Tomorrow night’s episode of TV3 drama Westside is set in 1977 and features a fictional version of legendary New Zealand rock band Hello Sailor. NZ On Screen Content Director Irene Gardiner looks back at the band’s greatest hits.
Hello Sailor are in their 40th anniversary year and still in the news - their 1977 track Watch Your Back is the new drama Westside's theme song, and a fictional version of the band (including Gabriel McArtney playing his late father Dave) will appear in tomorrow night's episode of the show.
The band's association with Westside began with their song Gutter Black being used as the theme for the original series Outrageous Fortune, bringing a new generation of fans to the 1977 hit that has become a Kiwi anthem. Gutter Black was the first single from the band's self-titled debut album. Dave McArtney performs it for the TVNZ cameras in this live clip.
See Gutter Black here:
Hello Sailor's second Top 20 single of 1977 was Graham Brazier's Blue Lady, a last minute addition to the debut album, that has also gone on to become a New Zealand classic. The song was once considered as a possible theme song for an Australian police TV drama series, but it would have been an odd choice, as this "Blue Lady" came from the wrong side of the tracks: it was junkie slang for a hypodermic syringe. This performance of the song was recorded by in Christchurch at the Civic Theatre in Manchester Street.
View Blue Lady here:
As if having the two enduring classics Gutter Black and Blue Lady both on your debut album wasn't enough, the "Hello Sailor" album also spawned the Harry Lyon hit Lyin' in the Sand.
Inspired by a spontaneous South Pacific parody from Graham Brazier one night, it was written by guitarist Lyon after observing how Takapuna's smart set took their beach for granted. This clip was also recorded in Christchurch, just before the band departed for LA back in 1978.
Watch Lyin' in the Sand here:
Not so well known in its time, but getting a new lease of life now as the theme song for Westside is Watch Your Back, also a track from the band's debut album. Taken from chart show Ready to Roll, this performance sees Graham Brazier and band talking tough in leather about danger on the streets, and "nights like a razor blade." Harry Lyon snarls over his red guitar, Brazier plays a saxophone with a price tag on it, and Dave McArtney adopts classic bored rocker pose.
From 1981, Billy Bold was originally a Graham Brazier single (from his debut solo album Inside Out) but the stirring ballad has gone on to become a standout of the Hello Sailor live set. The song is based on the 1981 riots in Toxteth, Liverpool. Brazier explained that he was drawn to the topic because his family comes from Liverpool. "I had a dream and woke up with Billy Bold in my head," he told music writer Graham Reid in 2004. "I picked up the guitar, no pen and paper, and it just came. It was like channelling."
For a more comprehensive look at Hello Sailor, check out NZ On Screen's Spotlight collection here.