The sweat is dripping and the horns aren’t holding back in this characteristically fervent Jive Bombers rendition of James Brown’s 1979 R&B classic ‘It’s Too Funky in Here'. Kiwi soulman Rick Bryant belts out the instruction — “say it again” — to a willing audience at Auckland’s (now demolished) Mainstreet cabaret on Queen Street, and the band follow suit. The trumpeter has sunnies on, and choreographed stage moves signal The Jive Bombers' intent to bring the funk. The band flared briefly but brightly on the mid-80s pub circuit. The song is from 1984 album When I’m With You.
This song is from New Zealand’s troubled winter of 1981. The Springbok Tour gave the term “riot squad” currency throughout the country — but the Auckland live music scene and the police were already enduring a very fraught relationship. This number from Auckland ska/soul band The Newmatics, released on the band’s Broadcast OR double 7" EP, was actually written about a 1980 police raid on XS Cafe in Airedale Street. The Keystone Cops music video is classic early 80s TVNZ Avalon and features actors Ross Jolly and Michael Wilson as two thirds of the 'blue shadow'.
Sonny Day was a working musician from the late 50s to the early 90s, but recorded infrequently. 'Savin' Up', his first solo single, was a soulful cover of a song Bruce Springsteen gifted to his sax player Clarence Clemons — and an appropriate counterpoint to the glitz of 80s materialism. The video, shot in Auckland's Vulcan Lane plus the legendary Birdcage bar, has Sonny in his element, while performing with a band that includes Neil Edwards (ex-Underdogs), Tama Renata (ex-Herbs) and backing vocalists Annie Crummer, Beaver and Josie Rika.
Dave Dobbyn and his DD Smash sidekick Peter "Rooda" Warren play dress-ups in this Aussie-made music video for the Kiwi classic. A skylarking Dobbyn gets to be a TV journalist, a filmmaker, and even a vicar; but it is heart-throb of the day Warren who bares his chest (and budgie-smugglers) as he is strapped into a sexy speed-racer jump suit. 80s big hair and make-up abound. What the Duran Duran-esque shenanigans have to do with the wistful sea shanty-style song is anyone's guess. Warren's model girlfriend of the time Debra Mains also makes an appearance.
Australian music video maestro Richard Lowenstein (INXS, U2, cult film Dogs in Space) directed this bouncy city-life clip for the song when Tim Finn first flew solo from Split Enz. Bright colours, video scratching, an animated sausage dog — what more could you want? Finn walks along carrying a ghettoblaster in Wayfarer sunglasses; it must be the 80s. 'Fraction too Much Friction' got to number two on the Kiwi singles charts in 1983, and number eight in Australia. That year Finn recorded a last album with Split Enz, before leaving the band he co-founded roughly a decade before.
The Warratahs were unique in the late 80s NZ music scene — a band playing classic country music with an eye on the mainstream. They enjoyed some chart success but director Waka Attewell's video for their first single almost seems to anticipate that they will make their major impact as a live act — honing their sound on the road in halls, pubs and woolsheds the length and breadth of the land. The location is a school hall in the Wellington suburb of Brooklyn, with a room full of dancers responding to the Warratahs' signature warmth and timelessness.
Hamilton hard rockers Knightshade produced a run of sweaty, riff-heavy 80s anthems. This live performance of ‘Out for the Count’ comes from a 13 May 1987 show at The Galaxy in Auckland, which was recorded for both a 1987 album and a Radio with Pictures special. The other featured band was Stonehenge. Knightshade vocalist Wayne Elliott is joined by Gael Ludlow (then better-known as presenter of nature show Our World). The live album Out For The Night Live! made it to 37 on the Kiwi charts. ‘Out for the Count’ had previously got to number 26 on the singles charts in November 1986.
Annie Crummer came to attention with her cameo in ‘For Today’ in 1985 and she was a member of the high profile late 80s act When The Cats Away — but her debut solo album Language didn’t appear until 1992. This cover of a song originally recorded by Eric Clapton was its first single. It features Pacific reggae band Herbs (with the late Charlie Tumahai as duet partner). Fred Renata’s stylish video is a study in monochrome as it alternates black and white backdrops (and wardrobe for Crummer), and augments them with photos of loved ones and shadow play.
‘Heart and Soul’ — sometimes called 'You Took Me (Heart and Soul)' — was the biggest hit for rockers The Narcs. It peaked at number four on the NZ charts and took away two gongs at the 1984 NZ Music Awards. A spare, brooding rumination on love, it represented a departure from the more full on rock’n’roll that marked the band’s sound when they emerged on the Christchurch pub scene in the early 80s. Shot on a blacked out set, the video has all the hallmarks of a test run for a new digital effects suite — although that doesn’t explain the red pyramid at the centre of proceedings.
Singer Marina Devcich had been working as an apprentice hairdresser when she won a Waikato talent quest. A signing to Viking Records and a name change to Maria Dallas followed. ‘Tumblin’ Down’ was written by Taranaki musician Jay Epae, and recorded at a session in Wellington. It went to 11 in the pop charts and won the 1966 Loxene Golden Disc Award. Later the song was used to score a series of Telecom ads in the mid-80s. Dallas recorded in Nashville, moved to Australia and had a trans-Tasman career — her single ‘Pinocchio’ topped the NZ charts in 1970.