Loves Ugly Children “Sixpack”

1996-loves-ugly-children-six-packHey everyone, Loves Ugly Children are having a party. Starting the party prep nice and early, Simon jumps out of bed and has barely made it out of the bathroom before the suasage rolls are thrown in the oven. It’s going to be epic.

He gets on the phone and invites all his friends along. Kids, this is what people did in the days before Facebook. He even invites a person in a horse costume. Totally off the hook. (How off the hook was it? Director Andrew Moore says “This shoot was mental. Ended in an epic party scene that resulted in them having to dye their living room carpet another, darker colour.”)

Party prep continues, but I can’t help feel there haven’t been enough invites. Fortunately a young Mormon comes door-knocking. Simon drags him inside, yells at him for a bit and soon enough the young Mormon is helping out with the party prep.

The balloons are out and the party people have arrived. Things are cooking. Everyone’s having a good time – the Mormon, the horse, a kung fu guy, a girl in a cheongsam dress, a sheik, a devil – everything your momma warned you about.

The song is a fun punky love song and director Andrew Moore captures the manic energy of the song. It’s a crazy party as a metaphor for love. And that’s just fine with me.

Best bit: NZ On Screen have also noticed this – the pineapple hedgehog is brilliant.

Director: Andrew Moore
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… it’s NZ Music month!

Head Like A Hole “A Crying Shame”

Instantly identifiable by its trumpet intro, “A Crying Shame” kicks off and enters the world of a circus freak show. Taking inspiration from the strongman on the cover of their album “Double Your Strength, Improve Your Health, & Lengthen Your Life”, the video alternates between colour footage of the band playing the song and black and white footage of sinister carnival goings-on.

A young couple wander into a tent and discover a huckster (played by Booga Beazley) touting a potion, no doubt one that can double their strength, improve their health and lengthen their life.

The young woman can’t resist the promise of the potion. She necks it. What effect will it have on her? Why, it will turn her into a circus freak. As the curtains are drawn back for the eager crowd, the young man gasps in horror as he realises what has happened to his beloved. Oh my. You’d never get that sort of thing with the Mac and Jack Wonder Potion.

Best bit: “Wormy the Human Torso”. I’ve always wondered what a human torso looks like.

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… party time, guys!

Greg Johnson “Liberty”

1996-greg-johnson-libertyliSo, there’s a young woman. Let’s call her Liberty, because that’s what Greg sings in the lyrics. She’s wearing a bad wig. It looks like one of those old lady op shop wigs, made of ratty white nylon. If a character in a music video is wearing a bad wig, there has to be a point where she dramatically pulls it off.

Liberty meets up with Greg and he hands her a black satchel. What is in it? Greg drives Liberty to a fancy apartment, where she meets Greg. Wait, what? Is it his evil twin? Or a Tyler Durden-esque representation of the self? Liberty goes to the bathroom, leaving Greg II alone with the satchel. Looking at herself in the mirror, she reaches up and – whoa, it’s a wig!

Back in the lounge, Greg II is dead on the floor, apparently killed by the satchel of doom. Liberty leaves, meeting Greg I in the car. But wait, wouldn’t it be better to leave the wig on until she had left the building? She runs the risk of being identified leaving the apartment of a dead man.

Seriously, if you need a quality assassinette, you’re better off going with Celia from King Loser.

Best bit: the wig reveal, of course. It’s a wiiiiiig!

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… don’t drink the potion.

Bressa Creeting Cake “Palm Singing”

1996-bressa-creeting-cake-palm-singingActor and comedian Jonathan Brugh stands in for Messers Bressa, Creeting and Cake, hamming it up every second of the video, which led to some people actually thinking he was in the band (along with his triplets?).

For a song with a sunny tropical feel, the video starts off in Little Shoal Bay, admid mangrove swamps, pleasure yachts and with the harbour bridge glistening in the background.

Jonathan then jumps on his bike and heads to the countryside, chaining his bike to a lone phoenix palm in the middle of a field. And when I say chain, it’s a thick old rusty chain, probably stolen off a haunted pirate ship.

Some shadowy black-cloaked figures seem to be up to no good. The hero ends up atop an Auckland high rise, again playing the song, then drives down a palm-lined street, and finally joins the black-cloaked figures for a game of Connect Four. All this is completely normal in the world of Bressa Creeting Cake.

Best bit: Jonathan’s lol face just before he joins in with the Connect Four.

Directors: Ed Cake, Michael Keating
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… following the script.

Upper Hutt Posse “Dread On A Mission”

“Babylon, stop your murdering!” Upper Hutt Posse are dreads on a mission with this politically charged reggae number. The video is directed by Chris Graham and it visits a number of landmarks including Parliament, Wellington railway station and on One Tree Hill with an axe. But there are also scenes on a beach, in the bush and at a marae.

They seem most staunch and at ease when they’re in the rural or coastal areas, far away from Babylon (i.e. the police, the justice system, government). But if the Posse are in the middle of the big bad city, rapping outside the Auckland District Court, they still hold their own.

There’s a confrontation at a train station. A dreadlocked guy bumps into a crowd of skinheads who aren’t happy. He’s outnumbered, but he stands strong and we catch glimpses of the invisible posse behind him. The skinheads beat it. Upper Hutt Posse has a posse.

Best bit: the shirtless MC bothering a man in a suit outside the District Court.

Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… baby, baby, baby, oh?

OMC “Land Of Plenty”

1996-omc-land-of-plenty“Land of Plenty” was the third OMC single to receive NZOA funding and “Right On” was the fourth, but they were released in the opposite order, making “Land of Plenty” OMC’s final NZOA-funded video to be released.

Pauly Fuemana had enjoyed a global hit with “How Bizarre” and local success with the follow-up single “Right On”. “Land of Plenty” gets personal. It’s very much the work of a New Zealand-born child of Polynesian immigrant parents.

“Land of Plenty” is a valentine to New Zealand. While Pauly’s rapping isn’t as good as it has been (he sounds like he has a cold), it is still a strong song with a killer chorus.

The lyrics list places and features of New Zealand: “Oamaru by Timaru, winding roads, sudden bends, Lake Taupo, Bethells Beach.” Pauly doesn’t forget cities, also mentioning “Mission Bay, Cuba Street, Vulcan Lane”.

There’s a cool story behind the production of the video, as told by Simon Grigg in his rather good book How Bizarre. Director Kerry Brown came up with an ambitious treatment for the video that was budgeted at $60,000 – but all they had was the $5000 NZ On Air grant and $15,000 from the record company.

So they got sponsors. The New Zealand Wool Board chipped in $20,000 on the condition that Pauly would wear a woollen jacket in the video. TVNZ contributed another $20,000 with the understanding that Pauly would take part in a promo for the station (which never happened).

Much of the video is second-unit filming around New Zealand, with Pauly and singer Taisha filmed in the volcanic plateau. Pauly was in a foul mood the day of the shoot, but Brown’s directorial expertise transformed the scowls into looks of thoughtfulness.

The video takes inspiration from the lyrics and the typical “scenic New Zealand” tourism film (check out “This is New Zealand” for a glorious example), so there’s lots of aerial footage of mountains, rivers and oceans. But we also visit small towns and the aforementioned urban hotspots.

Both and song and the video capture the appreciation that a migrant family has for their new home, but it also works as a reminder for those of us who’ve been here a bit longer that New Zealand is a lovely country.

The song was used in a 2001 ad by the BNZ, who effectively remade the video with a bigger budget, more BNZ customers and less scenery.

Best bit: the Wizard standing in front of the ChristChurch Cathedral. cries

Director: Kerry Brown
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… mission posse-ble.

Shihad “It’s A Go”

Shihad go underground. In dark black and white footage, we see the band clambering over rocks, as they approach a strange round building in the middle of nowhere. Where are they headed?

We meet Jon in an underground bunker, shot in full colour. This might be in the old tunnels in Devonport, but they also seem like the tunnels on Waiheke Island. Actually, it turns out the tunnels are at Wrights Hill Fortress in Wellington. Despite the spooky setting, Jon looks really happy and gives a great music performance. When he smiles, I smile.

There’s a bit of back and forth between colour Jon in the bunker and black and white Shihad outside, passing through a hole in the fence. Finally the band make it into the underground tunnels, looking very cool as they wall down the long corridors.

They end up in a room with all their band gear in it, and proceed to play the song. Oh, I get it now – Shihad rock so hard and are so loud that they must rehearse in an underground bunker in order to not disturb the neighbours.

Best bit: the cooldude corridor walk.

The video is no longer available online. This should not be happening to such an accomplished group as Shihad.

Director: Kevin Spring
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a sentimental journey.

Lost Tribe “Summer In The Winter”

1996-lost-tribe-summer-in-the-wintersumSomehow this outrageously good song passed me by in the mid ’90s. I was probably too busy listening to boys and girls with guitars. I now mourn for the lost years that I could have spent listening to “Summer in the Winter”.

Ahem. So yeah, it’s a good song and the video is just as good. It’s filmed in various Auckland locations, but it never allows Auckland to be beautiful. Instead it’s bucketing down with rain, or with a murky sky. Auckland rains a lot, but it’s not something you normally see on TV.

The highlight of the video is Johnny Salaga’s performance. With his hair in pigtails and wearing a chatter ring around his neck, he owns the camera.

The Lost Tribe make it clear – this gloomy, rainy Auckland is now the home of Pacific migrants who’ve left their sunny island homes behind. But the kids are alright here. Good things are happening.

Best bit: Johnny Salaga’s chatter ring necklace. Sooo ’90s.

Bonus: here’s a Lost Tribe feature from a 1997 episode of Wrekognize.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the importance of dressing for the occasion.

Head Like A Hole “Hootenanny”

1996-head-like-a-hole-hootenannyHLAH knew how to make people dance. “Hootenanny” is a hootenanny, a boistrous rockstravaganza that got crowds moving. The video works with this energy, using footage of the band playing in various live situations.

There’s a reminder of Bands in the Square, the annual Wellington alternative rock series, sponsored by the much loved radio station Channel Z. It seems quite outrageous to see bands packing out the area between the town hall and the library. These days the Homegrown festival sprawls over most of the downtown waterfront area.

As well as the live footage, we also see the band mucking around in various situations – in guitar studio, jumping into a lake, teeing off, and in front of an old concrete building.

The pace of the video gets a little slack at times, missing opportunities to really kick arse with the music, but it fits right in with the crazy universe of HLAH.

Best bit: mini golf!

Director: Ian McCarroll
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… chatter rings.