The Swingers

For one brief moment in 1981, the stars aligned and all was well in Phil Judd’s universe.

With its utterly unique tick-tock riffed intro and its perfect amalgam of wilting sarcasm, piston powered grooves and pure pop, ‘Counting The Beat’ shot to No.1 on both sides of the Tasman, hogging the Australian Top 10 for 13 weeks and amassing an extraordinary 100,000-plus sales. Unheard of.

Phil Judd, circa 1982
The Swingers in 1979: Buster Stiggs, Phil Judd, Bones Hillman
The Swingers 1982: Phil Judd, Andrew "Snoid" McLennan, Bones Hillman, Ian Gilroy
One Good Reason
Terence Hogan's artwork for the 1980 debut Swingers single
Counting The Beat
Buster Stiggs, Bones Hillman, Phil Judd
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
The Swingers in 1979: Bones Hillman, Phil Judd, Buster Stiggs
The October 1981 Swingers album Practical Jokers was released in New Zealand on Bryan Staff's Ripper label and in the rest of the world via Mushroom Records. With a cover designed by Phil Judd (as "Bud") it featured a re-recorded take of Counting The Beat with new drummer Ian Gilroy.
The Swingers, 1980: Buster Stiggs, Phil Judd, Bones Hillman
The final Swingers line-up, 1982: Andrew "Snoid" McLennan, Ian Gilroy, Phil Judd and Bones Hillman. 
The artwork for the 1981 No.1 Counting The Beat. The cover was also available in a wrap-around yellow poster sleeve.
One Track Mind
The Swingers at the Island of Real in Auckland's Airedale Street.
It Ain't What You Dance, It's The Way You Dance It
Swingers setlist from the 1981 New Zealand tour, venue unknown
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
Live at Mushroom Evolution Concert 1982
Phil Judd, Buster Stiggs, Bones Hillman in early 1981
The Swingers in 1981 - Phil Judd, Bones Hillman, Buster Stiggs
Phil Judd in a still from Starstruck
The double A-sided single All Over Town / A Good Reason was the debut from The Swingers. Produced by Mike Chunn, the sleeve was created by Terence Hogan (uncredited).
The Swingers in 1980: Phil Judd, Bones Hillman, Buster Stiggs
Give It A Whirl (Part 3) - The Swingers/Split Enz/Crowded House
1980 Ripper Records press release


Mushroom Records


Bass guitarist Bones Hillman had previously played in The Masochists and The Rednecks. ‘Hillman’ came from the make of car he drove. After The Swingers he joined Midnight Oil. He left that group in 2002 and moved back to NZ to work with Dave Dobbyn and the Finn brothers, before moving with his family to Nashville in 2007.

Ian Gilroy was in punk-theatrical outfit The Plague, along with Tim Mahon, Mark Bell and Andrew McLennan. That band later mutated into The Whizz Kids, and then Blam Blam Blam when Gilroy left to join The Crocodiles, and Don McGlashan was his replacement.

While recording Practical Jokers, new drummer Ian Gilroy broke his wrist, necessitating a long delay. This allowed the group to participate in the Starstruck film, which includes several appearances by the band, and served as an introduction to film soundtrack work for Judd.

Counting The Beat was belatedly issued in the USA, but with its dazzling intro snipped off. Not surprisingly, it fizzled.

Their songs were supposedly worked up in jam sessions and credited to the three members, but a closer inspection reveals that many existed in chrysalis form in Judd’s songbook prior to their full realisation.

Practical Jokers was reissued on CD with an extra track in 1997 and renamed Counting The Beat.

The group was purportedly asked to reform for Mushroom’s 25-year celebrations, but Judd refused despite the name of the documentary, Counting The Beat.

Towards the end of The Swingers, Phil Judd decided that he henceforth wanted to be known only as Budd Judd.

Kylie Minogue is reported to have said that Counting The Beat is her all-time favourite song.

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