Fly the flag

Very briefly something strange happened in the album charts in New Zealand in 1982.  Let’s watch it happen. 

The week before it happened:

If you’re not from New Zealand then there is a chance you think I’m going to make fun of DD Smash and their album Cool Bananas, but this is not going to happen because DD Smash were awesome.

Elton John Jump Up!  Now there’s something to make fun of (I have already, here).  By far the most risible though has to be the number four and number five double whammy of pap.  On the other hand, when you’re trawling youtube to find something to mock Kamahl with you might find this and see him in a whole new light:

So.  Are you ready?  Here it is.  The week I was talking about:

I know, right?  AMAZING.

Translation for rest of planet: the top three places on the album chart in New Zealand on the 2 May, 1982 are held by New Zealand or Australian bands.

Explanatory notes for people living in Britain or the USA: until some time in the mid 90s mainstream New Zealanders didn’t really like New Zealand music.  In Britain and the USA you are used to having music from your own country all over the charts.  In New Zealand we are not.  Aside from the fact we are too small to have enough quantity to fill up the charts, we also suffered from cultural cringe.  Mostly we thought of New Zealand music as being worse than British and American.  Which, to be frank, it often was – it wasn’t all the fault of New Zealand public – but sometimes it wasn’t, sometimes it was really, really good, and just needed a little love.

This chart then is a really remarkable feat.

It didn’t last.  One week later we have this:

Richard F&%king Clayderman as I like to call him.  Man he was popular with middle-aged New Zealanders in the early 80s.

Split Enz were a very good band and (for the three people who don’t know) had Tim and Neil Finn in its final line up.  Neil, of course, went on to Crowded House, but Tim has also made a lot of good music since.  Actually all the tracks I like on Time and Tide are either by Tim or the band rather than by solo Neil.

I’m not sure which track to play for Split Enz.  Six Months in a Leaky Boat is pretty fantastic, but I have always loved Dirty Creature.  Mental illness sounds great with a good bass line.

Cool Bananas is harder to get a video for.  The only things I can find have a very low volume, and the big song from this album – Devil You Know – really needs to be played loud. 

Dave Dobbyn (the DD in DD Smash) really deserved fame outside of Australasia.  Such a fantastic musician (well, until he stopped drinking).  Totally implausible as a rock star.  I mean, check out this outfit from the Radio With Pictures gig:

I can’t tell you how cool Adidas, stirrup leg pants were in New Zealand at this time.  Dave would have been rocking it a bit more if his pants had been black.  (Incidentally, I am aware of how funny the phrase “stirrup leg pants” sounds in England).

Dave was never a man who was ever going to rival Elvis, for example,  in the sex-appeal-o-meter stakes and, as we have seen, he wasn’t a snappy dresser, but he wrote great songs and, at this point in his career, there was a lot of fantastic stuff to come.

Maybe, then, we’ll save a Dobbyn clip for a little later.

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7 thoughts on “Fly the flag

  1. Hehe OMG the Eighties. That video! Is it me or was the common trope that they had a conga line of weird dancing dudes playing instruments (like the House Martins and Fine Young Cannibals for example) and someone was always wearing a bad coat which was probably really expensive at the time? Love the Morten Harket hair on the lead singer 🙂

  2. I think you might be right. Fashion is just a cycle then. A stopped clock is right twice a day.

  3. Definitely. Conga line. A way to get the whole band into the video without them being too boring? Tim has always had a fine head of hair, and is getting better looking with age. I feel that Morten modelled himself on Tim but I have no evidence of this.

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