1980: Don't Tell Me from the album Tied to the Tracks
It's a remarkably hard album to track down in New Zealand, but Tied to the Tracks and the single Don't Tell Me are a true mark of Laing's success in Britain. "It was the most professional time for me really, because I had a publishing deal and was being paid to write songs. It was a really good time. And I was playing a 12-string, so they all had slightly different harmonics to the songs before, you know, a high G springs out ... and it gave me a whole lot of new tunes."
The change to 12-string was made after she got a bit angry with her six-string Maton one night. "I murdered it, so I needed a new guitar and my manager gave me 80 quid to go and get another one. I found this old 12-string and fell in love with it."
Despite only having played a 12-string once before, she quickly picked it up sitting at home in her Camden flat, working things out as she went.
"I'd hear all sorts of these different chords in my head but I had to find out how to play them and learn them."
She was soon signed to an EMI for a singles deal, as well. Don't Tell Me was released in 1980, to great response - although in a twist of fate, that didn't translate into sales.
"It was on 'A rotate' on BBC Radio One - you know, being played five times a day - but the EMI factory was on strike so there were no records in shops for people to buy," she smiles. "It was a very British moment."
It did encourage EMI to give her a budget for an album, though, and Tied to the Tracks was recorded over an intense six weeks at Rockfields Studios.
"It's sort of Phil Spector-ish because Bill House, the producer, had worked with Little Richard and Phil Spector and had been very much a protege.
"I remember the Damned were there, recording at the same time as us, and Bill was hanging garlic all over the place to keep the Damned at bay."
It was a rockier outing than Shooting Stars but earned her plenty of new British fans. In fact, Manfred Mann heard Don't Tell Me, and asked Laing to contribute to his record Somewhere in Afrika, which kept her in Britain for the next three years and taught her plenty about the emerging technology of synthesisers and drum machines, which came into play on future albums.
"That was all from working for Manfred. I watched a lot, I kind of don't learn unless I'm hands-on, but I knew how to go about it later when I got home. And there was something that appealed about using machines at that time. It was quite radical, I guess."