Dance Exponents were the crown princes of NZ pop when they released this left field follow-up to their very successful debut album. ‘Sex and Agriculture’ introduced new guitarist Chris Sheehan and marked a major departure from hook-filled pop songs into harder, noisier territory. A rhythmic, driving soundtrack punctuated by Sheehan’s atmospheric guitar undercuts lyrics that could describe a rural idyll. Jordan Luck grows increasingly desperate in this shadowy, constricted TVNZ video which echoes the song’s dark claustrophobic sense of rural dread.
In his typical one-man band style, Chris Knox’s music video for 'The Joy of Sex' keeps things simple for maximum effect. A strobing array of colours flickers as an animated image of Knox lists a series of contrasting word pairs — love/lust, yes/no etc — like some kind of health teacher gone mad. Manic animation matches his quick riffs, shifting and becoming more complex as the song reaches its conclusion. 'The Joy of Sex' was the opening track on Knox's sixth solo album Yes!!
"Things are not always the way they should be", sings Steve Gilpin in 'Blue Day', from Mi-Sex's 1984 album Where Do They Go. Reaching number 24 in Australia and 36 in NZ, it was their last charting single before the band broke up; it's also on the APRA Top 100 NZ Songs list at number 54. The band plays on a darkened studio set, a strong neon-blue visual style complementing the soft, haunting keyboard intro. Artificial light suggests the day outside; pushed up jacket sleeves and genie pants are an unmistakable reminder of mid-80s fashion.
Mi-Sex moved further into the futuristic sci-fi world signalled by their hit single ‘Computer Games’ with the release of their chart topping second album Space Race in 1980. The lead-off single ‘People’ emerged at a time when the world was still coming to grips with cloning, genetic engineering and test tube babies. The video showcases the band’s well honed combination of techno-pop and the more straight ahead rock’n’roll beloved of Australian pub audiences — with some visual special effects reserved for the future shock of the spoken segment.
A last-minute addition to their 1979 album Graffiti Crimes, 'Computer Games' was a huge hit for Mi-Sex, reaching number one in Australia, two in Canada and five in NZ. Computers and arcade games were a real novelty in 1979 and the band's synth-driven sounds were a perfect match. The video starts with the band breaking into the Sydney data centre for then-supercomputer giant ControlData. Printers spew paper forth, and as the band performs, old school graphics including a driving game and TIE fighters, are projected behind them. Advance one level on green!
After a debut single that flirted with punk parody, this moody, accusatory follow-up firmly points Mi-Sex in the direction of the electronic influenced rock that will characterise their future sound — and make them one of Australia's leading acts in the 80s. In his leathers, lead singer Steve Gilpin has firmly said good-bye to his previous career in light entertainment. The video places the band members amongst outsized pieces on a giant chess board — a rather curious staging choice, perhaps, given that the king and queen in the lyrics are playing cards.
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.