The Swingers have long been umbilically tied to one composition: 1981 chart-topper 'Counting the Beat’. But the band's debut single makes clear that their gift for percussive pop was there from the start. The accompanying video sees the trio getting down to it in their union jack-emblazoned shirts; the lyrics channel the same kind of sexual frustration as Stones classic ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. The result is arguably in the same realm of catchy. After reaching number 19 in NZ, ‘One Good Reason’ featured in Aussie film Starstruck. Strawpeople later released a funked up version.
The opening images of this video — the swinging guitar, fingers on the fretboard — make for a defining moment in Kiwi music video history. The clip was actually shot in Australia; by the time they recorded the song, The Swingers had relocated from Aotearoa to Melbourne. They would soon be history. Aussie cinematographer/ director Ray Argall ('World Where You Live') matches the beloved composition with colourful images, quirky humour, and an infectious dance finale. In 2001 music organisation APRA voted the chart topper fourth on their list of the top Kiwi songs to date.
'Saturday Night' is a glorious anthem from these Auckland punk pioneers, and a classic piece of NZ rock’n’roll. An improbable ode to the joys of having “one free night a week”, it was penned by Buster Stiggs and produced by ex-Split Enzer Phil Judd (on guitar). The video, made by TVNZ, was remarkably sympathetic and, apart from lurid lighting, avoided cheap effects in favour of capturing the band’s essence. Judd and Stiggs later formed The Swingers, while this performance won singer Zero a role in the Gary Glitter stage production of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Formed by Phil Judd (a founding member of Split Enz), Bones Hillman (aka Wayne Stevens) and Buster Stiggs (aka Mark Hough) in 1979, The Swingers evolved from early punk band the Suburban Reptiles. After releasing debut single ‘One Good Reason' — which got to number 17 in the Kiwi charts — they signed with Mushroom in Australia. ‘Counting The Beat' would come to define them, rocketing The Swingers to number one on both sides of the Tasman, and selling 100,000+ copies. Disagreements over song choices hastened their demise in May 1982, after the late addition of vocalist Andrew Snoid (Coconut Rough).
One of Auckland’s pioneering punk bands, Suburban Reptiles represented the art school end of the punk movement. Confrontations with unsuspecting audiences and promoters soon had them in the headlines. Singer Zero (aka Clare Elliot) was arrested for swearing on stage. The band's debut, ‘Megaton’, was the first 12 inch 45 released by a New Zealand artist. They followed it with ‘Saturday Night, Stay At Home’ — one of the great Kiwi singles of the punk era. Phil Judd (ex Split Enz) joined towards the end after producing some songs for the band. Judd and Buster Stiggs went on to found The Swingers ('Counting the Beat').