3 The Hard Way “Many Rivers”

“Many Rivers” takes its chorus and inspiration from the Jimmy Cliff classic, “Many Rivers to Cross”. It’s full of contemporary hip hop beats with extra vocals provided by Sulata and Cherie. The video funding was granted before their massive hit debut single “Hip Hop Holiday”, so presumedly someone once thought this was the strongest song.

The video sees the three lads of 3 The Hard Way go to the beach, but it ain’t no sunny seaside moment. No, it’s the rugged west coast beach at Piha with Lion Rock towering in the background as the trio hang out on the empty beach.

Sometimes the beachside setting feels like it’s getting uncomfortably close to a literal depiction of the lyrics, but there’s still that feeling of unease that comes from such a wild beach. Here are three dudes decked out in fresh urban threads, alone in the wilderness. (Given they’re all wearing long sleeves and that the beach is deserted, I’d guess this was filmed on a chilly winter’s day.)

Sulata shows up for the chorus but she’s in Devonport with an evening cityscape of Auckland looking all sexy in the background. Things seem to be far more uplifting for her in the city, and sometimes she’s joined by the boys.

We also see the trio in their natural habitat – wandering K Road at night. It’s like a roll call of dearly departed K Road retail establishments – Deka, Rendalls, Modern Bags and there was even once a Hannahs.

But the video always comes back to the beach, finally leaving us with the trio as they wander off to metaphorically cross the many rivers.

Best bit: Deka, K Road – a good place for pick ‘n’ mix.

Director: Clinton Phillips
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… everybody have fun!

3 The Hard Way “All Around”

1994-3-the-hard-way-all-aroundOver at the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, this video is ominously described as “LA style, basketball, moving images of cars etc projected in background”. The video does have a bit of a West Coast flavour, but there’s no mistaking its Auckland location.

“All Around” is a compass-points-themed shoutout, which also pays a fair bit of homage to A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” (“You know we can!”) It made it to number 22 in the pop charts, and it’s a really upbeat track and actually had me bopping along, swept away by its infectious fun-time charms.

The video is set in various locations around central Auckland. There’s the trio in front of a pile of logs (?) with some green screens playing footage of old videos and the Auckland skyline behind that. They’re also in front of a large graffiti mural being done by DLT – and think this might be the first appearance of live graffiti in a NZOA video. (The second I’ve seen is Joint Force’s “Burntime” video, also featuring DLT.)

The video is accented with some animation – the flickery kind that was popular in the ’90s. Occasionally a compass, a globe, a cool dude playing a saxophone pops up to underscore the lyrics or music.

All this might seem influenced by LA, but this is how a lot of young Aucklanders were back then. There was a specific street culture that took its cues from America but mixed it up with its Pacific location. And this video captures a bit of that scene.

Best bit: hanging out under the Auckland Harbour Bridge, all pylons and security fencing.

Director: Clinton Phillips
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Bonus: here’s a 1994 interview with 3 The Hard Way on TV3’s New Zealand music show “Frenzy”.

Next… alterno angel.

Missing videos from 1994

There’s a Rockquest winner, some more bogan rock, a bit of hip hop, and some reggae.
Continue reading Missing videos from 1994

3 The Hard Way “Hip Hop Holiday”

Every time you play this song, 10CC’s giant swimming pool of money gets a few more gold doubloons. Remember, kids: always clear samples.

Directed by Clinton Phillips and filmed in lovely warm sepia tones, “Hip Hop Holiday” evokes a hot city summer. This is not the New Zealand of going to the beach. It’s the New Zealand of inviting all your friends around to hang out in your backyard.

The lads cruise Aucklandtown in a convertible before arriving at their slightly less urban destination – a suburban house (but it’s a proper New Zealand state house bungalow). Bobbylon from the Hallelujah Piccasos shows up for some guest MCing, and the suburbs erupt into a game of touch rugby and hip-hop-loving.

Fun and charming, “Hip Hop Holiday” is a perfect slice of the early ’90s Auckland hip hop sound. It was the first single with an NZ On Air-funded video to reach No.1, where it happily remained for three weeks in early 1994.

Best best: cruising down that cinematic stretch of Queen Street between Wellesley Street and Mayoral Drive.

Director: Clinton Phillips
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a forbidden dance of desire in seaside Auckland.

Hallelujah Picassos “Rewind”

A song about relaxing and taking it easy, which seems to be the national genre of New Zealand. The “Rewind” video is a cruisy collection of a lively studio performance and scenes from New Zealand.

It’s a fun video that nicely captures the spirit of the song, with green screen used quite thoughtfully. The background images, scenes of both rural and urban New Zealand, are contrasted with the laid-back band.

The video also features the nice bright, highly saturated colour palette that was cool in the ’90s, and I think this kind of colour use has come back around. Now all we need is for chunky green screen to become cool again.

Best bit: the green-screened turntable.

Directors: Clinton Phillips, Peter McLennan
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Bonus: Peter McLennan of the Hallelujah Picassos has again been kind enough to share his experience of the video:

We worked with Stratford Productions on this video, as we did for the previous video Lovers Plus. The latter video was directed by Bruce Sheridan, and for this one we worked with Clinton Phillips. I co-directed the video with Clinton, which was very generous of him, as he did a lot of the work, really. We shot Rewind at the Powerstation, using the stage for the band footage, and shooting from the balcony for the verses, looking down on Bobbylon, singing. We bounced round the stage Roland and myself wearing turntables strapped on like guitars, and Johnnie playing his korg synth, nicknamed the Hog.

The black and white footage in the verses was shot on super 8 film by me, while we were on tour. I gave it to Clinton to send off for telecine transfer over in Sydney and never saw it again, which was a bit sad. There’s also footage shot on video of us clowning round on the roof of Civic House, next to DKD, which also makes a brief appearance in the video. The only green screen is on the record on the turntable, which also serves up my fave shot in the video, at 2.09 – Roland doing his best Michael Jackson tippy-toes dance move.

This song will be included on the forthcoming collection of Hallelujah Picassos tunes, remastered for CD/digital. Out before the end of the year.

Next… do the wildebeast

Missing videos from 1992

There are 22 videos missing from 1992, the most enticing being “Licence to Love” by metal band Scarf who had just come along just as the rawness of grunge was pushing out the extravagance of hair metal.
Continue reading Missing videos from 1992