NZ on Screen: Five great Don McGlashan moments

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Acclaimed New Zealand musician Don McGlashan celebrates his 55th birthday today. NZ On Screen Content Director Irene Gardiner selects five favourite moments from his long and varied career to mark the day.

Don McGlashan. Photo / Glenn Taylor
Don McGlashan. Photo / Glenn Taylor

Don McGlashan's work turns up in more different sections of NZ On Screen than pretty much any other New Zealander. His rock bands Blam Blam Blam and the Mutton Birds are well represented in our music video section. His music and theatre combo The Front Lawn has short films on the website, and there are a raft of film and television productions on the site that McGlashan composed music for.

So selecting "5 for Don's 55th" isn't an easy task - there's so much to choose from. But it seems fitting to begin with the legendary 1980s band that first brought McGlashan to national attention - Blam Blam Blam.

First up, a song that has become something of an alternative national anthem, There is No Depression in New Zealand. It was released in 1981 as the country was wracked by the social and political division of the Springbok Tour - poet and playwright Richard von Sturmer wrote the lyrics, and the music was McGlashan's.

You can see the music video here:



As if releasing one iconic Kiwi song in 1981 wasn't enough, No Depression was quickly followed by Don't Fight It, Marsha, It's Bigger than Both of Us. The song stands the test of time a little better than the music video does, but it's a great who's who of young actors of the time - Michael Hurst, Donogh Rees and Phillip Gordon all feature.

You can see it here:



And the songs that became like anthems for New Zealand audiences didn't stop there. In the 1990s, McGlashan was writing more classics with his new band The Mutton Birds. First off the block, was Dominion Road in 1992. McGlashan's imagined back story for a man he watched from a bus window one day - a resident of the fabled "half way house, half way down Dominion Road" - is a tale of loss and redemption set on one of Auckland's busiest roads.

Fane Flaws directed the music video, and you can see it here:



The Mutton Birds' Anchor Me in 1995 won McGlashan his first APRA Silver Scroll and became yet another Kiwi classic with a life of its own. It was used in the soundtrack of a short film (Boy), a feature film (Perfect Strangers) and given the all star treatment by Greenpeace.

Also directed by Fane Flaws, here is the video:



To finish off our Don McGlashan "5 for 55" - a bit of a change of gears to his Front Lawn days, and their memorable short films. Walkshort, from 1987, has proved an enduring favourite, with its slice of life portrayal of the pedestrians of Auckland's Karangahape Rd. The film features both halves of musical comedy team The Front Lawn (Harry Sinclair and McGlashan) playing all the roles in a range of disguises.

Watch Walkshort here:



You can see a more comprehensive selection of Don McGlashan's work in this NZ On Screen Spotlight collection.

- NZ Herald

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