Found videos from the 1990s

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

Found videos from 1997

A fluffy bra, nightclub, a prison, a derelict swimming pool, three lifts and an escalator.
Continue reading Found videos from 1997

Mink “Ride”

1997-mink-rideI was going to describe this video as looking a bit studenty, but it seems that Mink emerged out of Otago University so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t look studenty. In fact, the “Ride” video reminds me of the sort of studenty work you’d see in the 48HOURS film competition, genre – road trip.

The video starts with a key in the ignition and a big red classic car starts its journey. The car is driven by a glamorous woman wearing a black feather boa. Feather boa are low-budget video shorthand for ‘glamorous lady’. The car soon fills up with a random assortment of hitch-hikers, with vocalist Dermania Lloyd in the passenger seat. There’s something going on with her and the driver.

The car full of freaky friends isn’t quite played for laughs, but there is a knowing absurdity to the situation. The glamorous driver looks deeply annoying at her crazy passengers (but really, what was she expecting when she picked them up?)

Suddenly it’s night and the disembodied head of Dermania floats in front of the car, reminiscent of Marion Crane’s guilt-laden road trip in “Psycho”.

The day comes and the car reaches it’s destination: a car wash. We then catch a glimpse of a book which shows moving images of a studenty party, complete with people wearing feather boas. (Actually, never do this in real life – those $2 shop feather boas will shed all over the place and a month later you’ll still find pink feathers in your cornflakes.)

“Ride” is a sweet electronica song. Part of me wants the video to be better, but for a low-budget studenty video, it’s not bad.

Best bit: the purposeful dashboard button pushing.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… how to make an entrance.

Maree Sheehan “Strength To Love”

1997-maree-sheehan-strength-to-love“Too many people come and they go”, sings Maree, and the video sets about showing this exact situation. “Strength To Love” is set in a motel, where we meet an variety of diverse guests.

In fact, the motel is doing pretty well, with 16 guests. There’s an attractive but very timid young couple, a very still Asian couple, loved-up newlyweds, a older married couple, a miserable tennis player, a crossdressing codger, a party girl and her friends, a aloha shirt wearing man and his glamorous ladyfriend, a businessman, a naked lady, a bad girl, a shaved/dreadlocked woman with a dog, a trio of leather-clad lesbians, three children, an elegant old lady, a revved-up gay couple, and three cleaning ladies. That’s 4.8 litres of milk – trim or regular.

But despite staying at this bustling motel, no one seems particularly happy. It doesn’t look like a particularly nice motel. It’s just a bit run down and under decorated. And who would spend their honeymoon at such a place? (Answer: a couple who is too busy rooting to notice the decor.)

The Strawpeople’s “Taller Than God” video used a similar concept, but it worked better. I’m guessing the Strawpeople had a bigger budget, and that video had some context for the motel and kept the number of guests much smaller. There was a sense that all the characters had a story.

Whereas with the Strength To Love Motor Inn, it’s just a big collection of people who seem to be deeply troubled by relationship problems. As a result it doesn’t serve the song well, overpowering Maree’s subdued vocals but never quite being interesting enough to work on its own. I’m guessing there’s a low budget here

Best bit: the brisk effeciency of the cleaners.

Director: Peter Bannan
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… going for a drive.

D-Faction “Redemption Song”

1997-d-faction-redemption-songD-Faction have covered a lot of songs so being a New Zealand group it was only a matter of time before they did some Bob Marley. The Wailers’ jaunty reggae beats are gone and in their place are some housey beats, along with some Pacific drumming. Yes, it’s a song that will move you and inspire you and you can dance to it.

Lead vocals are provided by Dave Talea, but he seems very reluctant to be in the video. His lipsyncing is restrained, as if he’s acutely embarassed to be standing on a walkway in front of some shipping containers, singing a Bob Marley song. He looks like he’s mumbling rather than singing the song.

Emancipating himself from music video slavery, he pays a visit to the Otara Markets (I think – or a similar Auckland food market), a nice reference to D-Faction’s “Babe I’m Not Original” from five years earlier.

There are scenes from the bustling streets, colourful locals, cute kids, a bit of spontaneous dancing, and some fresh corn on the cob. Sounds like a good day to me.

Finally Dave joins the rest of D-Faction, who are relaxing in a suburban lounge. It’s like they’d enjoyed a lie-in and sent him off to the markets to make the music video.

Best bit: the spontaneous street dancing.

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… you can check out any time you like.

Bailter Space “Velo”

1997-bailter-space-veloHaving produced a string of really good looking, really well made videos from Bailter Space, it’s surprising to come across this rather low budget effort. It looks like it’s been shot on a home video camera, and includes lots of amateur footage of Manthattan and rural America. When we see the band, they’re huddled around the camera, looking not unlike some dudes making a YouTube video in their bedroom.

While this might have come across as embarassingly low budget back when it was released, time is kind to videos like this. The grainy home video now takes on a cool aesthetic. Wobbly handheld camera, pixelly video and inadequate lighting are now all part of the charm. It helps that “Velo” is a really good song, with good searing guitar and chanted lyrics that bounce along.

Bailter Space always seemed like a very mysterious sort of band and were never the focus of their music videos. But here we see them, squished together in a clear shot, looking like three guys in a band making their own music video.

Best bit: the brief shot of the “Gordon Insurance Agency” sign. I see what they did there.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a return to the markets.

The Feelers “Pressure Man”

1997-the-feelers-pressure-manThe Feelers have had 25 music videos funded by NZ On Air, second only to Shihad who have 28. Even though they had funding for “The Leaving” in 1995, it all starts with “Pressure Man”.

As far as debut singles go, this is a good one. The first time I saw the video, I was really impressed that this great pop-rock song had come out of New Zealand. But I’m not sure what happened, but no other Feelers song has connected with me.

I happened to see them perform at Homegrown earlier this year. They performed to a large audience of fans. People love them, sing their songs and feel really happy. So while I’m not especially into the Feelers, I appreciate that they have a role to play in mainstream New Zealand music.

The “Pressure Man” video is directed by Joe Lonie, but it doesn’t quite feel like a typical Joe Lonie video. This might be on account of it having a bigger budget than what he’d had with other bands. I figure Warner Music wanted to launch the Feelers properly.

The video is based around four locations. We discover a guy dressed in jeans, no shirt and with dyed yellow hair, like it’s 1990 and he wants to be Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He’s running from something, pounding along an empty country road.

Then we meet the Feelers in three locations. They’re running along a pipe. James Feelers is wearing silver trousers and a matching jacket. You know, round about this time, I really wanted some silver jeans. I was going to wear them with a black top and look really cool.

The band can also be found playing in some sort of boiler room. There are pipes, gaskets and flames. It’s like a cool music video checklist. This look never goes out of fashion – even Britney Spears did it last year.

And finally the Feelers also perform outside at an old factory. With a wide outdoors location, they have plenty room to stretch out with rock poses.

That’s pretty much it. The video just cuts between these four locations, showing the Feelers or the wannabe Flea. The video makes the band look cool, but it doesn’t necessarily work with the song. But then, if the purpose of this video is to get people interested in this cool new band, then it’s done that well.

Best bit: the reminder that the Feelers were young once too.

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… he used to do lots of things.

Shihad “Yr Head is a Rock”

1997-shihad-yr-head-is-a-rockThe foundation story of this video goes a little something like this. Greg Page had previous made Shihad a video for their song “Derail”. He just did it for fun. The band already had a video arranged for the song, but they admired his initiative and kept him in mind when they needed a video for “Yr Head is a Rock”.

The video is shot in claymation, which was Greg’s animation form of choice back in the ’90s. He’d previous put it to use in the Throw video for “Honeyblonde”, but this one is much more sophisticated.

It tells the story of a truckie, driving alone at night along an empty road. He’s balding and is sporting a blonde handlebar moustache – essentially a plasticine Hulk Hogan.

As he drives, he starts to hallucinate, visited by ghosts from his past. We see him at a school ball in 1970 where “The Shihad Band” are playing. There he has a budding romance with a young lady, and deals with a bully who doesn’t take kindly to this blonde Romeo. But this fantasy starts interfering with reality…

I’m not normally a fan of claymation, but the animation in this video is really good, with very precise expressions of emotion. And the “The Shihad Band” look like the real deal.

Best bit: a road sign advertising “Tom’s Diner” – both a reference to the Shihad drummer and the Suzanne Vega song.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the glass is smashed.

Ma-V-Elle “Depend On Me”

1997-mavelle-depend-on-meMa-V-Elle head to an exotic location for their video, which actually looks like Venice, or a similarly exotic part of Europe. In a way, it’s a little bit disappointing that it’s the real deal. I’d much rather they were in some weird port town colloquially known as “Venice of the South Pacific”.

It looks like the trio toured Europe and filmed this video on a day off. The weird thing is, the location is almost incidental, like they have a romantic place shoot in but no idea what to do with it.

The three Ma-V-Elle ladies sing the song in various scenic locations, sometime solo, sometimes in pairs, sometimes all together. Sometimes they’re sporting fierce leather coats, which is a sure sign they’re being tourists in Italy. Some of their clothing seems like business wear, but that sort of stuff was actually cool going-out clothes in the late ’90s.

Even though the group is deep in Europe, they’ve still casually brought some Pacific flavour into the video. It’s a sweet song and I really appreciate that the video has captured Ma-V-Elle at their peak, on top of the world.

Best bit: the valiant attempt to keep from laughing while lipsyncing in a crowded street.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… keep on truckin’.

Headless Chickens “Dark Angel”

1997-headless-chickens-dark-angelI’m going to keep talking about how I love the Headless Chickens third album, “Greedy”. “Dark Angel” was the opening track and it instantly takes me back to my first year in Auckland, 22 and trying to figure how where I fitted in in the crazy city.

Despite my likage for the song, I’d never seen the video. It reminds me of the “Mr Moon” video, with colour layers floating over the top of the black and white band.

But this time around Fiona is gone, but there is a woman in the video. Taking inspiration from the opening titles of Bond films, the video features shots of a naked lady. Who needs a girl in the band when you can just use female body parts in the video?

I started to think about the woman. What if she was actually a Bond girl, Chookie Galore, a good girl who got involved with the Headless Chickens gang. Has she come to seduce you, Mr Bond?

There’s a strange vibe in this video. It’s very stylish and has a pretty colour palette, yet there’s a very strong masculine feel to it. The band have a sluggish yet menacing look about them. I wonder if the naked lady and the colours were thrown in to balance it out, to add a touch of femininity to what might have otherwise been too grunty.

I get the same feeling with every video from “Greedy” – something wasn’t good with the band. While the music sounds fine, the videos feels like something had broken in the band and was being held together with the thinnest thread.

Best bit: the brief glimpse of a little bird figurine. I sense a theme.

Note: This video was on YouTube, MySpace and MTV Australia, but now it’s not.

Director: Jonathan Ogilvie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Venice of the South Seas.