Written and recorded in less than a day, Isabelle became Greg Johnson's biggest single to date, despite the fears of guitarist and label boss Trevor Reekie that a lack of drums limited its radio chances. The enigmatic lyrics — memory, cities under siege, a woman from Zagreb — are complimented by moody images of future Shortland Street actor Josephine Davison, and the band in obligatory sunglasses. Director James Holt now directs commercials around the globe.
Creating New Zealand's first local hit involved a lot of trial and error, as a company best known for making radios grappled with how to make records. Sixty-six years later Neil Finn visited musician Jim Carter, whose Hawaiian-style guitar is part of the magic of the original 'Blue Smoke' track. Finn "gently persuaded" Carter to help him record a new version on a laptop in just a few hours. Alongside newsreel shots of WWII soldiers, this evocative clip features footage of two musicians from different generations sharing memories, and making music about saying goodbye.
Dragon brothers Marc and Todd Hunter bestride the hills of south east New South Wales in this video for one of their latter hits. The autumnal lyrics are a good fit for a band in its later and more reflective years: Marc is celebratory in one of his last videos with the band. Todd — bass against the bush background — is gleeful, and the cow unperturbed. Written by keyboard player Alan Mansfield and his partner, Kiwi singer Sharon O’Neill, ‘Young Years’ gained added poignancy following Marc Hunter’s death in 1998. O’Neill has dedicated her performances of the song to his memory.
Director Sam Peacocke’s tale of love and motor-racing was the first official music video to be made for The Checks. Set in the 1960s, it contrasts a young Japanese driver at the track with his apprehensive girlfriend who waits forlornly at home. Tapping into his own love of motor-sport and memories of being at a racetrack as a child, Peacocke made this stylish, streamlined clip for a budget of $30,000 at Hobsonville Air Base near Auckland; the meticulous attention to period detail includes authentic Lotus racing cars.
This (mostly) black and white video stars late great actor Wi Kuki Kaa (Ngāti, Utu). The concept is simple but impactful: a close-up on Kaa's eye leads the viewer in and out of a series of memories. In combination with Kaa's performance — seated on a veranda, as family activities take place around him — Chris Graham's video works superbly to convey the essence of the song. The cinematography is by Adam Clark (Boy, the Oscar-nominated Two Cars, One Night). Julian Arahanga (Broken English) appears among the moving celebration of whānau and community.
This song is taken from the only new album released in the 1990s by Kiwi music legends Hello Sailor. In an AudioCulture profile of the band, writer Murray Cammick praised the Dave McArtney-penned track as one of two strong additions to the Hello Sailor canon (alongside song 'New Tattoo', also from 1994). The music video features the band playing (on a Ponsonby street, in a derelict building) intercut with archive clips (famous sporting moments, returned servicemen, Edmund Hillary, hikoi, the Beatles tour), echoing the song’s lyrical themes of waning memories and nostalgia.
Nostalgia can take many forms: and certainly many a middle-aged memory swirls back to this early Sharon O’Neill video, a nostalgia further fuelled by the long lack of a decent quality master copy. The classic clip about romance in foreign climes — or perhaps a romance that unfurled somewhere else entirely — opens with O’Neill’s backlit image reflected in the water. But it is the scenes of O’Neill in a rippling pool wearing a shark tooth earring that seem to have left the longest impression on males of a certain vintage.
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.