Able Tasmans formed in 1984 (the name was a pun on Dutch explorer Abel Tasman). They released four albums and two EPs on Flying Nun, before splitting up in 1996. The band's primary songwriters were Peter Keen and Graeme Humphreys (who later found a second career on radio and TV, as Graeme Hill). The band's indie pop sound was defiantly adventurous, with keyboards and unexpected instruments often prominent. At one stage Able Tasman winningly described their sound as “Jethro Tull for young people”. In 2003 Keen and Humphreys reconvened for an album as a duo, The Overflow.
This "essay on global warming" was written by Able Tasmans band member Leslie Jonkers. Bagpipes and spinning pomegranates give away to amoeba and swirling shots of trees. The band are shot in colour amongst Christmas decorations, and in black and white in a forest as the song spins and builds. Shots of a Chrysler Valiant give way to footage of a village in Africa, a forest in Asia, the Golden Gate Bridge and Speakers' Corner in London. And why a frog? Because when water is gradually heated, a frog doesn't notice the changing temperature and will be poached.
This Able Tasmans single starts with a piano intro from Graeme Humphreys (aka Graeme Hill ) — the so-called baroque popsters really loved their keyboards. The clip goes on to showcase the instrumental prowess of a band who weren't afraid to throw horns, bagpipes, and strings into the mix. The first vocal doesn't arrive until almost two minutes in! Director Phillipa Anderton captures the energy of the playing by weaving the camera above and around the musicians. The clip's use of colour is also distinctive: most obviously in a set which is revealed to be yellow and deep blue.
Roving reporter Simon Morris talks to music movers and shakers in this special report from the 1980s cult music rock show. Auckland is on the cusp of the club boom and live music is waning. A youthful club promoter Russ Le Roq (aka Russell Crowe) flies the flag for the kids, Colin Hogg is unimpressed and a fresh faced Graeme Humphreys (aka Graeme Hill) fronts the Able Tasmans. Meanwhile, local acts are in short supply in Wellington. The live scene is healthier but radio certainly isn’t. The Pelicans (with a young Nick Bollinger) and Strikemaster perform.
This documentary tells the story of the legendary Flying Nun music label up to its 21st birthday. The label became associated with the 'Dunedin Sound': a catch-all term for a sprawl of DIY, post-punk, warped, jangly guitar-pop. The Guardian: "[it's] as if being on the other side of the world meant the music was played upside down". Features interviews with founder Roger Shepherd and many key players, the spats and the glory. The label's influence on the US indie scene is noted, and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus covers The Verlaines' 'Death and the Maiden'.
Ada (Holly Hunter) has been mute since she was six. She travels from Scotland with her daughter (Anna Paquin) and her grand piano to colonial New Zealand, for an arranged marriage. When her husband, a stoic settler (Sam Neill) sells the piano to Baines (Harvey Keitel), Ada and Baines come to a secret agreement. She can win her piano back key by key by playing for him, as he acts out his desire for her. An especially big hit in Europe, Jane Campion's Oscar-winning tale of sexual emancipation in the bush is the only NZ film to have won the top award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Stephen Lovatt's acting career has taken him from Arcadia to Takapuna Beach, with stops in Shortland Street, Ramsay Street and ancient Rome. Award-nominated for his starring role in 2002 feature This is Not a Love Story, Lovatt's screen CV includes roles in Spartacus, Being Eve and a five-year-run in Australian export Neighbours. The Toi Whakaari grad is also an acclaimed theatre actor.
A journeyman actor for many years, Peter McCauley is a familiar face on both sides of the Tasman, with a long string of roles in film and television. His gruff, craggy image belies a capacity for sensitivity, and his rich sonorous voice has flattered many a script over the years.
Larger than life and the ultimate showband performer, Prince Tui Teka's resume included years on the international circuit with the Maori Troubadours and the Maori Volcanics. A successful solo career and love songs like ‘E Ipo’, alongside roles in films like Savage Islands and Came a Hot Friday have ensured his name is listed in New Zealand entertainment history.
English-born journalist Gordon Bick arrived in New Zealand in 1964. Within two years he was producing current affairs show Compass. His Kiwi career came to an abrupt halt when he resigned in protest over claimed government interference in a special about decimal currency. Bick put his side of the story in book The Compass Affair, and crossed the Tasman to produce current affairs for the ABC and Channel Nine.