Contemporary troubadours Marlon Williams and Delaney Davidson delve deep into the sounds of traditional country music. After co-writing ‘Bloodletter’, from their debut album Sad but True: Volume 1, they won the NZ Music Award for Country Song of the Year. The gothic tale of tragedy and misery is visualised by director Tim McIness via a Once Upon a Time in The South horseback pursuit, as Williams tracks a fleeing Davidson. The wide open spaces of mid-Canterbury’s Mesopotamia Station make an admirable substitute for the frontier’s big sky country.
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.
The second single from Wellington's country crossover kings is a classic tale of lost love and the girl that got away: propelled by Nik Brown's fiddle, with Barry Saunders out front singing it like a cowboy. Director Waka Attewell's music video intersperses the band's performance with shots of Saunders in and around Wellington with a supporting cast of planes, trains and automobiles. The car is a cut-down Holden Belmont and there's a glimpse of the Cook Strait ferry (but the Warratahs' involvement with the Interislander is still a few years off).
Crooner Marlon Williams has called 'Vampire Again' "my own demented tale of New Age self-affirmation". The song was born after he discovered he was the only person to dress up as a vampire for a screening of 1922 horror classic Nosferatu. Williams directs the music video; his portrayal of dance fiend and comical bloodsucker reflects his belief that good material can be found in the tension between serious and foolish. The video was shot and cut by veteran music photographer Steve Gullick (Nirvana). It won Best Music Video at the 2018 Vodafone NZ Music Awards.
In 1973 EMI NZ producer Alan Galbraith saddled up Rockinghorse: a supergroup of Kiwi musicians (including ‘Nature’ composer Wayne Mason) to provide session music for the label’s artists. Rockinghorse found success of their own with the third single from the Throughbred album — ‘Thru the Southern Moonlight’. It won Best Single at the 1975 RATA Awards. The band also won Best Group and their celebrations led to a year-long ban from the Lion Breweries pub circuit. Here they funk up the cowbells in a 1974 end-of-year special, for Christchurch-based music show Pop Co.
'January's Well' is one of a number of very different looking videos Auckland singer-songwriter Reb Fountain has made with director Anton Steel. It's an eerie, gothic ghost story set in Auckland's Domain which follows the spirit of a young girl (Fountain's daughter — her son is up a tree) who goes in search of music being played in the forest and meets other ghost children along the way. The appearance of Fountain's band, The Bandits, was inspired by Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan film I'm Not There (a look with particular resonance for California born Fountain).
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.
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'.
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.
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.