The Mutton Birds

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The Mutton Birds
OriginAuckland, New Zealand
Years active1991–2002
Virgin Records
Past membersDon 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]



Year Title Details Peak chart
1992 The Mutton Birds
  • Label: Bag Records (EMI)
  • Catalogue: 8282612
1994 Salty 3
1995 Nature
1996 Envy of Angels
  • Label: EMI
  • Catalogue: 8425842
4 64
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
2002 Flock: The Best of the Mutton Birds 30
2012 Free Range: The Mutton Birds Live 2012
  • Label: RNZ

Featured appearances[edit]

The group have appeared on many compilation albums since the inception in New Zealand. The following is a list of these albums that 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.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g 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.


External links[edit]