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.
‘Rain and Tears’ was inspired by a reworking of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D Major’ by Greek prog rockers Aphrodite’s Child (featuring Vangelis and Demis Roussos). Auckland band The Hi-Revving Tongues had their biggest hit with their version, which topped the New Zealand singles chart in 1969. This footage is from the Loxene Golden Disc contest, where they won the group award, and were nominated for best song. It’s a restrained performance which gives little hint of the band’s more psychedelic sound — or their enthusiasm for onstage pyrotechnics.
The only surviving footage of spacey progressive rockers Ragnarok is this studio performance from a mid-70s rock show. This is the band's second incarnation (following the departure of original vocalist Lea Maalfrid) and they perform four tracks from their second album Nooks: 'Five Years', 'Waterfall/Captain Fagg', 'The Volsung' and the disc's title track. As befits the musicians' intent, band and cameras are largely content to let the music do the talking — the visual departure of the glam rock boogie of 'Captain Fagg' comes as quite a surprise.
This 1978 single marked the first number one for the Kiwi prog rockers turned Australian pop stars. It danced around the age of consent (the first line of the song gave the impression the narrator may be in jail). Later the song became the theme tune for 2012 Aussie TV show Puberty Blues. A time capsule of 70s Melbourne, the clip opens on singer Marc Hunter aimlessly wandering the city's streets and tramways, before transitioning to a glossier studio performance. Like many of the band's biggest hits, the song was written by Dragon's resident hook-writer, keyboardist Paul Hewson.
‘Still in Love With You’ dates from 1978's O Zambesi, the album that yielded Dragon ‘Are You Old Enough’, their first (and only) number one hit in Australia. One of a series of hook-laden singles penned by keyboardist Paul Hewson, 'Still in Love' became another live staple for the Auckland prog-rockers turned Aussie pop stars. A straight down the line performance video shot against a white-washed studio, the video works thanks to the star power of lead singer Marc Hunter, who brings to the party all of his swagger, charisma and coiffed hair. The band bring their sunnies.
Born from duo Andrew Hagen and Morton Wilson, Schtung expanded swiftly to six members — three taking turns on vocals — and managed to write their first prog-rock song cycle in a fortnight. They performed in theatres, pubs, and at Nambassa, sometimes alongside dance groups. Inspired by Supertramp, Blerta and early Genesis, they displayed both instrumental prowess and a sense of humour. Their record deal was signed underwater. A couple of years after releasing 1977 album Schtung, the group broke up following line-up changes.
The three day Nambassa Festival, held on a Waihi farm in 1979, is the subject of this documentary. Attended by 60,000 people, it represented a high tide mark in Aotearoa for the Woodstock vision of a music festival as a counterculture celebration of music, crafts, alternative lifestyles and all things hippy. Performers include a frenzied Split Enz, The Plague (wearing paint), Limbs dancers, a yodelling John Hore-Grenell and prog rockers Schtung. The only downers are overzealous policing, and weather which discourages too much communing with nature after the first day.
Punk rock was breaking and musical styles changing, but in New Zealand country music was appointment viewing at 7pm on Saturday. That's Country ran from 1980 to 1984. Hosted by one-time pop singer Ray Columbus, the show featured both local and international talent including Suzanne Prentice, Patsy Riggir, Emmylou Harris and George Hamilton IV. An American offer to buy the show and install a US presenter were resisted. Instead the show was sold to a Nashville cable TV network, in a New Zealand first; That's Country soon had an audience of 30 million in the States.