The Tigers: Red Dress (1980)

 |   |  2 min read

The Tigers: Red Dress (1980)

As the Warratahs embark on a 25th anniversary tour, it is timely to look back at this New Zealand band which brought country music into fashionable rock circles, and connected with that mysterious place known to city folk only as "the heartland".

But why not look back further?

Back to a band which had future Warratahs' singer-songwriter Barry Saunders and bassist-songwriter Nick Theobold in its first line-up. And they -- the Tigers -- were a very different sounding group.

The Tigers were the first local band signed to EMI and their debut single Red Dress got very favourable reviews: "One of the few tunes around now that you can sing along to, a very necessary quality in a good pop song" observed Ian Stuart.

They played around Wellington then took to the road hitting high schools ("We go down best with kids," Saunders told Salient magazine. "The single could be around the 13-year old age group") and to fill out their set of originals they played covers of Southside Johnny songs, the old hit North to Alaska and . . . Paul Anka?

They toured with Jon English and Baxter Funt (you can look them up), Saunders admitted "there's nothing we'd like more than to have a top 10 hit" (an unfashionable position to adopt in the post-punk New Wave era) but the single stalled at 28 on the charts.

tigersMore singles followed this one (All Night, recorded in Sydney), another future Warratah Wayne Mason (formerly of Fourmyula) joined the line-up, an EP appeared in a slightly risque cover (with Red Dress on it), there was an album in the works and . . .

My story runs out at this point, and I think the Tigers did too.

Not for want of trying on their part though. They toured everywhere from Invercargill to the Te Kuiti community hall.

But Saunders was a pragmatist.

"We have to get into the habit of looking at ourselves as others see us," he told Rip It Up. "You might be playing in front of 200 people at Kawerau and think you're John Lennon. But you're not, and there's a million people in the world doing the same as you."

True, in so many ways . . . and listening to the chugging powered-back pop of  Red Dress now you can hear why so many people, reviewers too, liked it. It was catchy and memorable. But at the time a million other people were doing the same.

Now, the Warratahs however.

When they arrived in the mid- late Eighties there were not a lot of people doing that.

Or even now. But them . . . again.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

James Darren: Goodbye Cruel World (1961)

James Darren: Goodbye Cruel World (1961)

One of the most popular shows on American television in the late Fifites/early Sixties was the Donna Reed Show, a middle-class family of mum (attractive and smart Donna Reed) the doctor dad... > Read more

Texas Jim Robertson: The Last Page of Mein Kampf (1946)

Texas Jim Robertson: The Last Page of Mein Kampf (1946)

Texas-born Jim Robertson was one of those who sang about the Second World War and knew what he was talking about. No stay-at-home, when he was rejected by the army he enlisted in the marines and... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE PRE-HISTORY OF SKIFFLE (2017): On the origin of a short-lived species

THE PRE-HISTORY OF SKIFFLE (2017): On the origin of a short-lived species

As with so many historic moments, at the time it was mundane . . . but became culture changing. This one was something as ordinary as this . . .  By all accounts July 6, 1957 was an... > Read more

Wynton Marsalis: He and She (Blue Note/EMI)

Wynton Marsalis: He and She (Blue Note/EMI)

It must be difficult being Wynton Marsalis, having done it all (at least if you consider "all" being going backwards through jazz pre-Sixties and bringing the music to the current... > Read more