After time in post-punk trio Blam Blam Blam, the unclassifiable The Front Lawn and percussion group From Scratch, Don McGlashan released four studio albums during a decade long run with The Mutton Birds. In the early 2000s he launched his solo career. New songs were performed during Auckland festival AKO3, and McGlashan's first solo album Warm Hand finally emerged in 2006. Follow-up Marvellous Year (2009) — credited to Don McGlashan and the Seven Sisters — featured McGlashan's version of his hit 'Bathe in the River'. For Lucky Stars (2015), he largely abandoned his habit of portraying other characters.
Don McGlashan's lyrics have often told stories. His observational talents are again on display in 2015 single 'Lucky Stars', from his third solo album of the same name. McGlashan captures a small moment in time: an everyday journey in West Auckland becomes an opportunity for reflection, and the conclusions he draws are simple and profound. Ian Hart's video is a diorama; McGlashan stars, but in two dimensional form — cut-out scenes play out against coloured backgrounds, like a children's storybook come to life.
Don McGlashan is renowned for the sense of place in his songs. In 'Bad Blood', the trees along the Shore are turning red and immediately the listener is on the bus on Auckland's North Shore, gazing out the window with him. This video was directed by Aucklander Sally Tran (before she relocated to NYC) and demonstrates her love for textiles and cardboard cut-outs. McGlashan 'appears', but in two dimensions, something repeated in the video for his 2015 track 'Lucky Stars'. 'Bad Blood' reveals a master storyteller at work; the 'stranger' he obsesses about is part of himself.
Directed by dancer turned choreographer Shona McCullagh, this music video features sun-kissed close-ups of singer Don McGlashan, and evocative images of a lone dancer (Rachel Atkinson) floating above an empty road. The ballad marks a rare solo single for McGlashan that was composed by somebody else: Sean James Donnelly (aka SJD). The song featured on McGlashan's first solo album Warm Hand (2006). It was later included on the soundtracks of Kiwi feature films Out of the Blue and The Tattooist, and an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 remake 90210.
Don McGlashan has won the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll award twice. In 2006 Miracle Sun gained him another nomination. McGlashan's lyrics evoke a mythical summer and directly reference Opo, the 'friendly' dolphin whose visits to Opononi in the mid 1950s became the stuff of Kiwi legend. The song's sweeping chorus is bittersweet, and a lap steel guitar adds a slightly mournful tone. The black and white video mixes National Film Unit footage of Opo charming holidaymakers, with shots of McGlashan and his band heading to the Hokianga and playing a gig for locals.