Hello Sailor

Hello Sailor was a New Zealander rock band that released the 1977–78 albums Hello Sailor and Pacifica Amour on Key Records and scored national hits with “Gutter Back” and “Blue Lady.” They regrouped for the 1986 Zulu Records release Shipshape and Bristol Fashion.

Members: Graham Brazier (vocals, saxophone, harmonica, guitar), Harry Lyon (guitar, vocals), Dave McArtney (guitar, vocals, 1975-2013), Graeme Turner (drums, 1975-76), Tony McMaster (bass, 1975), Andy McDonald (bass, 1975), Lisle Kinney (bass, 1975-80, 1985-87), Ricky Ball (drums, 1976-80)


Background

Hello Sailor assembled in 1975 when childhood friends Harry Lyon and Dave McArtney, both guitarist–singers, teamed with McArtney’s Auckland University mate, singer–harpist Graham Brazier.

Lyon and McArtney both attended Westlake Boys High School in Auckland, where they played in a school band just as the British Invasion hit the antipodes. They lost touch when McArtney (b. April 5, 1951) moved with his family to Wellington. In 1966, Lyon joined The Legends, a North Shore beat group that evolved into the Crying Shame*, which developed a local club audience and appeared on C’Mon, an NZ music program hosted by Peter Sinclair. (*No connection to UK beatsters The Cryin’ Shames or US garage-rockers The Cryan’ Shames.)

In 1970, Lyon reunited with McArtney at Auckland University, where Dave introduced Harry to his flatmate, singer Graham Brazier (b. May 6, 1952), a longtime fan of Kiwi poets (R.A.K. Mason, Rex Fairburn, Kevin Ireland) who fronted Oktober, a University band with bassist Lisle Kinney.

After two years at AU, Lyon and McArtney left college with hopes of music careers. Through a music-paper ad, Lyon joined Christchurch popsters Beam in place of their prior guitarist Phil Whitehead (Human Instinct, Think) for the 1974 single “Freedom” (b/w “Harmony”). Meanwhile, Brazier and McArtney performed Auckland’s dives (Kiwi Tavern, Windsor Castle Tavern) as an acoustic folk duo. After Beam’s collapse, Lyon joined the pair.


Formation

In May 1975, they assembled the first lineup of Hello Sailor, the title of a recent political satire book by Monty Python comedian Eric Idle. With bassist Graeme Turner and drummer Tony McMaster, Hello Sailor hit Auckland’s pub circuit with a setlist half-comprised of originals (a large share for NZ acts of the period).

Hello Sailor emerged as a club draw with a year-long series of events dubbed “Deca Dances.” During their Monday-night Kiwi Tavern residency, they impressed DJ Peter Fyers of Radio 1ZM, who invited them to an in-studio taping. McMaster cleared for Brazier’s Oktober colleague Lisle Kinney, recently of the unsigned Brown Street, a jazz-funk band with singer Kaye Wolfgramm (Fair Sect, Cruise Lane).


First Single

In March 1976, RCA Victor issued two 1ZM tracks as the first Hello Sailor single: “Rum and Coca Cola,” a calypso standard backed with “Casablanca Holiday,” a Brazier original.

A. “Rum and Coca Cola” is a song by Venezuelan pianist Lionel Belasco and Trinidadian singer Rupert Grant (aka Lord Invader); published stateside by lyricists composers Jeri Sullivan and Paul Baron with lyrics by comedic actor Morey Amsterdam (Buddy Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show). The Andrew Sisters popularized “Rum and Coca Cola” with their 1945 version, which spent ten weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.
B. “Casablanca Holiday

Hello Sailor promoted the single with appearances on the NZ pop shows The Grunt Machine and Ready to Roll. In August, they replaced the drug-addled Graeme Turner with drummer Ricky Ball, a veteran of Sixties beatsters The Challenge and it progressive off-shoot Ticket. He recently cut the 1974 single “Doctor Rock and Roll” (b/w “Only You”) with Rainbow (no connection to Ritchie Blackmore’s band).

Hello Sailor embarked on a two-month national tour, followed by a Windsor Castle residency. In April 1977, they signed with Key, the nascent offshoot of Zodiac Records. They completed their first album that autumn and embarked on a ten-week national blitz dubbed the “Rum and Coca Cola” tour.


Hello Sailor

Hello Sailor released their self-titled debut album in November 1977 on Key. It features eleven originals, including “Last Chance to Dance,” “Vermillion,” “Latin Lover,” and the singles “Gutter Black,” “Blue Lady,” and “Lyin’ in the Sand.”

Guitarist–signer Dave McArtney wrote two songs (“Gutter Black,” “All Round This Town”) and co-wrote “Hooked” with singer–saxist Graham Brazier, who co-wrote two songs (“Watch Your Back,” “Big Bump”) with guitarist–singer Harry Lyon, who submitted the tropical album-closer “Lyin’ In the Sand.”

Brazier lone-wrote the remaining tracks, including “Blue Lady,” an effervescent harmony rocker that became Hello Sailor’s biggest hit.

A1. “Gutter Black” (2:55)
A2. “When Your Lights Are Out” (3:42)
A3. “Hooked” (2:50)
A4. “Last Chance to Dance” (3:11)
A5. “All Round This Town” (4:31)

B1. “Blue Lady” (4:05)
B2. “Vermillion” (2:34)
B3. “Watch Your Back” (3:57)
B4. “Big Bump” (3:13)
B5. “Latin Lover” (3:04)
B6. “Lyin’ in the Sand” (2:26)

Recorded At – Stebbing Recording Centre Ltd.
Producer – Rob Aickin
Engineer – Ian Morris
Guest, Keyboards – John Mitchell (tracks: B1, B2)

Photography By [Back Cover Action] – Oliver Strewe
Photography By [Cover Portrait] – Bruce Jarvis
Cover painting title “Tickle Your Fancy”
Photography By [Inner Group] – Son Of Stebbing (Vaughan)

“Gutter Black” (b/w “Latin Lover”) No. 15
“Blue Lady” (b/w “Lucy’s Leaving Home”) No. 13
“Lyin’ In The Sand” (b/w “Hiding Out”) No. 29

Hello Sailor peaked at No. 17 during its eighteen-week run on the New Zealand album chart.


1977–78 Tours

Hello Sailor promoted their album on the North Island pub and university circuit. They started new residency at the Gluepot, a tavern at 340 Ponsonby Road that soon became Auckland’s leading rock venue. In April 1978, they embarked on a national tour.

Mid-year, Hello Sailor cut their second album. Between its completion and release, they flew to Los Angeles, where they took to a red-lit soundstage with “Son of Sam,” an unrecorded song about the recently apprehended New York City serial killer. The video later surfaced on Rock Revolution, a VHS compilation (NTSC region) of new wave-era clips by The Clash, The Jam, Ian Dury, Graham Parker, Lene Lovich, Talking Heads, and The Sex Pistols.

Hello Sailor embarked on a tour of the US, where they vied for a stateside deal and partied off their time and earnings. While there, they linked Dragon, a fellow Kiwi band on a stateside mission. The two bands purportedly fed off mutual excesses and returned home empty-handed.


Pacifica Amour

Hello Sailor released their second album, Pacifica Amour, in December 1978 on Key.

Dave McArtney wrote two songs (“Tube ‘n’ Train,” “Chained All Round”) and co-wrote the single “I’m a Texan” with Graham Brazier, who co-wrote its b-side (“Dr. Jazz”) and the melodic deep cuts “On Parade (For the Hell of It)” and “Blackpool.”

Brazier co-wrote “Do the Silver Jive” with Harry Lyon. Two tracks (“Tears of Blood,” “The Boys In Brazil”) are joint-credited to the three writers.

A1. “Disco’s Dead” (3:20)
A2. “On Parade (For the Hell of It)” (2:36)
A3. “Tube ‘n’ Train” (2:36)
A4. “Tears of Blood” (3:45)
A5. “Chained All Round” (3:22)

B1. “The Boys In Brazil” (3:58)
B2. “Blackpool” (2:26)
B3. “I’m a Texan” (4:16)
B4. “Do the Silver Jive” (3:57)
B5. “Dr Jazz” (2:55)

Recorded At – Stebbing Recording Centre Ltd.
Producer – Rob Aickin
Engineer – Denis Odlin, Ian Morris

Vocals, Guitar – Dave McArtney, Harry Lyon
Vocals, Saxophone, Harmonica, Tambourine – Graham Brazier
Bass – Lisle Kinney
Drums – Rick Ball

Keyboards – Paul Housen
Keyboards, Strings – Peter Woods

Artwork – Peter Adams
Photography By – Ross Hawke

“Disco’s Dead” b/w “The Boy We Used to Know”
“I’m a Texan” b/w “Dr Jazz”


First Breakup

In June 1979, Hello Sailor arrived in Australia and made multiple TV and radio appearances amid a flurry of label hype. They teamed with Dragon and Mi-Sex on the “Kiwis In Concert” tour. After six months, Hello Sailor returned to New Zealand with mounting debt and drug problems.

In January 1980, Hello Sailor played the first annual Sweetwaters Music Festival, a three day farm event (Jan. 26–28) in Ngāruawāhia, Waikato, with sets by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, John Martyn, Renee Geyer, and fellow Kiwi acts Mi-Sex, Split Enz, Swingers, Citizen Band, The Crocodiles, Th’ Dudes, and Toy Love.

On February 23, 1980, Hello Sailor bowed out to a packed house at the Windsor Castle.


Interim

Graham Brazier made his solo debut with the 1980 single “6 Piece Chamber,” an original recorded with Th’ Dudes rhythm section. It appeared as a split single on Ripper Records, an indie launched by Citizen Band bassist Mike Chunn, a founding member of Split Enz. The b-side features “The Instrumental,” performed by A Ripper Bunch of Blokes, an ad hoc group with two current Enz members (Eddie Rayner, Malcolm Green), two former Enz (Chunn, Rob Gillies), Chunn’s Citizen bandmate Greg Clark, and saxist Dave Bowater (ex-Schtung). “The Instrumental” was co-written by Enz frontman Tim Finn and former Enz guitarist Phil Judd (presumably before their falling out in February 1977).

Brazier’s solo album, Inside Out, followed in 1981 on Polydor. “Billy Bold” charted in New Zealand.

Dave McArtney released “Virginia” (b/w “Lonesome Old Star”) and formed Dave McArtney & The Pink Flamingos, whose early lineup featured Ricky Ball. Harry Lyon cut one album with Coup D’Etat, a spin-off of Red Mole.

In 1982, Key and Festival Records (Australia) issued Last Chance to Dance, a six-song Hello Sailor mini-comp with the previously unreleased “Here Comes Johnny.”

Graham formed Brazier’s Legionnaires, which soon included Lyon. When Dragon staged their reunion tour, the Legionnaires served as their opening act, now with McArtney in the lineup.


Discography:

  • Hello Sailor (1977)
  • Pacifica Amour (1978)
  • Shipshape and Bristol Fashion (1986)

Sources:

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