I had the distinct pleasure of doing sound for Wa Wa Nee on a short Sydney run of about 4 weeks way back in 1989. They were absolutely brilliant live and just dripped “groove”. At that stage they were probably past their peak popularity but still drew massive live crowds that were genuine fans. Mostly female! I still remember having to stand guard at the dressing room door on more than one occasion just to keep the ladies out.
This is a band I really didn’t take that seriously until I mixed them that first night but they had me convinced after the first song. Brilliant musicians and funky, catchy songs are always a good combination.
Wa Wa Nee broke the Australian tradition of pub rock in the mid-’80s with a combination of expertly packaged funk-pop, designed for a mass audience.
Songwriting duo Paul Gray and Steve Williams fronted the band, signing a deal with CBS Records in late 1985. In January 1986 they put together a full lineup consisting of Geoff Lundren (bass), Elizabeth Lord (keyboards, backing vocals), and Chris Sweeney (drums). Later, Gray’s younger brother Mark replaced Lundren on bass, and keyboardist Phil Witchett joined the lineup.
Wa Wa Nee’s ascent of the Australian charts began with the April 1986 release of the single “Stimulation,” which peaked nationally at number two. Three further singles also made the Australian Top 20 and their self-titled debut album yielded platinum sales of over 70,000. A national tour of Australia followed, along with a promotional tour of the U.S., where “Sugar Free” had made the Top 30.
A new single, “Can’t Control Myself,” was released in November 1988, peaking at number 17 in Australia and forming part of their final album Blush. Two more singles, “So Good” and “I Want You,” were released to less interest, and Wa Wa Nee disbanded in the same year.
- Tony Buck – Drums
- Mark Gray – Bass
- Paul Gray – Vocals, Keys
- Paul Greenwood – Bass
- Elizabeth Lord – Keys, Vocals
- Geoff Lundren – Bass
- Barton Price – Drums
- Chris Sweeney – Drums
- Phil Witchett – Keys
- Steve Williams – Guitar, Vocals
- Paul Najar – Keyboards
- Wa Wa Nee – 1986
- Blush – 1989
|10/06/86||Sydney, NSW||The Tivoli|
|22/08/86||St Mary’s, NSW||St Mary’s Band Club|
|13/09/86||Cabramatta||Sweethearts – Stardust Hotel|
|06/12/86||Circular Quay||Sydney Cove Tavern|
|+ Young Hearts|
|19/02/87||Cabramatta||Sweethearts – Stardust Hotel|
|23/12/87||Cabramatta||Sweethearts – Stardust Hotel|
|30/06/88||Cabramatta||Sweethearts – Stardust Hotel|
|08/12/88||Cabramatta||Sweethearts – Stardust Hotel|
|+ Colour Blue|