The Songs of Westside

The first season of Westside continued a grand tradition, one that began on parent show Outrageous Fortune: laying classic Kiwi tunes, where appropriate, into the mix. On the weekend, season two of the crime and family prequel debuted on TV3. Abandoning the year-spanning approach of season one, the second series is set entirely in 1981. From Hello Sailor to Flying Nun, this Spotlight features the impressive parade of Kiwi songs that are set to appear over coming weeks, in rough order of when they turn up on screen.

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Watch Your Back

Music Video, 1977 (Rock)

Chosen as the theme tune of Outrageous Fortune spinoff Westside roughly four decades after it was first performed, this guitar and sax-driven rocker appeared on the first album by the legendary, on again off again Hello Sailor. Taken from music show Ready to Roll, this performance sees Brazier and band talking tough in leather about danger on the streets, and "nights like a razor blade". Harry Lyon snarls over his red guitar, Graham Brazier plays a saxophone with a price tag on it, and Dave McArtney adopts classic bored rocker pose.  

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Tears

Music Video, 1980 (Pop)

Band Spats demonstrated they could write a catchy song with 'New Wave Goodbye'. But it needed the addition of singer Jenny Morris, a name change to The Crocodiles and a track called 'Tears' for the public to really sit up and take notice. In the video, drummer Bruno Lawrence hangs around next to a shady lamp post while Morris passes by, and the band's bubblegum coloured costumes positively shine against an all white set. After reaching number 17 on the NZ singles charts, 'Tears' won the APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award for 1980.

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Thru the Southern Moonlight

Music Video, 1974 (Pop, Country, Funk)

In 1973 EMI NZ producer Alan Galbraith saddled up Rockinghorse: a supergroup of Kiwi musicians (including ‘Nature’ composer Wayne Mason) to provide session music for the label’s artists. Rockinghorse found success of their own with the third single from the Throughbred album — ‘Thru the Southern Moonlight’. It won Best Single at the 1975 RATA Awards. The band also won Best Group and their celebrations led to a year-long ban from the Lion Breweries pub circuit. Here they funk up the cowbells in a 1974 end-of-year special, for Christchurch-based music show Pop Co.

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Doctor I Like Your Medicine

Music Video, 1980 (Pop)

Coup D'Etat were a short-lived band featuring Harry Lyon (during a Hello Sailor sabbatical) and Jan Preston (from travelling theatre act Red Mole). The band's second single is an ode to "the dangers of having too much fun". The bright, breezy number was written by Lyon, with the familiar Ponsonby reggae beat favoured by Hello Sailor. Peaking at nine on the charts, it won Best Single at the 1981 NZ Music Awards. The pedestrians in Leon Narbey’s video are near Auckland's Civic Theatre on Queen Street. In the same period, Narbey shot the short film of the same name.

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Auckland Tonight

Music Video, 1981 (Punk)

One of the great rock'n'roll songs about Auckland is the work of a Christchurch band. 'Auckland Tonight' is The Androidss' claim to fame - and yet it was the b-side of their only single. The work of a band that was never scared of a good time, it extols the virtues of a night on the town with special mention of Proud Scum and Toy Love playing at the Windsor Castle. The TVNZ video careers around rain soaked streets (with a shot of the long-gone Harbour Bridge toll booths) and offers telling glimpses of The Androidss' bête noir - the central police station.

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Asian Paradise

Music Video, 1980 (Pop)

Nostalgia can take many forms: and certainly many a middle-aged memory swirls back to this early Sharon O’Neill video, a nostalgia further fuelled by the long lack of a decent quality master copy. The classic clip about romance in foreign climes — or perhaps a romance that unfurled somewhere else entirely — opens with O’Neill’s backlit image reflected in the water. But it is the scenes of O’Neill in a rippling pool wearing a shark tooth earring that seem to have left the longest impression on males of a certain vintage.

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Bliss

Music Video, 1980 (Pop, Rock)

With a chorus to do any football terrace proud, the final single from Th’ Dudes (featuring Dave Dobbyn, Peter Urlich and Ian Morris) has become one of the great Kiwi drinking songs — though it was written in Sydney to parody hard-drinking pub crowds, and the lyrics namecheck local landmarks (The Coogee, The Cross) and luxuries unavailable back in NZ (Spanish shoes, falafel). The video, shot in the booze-barn like Cricketers’ Arms in Wellington, captures the raw essence of the song as it showcases the excitement of the band’s live show, and offers a snapshot of bar culture in early 80s New Zealand.

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Azania

Music Video, 1981 (Reggae)

'Azania' is an impassioned anti-apartheid song written for the Auckland reggae band by law student Ross France. Led by original Herbs vocalist Toni Fonoti, it helped to establish the band’s political credentials at a time when New Zealand was split by the 1981 Springbok Tour. Azania was the name given to a post-revolutionary South Africa by the Pan African Congress. There are name checks for black African leaders Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela; and the chant “Angola! Mozambique! Zimbabwe! Azania!” was quickly incorporated into anti-tour protest marches.

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Out on the Street

Music Video, 1974 (Rock)

“Watch out young love!”. Even in black and white Alistair Riddell’s pouting Bowie riff brought a shock of rock'n'roll verve to the ‘New Faces’ talent section of Studio One — a popular TV show more used to singing families and novelty acts. The judges were mostly bemused by the glam-rock onslaught and only grudgingly allowed Alastair Riddell's band to get through to the finals (where they buried them). But rock fans took notice of the x-factor and EMI quickly signed the band. Within weeks 'Out on the Street' was the first local chart topper in three years.

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Virginia

Music Video, 1980 (Rock)

After four years as part of Hello Sailor, guitarist Dave McArtney stepped out with his own band The Pink Flamingos — and found himself very much the centre of attention in this video made by TVNZ for the Flamingos' debut single. With only his guitar for support, he roams the streets of downtown Wellington stalking the object of his desire, who remains largely impassive despite his protestations — and all but obscured in a haze of cigarette smoke. Locations include an empty Cuba Mall (beside the bucket fountain) and Plimmer Steps. McArtney died in April 2013.

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I Need Your Love

Music Video, 1977 (Rock, Funk)

'I Need Your Love' marked the biggest hit for the Kaukau brothers, and vocalist Karl Gordon. This performance sees Gordon grooving in satin blue waistcoat and bellbottoms, while Kevin Kaukau sneaks in a few guitar tricks inspired by Jimi Hendrix, on a guitar with an unusual attachment. Rip it Up writer Ken Williams described how the song's "ethereal, even fragile, drone jumped off the radio". It was judged Single of the Year at the 1978 NZ Music Awards; the band can be seen winning the award in the closing minutes of the Ready to Roll telecast from which this clip is taken.

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Tally Ho!

Music Video, 1981 (Alternative, Flying Nun)

This video marked the directing debut of Chris Knox. Capturing the energy of The Clean's legendary debut single, the clip memorably broke with NZ promo standards (in-studio lip-synching et al) and set the template for Knox’s cheap-but-effective DIY method. Knox shot the band walking up the street, with a borrowed 16mm camera set at a slow frame rate. He also played around with negative reversal film, to obtain some of the video's more distinctive images. The song made it to number 19 in the local charts; the band were delighted.

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Lyin' in the Sand

Music Video, 1978 (Rock)

'Lyin' in the Sand' closed Hello Sailor's self-titled debut album in 1977, the song's languid South Seas vibe providing respite after 'Gutter Black' and various guitars. Inspired by a spontaneous South Pacific parody from vocalist Graham Brazier one night, it was written by guitarist Harry Lyon after observing how Takapuna's smart set took their beach for granted. TVNZ filmed the band playing live in a Christchurch studio in 1978, just before the band set off to try to make it in LA. Lyon sings, so Brazier is absent; drummer Ricky Ball's hula confirms that the band’s tongue was in its chic.

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Beings Rest Finally

Music Video, 1981 (Alternative, Rock)

‘Beings Rest Finally’ was the A side of the first of three singles released by Wellington post-punk outfit Beat Rhythm Fashion (the single shared its initials with the band’s name, as did the flip side ‘Bring Real Freedom’). A product of early 80s nuclear dread — the “disaster day” in the lyrics might refer to the death of millions — the band nevertheless saw it as a “happy sort of lullaby” rather than a sad song. The TVNZ video captures this combination of innocence and terror as children paint a colourful mural over news footage of war, unrest and a mushroom cloud.

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Dragons and Demons

Music Video, 1981 (Reggae)

'Dragons and Demons' is a track from Whats' Be Happen? — the first release from the Auckland pioneers of Pacific reggae. The album had a shot of the Bastion Point protest on its cover, however the emphasis in this song — written by original vocalist Tony Fonoti — is more personal than political as it exhorts people to control mental dragons and demons. Fonoti’s devotion to Rastafarianism made him uncomfortable with the band’s growing commercial success, and led to his departure. ‘Dragons and Demons’ received a new lease of life in 2009 when it was featured in Taika Waititi’s film Boy.

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That Look in Your Eyes

Music Video, 1979 (Pop)

This slow burning Ian Morris/Dave Dobbyn song was the b-side of Th’Dudes first single ‘Be Mine Tonight’. The video was shot at TVNZ’s Avalon studios in the days before the music video boom when, as Dave Dobbyn puts it, “the state made your videos”. A relatively straightforward performance piece, with only some outsized masks for occasional visual relief, it has the band largely entering into the spirit of things - with the exception of Dobbyn who shows up at one point with a large black spot on his forehead, and manages a particularly manic stare later on.

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Anything Could Happen

Music Video, 1981 (Alternative, Flying Nun)

Was there a cooler band in the world than The Clean in 1982? Skinny suits, round sunglasses, video performances aping the great old Monkees' moves but tuned to the "deadpan" setting. Rubbish dump. Derelict building. Cemetery. Check. TVNZ's Andrew Shaw travelled south to Christchurch to direct this one, but he kept the clip faithful to the band's style for this now iconic tribute to indie nihilism.

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Kaleidoscope World

Music Video, 1982 (Pop, Flying Nun, Indie)

This was the iconic Dunedin group's first music video. Directed by Peter Janes, the promo for the song roams around an aptly chilly looking attic while the band performs. As soap bubbles float towards the rafters, there’s fog on the breath of singer Martin Phillipps, who lulls the listener to swim into space with him … “come along baby we'll live in our kaleidoscope world”. The early Chills song was from Flying Nun’s seminal Dunedin Double EP. It was later featured as the opening (and title) track on The Chills’ debut LP, a 1986 compilation of early career songs.

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Jezebel

Music Video, 1979 (Pop)

Jon Stevens performs the song that turned him into an overnight pop star. 'Jezebel', written by little known UK songwriter Edwin Howell, was his debut single. It spent five weeks at number one, knocking Michael Jackson's 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough' from the top slot to get there. This performance is introduced by TV presenter Roger Gascoigne and features a guest appearance from a disembodied saxophone. But the real showstoppers are Stevens' trousers which appear to have been sprayed on and, surely set more than a few fans' hearts aflutter.  

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Be Mine Tonight

Music Video, 1979 (Pop, Rock)

After three years of playing live, Th’ Dudes began their recording career with this classic, chiming piece of pop from the pens of Dave Dobbyn and Ian Morris. The video was made at TVNZ’s Christchurch Manchester Street Studios. With Dobbyn taking the main vocal, there was no onstage role for Peter Urlich — so he sat dissolutely at a table in the foreground of the empty nightclub set. ‘Be Mine Tonight’ went on to win Single of the Year at the NZ Music Awards, and become an enduring Kiwi classic — three decades later, it closed out the final episode of Outrageous Fortune.

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Billy Bold

Music Video, 1981 (Rock)

Probably Graham Brazier's best-known track as a solo artist, 'Billy Bold' didn’t garner much radio play when released in 1981, but would go on to become a staple of Hello Sailor live sets. First appearing on Graham Brazier’s first solo album Inside Out, the ballad is based on the infamous 1981 riots in Toxteth, Liverpool. The song came to Brazier in a dream; he was drawn to the topic because his working class father came from Liverpool.

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Don't Fight it Marsha, It's Bigger Than Both of Us

Music Video, 1981 (Pop, Rock)

Blam Blam Blam’s second hit from 1981 was angular and artsy, hook-filled but unsettling: all qualities captured in a theatrical video, directed by Andrew Shaw. Clowns, magicians, fire-eaters and trick cyclists join the band, while actors play out the saga of ‘Don’t Fight It, Marsha’. The actors — including Phillip Gordon (Came a Hot Friday), Michael Hurst and Donogh Rees (Constance) — were directed by Harry Sinclair, who would later join Blam band member Don McGlashan in The Front Lawn. The Len Lye-style scratch effects were by Jenny Pullar, the Blams’ lighting designer.

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One Step Ahead

Music Video, 1980 (Pop)

After Neil Finn-penned single ‘I Got You’ took Split Enz to number one, another Neil Finn song was chosen to announce follow-up album Waiata (aka Corroboree). The video  which screened in the early days of music channel MTV  is surprisingly understated, while retaining touches of familiar Enz weirdness. After walking past coloured silhouettes of the rest of the band, Neil arrives on a set designed on a theme of black, etched with lines of colour. Tim mimes enthusiasm while sitting on the floor, keyboardist Eddie Rayner moonwalks, and the Enz step on out of there. 

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See Me Go

Music Video, 1981 (Pop)

Auckland band The Screaming Meemees shared a 45 with The Newmatics before releasing this infectious ska-pop number which became an 80s classic. In August 1981 it was the first single to enter the NZ Top 20 at No.1 and they were rewarded with a breakneck trip to Wellington for a TVNZ video made at the Avalon Studios. More produced than many early 80s Avalon clips, it comes complete with masks, white roses, pooled water and a stained glass window (perhaps inspired by reports that the ex-Catholic school boys based their early songwriting on hymns).

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One Good Reason

Music Video, 1979 (Pop, Rock)

The Swingers have long been umbilically tied to one song, 1981 chart-topper 'Counting the Beat’. But the band's debut single makes clear that their gift for percussive pop was there from the beginning. The video for ‘One Good Reason’ sees the trio getting down to it in their union jack-emblazoned shirts; the lyrics channel the same kind of sexual frustration as Stones classic ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. The result is surely in the same realm of catchy. After reaching number 19 in NZ, ‘One Good Reason’ featured in Aussie film Starstruck and was covered by Strawpeople.

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Riot Squad

Music Video, 1981 (Rock, Soul)

This song is from New Zealand’s troubled winter of 1981. The Springbok Tour gave the term “riot squad” currency throughout the country — but the Auckland live music scene and the police were already enduring a very fraught relationship. This number from Auckland ska/soul band The Newmatics, released on the band’s Broadcast OR double 7" EP, was actually written about a 1980 police raid on XS Cafe in Airedale Street. The Keystone Cops music video is classic early 80s TVNZ Avalon and features actors Ross Jolly and Michael Wilson as two thirds of the 'blue shadow'.

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There is No Depression in New Zealand

Music Video, 1981 (Pop, Alternative)

This classic alternative national anthem by Auckland post-punk trio Blam Blam Blam became a theme song for New Zealand’s long, troubled winter of 1981 as the country was wracked by social and political division and the Springbok Tour. Poet and playwright Richard von Sturmer wrote the lyrics while the music was by Blams member Don McGlashan. The video features a band performance shot on the roof of TVNZ’s Shortland Street studios and shows a curious penchant for celebrity lawn mowing. The performing Marmite and Vegemite jars are, however, the real deal.