Thursday 7 April 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 94 (Top Ten): Music Videos

Music Videos have had a funny relationship to selling singles and albums down the years. First made in the 1960s when groups like the Beatles and Stones still wanted to plug their products but would have caused riots had they appeared in TV studios, they really took off in the 1980s when arguably more care went into the videos than the music – and have now disappeared again to the point where only multi-million pound superstars make them (ie the people who’d sell millions of copies without the videos – what the heck is going on with today’s music market?!) The AAA crowd have, naturally enough, delivered quite a few classy and pioneering promos down the years – along with plenty of weird ones too (such as The Hollies miming to ‘Dear Eloise’ in a car park and the AAA king of promo videos Paul McCartney miming to his song ‘Press’ while on a tube station – oh and incidentally can any Macca fans please explain what on earth the baffling video to ‘This One’ is all about, I’m still getting nightmares!) Honorary mentions too to a second Macca promo ‘Coming Up’ which is well worth looking out for and highly cleverly edited and the under-rated monochrome psychedelic one for the under-rated ‘Pretty Little Head’ which have both been left off this list in the sake of getting more artists included in our list!) 10cc too did a whole series of classy videos in the 70s, with the under-rated ‘Oomachasooma’ tennis match promo about the best (certainly the weirdest!) – which we’ve had to leave off the list in favour of a pioneering Godley and Creme vid. There’s a few missing here as well – The Monkees were the darlings and indeed pretty much the creators of MTV but most of their promos tend to be mimed songs or romps from the Tv series and as such are disallowed (I’ve also never actually seen Mike Nesmith’s own pioneering vids although I suspect I might have to add ‘Rio’ to this list from what I’ve heard about it). The Beatles, too, are just pipped at the post for this list despite starting the trend of filming themselves singing to avoid having to appear on every single TV programme that asked them. But, these aside, here’s our handy guide to the best AAA promos out there and whether they’re currently available on video or DVD or not:

10) Neil Young “This Note’s For You (1988, not yet available so keep your eyes peeled on VH-1!): The funniest AAA video is surely Neil Young’s MTV-kicking sponsorship deal-blowing video for one of his lighter songs (heard on the bluesy album of the same name). ‘Ain’t singing for Pepsi, ain’t singing for Coke, don’t sing for nobody, makes me look like a joke!’ sings Neil to a parpy chorus of blaring horns while a bunch of spoof music videos go o n behind him (including a Michael Jackson lookalike whose hair really is set on fire – like the close-run accident Wacko Jacko nearly had filming an advert for Pepsi, although my personal favourite is a Whitney Houston wannabe whose wig falls off mid-song!) MTV got so many requests for this video in the late 80s they showed it regularly –more than any other video on this list – but balked when it was voted ‘best video of 1988’ on a sponsored MTV programme and pulled it at the last minute. To the best of my knowledge, it’s only been seen since on YouTube. Which is a shame – Neil at his funniest.   

9) Rolling Stones “We Love You” (1967, not yet available so keep your eyes peeled on VH-1!): Another pioneering clip was this one from the Stones, one of the first videos to tell a ‘story’ rather than feature miming musicians and almost as inventive and daring as the soundtrack (it’s still my favourite Stones song!) Mick Jagger is in the dock as Oscar Wilde, girlfriend Marianne Faithful appears as the ‘friend’ Oscar is meant to have been carrying ‘relations’ with and Keith Richards, resplendent in wig, is the judge. Seeing as the video was filmed when the two Stones were still facing trumped up drugs charges, this is heady taunting stuff and the message is clear: in the 1960s the cases against homosexuals from earlier in the decade brought a sudden wave of sympathy and incredulity from the general or at least the younger with-it public; in the future the same will be said about youngsters on the lowest class of drugs. Elsewhere we get almost our last shot of the original Stones as a five piece band; Brian Jones is clearly in decline and yet, somehow, they still look like a fully functioning ‘band’ for the last time (and yes, that really is Brian playing the terrific and complex never-repeatable mellotron solo at the end!) 

8) The Monkees “Heart and Soul” (1987, available on the VHS ‘Heart and Soul’): The only true specially made promos by The Monkees not specially designed for a TV programme were for their first two ‘reunion’ singles in 1987 starring Micky, Peter and Davy. This first video is hilarious – the out-of-work band from the TV series are back together, having been revived from a freezer dated ‘the 1960s’! - walking down the street in days of old, but can’t afford to make a full video – so they find a ‘rent-a-tent’ film studios and put their money in the meter outside. Cue much spoofing of 1980s rock stars and a typically down-to-earth experience for The Monkees which deserved to have been seen more – and to have sold more copies of the pretty spiffing comeback single too. The band certainly put their ‘heart and soul’ into it! The second, ‘Every Step Of The Way’ with the band dressed up as heavy metal rockers, is fun too.   

7) The Kinks “Predictable” (1981, available on the DVD and VHS ‘Come Dancing With The Kinks’): There are a long range of Kinks promos in the 1980s directed by future star Julian Temple, then just a young kid with a Kinks obsession, but ‘Predictable’ is about the best, giving Ray Davies some great chances to indulge in his own acting obsession. We see Ray as a hapless figure from the 50s (with greased back hair)the  60s (with pyschedelic kaftan and lots of drugs) and in modern day (in a yuppie business suit with all the lateswt gadgets in his room) but despite the appearance some things never change – things still keep going wrong for Ray’s character in a variety of infuriating ways which, ironically enough, aren’t as predictable as you might expect. Cue much Kinky hilarity.

6) Crosby, Stills and Nash “Southern Cross” (1983, not yet available so keep your eyes peeled on VH-1!): There’s nothing much going on in this rarely seen promo, but I love it anyway for it’s air of untrying casual cool. We see Stills busy steering a ship – not Crosby’s beloved Mayan apparently though it’s similar – while back in the studio all three men add some sparkling harmonies. Ships and boats have always been a big CSN symbol (‘Wooden Ships’ ‘Shadow Captain’ etc), a metaphor for the way that life steers out of control or offers escape from mainland troubles, but this song about picking yourself up after disappointment is a perfect match between words and music. All together now, ‘Think about how many times I have fallen...’

5) Grateful Dead “A Touch Of Gray” (1987, not yet available so keep your eyes peeled on VH-1!): Another classy promo with a bit of fun attached was this ‘comeback’ single for the band’s first release since Jerry Garcia’s coma two years earlier. As if the ‘I will get by, I will survive’ chorus wasn’t enough, the band makes fun of the whole event by replacing each member of the band with specially designed puppet skeletons, dressed in the band’s clothes and made specifically to their measurements (the Garcia puppet is even accurate to be missing one of his fingers, like the real model!) Look out for Micky Hart’s dog running off with the drummer’s leg during the last verse! Classic.

4)Moody Blues “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” (1988, available on the DVD ‘The Moody Blues Collection’ and a Video-CD single of the title track): Another story song which is a sort of sequel to the band’s well received promo for ‘Your Wildest Dreams’. In that song a lot of scarily accurate looking youngsters play the band’s 1960s selves (OK, so technically Justin Hayward and John Lodge weren’t in the band in this period but that’s artistic license for you!) while a groupie falls in love with singer Justin and follows him around. This sequel video finds Justin remembering the girl and wondering what happened to her with lots of moving shots of the pair mirroring each other without knowing it, wondering what their lives could have been if things had gone differently. Very Moodies and the perfect match for the contents of the song.

3)Godley and Creme “Cry” (1983, available on VHS ‘Changing Faces – The Best of 10cc and Godley and Creme”): Music videos were still people miming (often badly) to their own songs before Godley and Creme, recently released from 10cc commitments, pioneered the art form. This promo is still their most famous and the most cutting edge (although fans should look out for their distinctive ‘video player’ promo for the under-rated ‘Golden Boy’ single too). In ‘Cry’ the duo’s faces morph into a whole cast of unknown extras of different ages, races, genders and classes, each of them mouthing a line of the lyric before turning little by little into someone else. Lol Creme revealed later that the hi-tech effects only worked if the people in shot stayed very still – so they tied everyone’s heads to the back of a frying pan to keep them in shot! A classy song anyway, ‘Cry’ is made even stronger by this inventive moody video which made the sentiments seem universal and epic. It made me wanna cry... 

2) Oasis “Whatever” (1995, available on DVD on ‘Time Flies’):There are lots of great Oasis music videos on their recent ‘Time Flies...’ DVD, many of which I’d never seen and pretty much all of them on a bigger budget than this one (there’s even a return to Pepperland for ‘All Around The World’!) But this small budget promo for the band’s non-album single is hilarious – the band are meant to be miming to an orchestra and that’s that, but Noel Gallagher, a bit worse for wear after a party the night before and already getting fed up of this popstar lark, simply messes around. First he upstages brother Liam by appearing in shot when he’s trying sing, then he’s got a broom, then he’s mimicking the violinists, then he’s playing football, then he’s offering the production team a McDonalds. Liam, enjoying the major part the video’s given him for the first time, looks daggers at his brother whose so busy getting a giggling fit he barely notices. Not Oasis’ most distinguished moment by any means, but somehow ‘Whatever’ works like the Beatles’ Christmas fanclub records or Keith Moon’s radio shows, making the biggest band in the world at the time appear human.  

1) Paul McCartney “Pipes Of Peace” (1983, available on DVD on ‘The McCartney Collection): It was a big problem whether I should pick this First World War re-enactment or the similarly classy video for ‘Coming Up’ where Macca effectively plays with himself in a band called ‘The Plastic Macs’ in deference to the Plastic Ono Band, appearing in lots of guises including The Beatles circa 1963! But ‘Pipes of Peace’ is an entirely different beast, one of the few promo videos that really does try to change the world in a small way instead of making its audience laugh and is genuinely moving I think, despite the stick both songs and video have taken down the years. Paul is a soldier in the trenches, dreaming of getting back to his girlfriend back home when suddenly a day of truce is declared on Christmas Day and Paul goes over the trenches to meet his German equivalent. The pair swap stories and pictures and even play some football before some unbeliever throws a bomb in their wake and they scuttle back to their holes. If this story wasn’t true this promo would be a laughing stock – but it is, right up to the point where the bomb falls (even the uniforms are spot on – in a nice twist Paul is wearing a Royal Lancashire Regiment uniform, which is what he would have been wearing as a Liverpudlian conscript in the 1914-19 war). A very special video indeed for one of Macca’s most under-rated songs.

And so ends another newsletter. We’ll be getting back to the audio rather than the visual next week – see you then!   

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock

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