This is a very dramatic song, the sort that wouldn’t have been out of place in the mid ’80s. But it’s now the mid ’90s and Hello Sailor are no longer cool dudes in skinny jeans. They are dad rockers.
The dadness is strongly established right at the beginning. The band are setting up for a gig and we catch a glimpse of Dave McArtney holding a small child. After the stage is well and truly set up (and we’re treated to a lingering shot of a bemulleted soundie adjusting a microphone stand), the band are ready to rock out.
The song has a killer chorus, with some hearty nautical themes. It does it actually seem like the kind of song that would be great to see live, but there’s little sense of the audience reaction. During the guitar solo, we hear cheering from the audience, but it’s obviously been dubbed in.
Sometimes the video works. Sometimes it feels like they’re kicking arse at a huge gig. Other times it feels like they’re filming a music video in an empty hall on a Sunday afternoon.
More nostalgia from Hello Sailor. The lyrics examine the sacrifices and the achievements made.
The video is centred on Hello Sailor playing on the street down the road from their old stomping ground of the Gluepot bar in Ponsonby. This is cut together with archival footage of memorable moments in New Zealand history – Olympic athletics wins, the Howard Morrison Quartet, World War II newsreel footage, the Beatles tour and Hillary on Everest.
The video seems like quite a strong effort to create something that is a very emotional experience for New Zealanders, but it’s hard to equate dying on a battlefield with winning a medal for the long jump.
The song is about remembering past glories and not letting them fade from our collective memory. But as I’ve discovered already with this project, it’s very easy for things to fade from memory.
Best bit: the sinking realisation that I can’t recognise all the notable Kiwis.
tattHello Sailor made a comeback in the ’90s, with an album called “The Album” and a new single. “New Tattoo” sounded a bit like “Gutter Black” and a bit like “Blue Lady”, so they weren’t going off in a radical new direction.
“I’m as blue as a new tattoo,” Graham sings, and the video takes us into the world into the “state house back in Blockhouse Bay”, and the sign of a West Auckland youth.
This is not what popular music sounded like in the ’90s. There’s no attempt at picking up a younger audience. Hello Sailor are acting their age, and this is a song for other dudes like them.
Cruising around the suburban streets in a classic car, the video illustrates a man who is both revelling in the good times of his youth but also mourning what he’s lost. He’s never going to be 19 again.
Best bit: the glamorous woman in a studded leather bustier who doesn’t look like she’s just been thrown in for some sex appeal.