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).
'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).
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.
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'.
Inspired by an Australian musician who was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, this song was first recorded by Aussie singer Ronnie Burns before Kiwi Craig Scott turned it into one of his biggest hits. Released in June 1971, Scott's version would go on to win the Loxene Golden Disc Award. These extended takes of Scott in action were likely cut together with footage taken from other angles — footage which is now missing in action. Thanks partly to regular appearances on music show Happen Inn, photos of Scott and his hair adorned bedrooms across the country in the early 1970s.
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.
‘Deb’s Night Out’ was a single from Shihad’s breakout second album Killjoy (1995). Director Chris Mauger’s video bypasses a literal take on the lyrics’ relationship paranoia for a deadpan depiction of cross-generational spirit. A young, sullen Jon Toogood is stuck in his denim jacket in the backseat with a couple of wine-guzzling oldies, en route to a suburban hall shin-dig. There the band gets down for some country and limbo dancing, the family-fun visuals contrasting with the song’s grinding guitar. Mauger’s stylistic touches include a canapé-cam.