World Gone Wild “Touch”

Researching World Gone Wild got me sucked right down a google hole while finding out about the career of Stanley Manthyng, one half of the goth-pop duo. Firstly: best name ever. Since the end of World Gone Wild he’s gone on to other projects, including co-writing four songs for Double J and Twice the T. He also formed his own group, dance-pop duo Manthyng (again, best name ever). If you’re going to watch one Manthyng video, I recommend the official “Nek Minute” song, with vocals by Levi Hawken himself and a cameo from MC OJ and Rhythm Slave. It’s actually quite good, and a far better catchphrase song than Suzanne Paul’s “Blue Monkey”.

Anyway, back to World Gone Wild. Mr Manthyng and co-goth Michael Caulfield had modest hits with “Shy Shy Jenny” and “Standback” in the early ’90s. “Touch” didn’t chart but the group took advantage of the brand-new music video funding scheme.

The video starts with a man furiously running through the back streets of downtown Auckland, taking care only to run town the coolest looking lanes. We then find the band in a studio, lit with deep shadows. Lightbulbs dangle dramatically.

Both the song and the video feel like a remnant of the ’80s, about to be washed away by the tsunami of grunge. But the chorus, with its gravelly cry of “touch me and set me free!” has a glorious creepy fun.

The video concludes with the running man still running, sprinting past graffiti-covered buildings that are probably now hip boutiques. Maybe this is the horrific end result of being touched and set free.

Best bit: the man’s panicked sprint up the Exchange Lane spiral stairs.

Director: Tony Johns

Next… spies, lies and vampi(r)es.

MC OJ and Rythmn Slave “Money Worries”

I am so happy that this video is now online. When I started 5000 Ways, “Money Worries” was one of the first missing videos I came across, breaking my heart. Last year the brilliant guys at NZ On Screen asked me for some suggestions of videos and this one was at the top of my list, and at last here it is.

OJ and Slave were very Auckland, and indeed their first video, “Positivity”, was shot around downtown Auckland. [You know what? It wasn’t – it was also shot in Wellington.] So it’s surprising to discover that “Money Worries” was very openly filmed in Wellington.

Much of the video is shot in and around Shed 21, one of the old wharf buildings on Wellington’s waterfront. It’s now been converted into cool loft apartments, but back in 1991 it was still a grotty old warehouse. But with its large stylish windows and brick walls, it was perfect to fill with old cars, dancers and Mikey Havoc in a phone box.

Mr Havoc provides guest vocals on the chorus (“Moneeeeeeeey! Moneeeeeeeeeey!”). He squirms and wriggles in the artfully placed phone box and old cars, suggesting neither are really able to contine his energy.

The video looks amazing. Directed by Matthew Palmer, it makes good use of the natural light, shooting the dancers in silhouette and capturing the physical energy of Otis and Mark.

The boys are also allowed out, with high-speed adventures as they travel around Lambton Quay, The Terrace and Featherston Street. And suddenly the Wellington location makes sense.

This is not the cool Wellington of today. The Absolutely Positively Wellington campaign was in its very early stages. Wellington was still a dull grey town of bureaucrats and businessmen. Here were two young Auckland guys rapping about being poor, surrounded by the high-rise offices of some of the richest and/or most powerful people in New Zealand.

The video takes the ambition of the song and amplifies it. These guys aren’t going to be penniless forever, and when they do get money, it will be on their terms. The old warehouses were soon to become cool apartments, Wellington’s grey reputation was about to be washed away by a vibrant new image, and these two guys were about to make their mark on the world of New Zealand pop culture. Yeah, something like that.

I really like this video. Coming from the first full funding round, it seems exactly the sort of video that the NZ On Air funding was designed to help out with.

Director: Matt Palmer
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Southside of Bombay “What’s The Time Mr Wolf?”

“What’s The Time Mr Wolf?” is another important milestone with NZ On Air funding. It’s the first reggae song, an important musical genre in this country.

Southside of Bombay’s political wake-up call features plenty of footage of news headlines and protest scenes of the Springbok Tour, anti-nuclear and Waitangi protests and other infamous moments in New Zealand’s history.

There’s also tribute made to Bob Marley, with a handwritten list of events 10 years prior, in 1981 – Springbok Tour, Bastion Point, Bob Marley. Fortunately 2001 and 2011 turned out to be really great years, right, guys?

There’s also a series of newspaper headline of significant political events in late 20th century New Zealand history. One NZ Herald headline proclaims “TRUXTUN HERE. Unhindered passage into port.” I had to google it – the USS Truxtun was one of the US nuclear-powered ships that visited New Zealand in 1984, eventually leading to the nuclear-free policy. It’s funny to think that the Truxtun was once famous enough to be named without context as the lead story in the biggest newspaper in New Zealand.

But despite all the political bits, at its heart, it’s a simple studio performance video. The band perform the song under golden lights, with the final shot revealing Mr Wolf watching the band. Ooh.

Best bit: An ominous still of a giant spider on the side of Parliament.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… A lesson in power dressing, sweetie-darling.

Ngaire “Attitude”

In 1990, Ngaire had a number-one hit with her cover of “To Sir With Love”. But subsequent singles languished in the charts, including “Attitude”. The song – a very modern 2:45 long – sounds like a jam that was never really developed into a full song.

She sings the song up against a wall, surrounded by her band, as if they were protecting her from the bad-attituded subject of the lyrics. Her disses aren’t particularly harsh: “You walk so slowly, like an action replay”. Today, she’d join that anti-slow-walking Facebook group.

The most remarkable thing about the video is Ngaire’s wardrobe. She’s dressed like a young businesswoman, with the style that Eddie from “Absolutely Fabulous” favoured. Maybe this is her taking control and girl-bossing her way out of a bad relationship.

Throw yourself into your work, Ngaire! Your TPS reports won’t sass you like he does.

Best bit: The intense rock face of Ngaire’s drummer.

Director: Chris Mauger
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Money worries aren’t the only thing that’s getting me down.

JPS Experience “Precious”

The appearance of the JPS Experience marks the first Flying Nun band to get funding. The JPS Experience break out the green screen, which is fine, but they take things to the next level with silver foil. The band play the song in a series of rooms, each with a different special effect colour scheme. It’s all very psychedelic, with the crazy swirling outside, and resembles the cover of their 1993 album “Bleeding Star”.

This green screen malarky was newly affordable video technology, so it’s no surprise that it pops up all the time in music videos, but here it’s just overkill. It’s like they’re not quite confident enough in the song or their abilities on camera, so they’ve hidden behind an oil slick of green screen.

I’ve always thought of the JPS Experience a very male band. Their songs weren’t just love songs, but seemed to be about the struggles of love and the modern male, and even floppy fringes and silver space suits work perfectly with that.

They’re all so young and beautiful, and the song is lovely. Unlike other bands in this funding round, there’s still plenty of love for the JPS Experience. A lot of fans consider them to be a band that should have been much more successful than they were, which adds a slightly bittersweet tang to the video.

Best bit: Dave’s floppy fringe.

Director: Kerry Brown
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a chronological question is asked.

James Gaylyn “Bodyfine”

Now, this is intriguing. James Gaylyn is American and is an actor as well as a singer. In fact, he’s best known as providing the voice of the evil Zeltrax in the cult TV classics Power Rangers: Dino Thunder and Colonel Truman in Power Rangers: RPM.

But yet before the Power Rangers gigs, he’d somehow got himself signed to Wildside Records and released the soul track “Bodyfine”.

The video has him perform the song in a room of white sheets, while various white women dance about in the ubiquitous ’90s music video lycra dress. Backing vocals are mimed by two women, one of which looks like a good-girl-gone-bad version of Petra Bagust.

The object of his affection is another lycra lady, a ginger with a corkscrew perm. There is no chemistry between them.

The whole video feels like the sort of thing that would have come out of Australia in the ’80s, only in that reality James Gaylyn would have been world-famous in Australia and not ended up in the Power Rangers.

Although, it seems that the Power Rangers fandom is what got the clip uploaded to YouTube and is what keeps interest going. David Parker and Emulsifier take note.

By the way, the YouTube comments are full of Power Rangers fans, delighted to see another side to Zeltrax.

Best bit: The slightly uncomfortable amount of booty action.

Director: Alistair Crombie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a precious Flying Nun band.