Let me explain. Y’see, I can’t hide my feelings when I’m writing. If I’m typing away some angry screed, my brow furrows, my lips downturn and my expression matches what’s flowing from my fingers. People walk by my office, peek inside and say things like, “Is everything okay? You look really mad.”
“No, just writing!” Let’s just say I suck at poker.
I bring this up because right now I have a big goofy grin on my face because I love Swingers and I adore their two singles.
Swingers formed after vocalist Phil Judd left Split Enz in the late ’70s. Judd puttered about New Zealand with a punk band called Suburban Reptiles until they broke up. Taking the Reptiles’ bassist and drummer, the trio became Swingers and in 1980 recorded their first single, “One Good Reason”. Now, before you read any further, take a listen to “One Good Reason”. G’head. Trust me here.
Is there a big goofy grin on your face now, too? How great is that song? Sorry I’m all gushy, but that’s truly one of the great lost singles of the ’80s, crammed with hooks, humor, angular guitars, falsetto backing vox, just a tidy little encapsulation of what New Wave was all about in under three minutes.
“One Good Reason” cracked the New Zealand Top 40, but didn’t do much anywhere else. That would change with Swingers’ next single, the equally infectious “Counting The Beat”. “Beat” took off like a rocket, hitting number one in Australia and helping the band get a gig in the movie “Starstruck”, which apparently is some sort of cult hit, though I’ve never seen it. Here’s a clip from the flick of Swingers performing “One Good Reason” – pay attention to the jerky, quirky New Wave choreography:
And while we’re at it, here’s the video for “Counting the Beat” that got a bit of MTV play in ’82:
An American compilation called “Counting the Beat” was released that same year – it consisted of Swingers’ sole LP, “Practical Jokers” with “One Good Reason” added. Unfortunately, the band was unable to translate their Australian/NZ success to these shores, or replicate it down under, either, so they split up soon after. Judd went on to score movies and record solo works, while bass player Dwayne “Bones” Hillman joined a little band called Midnight Oil that made a fair amount of noise.
What they left was a decent album with two fantastic singles that sound as immediate and fresh today as they did in ’80 and ’82. Some smart hipster band with asymmetrical haircuts and a Misshapes pedigree could totally rip them off and hit big today. Please credit Lost in the ’80s when doing so, thanks.
“One Good Reason” did not chart.
“Counting The Beat” peaked #45 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart in 1982.