Phillip Schofield introduces The Mockers at this benefit concert at the Christchurch Town Hall, which was later broadcast on Schofield's youth music show Shazam!. Their first album has just gone straight into the Top 10 and the band are well on their way to becoming pop stars, with Andrew Fagan, resplendent in red frock coat and bare chest, very much out front as one of Kiwi music's great showmen. Six songs are featured — including the hits 'Woke Up Today', 'My Girl Thinks She's Cleopatra', 'Alvison Park' and the title track of the band's 1984 album Swear It's True.
The Mockers had a breakthrough year in 1984. Their sixth single 'Swear It's True' caught New Zealand's attention, and in May their debut album peaked at number four on the Kiwi charts. In June they played Mainstreet for one of 1984's batch of Radio with Pictures specials, spawning the live album Caught in the Act, which was released in July. Vocalist and part-time poet Andrew Fagan cuts a piratical figure in his sailor's jacket and trademark fingerless gloves. Dunedin band The Idles were a lesser known proposition. They made ripples in 1984 with their first EP, 'Agroculture'.
The Mockers were led by Andrew Fagan, who captivated audiences with flamboyant costumes, theatrics and a drawling pop vocal style. Formed in 1979 as the Ambitious Vegetables, Fagan and songwriter Gary Curtis renamed the band and set sail for pop stardom with a slew of hook laden singles and three studio albums. Their hit 'Forever Tuesday Morning' led to Fagan winning the 1985 RIANZ Top Male Vocalist award and in 1987 they headed to the UK, but not before drummer Steve Thorpe tragically killed himself; three years later the band dissolved.
This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.
A polar explorer might seem an odd subject for one of NZ’s leading mid-80s bands to tackle – but, for all the make-up and rock'n'roll finery, Andrew Fagan was no ordinary pop star. This ode to Ernest Shackleton, from The Mockers' second album, was a pointer to Andrew Fagan the accomplished ocean going, solo yachtsman. Such subject matter would have sorely tested TVNZ's resources for making low budget clips. This compromise sees the band on a studio set dressed with suitably nautical looking nets, intercut with archival footage of a Shackleton expedition.
The Mockers were at the peak of their mid-80s pop prowess when they released this single. It originated with Andrew Fagan’s Wellington based co-writer Gary Curtis hearing reports of the 1984 Queen Street riot in Auckland (after an outdoor concert which had featured The Mockers). The music video places the band amongst the lions, acrobats, rides and sideshows of the now defunct Whirling Brothers Circus (set up in Victoria Park in inner city Auckland). Fagan is resplendent in a velvet frock coat with lace cuffs, black choker and matching nail polish.
The Mockers' most well-known single, 'Forever Tuesday Morning' was later listed at number 75 on APRA's list of the Top 100 Kiwi songs. Fagan sits in darkened solitude, a prisoner of his emotions, while the band heads into the TVNZ makeup room, passing Radio with Pictures presenter Karyn Hay on the way. After some mischief involving drummer Steve Thorpe, a can of hairspray and a budgie cut, the band performs. Fagan is now dressed in a flowing white shirt and trademark leotard ensemble. The song was written by Andrew Fagan, Tim Wedde and Gary Curtis.
Conservation pioneer Richard Henry tried to save the kākāpō from rats and stoats, via an island sanctuary in 1890s Fiordland. His doomed bird rescue efforts might seem an odd subject for a pop ballad. Singer/songwriter Andrew Fagan also included a paean to Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton on 1985 Mockers album Culprit and the King. Fagan argues that adventuring is "naturally something to aspire to. Writing pop songs about it never felt like an issue to me." This performance of the song, directed in a single shot by Brent Hansen, roams a gloomy Avalon studio.
“You get the impression that Wellington wants an audience but doesn’t want to be seen to be trying too hard to get one”. This report surveys 1982's local music scene, framing tensions between an energetic politically-conscious underground, and commercial rock and pop (i.e. Auckland). Not all is positive, with complaints about lack of venues and promotion, and violence at gigs. Interviewees include Mocker Andrew Fagan, Nino Birch (Beat Rhythm Fashion), Dennis O’Brien, Ian Morris, promoter Graeme Nesbitt (in Radio Windy sweatshirt) and punk singer Void (Riot 111).
Gliding On meets Borat, as a man pretending to be a fisherman from a fictional town heads to Wellington to find out if any government agency will take action about fish he says are dying in his river. Clad in jacket and tie and walk shorts and walk socks, he traipses the corridors of power which are artfully shot to look like a hell from which he will never escape. His attempts to find someone who can take action yield only a succession of impotent bureaucrats who participate happily but only to explain, often at length, why they can’t actually do anything.