herald assertion that women’s music is just “gentle, political folk songs” leads off this report for TVNZ’s mid-80s rock show. It’s presented by Dick Driver from a showcase for women songwriters at Auckland’s much loved and missed Gluepot in Ponsonby. Featured musicians are singer/songwriter Mahinarangi Tocker, blues singer Mahia Blackmore and then member of When the Cat’s Away Dianne Swann. Those sensitive folksongs are in short supply but the same can’t be said for the obstacles encountered in dealing with a male dominated music industry.
This soulful despatch from the end of a love affair won Rikki Morris the APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award for 1991. It was produced by his brother Ian (aka Tex Pistol) who contributed a suitably epic 80s drum sound and won himself Engineer of the Year at the NZ Music Awards. The family connection extended to the music video where Rikki’s then wife Debbie Harwood (from When the Cat’s Away) played the former partner in the Super 8 footage (which the pair shot themselves). A stormy surf beach offers an appropriately tempestuous supporting performance.
Nick Sampson wrote Netherworld Dancing Toys' big hit 'For Today' during a summer spent working at a Taranaki freezing works. His love song has become a classic — aided in no small part by Annie Crummer's soaring vocal. The TVNZ video, directed by Radio With Pictures producer Brent Hansen, places the band in a studio (where Crummer sings with Kim Willoughby in a precursor to their time in When the Cat's Away) and on the Cook Strait ferry (where the shoot was nearly derailed when lunch in a Picton pub almost led to the band missing the return sailing).
The third single from Opshop’s triple platinum-selling second album Second Hand Planet reached number three on the NZ singles chart, and became the theme song for a string of heart string-pulling NZ Post adverts with its lyric “one day / you’ll realise how much you have me”. Director Luke Sharpe’s video has the band in semi-darkness, accompanied only by a smoke machine and the odd dreamy projection. Lead singer and New Zealand’s Got Talent host Jason Kerrison’s vocals are harmonised by Dianne Swann from When the Cat’s Away and The Bads.
Teenage dreams of a career in tennis were forgotten by Dianne Swann after she was mesmerised by Patti Smith on Radio with Pictures. In the mid 1980s Swann fronted group Everything that Flies, with guitarists Clive and Bruce Sheridan, drummer Wayne Bell and keyboardist Peter Harrison. An EP (1985's Bleeding Hearts) resulted in NZ Music Awards for Most Promising Vocalist and Group. The following year, the clip for synth-pop single 'As The Sun Goes Down' won Video of the Year. The band split soon after and Swann joined the line-up of 80s Kiwi female supergroup When The Cat’s Away. These days she is half of The Bads.
Formed in 1983, Peking Man met their greatest success after Margaret Urlich joined her brother Pat Urlich on vocals. Known for a string of radio friendly singles including 'Good Luck To You' and 'Lift Your Head Up High', the band had its greatest success in 1985 with chart topper 'Room That Echoes'. The following year they dominated the local Music Awards, including gongs for Best Male Vocalist, Best Female Vocalist, Best Group, Album and Single of the Year. Margaret Urlich later let loose with When the Cat's Away, and in 1989 released her first solo album in Australia.
Debbie Harwood performed with Pacific funk band Big Sideways and did time in music promotion and managing bands, before releasing her debut single ‘If That’ll Make You Happy’ in 1985. It won her a NZ Music Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. A second award followed for 'Blue Water', a one-off collaboration with Johnny Bongo. Her involvement with highly successful all female act When the Cat’s Away has dominated her subsequent career. Harwood has also performed live with Jimmy Barnes and Moana Maniapoto, and been a passionate advocate for women musicians.
Before forming When The Cat’s Away, Debbie Harwood collaborated with Johnny Bongo (John Quigley) on this one-off project which won them Most Promising Group at the 1987 NZ Music Awards. The music video was funded by Harwood with money earned from waitressing. Director Jed Town (of Fetus Productions) keeps his palette very aqua but resists the temptation to get more literal with the subject matter, instead opting for layers of abstract watery textures to frame Harwood’s vocals (although a brief glimpse of a gnashing shark hints at Town's more macabre side).