It’s said that when Alastair Riddell and Space Waltz burst onto the scene in 1974 with the Bolan- and Bowie-inspired “Out on the Street” on the New Faces talent show, it was like aliens from planet pop arriving to show the backward earthlings of New Zealand a thing or two. But 20 years later Alastair shows up wondering “whatever happened to the peace dream solution?”
Restlessly sitting in a Le Corbusier chaise longue, he watches a rapidly changing slide show of images of world history and culture from the last two decades. Martin Luther King Jr, starving Africans, Ronald Regan, Pope John Paul II and Elvis flash past, like the reprogramming scene from “A Clockwork Orange”.
But the song comes across less as a lament and more as a dig at the boomer generation, the former flower children who can be now found in the gyms, concerned more about their physique than peace and love.
I found a 2007 TV show where Paul Holmes grills Alastair about the meaning of “Out on the Street”. He answers, “A lot of people were making a lot of noise about the new age, the age of Aquarius. We had “Hair” some years before. And I really thought that the age we lived in was a bit more like a whore or a lady of the night.” So it seems he was never a great believer in the promise of the peace dream solution, but perhaps it come as a shock just how rapidly his generation discarded those ideals.
As the video progresses, Alastair gets off the couch and turns his back on the slideshow, instead rocking out with his guitar. There’s also a bit of animation, involving Elvis stamps and strongmen. Very ’90s.
The video ends with Alastair in a military uniform, singing “all you need is love”. It’s like something out of “Hair” – the hippy is shockingly revealed to be part of the establishment. Whoa.
Best bit: the Regan-faced pope.