Andrew McLennan formed Coconut Rough with Blam Blam Blam guitarist Mark Bell in 1983, fresh from stints on vocals with Pop Mechanix and The Swingers. The band quickly found top five chart success with ‘Sierra Leone’ — its infectious melody made it a classic bit of synth pop. “Sierra Leone, it’s cold in the desert tonight.” But the song's overwhelming popularity became an albatross around the band's neck. In 1986 McLennan rejoined Pop Mechanix; Bell went on to play for Big Sideways and write for NZ Musician.
The synth-pop song was a runaway hit in 1983 and the music video, slick for the time, was one of the first Kiwi videos to use special effects. It’s a little overblown, but so were the song’s lyrics ("so cold in the desert tonight ..."), and the new romantic silliness all works a charm. Great Afro-art house imagery, especially the zebra and tribal masks.