There is No Depression in New Zealand

Blam Blam Blam, Music Video, 1981

This classic alternative national anthem by Auckland post-punk trio Blam Blam Blam became a theme song for New Zealand’s long, troubled winter of 1981 as the country was wracked by social and political division and the Springbok Tour. Poet and playwright Richard von Sturmer wrote the lyrics while the music was by Blams member Don McGlashan. The video features a band performance shot on the roof of TVNZ’s Shortland Street studios and shows a curious penchant for celebrity lawn mowing. The performing Marmite and Vegemite jars are, however, the real deal.

Deb's Night Out

Shihad, Music Video, 1996

‘Deb’s Night Out’ was a single from Shihad’s breakout second album Killjoy (1995). Director Chris Mauger’s video bypasses a literal take on the lyrics’ relationship paranoia for a deadpan depiction of cross-generational spirit. A young, sullen Jon Toogood is stuck in his denim jacket in the backseat with a couple of wine-guzzling oldies, en route to a suburban hall shin-dig. There the band gets down for some country and limbo dancing, the family-fun visuals contrasting with the song’s grinding guitar. Mauger’s stylistic touches include a canapé-cam.

Walk (Back to Your Arms)

Tami Neilson, Music Video, 2014

Canadian import Tami Neilson showcased her range with fourth album Dynamite!, colouring her country roots with lashings of rockabilly and gospel — plus this track, where she channels torch singer Peggy Lee doing a “sultry nightclub blues” (as the Herald's Graham Reid put it). The black and white video reflects the deliberately retro, minimalist vibe of the song, with Neilson grooving at front and centre while guitarist, bongo drummer and a trio of doo-wop vocalists chime in behind. 'Walk' won Tami and brother Joshua Neilson the 2014 Silver Scroll songwriting award.  

Thanks to You

Mr Lee Grant, Music Video, 1967

Thanks to You topped the New Zealand music charts three weeks after its release in 1967, and earned Mr Lee Grant the Loxene Golden Disc Award. In this performance on C’mon, introduced by the legendary Peter Sinclair, he performs the hit in a distinctive three piece suit against a changing psychedelic backdrop. Mr Lee Grant’s Kiwi tour was split between shows for his sometimes hysterical teenage fans, and cabaret shows for the adults. The combination made him one of the country’s most popular acts, and saw him named 1967’s Entertainer of the Year at the NEBOA awards.

Opportunity

Mr Lee Grant, Music Video, 1967

Taken from hit music show C’mon, this short clip has Mr Lee Grant performing his first number one hit ‘Opportunity’. After leaping to attention — and suffering an awkward landing — he recovers quickly to offer a jaunty performance on a psychedelic set, complete with American flag motif. The song (a cover version) charted in May 1967, helping cement Mr Lee Grant’s position as one of the country's premier pop stars. He would top the local charts twice more — and come close another time — before leaving New Zealand in March 1968, in an attempt to conquer the United Kingdom. 

Culture?

The Knobz, Music Video, 1980

In the tradition of novelty songs, ‘Culture?’ was catchy to the point of contagion. Fuelled by carnival keyboards, it was The Knobz response to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s refusal to lift a 40% sales tax on recorded music (originally instituted by Labour in 1975), and Muldoon's typically blunt verdict on the cultural merits of pop music (“horrible”). The giddy, hyperactive video comes complete with Muldoon impersonator (Danny Faye), and casts the band as the song’s 'Beehive Boys'. In the backgrounder, Mike Alexander writes about his time as the band's manager.