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, it turns out this video is all about Graeme Downe’s long raven tresses, which indeed are hanging by strands.
We meet Graeme Downes wandering around a bleak coastal landscape and he has a ponytail, a long raven ponytail down to his waist. I believe that everyone should experience long hair at least once in their life (I did it when I was 12-13), so I fully support Graeme in his hairstyle choice. I also note that he has opted for a floppy fringe, which will avoid him looking like Neil from the Young Ones when he wears it down.
And he does wear it down, with the long hair dramatically blowing in the sea breeze. It makes me wonder, did he grow his hair especially so it would look cool in a music video?
There’s some live footage, where the hair is all up in Graeme’s face as he leans over to the microphone. But let’s not dwell on that.
Let’s admire the romantic Graeme wandering by the sea, low ponytail flicked to the side, over the shoulder of his white shirt. He absentmindedly plays with a piece of grass, making it all seem like he’s biding time until his heroine comes along on a white horse.
The video finishes with more of the live footage. Graeme’s hair is sweaty and sticks to his face and the audience are enjoying the show. Perhaps after the show he’ll break out the Pantene and return to the coast for a natural blow-dry.
Best bit: the zoom-out showing Graeme alone on the barren coast.
Note: Check out the header graphic before the video starts – it shows the video came from the New Zealand Music Video Awards. They were an annual competition in the ’90s, honouring the best of New Zealand music videos.
Despite its Bob Marley sounding title, “One Love” is an upbeat funk/soul-inspired number with an absolute killer chorus and started as a Supergroove remix.
The video has a lot going on, and it’s packed with cameos. Going by Peter McLennan’s notes on YouTube, there’s activist Tame Iti, artist Greg Semu, director Greg Riwai and music industy figure Kirk Harding, and I also spotted Joe Lonie, of Supergroove and other music videos. But it doesn’t feel like these guys are being wheeled out as super celebrity appearances (I mean, they’re not necessarily household names) – it’s more like they’re there because they were just hanging out with their friends making the video.
The video is full of people, from staunch bros hanging out down the local shops, to loving couples snuggling up together. The song has a message of unity (no surprises there) and the video does a good job of showing that without forcing it. People aren’t getting along because they’re in a music video that requires them to get along; they’re getting along cos they just do.
Even the Mighty Asterix manages a bit of self-love, with an impressive rotating shot of himself three times. This has to count as a mid-’90s digital effect that doesn’t look like a lame-arse gimmicky digital effect. It’s a fun video that nicely captures the spirit of the song.
Best bit: the store front of Otara Coffee and Takeaways.
By 1996 the Chills were known as Martin Phillipps and the Chills, but like other videos from this time, the latest incarnation of the Chills are absent, with Martin Phillipps the only star of the video.
The song has a quirky, upbeat tone with dark lyrics (bloody goths) and the video picks up on this. It starts with stage show, where Martin plays “the great Persevero”. I assume he is skilled at persevering.
He’s up on stage with some cardboard waves moving from side to side, and a cardboard sun, reminiscent of the “Sunburnt” album cover. We also see Martin in more regular guise, strumming along on his guitar, sitting amongst a pile of highly symbolic crushed cars.
There’s more fun to be had on stage, at Persevero tries hard to perform his magic tricks, only to set fire to the chain of handkerchiefs. The stage also features the only appearance of another person, whose sole purpose seems to be to comedically swing a ladder around to bump Persevero over.
Compared to the slicker efforts of previous Chills videos, “Surrounded” is obviously a much lower budget number, but it captures the dark humour at the heart of the song.
Best bit: the junkyard dog, not at all interested in the pop goings-on.
Supergroove had creative differences. The lively pop-rock-funk group of teens had turned into a rock band of serious young men, average age 22. The band was downsized (sending Che Fu out into the world on his own, where he did just fine) and adopted a new sound, less funk and more rock.
At the time, I came across a Supergroove fan site, kept by an enthusiastic Australian fan who was really excited about their new album. But her excitement turned to disappointment when the album was released. Who were these miserable bastards and what had they done with Supergroove?
“If I Had My Way” was the first single of “Backspacer”, a showcase of the band’s new sound. The song has some really fine moments (the opening hook is sweet), but its weaknesses are apparent. Karl’s singing voice isn’t strong enough to carry the song, the group’s vocal harmonies sound like a new trick they want to show off, and the song is about a minute too long. But what about the video?
Directed by bass player Joe Lonie, the video is based around a faux TV show. Clad in their trademark black, the ‘Groove assemble infomercial exercise machines and then ride them in crazy sped-up footage, while the lyrics repeatedly ask “Who would you kill?”
The band also leave the confines of the studio and play in a pigsty (with real pigs and real mud), an ice skating rink (while ice hockey players hoon around them) and the dramatic finale – playing on a desolate beach with a flaming piano as the tide comes in.
There doesn’t seem to be any logic behind these locations, other than they look interesting. It almost feels like the band didn’t have enough confidence in their new sound and so were trying to distract viewers with a crazy music video.
This video won Best Video at the 1997 New Zealand Music Awards, beating the videos for Shihad’s “La La Land” and Dam Native’s “Behold My Kool Style”. It was the third win in a row for Joe Lonie, and the second for Siggi Spath, but I’d say those other two videos are more beloved and have held up better over time.
I feel a bit sorry for “Backspacer” era Supergroove now. From all accounts, they weren’t in a good place at this stage and they broke up soon after. But despite all the misery, “If I Had My Way” still has a hint of the playfulness and energy that infused their first album. Karl wearing lipstick and singing with pigs? Go on, lads!
Best bit: the pigs, happily nomzing on scraps, oblivious to the band playing in their shed.
This was a very early version of Dimmer, back when Shayne Carter was really still figuring out what form his new project was going to take. It was another two years before Dimmer really kicked off with the much slicker “Evolution”. This early track feels a lot less polished, almost like a demo.
Shayne Carter plays a man on a mission, purposefully striding around downtown Auckland at night, clutching a leather briefcase. He even walks past the White Lady food truck and gives it a good stare, because you never know what’s lurking in those cheeseburgers.
Directed by Steve Morrison, it’s a very moody video and it seems to be another one influenced by that Tarantino cool. Just watch the interaction between Shayne and the taxi driver who does not approve of his cigarette smoking.
The YouTube comments suggest there may be other footage, with commenter Devilscucumber asking, “Is this the censored version? I feel we are missing a homicide somewhere…” Well, perhaps it’s better to have the menace implied rather than shown.
The taxi takes Shayne to a late-night cafe. Given his earlier visit to the White Lady, perhaps that’s all he was after – some good late-night kai. I bet that cafe does good nachos.
Best bit: the White Lady, good for late-night burgers.
This video comes from the Mutton Birds attempt to take over the world. They were based in the UK and their record company was putting some effort behind them.
The band play the song sitting around in a circle, which is what serious musicians do. Joining them in the circle of seriousness is some sort of director man – as signified by his black skivvie, glasses on a chain and floppy fringe – and a woman with a Juliette Binoche look happening.
Both the director and the woman have what appears to be a script, and they kept refering to it. What sort of script would be required for the Mutton Birds to play a song while sitting in a circle?
DON MCGLASHAN bends forward slightly, furrows his brow and looks into the mid-distance. He sings with a look of sincerity and devotion.
Well, whatever it is, they’re not doing it right, as the director has to keep giving Don notes. The woman mainly chews on her pen.
THE OTHER GUITARIST gently rocks back and forth in his chair. His shaggy fringe is in his face. He looks really bored.
Eventually the director seems less bothered by what the band are doing. Perhaps the implication is that he has come around to their way of performing. Or perhaps the Mutton Birds have learned their part and come around to the scripted way of the director.
Best bit: the director’s serious paper shuffling. He’s a professional.
“A Day Away” was another single from Shihad’s self-titled 1996 album. It’s such a beloved album, and I can’t help feel that it represents Shihad at their absolute peak.
“A Day Away” begins with Jon sitting on the steps of a rickety old house in the city. Now it seems that Shihad videos are not at all afraid of putting frontman Jon out there. There’s a little run-in outside Deluxe Cafe – which has not changed at all in 15 years – which necessitates leaving town in a cherry red Ford. It’s time to get out of Wellington and hit the road.
We see Shihad at a train station, by a caravan, at a Ratana church, on the road, and bothering a herd of cows. From the south of the North Island, they’ve headed north on an epic road trip, ending up at Cape Reinga. The lads sit at the top of New Zealand and contemplate the majestic scenary and life in general. It’s a lot better than all that Wellington drama.
There’s been so much New Zealand pride in videos from 1996. Again, it’s refreshing to see a video that isn’t afraid to clearly set itself in New Zealand.
Best bit: through this video I learned that there are Ratana churches in Northland.
The copy of this video that’s been uploaded to YouTube is an old VHS rip, with wobbly tracking lines and crackly sounds. But some how that adds to the atmosphere of the video.
“Show Me Heaven” is a sweet R&B groove, but the video is much more ambitious. Arriving at Vulcan Lane in a chauffeur-driven vintage car, Marina, Lavina and Maybelle step out to an adoring crowd, while tickertape rains down around them. With a couple of security guys keeping an eye on things, Ma-V-Elle totally own the scene, like Destiny’s Child, Bananarama and the Supremes all rolled into one.
The song is a kiss-off to an unfaithful lover, with the staunch declaration that they will find someone else to “show me heaven”. Could it be that the “someone else” is their loyal, adoring fans, a more reliable choice than a false-hearted lover?
Or is this a literal representation of Heaven? The video has a strong golden brown tint, which gives it a dreamlike feeling. Ma-V-Elle were just an up-and-coming girl group and this song only made it to 36 in the charts. But the video is a perfect example of “fake it till you make it”. I’m happy to live in a heavenly world where Ma-V-Elle are pop mega stars.
Best bit: the massive deluge of tickertape confetti.