Branded as a musical genius by his peers, Darcy Clay's flame flared briefly, but left a lasting impression on New Zealand music. Clay (aka Daniel Bolton) recorded the now classic single 'Jesus I Was Evil' in his bedroom on a four-track tape machine, just months before his untimely death. The Auckland singer-songwriter only played five gigs during that time, including a support slot for Blur (released as live EP Songs for Beethoven). But his pioneering talent and "country-fried punk rock" are testament to the cult-like figure he's now become. Clay committed suicide in March 1998, at age 25.
In Boy, a college-aged rent boy exposes the truth about the death of a girl in a hit and run accident. Using typography that hovers on screen in place of dialogue, flares of bold colour, dioramic frames, and brutal portraiture reminiscent of Dianne Arbus, director Welby Ings creates a powerful, exquisite perspective on the silent claustrophobia and sexual violence of small town New Zealand. The film gained acclaim both at home and internationally. Accolades included Best Short Film at Cinequest in the United States.
Deep Obsession flared brightly but briefly in the late 90s, releasing a string of Eurodance songs. They are the one and only act to manage three consecutive number ones on the Kiwi music charts. ‘One and Only’ was the third, released after group founder Chris Banks had left the group. That left singers Zara Clark and Vanessa Kelly to get viewers primed for the dance floor. Impeccable music video logic sees the singers clinging to watery fluorescent-lit walls and overseeing a room of fishbowls. An alternative video for the song featured scenes in a desert and underwater.
Stu Dennison hosted TV One's children's show Nice One from 1976 to 1978, making the catch phrase "Nice one, Stu" a part of NZ TV legend. This 1978 Christmas show, and final ever Nice One programme, branched out from the show's usual after-school interstitials length to a half-hour special featuring series regulars such as singer/songwriter Steve Allen, and chef Alison Holst (look out for her son and now business partner Simon as a young boy, in their Christmas cooking segment). Stu's corduroy flares and waistcoat ensemble is a 70s delight to behold.
Deep Obsession flared brightly but briefly in the late 90s, thanks to a string of Eurodance club songs; they are the one and only act to have achieved three consecutive number ones (‘Lost in Love’, ‘Cold’, ‘One and Only’) on the NZ music charts. They were founded by producer/musician Chris Banks, with Zara Clark and Vanessa Kelly handling the vocals. Demos recorded at More FM radio studios led to a signing by Universal (NZ). Sole album Infinity got to number eight. The group toured internationally and supported Hanson and S Club 7.
Kiwi music legends Toy Love are credited with leading the NZ post-punk sound, delivering a sonic flare from 1979 that scaled charts and smashed Sweetwaters watermelons, before the love ended on a late 1980 NZ tour. In this February 1980 interview for regional show The South Tonight, the band is seen in their Dunedin hometown, preparing for a show at The Captain Cook Tavern. Reporter Keith Tannock asks Chris Knox what he’s rebelling against as the singer chugs a double-barrelled ciggie, and casts shade on boring pub rock music. The band would shortly depart for a stint in Sydney.
The sweat is dripping and the horns aren’t holding back in this characteristically fervent Jive Bombers rendition of James Brown’s 1979 R&B classic ‘It’s Too Funky in Here'. Kiwi soulman Rick Bryant belts out the instruction — “say it again” — to a willing audience at Auckland’s (now demolished) Mainstreet cabaret on Queen Street, and the band follow suit. The trumpeter has sunnies on, and choreographed stage moves signal The Jive Bombers' intent to bring the funk. The band flared briefly but brightly on the mid-80s pub circuit. The song is from 1984 album When I’m With You.
Radio Waves charted the “lives and loves” of a commercial Auckland radio station in the age of Bee Gees and flares. Grant Bridger (‘Win Savage’) and Andy Anderson played DJs with Alan Dale as station manager; it was Dale’s screen debut, before fame in Australia (Neighbours) and the US (24, Ugly Betty). Devised by Graeme Farmer, Waves was an effort by SPTV to best TV One’s flagship soap Close to Home. While producer Tom Finlayson’s first drama was short-lived, its metro Auckland context — peopled with upbeat urban strivers — signaled a changing NZ on screen.
It's Wellington in the 1970s and Bob (Jeremy Stephens) is having a midlife crisis. Square-peg Graham (Bill Johnson, who later played Mr Wilberforce in Under the Mountain) tries to convince Bob to quit his bohemian lifestyle (and his lover/muse Carol) and return to his wife Jean. But is Graham really acting in his mate's best interests? Featuring a young Sam Neill as the epitome of handsome, unfettered youth (flared jeans, bushy beard) this early, well-received TV drama was one of several produced by the NZ Broadcasting Corporation to tackle 'difficult' contemporary issues.
Eclectic ensemble Schtung flared briefly in the late 70s. This music video sees the band clutching umbrellas and briefcases, and forming their own brigade of conservatives in suits. Occcasionally betraying their love of silly walks, they stride through Wellington Railway Station, dash madly around the wharves, and climb the steps of Parliament. The (minimal) lyrics allude to politicians failing to fulfill their promises, although they can also be read as being about a failing romance. The song's final seconds include the lines "Pour on water", from nursery rhyme 'London's Burning'.