This NZ Music Month collection showcases NZ music television, spun from a playlist of classic documentaries and beloved music shows. From Split Enz to the NZSO, Heavenly Pop Hits to Hip Hop New Zealand, whether you count the beat or roll like this, there’s something here for all ears (and eyes). Plus music writer Chris Bourke gets Ready to Roll with this pop history primer.
The Wellington region is the focus of this 1958 edition in the long-running NFU series. The newsreel shows the rapidly developing town of Porirua, where farmland is being converted into state housing. Meanwhile in Taita the Hutt Valley Youth club provides entertainment for bored young people on Sunday afternoons. Highland dancing vies with skiffle and rock and roll, and Elvis-style quiffs date the teen spirit. Such clubs were set up after the 1954 Mazengarb inquiry into juvenile delinquency. And at Athletic Park a classic All Black line-up wallops the Wallabies 25-3.
This episode of C4's music series Homegrown Profiles features hip-hop star Che Fu, who began his music career with high school band The Lowdown Dirty Blues Band, which later evolved into 90s chart-toppers Supergroove. Che Fu talks about his messy split from Supergroove, and how the huge success of the single 'Chains' (with DLT) wasn't enjoyable because he was still upset by what had happened with the band. He also talks about the making of his three solo albums. Since this documentary was made in 2005, Che Fu and Supergroove have reconciled for reunion gigs.
“You get the impression that Wellington wants an audience but doesn’t want to be seen to be trying too hard to get one”. This report surveys 1982's local music scene, framing tensions between an energetic politically-conscious underground, and commercial rock and pop (i.e. Auckland). Not all is positive, with complaints about lack of venues and promotion, and violence at gigs. Interviewees include Mocker Andrew Fagan, Nino Birch (Beat Rhythm Fashion), Dennis O’Brien, Ian Morris, promoter Graeme Nesbitt (in Radio Windy sweatshirt) and punk singer Void (Riot 111).
Heroes followed a band trying to make it in the mid-80s music biz. Teen-orientated, the show marked a first major role for Jay Laga’aia (Star Wars), and an early gig for Michael Hurst (with blonde Billy Idol spikes). Band keyboardist John Gibson co-wrote the series music; he later became an award-winning film composer. Margaret Umbers (Shortland Street, Bridge to Nowhere) was a non-musician in the cast (with Hurst), but since has sung regularly in a jazz band. A second series follow in 1986.
Eclectic trio TrinityRoots forged a reputation as an unmissable live act, with Warren Maxwell (Arts Laureate, frontman for Little Bushman) leading the surge towards rapture. The band mined reggae, soul, jazz and rock to create their own distinctive feel. The sound was first captured on an EP and two albums of indigenous downbeat classics: 2001's True and 2004's Home, Land and Sea, and in the epic farewell performance promo for 'Home, Land and Sea' from 2005. "From the tail of the fish..." Trinity Roots reformed in 2010 for further albums; original percussionist Riki Gooch departed the following year.
Like kids in a candy store, The Electric Confectionaires know no boundaries when it comes to making music. The Auckland four-piece stamped their mark while students at Takapuna Grammar, winning the 2005 secondary schools Rockquest competition with their eclectic all-sorts mix of rock, garage, blues and jazz. They became known as 'the band to watch' and their 2007 debut album Sweet Tooth, delivered on expectations with winning Beach-Boy-quality harmonies and bubblegum hooks.
The last novel by Ronald Hugh Morrieson revolves around a freezing plant worker (Peter McCauley) in an interracial marriage. For this little seen movie adaptation, the role of an English remittance man was expanded in an attempt to cast Peter O'Toole (New Zealand-born Bruce Spence got the role). Morrieson's view of small-town Aotearoa is a dark one, as he explores racism, violence, suicide and blackmail. Bruno Lawrence contributes to Jonathan Crayford's jazz-tinged score, and features in the wedding band. The freezing works scenes were shot at the defunct plant in Patea.
On this mid-80s youth music show, a fresh faced Russell Crowe is the star turn in his early persona as Russ le Roq (the name change to avoid comparisons with his famous cricketing cousins Martin and Jeff). With a hint of an Elvis sneer, Crowe performs 'What's The Difference' with his band Roman Antix, and is interviewed by presenter Phillipa Dann. Lounge jazz act Wentworth Brewster & Co and Hamilton funk rockers Echoes also feature; and Pat and Margaret Urlich from Peking Man talk about their latest single 'Room That Echoes' and its distinctive video.
This feelgood classic was written in Wanaka on the first Blerta tour, for the group's kids' shows. The hope was that a children’s show would win over local audiences when Blerta's busload of merry pranksters rolled into a new town. The song's concept was inspired by a Margaret Mahy story, reshaped by Geoff Murphy. Corben Simpson composed the music, and actor Bill Stalker narrates. It became a top 20 single, but a video was never made. This clip — combining new scenes, and old footage of the Blerta bus and varied escapades — was created for 'best of' film Blerta Revisited.