1992: Mercy of Love from the album New on Earth

The interest Laing had generated in the US during her South period was enough to garner a record deal with Atlantic Records. It seemed like a dream come true, and saw Laing heading back to London to record a new album.

"I'd just stopped drinking at the time so I was at a bit of a loose end when I got home from the studio each night, and so I just used to write and play. Mercy of Love and Thief to Silver were written about the same time, over a period of about four weeks. And Mercy of Love was one of those, where I was playing the first chord and then my finger slipped, so that was my second chord, and I was away."

Unfortunately, halfway through recording, with six tracks done, Atlantic pulled the plug. Laing had been rapt with their progress and had no idea what the problem was.

"I couldn't get anyone on the phone. I booked a flight to New York and tried to talk to them about it, and it still didn't happen. So I went and stayed with a mate in California, in order to try and figure out what to do next. And they weren't gonna let me work.

Advertisement

"So Michael Glading, at Sony here in New Zealand, and Paul Ellis who was managing me, they bailed me out. And we got Pete Smith down to New Zealand from London and finished the record here."

Despite the setbacks, New on Earth turned out to be a brilliant album and Mercy of Love won Laing her second Silver Scroll Award (Soviet Snow won her first, and she remains the only woman to have won two).

"It's the best record I ever made, I don't have any doubt about that. It's the most commercial record, I think. I guess it might not be other people's favourite because it is more commercial, it's less off and running, less weird, much more straightforward rock 'n' roll. But that's what I like about it and that's what I wanted to do."

Laing went on to release two more albums with Sony - the slightly more melancholy Shona in 1994 and her almost "unplugged" album Roadworks in 1997, which presented some older songs and previously unreleased tracks, reworked. And then she had a bit of a break, which lasted longer than she intended.

- TimeOut