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.
'Escaping' launched Margaret Urlich in Australia: the debut single from her first solo album Safety in Numbers edged into the Aussie top 20, ultimately helping the album go triple platinum. Back home it spent three weeks at number one, and took away a NZ Music Award as single of the year. The slick music video sees Urlich in a cafe moping about a loved one, before breaking out the dance moves and demonstrating that long hair is not a career requirement to be a successful female vocalist. In 1996 Brit-based vocalist Dina Carroll successfully covered the song.
This classic soft drink advert saw a supergroup of 80s music talent cooling off ... in a steamy L&P factory. The industrial-strength line-up — When the Cats Away’s Margaret Urlich and a blink or you'll miss her Annie Crummer; Ardijah’s Ryan and Betty-Anne Monga; Erana Clark, Peter Morgan, and DD Smash drummer Peter Warren — belt out a 60s Motown song (produced here by Murray Grindlay). Fane Flaws plays a supervisor loosened up by “the thirst quencher”. ‘Heatwave’ was a hit single in late 1987, with the group named ‘80 in the Shade’. The ad was named the year's best.
For this One Network News story from 16 July 1998, Jo Malcolm reports on ailing Dragon singer Marc Hunter. Suffering from throat cancer, Hunter had been in Korea and Italy seeking alternative treatment with money raised by a benefit concert. On returning to Australia he fell into a coma. The report features a montage of the band’s classic songs, earlier clips of Hunter reacting to the diagnosis and a poignant performance from Hunter at the March benefit concert. The legendary, larger than life frontman died the day after this report went to air.
From 1996 to 1998 broadcaster Ian Fraser took time out from hosting current affairs, to MC this popular musical talent quest (Fraser, a trained pianist, also tinkled the ivories himself during the series). There were two finals: one assessed by studio judges, and one from viewers' votes. The performers ranged from covers bands to opera singers, from country and western to soul. Future Opshop members Jason Kerrison and Shay Muddle were judged runners-up in 1996 (as Akustik Fungi). Other contestants included Lisa Tomlins, opera tenor Shaun Dixon and actor Stig Eldred.
This concert film captures When the Cat's Away during their first tour. Director Alan Thurston captures the high energy performance and pure joie de vivre of the five women vocalists, showing why the group became a Kiwi favourite. A set focusing on New Zealand songs, international hits of the period and soul classics proved irresistible on the pub circuit. The group would go on to score hit records and bigger shows (playing to 80,000 the following summer). But this was the moment they arrived. The film won best documentary at the 1988 Film and Television Awards.
On this mid-80s youth music show, a fresh faced Russell Crowe is the star turn in his early persona as Russ le Roq (the name change to avoid comparisons with his famous cricketing cousins Martin and Jeff). With a hint of an Elvis sneer, Crowe performs 'What's The Difference' with his band Roman Antix, and is interviewed by presenter Phillipa Dann. Lounge jazz act Wentworth Brewster & Co and Hamilton funk rockers Echoes also feature; and Pat and Margaret Urlich from Peking Man talk about their latest single 'Room That Echoes' and its distinctive video.
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.
Peking Man's self-titled album took away a stack of awards in 1986. It also spawned chart-topper 'Room that Echoes', followed by number six hit 'Good Luck to You'. Directed by The Piano lensman Stuart Dryburgh, thw NZ Music Award-nominated video highlights sibling singers Pat and Margaret Urlich, sax and gel-assisted hairstyles. The Auckland cityscape is littered with construction cranes and glass high rises, shortly before the stock market crash of 1987; and legendary central city cafe DKD (at the back of the Civic Theatre) also takes a starring role.
One of the most commercially successful NZ acts of the 80s, all female vocal group When the Cat's Away reformed in 2001 around four of the original five members: Margaret Urlich, Kim Willoughby, Debbie Harwood and Annie Crummer. They announced their return with this electropop reworking of Sharon O'Neill's 1980 ode to the east — and a Rachel Churchward styled music video which used black outfits on a black background to give an Oriental lacquer-like sheen. O'Neill returned the favour when she played with the Cats on a subsequent tour and live album.