Dave Dobbyn - The Troubadour

Singer-songwriter Dave Dobbyn — currently touring New Zealand — is one of the country's most loved, respected and awarded musicians. This Spotlight collection celebrates Dobbyn’s career on screen: from Th' Dudes, and DD Smash to going solo, and the songs that are part of the national soundtrack — from drinking odes ('Bliss'), OE anthems ('Welcome Home'), stadium singalongs ('Slice of Heaven') and America’s Cup shanties ('Loyal') to laments and ballads.

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Be Mine Tonight

Music Video, 1979 (Pop, Rock)

After three years of playing live, the first single from Th’ Dudes was this classic, chiming piece of pop written by Dave Dobbyn. The video was made at TVNZ’s Manchester St Studios in Christchurch. With Dobbyn taking lead vocal, there was no onstage role for Peter Urlich — so he sits at a table in the foreground of the empty nightclub set. Assistant floor manager Peter Bain-Hogg plucked a passerby off the street to play the waitress. The song would become an enduring Kiwi classic — three decades later, it closed out the final episode of Outrageous Fortune.

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Welcome Home

Music Video, 2005 (Pop)

A heartwarming tribute to the spirit of togetherness, this clip by Tim Groenendaal is a celebration of Aotearoa's many colours. Fork lift drivers, bank tellers, dairy owners and Ahmed Zaoui lend weight to the central theme: "We come from everywhere. Speak Peace and Welcome Home. Dave." Taken from 2005 album Available Light, Dave Dobbyn's paean to home has become the unofficial anthem of wistful expat Kiwis everywhere.

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Dave Dobbyn in Concert

Television, 1994 (Documentary, Music)

Dave Dobbyn in Concert is weighed strongly towards songs from Twist, the 1994 album that NZ Herald writer Graham Reid described as "breathtaking in its daring, ambition and reach". Dobbyn performs alongside a band which includes Twist producer Neil Finn. Although the offkilter soundscapes of the album are necessarily cut back on stage, Twist's strong musical bones remain clear. 'It Dawned on Me' showcases the curly-haired one in especially fine voice, while hit single 'Language' works wonders when stripped back to Dobbyn, Finn and twin acoustic guitars.

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Outlook for Thursday

Music Video, 1983 (Pop)

This weather-themed Kiwi classic spent 21 weeks in the charts, and became one of DD Smash's biggest hits. The quirky, light-hearted video was played repeatedly on Saturday chart show Ready to Roll, and won Best Music Video at the 1983 New Zealand Music Awards. It was directed by a young Andrew Shaw (of Hey Hey It’s Andy fame, later an executive at TVNZ). DD Smash singer/songwriter Dave Dobbyn hams it up in Adidas tracksuit and yellow raincoat, while drummer (and 1980s heartthrob) Peter 'Rooda' Warren appears in his speedos.

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Whaling

Music Video, 1984 (Pop)

Dave Dobbyn and his DD Smash sidekick Peter "Rooda" Warren play dress-ups in this Aussie-made music video for the Kiwi classic. A skylarking Dobbyn gets to be a TV journalist, a filmmaker, and even a vicar; but it is heart-throb of the day Warren who bares his chest (and budgie-smugglers) as he is strapped into a sexy speed-racer jump suit. 80s big hair and make-up abound. What the Duran Duran-esque shenanigans have to do with the wistful sea shanty-style song is anyone's guess. Warren's model girlfriend of the time Debra Mains also makes an appearance.

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Loyal

Music Video, 1988 (Pop)

This is a cleverly-choreographed one shot video for the Kiwi classic written by Dobbyn when based in Sydney. (Even if it's debatable whether the moving house/moving on imagery actually suits the lyrics of the song.) Dobbyn's jersey and his video girl's entire get-up firmly date-stamp the romance and real estate story in the 80s, but the song has outlasted the knitwear: In 2001 APRA members voted it the third-best New Zealand song of the 20th Century. Loyal was later used by Team New Zealand as its campaign song for its 2002 defence of the America’s Cup.  

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Oughta Be in Love

Music Video, 1986 (Pop)

The Footrot Flats soundtrack marked Dave Dobbyn's first steps as a solo artist. Inspired by his love of 50s crooners, 'Oughta be in Love' accompanied Wal Footrot's wooing of Cheeky Hobson (but sung, perhaps mercifully, by Dobbyn and not Footrot's voice, John Clarke). The video shows Dobbyn hard at work as a jobbing soundtrack composer on a song that has taken on a life of its own. Winner of a Silver Scroll and Single of the Year, it has become a Dobbyn classic and perennial wedding favourite (even gracing Hayden and Loretta's nuptials in Outrageous Fortune).

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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) became one of the great Kiwi drinking songs. It was actually written in Sydney to parody hard-drinking pub crowds; the lyrics namecheck Sydney landmarks (The Coogee, The Cross) and delights unavailable back home (Spanish shoes, falafel). Shot in Wellington's booze barn-like Cricketers’ Arms, the video 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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Language

Music Video, 1994 (Pop)

This clip for Dave Dobbyn's lament about the difficulty of expressing love is a moody mix of colour, black and white, and a blue wash. Directed by Kiwi music video veteran Kerry Brown it cuts together various examples of disconnected and connected folk with a passionate performance from Dobbyn. Robyn Gallagher in her 5000 Ways blog piece on the video muses on the early 90s goatee and wonders: "[but] why dress Dave Dobbyn like a bogan dad?"

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Th' Dudes - Right Second Time

Television, 2007 (Documentary, Music)

In 2006, Th’ Dudes reformed after 26 years. This documentary follows them on a national tour as members Peter Urlich, Dave Dobbyn, Ian Morris, Lez White and Bruce Hambling reflect on their former lives as late 70s pop stars. Encouraged to behave like stars, they didn’t disappoint. There are frank discussions about sex, drugs, an obscene t-shirt, on-stage nudity and other bad behaviour — but also the stories behind classic songs like ‘Bliss’, ‘Right First Time’ and ‘Be Mine Tonight’, which still captivate adoring, if aging, audiences a quarter of a century later.

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Slice of Heaven

Music Video, 1986 (Pop)

The 1986 adaptation of Murray Ball's beloved Footrot Flats comic strip was a huge hit in Aotearoa and Australia. Born from a John Barnett idea, the movie’s trailer doubled as a promo for the Dave Dobbyn-Herbs theme song: one leveraged the other. Directed by cinematographer John Toon (Rain) while the song was being recorded at Wellington's Marmalade Studios, this screened before Crocodile Dundee in Australian cinemas. The single spent four weeks atop the Aussie charts. Back home ‘Slice of Heaven’ was 1986 Song of the Year, and reached unofficial National Anthem status.

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Love You Like I Should

Music Video, 1988 (Pop)

Despite the enduring success of the title track, ‘Love You Like I Should’ was the big hit from Dave Dobbyn’s first solo album Loyal. It’s an upbeat rocker complete with horns which Dobbyn has described as a “rant”. The lyrics echo the album’s themes of love and loyalty but the message of defiance to the “powers that be” seems to hark back to the messy, failed prosecution he faced after the Queen Street riot. The video captures the energy of song and performance as Dobbyn confronts the camera and backing singer Margaret Urlich models her gaucho look.

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Dreams Lie Deeper

Television, 2014 (Documentary, Music)

In November 2010, 29 miners died in the Pike River disaster. In 2014 Wellington’s Orpheus Choir invited singer Dave Dobbyn to compose a musical tribute to the victims. Dreams Lie Deeper followed Dobbyn to Greymouth to meet with mourning families, and visit the mine. This excerpt shows the premiere of Dobbyn's song ‘This Love’ in Wellington on 10 May 2014, to a standing ovation. The film screened on TV One on the fourth anniversary of the disaster. Sunday Star Times critic Grant Smithies called it “one hell of a documentary. Raw, touching and blessedly unsentimental.” 

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Homegrown Profiles: Dave Dobbyn

Television, 2005 (Documentary, Music)

This episode of C4's music series Homegrown Profiles looks at the 30 year career of singer/songwriter Dave Dobbyn, whose songs are mainstays of the Aotearoa soundscape. Dobbyn talks about nerve-wracking early days with th' Dudes, where the name for band DD Smash originated, and his long solo career. In a wide-ranging and thoughtful interview, Dobbyn discusses the highs and lows of a life in music, including the mayhem and causes of the 1984 Aotea Square riot, being told his best album was unreleasable, and the satisfaction of writing the Footrot Flats soundtrack.

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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’. Music videos for both songs were shot in a day at TVNZ’s Christchurch studios,  in the era before the music video boom – back when, as Dave Dobbyn puts it, “the state made your videos”. A relatively straightforward performance piece, with some outsized masks for 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 strange spot on his forehead, before managing a manic stare.

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Intrepid Journeys - Morocco (Dave Dobbyn)

Television, 2005 (Travel, Popular Factual, Reality TV)

In this full-length episode of Intrepid Journeys, Dave Dobbyn arrives in the Kingdom of Morocco, and finds himself bowled over by the sites, sounds, the sense of living history, the friendly people — and the sugar-heavy local tea. Uplifted to heights both spiritual and comedic, he wanders the world's largest medieval city, in Fez; visits Hassan ll Mosque in Casablanca, one of the world's largest, and finds himself donning a British accent as he starts a camel trek in the Sahara. From Casablanca to Marrakesh, the journey offers Dobbyn a sense of delight and creative renewal.