Plucky South Islanders In Battle

May 19, 2014
1 min read

newz1In honour of NZ Music Month, Gary Steel climbs into the crumbling catacombs of his back catalogue, and disinters a different story Every Day In May (EDIM). Today’s piece comes from a pre-Flying Nun South Island: my review of a seemingly completely forgotten album by a seemingly forgotten band called The Newz, published in the Evening Post, 19 July, 1980. I’ve still got this album. It’s alright.


Note: If anyone can shed any light on this band, I’d be glad to hear it. Hey, they were probably abominable, and I’m probably wrong. But I did haul this vinyl out of the collection not so long ago, gave it a good spin, and it sounded okay. Maybe I have a reasonable tolerance for pub-rock ‘new wave’ bands. Bizarre that is was released on the cheapo Music World label! How did that happen?


IT SEEMS POINTLESS to bitch about regionalism in local music when it’s for the good of the whole to avoid factions, but South Island talent loses out every time.

And here at last is a group with enough pluck to combat Wellington and Auckland predominance.

The Newz have recorded their debut album in hometown Christchurch in an eight-track studio. Theirs is the first such album to be recorded in the South Island, and there is no distinct loss of fidelity over other New Zealand recordings.

The Newz (formerly Bon Marche and Bon Who?) debut comes complete with a set of snappy tunes dressed in new wave fashion, most displaying a satirical bent.

They are essentially an old-fashioned New Zealand pop-rock band, but their new-wave gestures present a group simply keeping up with their peers.

newz2‘Heard The News’ (Music World) is a solid, dependable debut. It’s full of catchy tunes, the opening ‘Europe’ typifiying the new wave pop offerings to be found on the album. The single, ‘Accident Prone’, unfortunately comes across too much like a lightweight Talking Heads. But the rest is the best.

The most definite satirical numbers are the most enjoyable, with ‘I (Still) Want To Be An Arab’ the standout – really a harmless bit of fluff, but great party music.

‘Stuttgart Turnabout’ is the most upbeat, nasty rocking number and a fitting finish, though it’s still blessed with a catchy chorus. I’m sure all of us bohemians can identify with ‘Sunday’, a moan about lack of things to do on that most sacred of days.

The best track, though, is also the most serious, ‘Hole In My Heart’. Derivative vocally of Police, this melancholy ditty boasts an affecting chorus but an unfortunately messy performance.

Special mention must go to Simon Darke, who on record, minus zany stage charisma, comes across as an exceptional vocalist, husky-voiced but adaptable. GARY STEEL

Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here


  1. This band was undoubtedly the best in Christchurch in the late 70s early 80s pub scene. Great line up, quality musicians and a top front man in Simon Darke. Missed the reunion a year or so ago, but the feedback was brilliant!

  2. What a great find!
    I was the cameraman on the Newz Accident Prone clip and where I first met Dave Comer the stills photographer who later went on to work on Lord of the Rings and Hobbitt series. He just passed away this week.
    Good memories.

  3. I can recall many Saturday afternoons at the Aranui listening to this band, Simon had the coolest KOMBI van , my friends and I all had mk3 Zephyrs or similar clots of parties and great times

  4. This album was produced by my father, Eric Johns (Rasmussen). My uncle Bryan was the bassist and that’s my mother (Bryan’s sister, Emma) on the cover.

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