It's hard to reduce legendary band Split Enz down to a single sound or image. Soon after forming in 1973, they began dressing like oddball circus performers, and their music straddled folk, vaudeville and art rock. Later the songs got shorter, poppier and — some say —better, and the visuals were toned down...but you could never accuse the Enz of looking biege. With Split Enz co-founder Tim Finn turning 65 in June 2017, this collection looks back at one of Aotearoa's most successful and eclectic bands. Writer Michael Higgins unravels the evolution of the Enz here.
Hello Sailor's time in the sun saw them spending time in Ponsonby, LA and Sydney, becoming a legendary live act, and releasing an iconic debut album. This collection features documentary Sailor's Voyage, founder member Harry Lyon's account of the birth of the band, and tracks from Hello Sailor, both together and apart. Some of the solo songs were incorporated into the group's live set after they reunited. Included are 'Blue Lady', 'New Tattoo' and 'Gutter Black’, later reborn on TV's Outrageous Fortune.
Music show host Richard Driver encounters “arguably the most famous person in rock’n’roll”. A very relaxed Mick Jagger is promoting his second solo album Primitive Cool when Driver interviews him outside Auckland’s busy downtown ferry terminal. The Rolling Stones singer’s sunglasses get a solid workout as he enthuses about his new band (which includes guitarist Joe Satriani), dismisses celebrity biographer Albert Goldman’s book about John Lennon, recalls encounters with Michael Jackson, and ponders the curious situation of being the subject of a tribute band.
Low-tech legend Chris Knox is an accomplished musician, cartoonist, critic, filmmaker, and jandal wearer. As this collection demonstrates, his genius takes flight in the DIY aesthetic of his music videos. As Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd says in his backgrounder, “this is a unique and important collection of work perfectly illustrating what is possible with the barest of resources and a free-wheeling imagination”. Russell Brown adds his view here. Alongside music videos, the collection also includes interviews with Knox and profiles of bands Toy Love and Tall Dwarfs.
Katchafire developed their roots reggae sound as a Bob Marley tribute band in the 90s - under a Waikato ponga tree rather than a Jamaican palm frond; and the seven-piece have gigged extensively, on and off-island, earning a reputation for the accessible revivalist euphoria of their live shows. 'Giddy Up' (from the band's debut album Revival) was NZ's highest-selling single in 2003, while follow ups, Slow Burning (2005) and Say What You're Thinking (2007), established Katchafire as reigning Kiwi kings of reggae.
German-born Kiwi director Florian Habicht charts the journey of Britpop band Pulp to their 2012 Sheffield farewell concert. As well as singing along with the common people, and interviews with Jarvis Cocker and band (musing on everything from ageing to fishmongering), Habicht reunites with his Love Story co-writer and cinematographer to pay tribute to the band’s hometown and fans (including a rest home rendition of ‘Help the Aged’). The film premiered to strong reviews at US festival South by Southwest, where Variety found it “warmly human” and “artfully witty”.
Comprised of veteran players from Auckland’s punk scene, The Bleeders quickly made a name for themselves with their polished take on the then-nascent ‘post-hardcore’ sound of the early 2000s. ‘Out of Time’, a tribute to friends of the band who were killed in a car accident, was their first single for Universal. The accompanying video has singer Angelo Munro stalking the tunnels and ramps of an inner-city skate park before joining an entourage of friends, fans and hangers-on for the song’s anthemic chorus — and a poignant gesture to the heavens.
Was there a cooler band in the world than The Clean in 1982? Skinny suits, round sunglasses, video performances aping the great old Monkees' moves but tuned to the "deadpan" setting. Rubbish dump. Derelict building. Cemetery. Check. TVNZ's Andrew Shaw travelled south to Christchurch to direct this one, but he kept the clip faithful to the band's style for this now iconic tribute to indie nihilism.
This cautionary tale about the perils of lost love comes from singer-songwriter Greg Johnson's third album Vine Street Stories (named for the address of the Auckland house where it was recorded). Director James Holt (a flatmate at the time) shot the clip on 35mm and gave it a rich, golden-hued setting of brocades, leathers, candles and curtains to showcase musicians including Pagan Records founder (and broadcaster) Trevor Reekie and Johnny Fleury (father of Zowie) on Chapman Stick. Boh Runga contributes vocals (around the time she formed her own band Stellar*).
This Joe Wylie animation is a veritable treat: the melodramatic grotesqueries, bright colours, surgery porn and animated tomato sauce all contribute to produce one of New Zealand's first iconic music videos. The band are said to have kept their break up a secret until Wylie finished work on the clip, so he could get paid. The Auckland-produced video was the second made for 'Bride of Frankenstein'. The first was shot in Sydney, and in B movie style featured band members as surgeons who construct a bride (played by Toy Love keyboardist Jane Walker).