Swinging the Lambeth Walk

Len Lye, Music Video, 1939

The Lambeth Walk was a popular 'swing jazz' dance in London in 1939. It included a hand gesture with the Yiddish "Oi!". New Zealand-born filmmaker Len Lye edited together different versions of the music (including Django Reinhardt on guitar and Stephane Grapelli on violin), and combined them with a variety of abstract images painted and scratched directly onto film, without using a camera. The colourful, dynamic animation was made with public money — for the Ministry of Information in the United Kingdom — scandalising some government bureaucrats.

Baked Beans

Mother Goose, Music Video, 1977

Dunedin band Mother Goose scored their biggest hit with this novelty song extolling the previously overlooked romance-promoting qualities of sauced legumes (and won extra marks for avoiding flatulence jokes). The Australian-made video references Queen's pioneering Bohemian Rhapsody clip and features Melbourne trans-sexual drag show performer Renee Scott as the recipient of one of the more bizarre pick-up lines. In his post Mother Goose career, keyboard player Steve Young (the bearded ballerina) directed The Chills' classic Pink Frost music video.

Gather to the Chapel

Liam Finn, Music Video, 2007

Another all in one shot beauty from director Joe Lonie, this gorgeously-crafted video was filmed in and around the historic St Stephen's Chapel above Auckland's Judges Bay and Parnell Baths. The camera floats through pohutukawa trees and Auckland pioneer gravestones as an ubiquitous Liam Finn exhorts everyone to gather by the chapel. The tiny, elegant church in question was built by Bishop Selwyn, and as it turns out, just around the corner from where Finn grew up. 'Gather to the Chapel' appears on his first solo album, 2007's I'll Be Lightning.

Behold My Kool Style

Dam Native, Music Video, 1996

Directed by prolific music video maker turned movie director Jonathan King, this clip for pioneering hip hop duo Dam Native won Best Video at the 1997 NZ Music Awards. It evokes the look of a sepia-tinged colonial era photo, and the art direction —Edwardian suits and tokotoko (walking stick) — are beautifully realised. The film was then deliberately scratched to help it look aged. The result makes an effective backdrop to the song’s political lyrics. DJ Sir-Vere called the track “an original Aotearoa classic”.

Saturday Night Stay at Home

The Suburban Reptiles, Music Video, 1978

'Saturday Night' is a glorious anthem from these Auckland punk pioneers, and a classic piece of NZ rock’n’roll. An improbable ode to the joys of having “one free night a week”, it was penned by Buster Stiggs and produced by ex-Split Enzer Phil Judd (on guitar). The video, made by TVNZ, was remarkably sympathetic and, apart from lurid lighting, avoided cheap effects in favour of capturing the band’s essence. Judd and Stiggs later formed The Swingers, while this performance won singer Zero a role in the Gary Glitter stage production of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Dragons and Demons

Herbs, Music Video, 1981

'Dragons and Demons' is a track from Whats' Be Happen? — the first release from the Auckland pioneers of Pacific reggae. The album had a shot of the Bastion Point protest on its cover, however the emphasis in this song — written by original vocalist Tony Fonoti — is more personal than political as it exhorts people to control mental dragons and demons. Fonoti’s devotion to Rastafarianism made him uncomfortable with the band’s growing commercial success, and led to his departure. ‘Dragons and Demons’ received a new lease of life in 2009 when it was featured in Taika Waititi’s film Boy.

Six Months in a Leaky Boat

Split Enz, Music Video, 1982

Reflecting the nautical themes found on chart-topping album Time and Tide, the classic 'Six Months in a Leaky Boat' demonstrated that Tim Finn was far from out of good ideas, even though he was soon to leave the band he had sailed with for so long. Opening with scene-setting Eddie Rayner instrumental 'Pioneer' and images of boats at sea, the video soon reveals Tim Finn and band below deck, in sailor's garb. Finn's much-loved line about refusing to be overcome by "the tyranny of distance" was likely inspired by the 1966 book by Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey. 

You Forget

David Kilgour, Music Video, 1992

After achieving commercial and critical success as part of pioneering Flying Nun band The Clean, David Kilgour began releasing solo work in the early 90s. His first single did not disappoint. The matching video relocated the avowed Dunedinite to Auckland, and sees Kilgour cruising around and on — and swimming fully clothed in — Waitematā Harbour. The video also features Kilgour's kaleidoscopic collection of Converse shoes, which seem to change without prompt. The song was the lead single off Here Come The Cars, which reached 35 on the NZ music charts.

A Winter's Tale

The Mockers, Music Video, 1986

Conservation pioneer Richard Henry tried to save the kākāpō from rats and stoats, via an island sanctuary in 1890s Fiordland. His doomed bird rescue efforts might seem an odd subject for a pop ballad. Singer/songwriter Andrew Fagan also included a paean to Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton on 1985 Mockers album Culprit and the King. Fagan argues that adventuring is "naturally something to aspire to. Writing pop songs about it never felt like an issue to me." This performance of the song, directed in a single shot by Brent Hansen, roams a gloomy Avalon studio.