In 1979 the techno-pop mix of synth and rock in 'Computer Games' sparked an arcade fire, with the single topping the charts in Australia and making the top 10 in New Zealand, Canada, France, Italy, West Germany and South Africa. Mi-Sex were the band; they disbanded in 1986, and vocalist Steve Gilpin died in 1991. They then reformed in 2011 with Australian Steve Balbi (ex Noiseworks) on vocals. This Spotlight collection celebrates the bands big hits.
A last-minute addition to their 1979 album Graffiti Crimes, 'Computer Games' was a huge hit for Mi-Sex, reaching number one in Australia, two in Canada and five in NZ. Computers and arcade games were a real novelty in 1979 and the band's synth-driven sounds were a perfect match. The video starts with the band breaking into the Sydney data centre for then-supercomputer giant ControlData. Printers spew paper forth, and as the band performs, old school graphics including a driving game and TIE fighters, are projected behind them. Advance one level on green!
Mi-Sex moved further into the futuristic sci-fi world signalled by their hit single ‘Computer Games’ with the release of their chart topping second album Space Race in 1980. The lead-off single ‘People’ emerged at a time when the world was still coming to grips with cloning, genetic engineering and test tube babies. The video showcases the band’s well honed combination of techno-pop and the more straight ahead rock’n’roll beloved of Australian pub audiences — with some visual special effects reserved for the future shock of the spoken segment.
"Things are not always the way they should be", sings Steve Gilpin in 'Blue Day', from Mi-Sex's 1984 album Where Do They Go. Reaching number 24 in Australia and 36 in NZ, it was their last charting single before the band broke up; it's also on the APRA Top 100 NZ Songs list at number 54. The band plays on a darkened studio set, a strong neon-blue visual style complementing the soft, haunting keyboard intro. Artificial light suggests the day outside; pushed up jacket sleeves and genie pants are an unmistakable reminder of mid-80s fashion.
After a debut single that flirted with punk parody, this moody, accusatory follow-up firmly points Mi-Sex in the direction of the electronic influenced rock that will characterise their future sound — and make them one of Australia's leading acts in the 80s. In his leathers, lead singer Steve Gilpin has firmly said good-bye to his previous career in light entertainment. The video places the band members amongst outsized pieces on a giant chess board — a rather curious staging choice, perhaps, given that the king and queen in the lyrics are playing cards.
Mi-Sex owed its success — riding the new-wave scene of the late 1970s and early 80s — to one-time cabaret singer Steve Gilpin's desire for a new musical direction. Convinced there were too many rock acts to compete with, Gilpin evolved the band Fragments of Time into techno-pop rockers Mi-Sex in 1978 (taking the name from an Ultravox song). They put out their first single that year, followed in 1979 by their biggest hit, ‘Computer Games', which topped the Australian charts. Mi-Sex disbanded in 1984. Gilpin died in 1991 after a car accident; the band reformed in 2011 with Noiseworks' Steve Balbi on vocals.
The legendary Dylan Taite hosts this RWP special on the first Sweetwaters music festival. The event took 12 months and half a million dollars to set up. Headliner Elvis Costello proved media-shy; some heavy-handed attempts to keep the cameras away are seen. Meanwhile, Taite muses on the impact of late 70s bands on the future of festivals. Sweetwaters would go on, although financial problems in 1999 led to the jailing of organiser Daniel Keighley. But, as this doco shows, for 45,000 concert goers the Ngaruawahia edition touched the youth culture node of the time.