The Mutton Birds

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The Mutton Birds
Origin Auckland, New Zealand
Years active1991–2002
Labels EMI
Virgin Records
Past members Don McGlashan
Ross Burge
David Long
Chris Sheehan
Alan Gregg
Tony Fisher
Andrew Claridge
Matthew Bannister

The Mutton Birds was a band from New Zealand formed in Auckland in 1991 by Don McGlashan, Ross Burge, Alan Gregg and David Long. [1]



All three members came into the band with experience: McGlashan came from Blam Blam Blam and The Front Lawn, [1] guitarist Long had played in the Six Volts and Burge had played in the Spines and Sneaky Feelings. Burge was also playing in Dribbling Darts alongside the Mutton Birds. They gained bassist Alan Gregg, also from Dribbling Darts in 1992 and recorded their first self-titled album. It went platinum in New Zealand and gained them notice outside college radio, notably for a cover of Wayne Mason's "Nature" – originally recorded by Mason in 1970 with The Fourmyula and subsequently voted, in 2002, as New Zealand's greatest song of the previous 75 years. The Mutton Birds debut album remained on the charts for over a year.

For their second album, Salty, they signed with EMI Australia. [1] It was self-produced and mixed by Tchad Blake. Again the album went platinum in New Zealand but received little notice beyond Australia and New Zealand.

Their next album, Nature, was a collection of songs from their first two CDs with production assistance from Neil Finn, released by Virgin Records. [1]

Their third proper CD, Envy of Angels, was recorded in Wales and released in 1996 worldwide. [1] It sold typically well in Australia and New Zealand, and sales increased from those of Nature in the rest of the world. This year also saw The Mutton Birds' contribution to the soundtrack of Peter Jackson's film The Frighteners with a cover of Blue Öyster Cult's 1976 track, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper". The band now moved to the United Kingdom where they would remain based until 2000. [1]

In 1997, the band played several concert dates in Canada as part of the Another Roadside Attraction festival tour. [2]

As they began touring, David Long quit, replaced by Chris Sheehan. Two self-released CDs followed, Angle of Entry (an acoustic live album) in 1997 and Too Hard Basket (subtitled B-sides and Bastards, it contained various rarities) in 1998 as the band looked for a record company. By 1999, Alan Gregg had decided to leave the band. He was replaced by Tony Fisher for their latest CD, Rain, Steam, and Speed which was also released independently. [1] Another independently released live album ( Live in Manchester ) was issued in time for the 2000 UK tour, during which their line-up was augmented by ex-Garageland guitarist Andrew Claridge. For the following New Zealand tour, Burge and Gregg's former bandmate Matthew Bannister (Sneaky Feelings, Dribbling Darts) augmented the line-up. A greatest hits collection called Flock was released in 2002.

In late October 2011, it was announced that The Mutton Birds would temporarily reunite, to play a series of performances at New Zealand wineries in February and early March 2012. [3]



YearTitleDetailsPeak chart
1992 The Mutton Birds
  • Label: Bag Records (EMI)
  • Catalogue: 8282612
1994 Salty 3
1995 Nature
1996 Envy of Angels
  • Label: EMI
  • Catalogue: 8425842
1997 Angle of Entry
  • Label: Gravy Train Records
  • Catalogue: GRAVY CD1
Too Hard Basket
  • Label:
  • Catalogue: GRAVY CD2
1999 Rain, Steam and Speed 10
2000 Live in Manchester
  • Label: Shhh! Records
2002Flock: The Best of the Mutton Birds30
2012 Free Range: The Mutton Birds Live 2012
  • Label: RNZ

The group have appeared on many compilation albums since their inception in New Zealand. The following list of albums have featured tracks by the Mutton Birds.


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1992 "Dominion Road" 31 The Mutton Birds
"Nature" 4
"Giant Friend" 20
1993 "Your Window" 19
1994 "The Heater" 1 Salty
"In My Room" 14
"Ngaire" 19
"Anchor Me" 10
1996 "She's Been Talking" 19 Envy of Angels
1997 "Come Around" 35
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" The Frighteners soundtrack
1999 "Pulled Along By Love" Rain, Steam, and Speed
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that country.

Related Research Articles

Alan Gregg is a New Zealand musician, originally from Palmerston North, now based in London. Originally a keyboard player, Alan has mainly played Bass Guitar in his professional life. After moving to Auckland, New Zealand, Alan was a member of the Dribbling Darts of Love before joining The Mutton Birds, which he was part of from 1992–1998. In The Mutton Birds he contributed bass, vocals, keyboards and wrote a number of songs. After leaving the Mutton Birds, he acted as a producer and studio and touring musician before recording his first solo album, under the name Marshmallow in 2002. Other musicians on the album included Bic Runga, Ron Sexsmith, and Andrew Claridge.

Blam Blam Blam were a New Zealand pop/rock/alternative band. Tim Mahon (bass) and Mark Bell had been members of The Plague and The Whizz Kids. After losing their drummer Ian Gilroy to The Swingers in 1980, Tim and Mark joined up with Don McGlashan, a multi-instrumentalist who played drums and sang many lead vocals.

Three Leaning Men were a 1980s band from Palmerston North who released one LP called Fun in the Key of E. The band played many support gigs including their debut supporting Sneaky Feelings at the Massey University Social Hall. Also supported Hunters & Collectors, The Chills and New Order. Formed by Lindsay Gregg (guitar), Rhys Bevan (bass) and Nigel Corbett (drums) and joined by second guitarist Greg Malcolm. Rhys Bevan was replaced by Alan Gregg during the recording of the album Fun In The Key Of E. Alan Gregg has gone on to feature in a number of other New Zealand bands including The Dribbling Darts Of Love, The Mutton Birds and Marshmallow. Rhys Bevan moved to the South Island of New Zealand to continue his career as a baker. Guitarist Lindsay Gregg died in 2011.

Ross Elliott Burge is a New Zealand musician, who started playing drums with the Nelson College rock band Mandias in 1973. He decided that this was to be the life for him, and called the NZPO to ensure back-up. He has since played drums for bands and artists such as, and in roughly chronological order:- Andy Anderson's express, Rodger Fox Big Band, Sharon O'Neill, Jon Stevens, The Scouts, Two Armed Men, Spines, Sneaky Feelings, The Happ'ng Thang (Australia), The Mutton Birds, Bic Runga, Rick Bryant, Windy City Strugglers, Tim Finn, The Finn Brothers, Dave Dobbyn and Anika Moa.Hamish Gunn [ guitar and vocals in Mandias, Golden Horn Sound Company Band sponsored “Lady and BackBone” ].

Sneaky Feelings is a New Zealand pop/rock band, led by Matthew Bannister, which releases on NZ's Flying Nun Records music label. Formed in 1981 with the line-up of Bannister, David Pine, Kat Tyrie and Martin Durrant, Tyrie was replaced by Kelcher in 1983. Durrant was temporarily replaced by Ross Burge from 1988-1992 but later returned, maintaining the line up of Bannister, Pine, Kelcher and Durrant which continues.

Don McGlashan musician, songwriter

Donald "Don" McGlashan is a New Zealand composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist who Is best known for inclusion in the bands Blam Blam Blam, The Front Lawn, and The Mutton Birds, before going solo. He has also composed for cinema and television. Among other instruments, McGlashan has played guitar, drums, euphonium and French horn.

Matthew Bannister (musician) New Zealand musician, journalist and academic

Matthew Bannister is a Scottish-born New Zealand musician, journalist, and academic. Originally from Dunblane in Scotland he moved to New Zealand with his family when he was 17.

Dribbling Darts were a New Zealand band based in Auckland which existed from 1989 to 1993. The name is a quote from William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act I, Scene III: "Believe not that the dribbling dart of love...".

Anchor Me (The Mutton Birds song) The Mutton Birds song

"Anchor Me" is a 1994 single by New Zealand rock band The Mutton Birds. The song peaked at #10 in the New Zealand singles chart, and charted for nine weeks. The song was from the group's 1993 album Salty, with three other album tracks used on the single. "Anchor Me" is a love song, written by the Mutton Birds' lead singer Don McGlashan about his wife.

<i>Twist</i> (album) 1994 studio album by Dave Dobbyn

Twist (1994) is the third solo album by New Zealand singer-songwriter Dave Dobbyn, his first recorded in New Zealand after almost a decade living overseas. It was produced by Neil Finn and featured Finn and two members of The Mutton Birds on guitars, bass and drums, as well as contributions by Tim Finn, Don McGlashan and US record producer Tchad Blake. The album was released in the United States with a slightly altered track listing, and some tracks replaced by songs from his previous album. First single "Language" reached number four on the New Zealand charts.

<i>Envy of Angels</i> 1996 studio album by The Mutton Birds

Envy of Angels is the third album by the New Zealand rock band The Mutton Birds. It was released in 1996.

<i>Rain, Steam and Speed</i> 1999 studio album by The Mutton Birds

Rain, Steam and Speed is the fourth and final studio album by the New Zealand band, The Mutton Birds. It was released in 1999.

<i>Angle of Entry</i> 1997 live album by The Mutton Birds

Angle of Entry is a limited-issue live acoustic album recorded by the Mutton Birds during their 1997 Envy of Angels UK tour and released on their managers' label. It was sold at gigs and over the Internet.

<i>Too Hard Basket</i> 1998 compilation album by The Mutton Birds

Too Hard Basket, subtitled B Sides and Bastards, is a limited release compilation of B-sides and unreleased tracks by the New Zealand band the Mutton Birds. The album was released via the band's website and gig sales.

<i>The Mutton Birds</i> (album) 1992 studio album by The Mutton Birds

The Mutton Birds is the first album by the New Zealand band The Mutton Birds. Released in 1992, it remained on the New Zealand album charts for more than a year and was named Best Album at the 1993 New Zealand Music Awards. It was among the records selected by the author Nick Bollinger for his 2009 book, 100 Essential New Zealand albums.

<i>Salty</i> (album) 1994 studio album by The Mutton Birds

Salty is the second album by the New Zealand rock band The Mutton Birds, released in 1994. Four songs — "The Heater", "Anchor Me", "In My Room" and "Ngaire" — reached the top 20 in the New Zealand singles chart with "The Heater" reaching No.1.

Ivan Zagni is a New Zealand-based musician and composer who has been a member of bands such as Jody Grind, Big Sideways and Avant Garage, and has recorded albums with Aynsley Dunbar, Elton Dean, Don McGlashan and Peter Scholes.

The APRA Top 100 New Zealand Songs of All Time is a selection of New Zealand songs as voted in 2001 by members of the Australasian Performing Right Association. The top 30 of this selection was used to create the Nature's Best CD and the rest of the list for follow up compilations. A similar list was made in Australia of the top 30 Australian songs.

<i>Nature</i> (The Mutton Birds album) 1995 compilation album by The Mutton Birds

Nature is a compilation album by the New Zealand rock band The Mutton Birds. The album, a selection of songs from the band's first two albums, was released in September 1995 in Australia and the UK. Another compilation, Box of Birds, a double CD repackaging of the entire two albums, was released in New Zealand two months later with an almost identical cover. Box of Birds spent three weeks in the New Zealand album charts and peaked at No.42.

<i>Free Range: The Mutton Birds Live 2012</i> 2012 live album by The Mutton Birds

In early 2012 the original line-up of The Mutton Birds reunited after 10 years for a series of concerts in New Zealand. This album 'Free Range – The Mutton Birds Live 2012' is a record of an intimate show at the King's Arms in Auckland.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Nineties Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 278. ISBN   0-7535-0427-8.
  2. "Forget h.o.r.d.e., Lilith Fair and Lollapalooza, Another Roadside Attraction is the best touring festival on the continent". Edmonton Journal , July 18, 1999.
  3. "The Mutton Birds / Don McGlashan". Retrieved 17 April 2012.