Windswept beachiness, urban Balkan, Christchurch in the before time, racial unity, straight down, a ’90s fashion parade, tattoos, Auckland cool, velvet painting, getting seductive, and a bad lip sync. Continue reading Found videos from the 1990s
So here’s the concept: Dave Dobbyn, with bleached blonde hair and wearing red and white striped pyjamas, wanders around the army training area at Waiouru with a tank in the background. Pretty awesome, right? And it’s Dave Dobbyn’s first NZ On Air-funded video.
“Don’t Hold Your Breath” is a stark song, mostly just Dave’s voice and guitar, with the occasional burst of drum thrown in. The lyrics are political, imagining an end to many of the world’s troubles, then adding “don’t hold your breath”. It’s not an obvious choice for a single, but it seems like no attempt was made to sweeten things up. The video is as stark as the song.
As well as Dobbyn’s military manoeuvres, the video quickly cuts in clips of important world events (the same sort of stuff Billy Joel sang about in “We Didn’t Start the Fire”). But all that is less interesting than Dave in the desert. He even has a knife that he occasionally stabs into the ground just because that’s the kind of thing he does.
I’m most intrigued by the utility belt that Dave’s wearing with his pyjamas. It’s like something woke him up in the middle of the night, leaving him to flee the house in his PJs with his prized possessions – guitar, stabby knife and utility belt. Well, that’s all you need for the apocalypse.
The video also has pretty quick editing, giving it a feeling of urgency. This isn’t just a lone man wandering around a barren landscape – he has a message for everyone.
Best bit: Dave’s funky strut along the top of a ridge.
It’s an Urban Disturbance video! The action kicks off outside the grand old Auckland railway station, back when it was still a grand old railway station and not leaky student housing.
We also see the dudes rapping as they walk down a street, and is notable that all the business awning signs are for independent businesses, with no sign of the chain store brands that dominate the high street today. It’s almost 20 years ago and it while it sometimes feels like a memory of a past time, there’s still some freshness to it.
The video is a fairly low-budget job. The budgetary limits are revealed with playback done via headphones. But that fits with the lyrics that declare, “I’m an extension of my headphones and kerbstones”, a nice way to deal with both aspects.
“Impressions” is a cool, cruisy exploration of Auckland. It captures that early ’90s urban Auckland scene and just has a really nice vibe to it.
Best bit: the National Bank ATM sign – is it too early to feel nostalgic?
The best description of this video comes from the YouTube uploader HEADLIKEAHOLENOISE, who accurately says it’s a “spaghetti southern on donkeys”. Being shaken by his ass, Sheriff Booga is after the black-clad villain played by drummer Hidee Beast, looking positively eeeevil.
This drama is cut with rapid footage of HLAH playing campfire instruments – an old tin for percussion, a washing board, as well as some guitars. There’s also a simmering pot of baked beans, as every good posse needs beans.
There’s a tense showdown between the sheriff and the villain. They circle each other, never daring to blink. It comes down to a tense fingerbang shootout, with the villain being faster on the draw.
With New Zealand not being in posession of an American wild west, the video has been shot at a suitably rocky and rugged beach. Some of the footage is in sepiatone, but no one’s pretending this is an accurate period drama. The footage has scribbly animations layered on top to drag it back into the ’90s.
“Faster Hooves” is a really good example of a NZ On Air video – taking a simple concept, a local location and an enthusiastic performance. Oh, and donkeys.
“Hey Seuss” is a train ride into a mixed-up world of theological dilemmas and children’s book characters. Directed by Andrew Moore, the video is neatly works with the troubled world of the lyrics and the more lively tone of the music.
Most of the video involves the band surrounded by David Mitchell’s Seuss-inspired character cut-outs. They also take a train ride on an elegant wood-panelled vintage carriage, along with the cutouts and a man in a tiger suit. There’s even a wobbly model train standing in for exterior shots.
Sometimes the 3Ds could come across quite sedate live, and if you look at the video closely you can catch glimpses of it. These guys aren’t rock stars. They’re four fine musicians who make great music. But the video doesn’t try to disguise this. Yeah, most of the band do look a little stiff, but somehow it works having them surrounded by the crazy world of the video.
The song ends by sonically falling apart and the video takes this path too, with a delicious freak-out ending with the band mucking around, Denise giving David M a playful shove. 3Ds, where ya been?
Best bit: David Saunders’ artistic gliding across the screen.
Mana’s cover of Herbs’ ode to Jesus takes place at the Otara markets, with the band performing live in a corner of the car park to a modest audience.
But much more exciting is market life. The camera sweeps over the jam-packed Saturday morning market, and then almost seems to have to fight its way through the bustle. But the video captures some interesting scenes of ordinary people doing their weekly veggie shop.
There’s also a brief montage of South Auckland scenes, including the dole office. Presumedly when Jesus comes, He will make everything ok. Hm, the markets look a little too crowded. Do you suppose Jah Jr will ease the congestion?
Best bit: the really serious looking woman who samples an orange segment.
The one good thing about this song – the band pronounce Cuba like “kooba”, not “kyewba”. Apart from that, it’s a novelty hit – a Latin flavoured cover of Dragon’s pub rock hit. Not that there’s no place in the world for novelty cover versions, but this one is just a little uninspired.
The video action takes place on a suburban Auckland beach, where the band and their friends have a big beach festival. Things then move to a night club where the band set up, before it all explodes into a giant ‘April Sun in Cuba cha-cha-cha sexy senorita dances the forbidden dance’ fest.
I wonder if the band (and NZ On Air) imagined this would be an accessible gateway into getting the world of Latin music in the pop charts, only for Kantuta to evolve into their natural form as event entertainment. Well, perhaps they paved the way for the Buena Vista Social Club.
Every time you play this song, 10CC’s giant swimming pool of money gets a few more gold doubloons. Remember, kids: always clear samples.
Directed by Clinton Phillips and filmed in lovely warm sepia tones, “Hip Hop Holiday” evokes a hot city summer. This is not the New Zealand of going to the beach. It’s the New Zealand of inviting all your friends around to hang out in your backyard.
The lads cruise Aucklandtown in a convertible before arriving at their slightly less urban destination – a suburban house (but it’s a proper New Zealand state house bungalow). Bobbylon from the Hallelujah Piccasos shows up for some guest MCing, and the suburbs erupt into a game of touch rugby and hip-hop-loving.
Fun and charming, “Hip Hop Holiday” is a perfect slice of the early ’90s Auckland hip hop sound. It was the first single with an NZ On Air-funded video to reach No.1, where it happily remained for three weeks in early 1994.
Best best: cruising down that cinematic stretch of Queen Street between Wellesley Street and Mayoral Drive.
I started to google this song title and it alarmingly autocompleted as “wayne gillespie living in prison”. A bittersweet twist of fate? No, it turns out “Living In Prison” is a book on the history of correctional facilities written by another Wayne Gillespie.
The real Wayne can be found in the video playing in a Sydney nightclub, with the most enthusiastic video miming I’ve yet seen. It’s a really straight performance video, with the camera never swaying from the stage. At one point there’s a shot of the drummer, who looks like Dave Grohl with a perm, but that’s about the most exciting thing that happens.
Considering that seven years earlier Wayne gave us the sexy urban cool in his “Losing One” video, “Living In Exile” seems really low budget and disappointing in contrast. The lyrics suggest something epic on the open road (and Australia has plenty of epic open roads). Perhaps Wayne has been exiled to the confines of the night club, never to leave.