Formed in Christchurch in 1979, The Narcs did early time as a high octane covers band on the pub circuit. Their name is a nod to The Police, a band they often covered. After moving to Auckland in 1983, the addition of keyboardist Liam Ryan saw a maturing in The Narcs' sound — as evident on more reflective numbers like ‘Heart and Soul’ (named best song and single at the 1984 NZ Music Awards) and ‘Abandoned by Love’ (a 1986 APRA Silver Scroll winner). They toured Australia extensively, before disbanding in 1990. There was more: album Push the Boat Out landed in 1996, and occasional tours have since followed.
Live from Auckland's Mainstreet Cabaret, this Radio with Pictures special showcases bands Coconut Rough and The Narcs. Coconut Rough open their six song set with an instrumental and close with 'Sierra Leone', after proving they're much more than one hit wonders. RWP host Karyn Hay then introduces the "high energy rock" of The Narcs. The driving keyboards of second track 'Look the Other Way' hint at how the band's sound was broadening. Label CBS released both gigs as album Whistle While You Work, which reached number 17 in the New Zealand charts.
This follow-up to 1984 Narcs hit ‘Heart and Soul’ marked the first single off the trio’s second album. Recorded with US engineer Tim Kramer, 'Diamonds on China' got to 15 on the New Zealand charts. Influenced by Brit pop band Go West, 'Diamonds' is full of punchy guitar and synthesizers. Prolific music video director Fane Flaws showcases massed horns, street racing video games, his own distinctive illustrations, and drumsticks hitting the skins "like diamonds on china". Flaws' efforts resulted in one of his first accolades: Video of the Year at the 1985 NZ Music Awards.
‘Heart and Soul’ — sometimes called 'You Took Me (Heart and Soul)' — was the biggest hit for rockers The Narcs. It peaked at number four on the NZ charts and took away two gongs at the 1984 NZ Music Awards. A spare, brooding rumination on love, it represented a departure from the more full on rock’n’roll that marked the band’s sound when they emerged on the Christchurch pub scene in the early 80s. Shot on a blacked out set, the video has all the hallmarks of a test run for a new digital effects suite — although that doesn’t explain the red pyramid at the centre of proceedings.
The Christchurch music scene of 1982 gets a once-over in this Radio With Pictures report. Rob White of The Star acts as critic and guide, describing what’s hot in the South Island’s biggest city. A young Richard Driver provides his insights into what makes Christchurch bands so good, while various out-of-towners marvel at the quality of the lighting and sound in the local live scene. Amongst the local bands in the spotlight are The Narcs, the short-lived Thanks to Llamas and the Dance Exponents, who less than four months before this appearance had released their debut single 'Victoria'.
Dressed as a 1920's flapper bride, Karyn Hay introduces highlights from the TVNZ rock show’s televised concerts at the now demolished Mainstreet Cabaret on Auckland's Queen Street. The songs are Dance Exponents' 'All I Can Do' (with a sweaty Jordan Luck), an impassioned 'Billy Bold' from Graham Brazier's Legionnaires, Hip Singles' 'After the Party' (with snappy high kicks from Dick Driver), a brassy 'Outlook for Thursday' from Dave Dobbyn's DD Smash, a rocking 'Look the Other Way' from The Narcs and Coconut Rough's moment in the sun 'Sierra Leone'.
Subtitled 'Waiting for Summer', this Radio with Pictures report looks at live pop music in Auckland in 1982. Chris Knox, Graham Brazier, Hammond Gamble, Ian Morris, Peter Urlich, Michael O'Neill (The Screaming Meemees) and Tony Waine (The Narcs) muse on everything from Auckland vs Wellington, oldies vs youth, to the weather’s impact on songs, and the lack of venues. There are visits to The Gluepot and Urlich’s A Certain Bar. Label directors, booking agents and managers give their (mostly downbeat) take on the state of the scene. Rip It Up editor Murray Cammick talks lyrics.
Renaissance man Fane Flaws has done it all: since joining travelling band Blerta in the early 70s, he has been a musician, painter, and author, as well as director of award-winning music videos, short films and commercials.
Peter Blake introduced more local content to popular music shows Ready to Roll and Radio with Pictures at a time when covers of overseas songs were the norm. The longtime musician began in television via 1970s music programme; Grunt Machine, and ended up in charge of a stable of shows. He has also composed music for everything from TV One's nightly News theme to drama Shark in the Park.
Andrew Shaw has experience of both sides of the camera. After debuting in his teens as a popular children's TV host, Shaw went on to spend time as producer and director, on a variety of music programmes and live shows. These days he is a TVNZ executive, responsible for commissioning and buying programmes.