Don McGlashan has never been scared to use Kiwi place names in his songs, including on this classic debut single by The Mutton Birds. Inspired by a man glimpsed from the bus one day — a resident of the fabled “halfway house, halfway down Dominion Road” — McGlashan spins a tale of redemption on one of Auckland’s busiest arterial routes. The colour footage (showing glimpses of forgotten shops, and a less multicultural streetscape than today) is by cinematographer Leon Narbey. An alternative video for the song was shot inside an old armoury building in London.
Don McGlashan has played drums, horns, guitars and PVC pipes, created memorable songs with Blam Blam Blam, The Mutton Birds and as a solo artist, and won a run of awards for his soundtrack work. As Nick Bollinger puts it in this backgrounder, his songs are good for occasions big and small.
Former Blam Blam Blam, Front Lawn and Mutton Birds member, Don McGlashan takes time out from making his first solo album to talk about songwriting in this episode from a series made for high school music students. McGlashan is passionate in exhorting his audience to write their own songs and make their own voices heard. Acoustic versions of his classic 'Dominion Road' (written about a neighbouring street) and another Mutton Birds number 'White Valiant' (based on a dream) underline his enthusiasm for writing about immediate surroundings, not faraway places.
Don McGlashan began his career as a restless teenage French horn player. He started to thrive in the post-punk era, writing iconic songs with Blam Blam Blam, mixing theatre and music with The Front Lawn and composing for film and TV, before forming The Mutton Birds in 1991. This episode of Sunday traverses McGlashan's life as he launches his belated solo career. Friends like Dave Dobbyn and Mike Chunn wax lyrical about McGlashan's talents, and snippets from his 2003 Auckland Festival show at the St James Theatre demonstrate why he is so beloved in Kiwi music history.
This classic short film provides an unusual showcase for Don McGlashan and Harry Sinclair, the founders of musical theatre group The Front Lawn. The slice of life narrative unravels like a baton relay; the duo play every character, revolving around pedestrians on Auckland's Karangahape Road. Walkshort was directed by editor Bill Toepfer. Sinclair went on to do some directing of his own (Topless Women Talk about their Lives), while McGlashan would pay musical tribute to another famous Auckland street, Dominion Road. Costa Botes writes about Walkshort here.
After coming to prominence with post-punk trio Blam Blam Blam and the more theatrical Front Lawn, Don McGlashan formed The Mutton Birds in 1991 with David Long and Ross Burge. Alan Gregg completed the core line-up in 1992. The tone was set by their debut single ‘Dominion Road’ — a literate, melodic McGlashan rocker, unafraid to address New Zealand subject matter. Four albums followed. Song ‘Anchor Me’ won the APRA Silver Scroll in 1994. A move to the United Kingdom the following year brought a degree of critical and popular acclaim, but major success was elusive and the group disbanded in 2002.
A Friendly Career (or The Story of the Training and Life of the New Zealand School Dental Nurse) was a promotional film made by the National Film Unit for the Department of Health. The plot waltzes through the idyll of one doe-eyed careerist's sugar-coated journey to a respectable job in the 'murder house', caring for the teeth of the Dominion's children. Focusing on the hard work and 50s fun times of hostel life, with its friendships, matrons, tooth-pulling and en masse doing-of-the-hokey pokey, the end of this careerist road is pitched as one of great satisfaction.
PJ (Rangimoana Taylor) has been driving trucks for 35 years. But one day after a medical test, he is told to get off the road. PJ’s worries over becoming instantly useless are exacerbated when his partner Ronnie and Ronnie’s ambitious sister go into business. A tale of love, family, and ordinary people struggling to process the type of news none of us ever needs to hear, Hook, Line and Sinker is the second, semi-improvised feature from longtime collaborators Andrea Bosshard and Shane Loader. The Dominion Post called the result “likeable, admirable and hugely enjoyable”.
Don McGlashan showed his screen talents early, as one half of offbeat multimedia group The Front Lawn. Since then he has composed for film and television, alongside his own music. His score for Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table won acclaim; his screen awards include film No. 2 — which spawned number two hit 'Bathe in the River' — Katherine Mansfield tale Bliss, and TV series Street Legal.
Renaissance man Fane Flaws has done it all. Since boarding the legendary magic bus of travelling band Blerta in the early 1970s, he has been a musician, graphic designer and artist — not to forget directing a long run of award-winning music videos and commercials, and launching bestselling multimedia project The Underwater Melon Man.