The Spines

Wellington group who had a sort of angular approach to some of their music, ska like, but also had an appealing dark edge. They released the impressive fishing 7″ EP on Ripper records. This was followed by another couple of singles then a lack lustre album on Flying Nun. The bands main man was guitarist/singer John Mcleary who wrote all the songs (along with Ross Elliot, Wendy Margaret Calder, Neill John Duncan, Gregory Brice and Ross Burge).

In their early stages the band featured the brilliant drumming skills of Caroline Easther who was later replaced and the band became more technical and less moody in their songs and delivery. Live the band had an intensity about them, but there was something very wellington about them that surfaced every once in a while. that quirky ska thing perhaps.
-Rob Mayes

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Fishing Ep [1982 Ripper Rip021]
  • ‘Punch’/’Your Body Stays’ 12″ Single [1982 Ripper Rpi025]
  • Act Your Age Ep [1984 Jayrem Jay116]
  • The Moon [1984 Jayrem Jay316]
  • Idiot Sun 12″ Ep [1986 Flying Nun Fn072]
  • The Spines [Unissued]


Beat Rhythm Fashion


Fashionable Wellington-based post-punk from the early 1980’s that featured Caroline Easther (The Chills, Verlaines, Spines etc), but formed by British ex-pat brothers Nino and Dan Birch.

Initially formed as a studio-based outfit in august 1980, and heavily indebted to the sound of the Cure, the Birch brothers had been around the Terrace scene for a while, playing in both the Westown Quintet and The Mixers.

No Great Oaks 7″ Single

Beat Rhythm Fashion eventually started playing live in 1981, taking their place in a vibrant and expanding scene.

They survived a bit longer than many of the formlative Wellington punk outfits featured on ****, releasing several singles packaged in distinctive 2-color sleeves and were recorded as part of the 4-band live album Wellingtonzone, that marked the debut of the soon-to-be-huge Mockers. The band had more of a pop-friendly new-wave edge than their harder-edge contemporaries, but saw little exposure outside Wellington.

In 2007 Rob Mayes of Failsafe Records finally released Bring Real Freedom – a collection of songs culled from out of print vinyl releases, live recordings and unreleased material as part of his ongoing reissue series.

The group received some retrospective exposure in 2017 thanks to Salmonella Dub – The Christchurch dub group were due to be inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, however they declined involvement after their pick of Beat Rhythm Fashion (as an influencing group) were deemed too obscure.


  • Nino Birch (Guitar/Vocals, 1980 – 1982)
  • Dan Birch (Bass/Vocals/Drums, 1980 – 1982)
  • Glen Stewart (Drums, 1980 – 1981)
  • Caroline Easther  (Drums, 1982)
  • Peter Kaio (Drums, 1982)


  • **** [1980, w/ Life in the Fridge Exists, Wallsockets, Naked Spots DanceSausage]
  • Beings Rest Finally 7″ Single [1981, Bunk, Bunk008]
  • Turn of the Century 7″ Single [1981, Bunk, Bunk012]
  • No Great Oaks 7″ Single [1981, Epic, ES751]
  • Bring Real Freedom [2007, Failsafe Records]



The Body Electric


Pseudo-electro / new-wave outfit known for their bizarre hit ‘Pulsing‘, which comes across as a parody of early electronic bands these days (primarily Kraftwerk and New Order). Created by record impresario Alan Jansson (performing as Alan Jimson).

Actor Garry Smith provided the face and lead vocals of the group, giving an extra-level quirkiness to their look and sound. The Spines bassist Wendy Calder joined the group for their latter releases.


  • Alan Jansson (Guitar/Percussion/Keyboards/Vocals, 1982 – 1983)
  • Andy Craig (Bass/Percussion/Keyboards, 1982 – 1983)
  • Garry Smith (Vocals/Percussion, 1982 – 1983)
  • Tim Barley (Percussion, 1982)
  • Wendy Calder (Bass, 1983)


  • The Body Electric 12″ EP (1982, Jayrem Records, JAY107)
  • Dreaming In A Life 12″ Single (1983, Jayrem Records, JAY113)
  • Imagination 7″ Single (1983, Jayrem Records, JAY703)
  • Pulsing (Dance Mix) 12″ Single (1982, Jayrem Records, JAY117)
  • Presentation and Reality (1983, Jayrem Records, JAY303)