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Favourite Five: Straitjacket Fits Songs

Out of the indie guitar bands that emerged from Dunedin’s Flying Nun label in the 1980s, Straitjacket Fits were the most likely to break through outside of New Zealand to a mass audience. The group was based around two vocalists and songwriters who were an unlikely combination but who complemented each other beautifully – Shayne Carter’s songs were driving and anguished, while Andrew Brough played chiming guitar and sang beautifully. While other Flying Nun bands were low key, Straitjacket Fits sounded huge and sexy.

Sometimes it’s a cliche to claim that a band peaked early, but in this case Straitjacket Fits never topped their debut EP, 1987’s Life In One Chord, and the Carter-Brough partnership only lasted two albums before Brough left the band. Straitjacket Fits weren’t a great album band, although 1990’s Melt is a strong effort. Their legacy is mostly a handful of excellent individual songs – here are five of my favourites.

She Speeds

From Life In One Chord EP (1987)
Carter’s ‘She Speeds’ is the best remembered Fits song, placing as the 9th best New Zealand song of the 20th century. The song lurches from terse verses to a huge, harmony laden chorus.

Sparkle That Shines

From Life In One Chord EP (1987)
Brough’s ‘Sparkle That Shines’ has more than a touch of The Smiths about it – the guitars jangle and Brough’s warm voice recalls Morrissey.

Dialling A Prayer

From Life In One Chord EP (1987)
Again Carter uses terse verses and a big, harmony-stacked chorus.

Down In Splendour

From Melt (1990)
Brough fronts one of the lighter, poppier songs from the group, although Carter’s stinging guitar solo adds some bite.

Burn It Up

From Blow (1993)
Straitjacket Fits’ final album is their least interesting, without Brough’s input, but Carter’s driving ‘Burn It Up’ is a fine rock song.

After Straitjacket Fits Carter formed the more laid back Dimmer, while Brough released one album of guitar pop as Bike.

3 thoughts on “Favourite Five: Straitjacket Fits Songs Leave a comment

    • Cool – I’m very fond of their best songs. I guess they would have got a little bit of traction in the UK and USA at the time, but probably never got beyond critics favourite kind of status.


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