Footrot Flats;
The Dog's Tail Tale

Dave Dobbyn

CBS (1986)

CD: CDCBS 450468



Song List

1. Footrot Mornin'
2. Let's Get Canine
3. I Dream of Rugby
4. Satdy Arvo
5. Horses Beat
6. You Oughta be in Love
7. Vernon the Vermin
8. Cooch
9. Nuclear Waste
10. Blackwater
11. Lost at Sea
12. Top Dog
13. Slice of Heaven
ONE in five Kiwis have seen the animated film Footrot Flats and it would appear that all have emerged from their local cinema enchanted by Dobbyn's energetic, idiosyncratic and quite infectious soundtrack. The theme song, Slice of Heaven, spent eight weeks at number one the NZ charts and reached the same position in a number of major Australian cities, including Sydney. You Oughta Be in Love has reached 2 in NZ, followed up the charts by Let's Get Canine.

All of which constitutes a fairly extraordinary achievement for a neophyte film scorer who openly warned his employers "Hey, you're taking a risk; I've never done this before". Unable to read or write music, Dobbyn set about his task with commendable diligence. First he spent a month hiring every animated video available at his local rental shop. "Once I got over the flattery of being asked, I bought up all these books and records. I thought I'd better look at how people did film music so I got hold of a lot of John Williams soundtracks. I tried to do homework as every professional should, I suppose, but I got more confused doing that. After a while I threw all the stuff I'd bought away because I realised they wanted my music."

Dobbyn equipped himself with a computer keyboard and an 8-track recording machine and settled down to a solid year of work. "It was very much sink or swim, I really learnt on the job. I worked from the script up, following the animation and coming up with character songs as well as the incidental music. I was given a free hand. It was a very happy marriage. It was a totally different way of working for me. It was strict discipline- up at eight in the morning, stop for meals and then work until eight at night. It was certainly a change from the lifestyle I'd known since I was 18- staggering up the stairs at 5 a.m. after a late gig out of town!"

Once he had assembled his package of reggae rock, hard rock, light pop and assorted incidental sounds, Dave took up residence in a 24-track Auckland studio, where the final tracks were put down with the assistance of Maori group Herbs, the band Ardijah and a school choir. The tone of his music assisted the producers in their goal of having Footrot Flats accepted as something more than a children's cartoon film. "It is very satisfying to be able to rework and experiment with sounds until you are happy," he reflects.

[excerpt adapted from Glenn A. Bakers article "DAVE DOBBYN'S DOG'S TALE" from the August 1987 issue of the APRA magazine .]

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