NZ – LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CHORD

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Too Young for Promises (L Berger) – Koo De Tah 1985

The phonetically-correct Koo De Tah (coup de tete) was a New Zealand/Australian pop group which formed in the 1980’s after New Zealander Tina Cross (Maori/Croation ancestry) relocated from Auckland to Sydney and hooked up with Russian-Australian musician Leon Berger. Below Cross and Berger.

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Tina first appeared on NZ television as a singer on the weekly pop show Ready To Roll in 1978, a year later she took four singles into the local NZ charts – Make Love To Me (#15), Everybody Let’s Dance (#13), Lay Back In Your Lover’s Arms (#36) and Nothing But Dreams (#47), the songs were a collection of pop-rock, synth-pop, disco -dance, and soft rock numbers that failed to resonate across the Tasman, where the local competition at the time  included such dominant female singers as Olivia Newton-John, Renee Geyer, and Christie Allen, and several newly-arrived Kiwi singers Jenny Morris and Sharon O’Neill.

Softer image here for Tina, later in Koo De Tah she was punkier and less cabaret.

Nothing But Dreams was chosen to represent NZ in the Pacific Song Contest in 1979 and it became the winner, Tina followed up the next year with Again With You, and this time she placed second. Following the release of two albums in 1979, You Can Do It, and Tina X, she maintained her public profile via television appearances, but record sales had dried up, so she relocated to Sydney (Aust) in 1982 and began work on the cabaret circuit. 

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She was reunited with Leon Berger in Sydney who she had first met at the Pacific Song Contest back in New Zealand in 1980, Berger was born in Russia and had studied at the Moscow Conservatory of Music, before emigrating to Australia in 1973. Berger had released several singles here in the 1970’s – Show Me The Way to The Jungle (’77), Sarah (‘78), Love Is Like a Rainbow (’79) and Take Me Higher (’81) which had all failed to penetrate the top 40, his debut album Living In A Mirror (’81) was on reflection, also a flop. 

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At this time in their careers Tina and Leon were probably resigned to the fact that their 15 minutes of fame had eluded them, and that at best they would be jobbing entertainers plying the club circuit and cabaret halls of Australia’s east coast. But they did convince Mercury/Polygram Records to give them the chance to record a Berger song called Too Young for Promises, which ultimately had new wave, synthpop credibility stamped all over it.

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In June 1985, with session musos Peter Radnaj (drums), John Bettison (guitar, violin), Capree Morris (keyboards), and Roger Faynes (bass), Tina Cross (vocals), and Leon Berger (keyboards) went into the 301 Studios (Syd) with producer Doug Henderson to record their debut song. Below Doug Henderson centre.

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The arrangement with drum machine, strings, synthesized keyboards, and guitar was pop perfect, but it was the lead vocals of Tina Cross which were a revelation. She was by now a mature singer with clever intonation, phrasing, and an impressive range, at times invoking the emphatic yet child-like sound of Cyndi Lauper, and then moving to an edgier, sexier, keening tone, which was perfect for this song about reluctance to commit, resisting controlling behaviour, and the need for freedom to make life’s choices.

Cross also had exotic good looks and Berger and the band were capable musicians, they took Too Young for Promises to #6 locally but they were shunned back home in NZ where the record staggered to #48, the follow up single Body Talk barely cracked the top forty here and their eponymous debut album stalled at #54. Cross would go on to have a successful career in musical theatre in NZ appearing in Cats, Chicago, The Rocky Horror Show, and many other productions. Leon Berger would co-write several steamy hits for E-Street star Melissa Tkautz (below) including Read My Lips (#1 in ’91) Sexy (Is The Word) (#2 in ’91) and Skin to Skin (#16 in ’92) and co-produced her debut album Fresh in 1992 (#16)

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