Feb 242013

Many of you already know that I am a fairly big fan of the works of Terence Trent D’Arby. The world needs more unapologetically pretentious pop/soul artists, and he certainly was one for the better part of the 1990s.

Anyhow, I chanced upon a listing on YouTube for a TTD video I didn’t know existed: “Dance Little Sister.” Now, I’ve always loved this song — for me, its ferocity seems to transcend the cheeseball 1980s production flourishes that come close to ruining his first album, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby. So it’s a winner, and I eagerly clicked to watch TTD tear it up.

Boy, did I dial a wrong number! Who green-lit this stinker?! The band looks unbelievably uncool in every possible way, TTD seems to lack any interest in what he’s doing, and the “cut-to” scenes of — of what, exactly? — seem to have been flown in from a diaper commercial.

For me, this video was a major, major let-down. I know we’ve talked about “holy grail” audio pieces that have been revealed to suck upon actually hearing them for the first time; do any of you have any video let-downs as disappointing as this one?

I look forward to your responses — and I also attach a rare bit of TTD video that doesn’t suck to show you what I was hoping I’d discover, but didn’t.



  9 Responses to “I Am Sorely Disappointed by Your Video, Terence”

  1. In the late-80s some post-punk pop friends, who made a couple of records, covered two songs by the New Zealand band The Chills in their live set.”Doledrums” is a cracking tune about being unemployed & this weekend I found a video the band made to promote it. I was surprised to see that they looked like student teachers on the way to tea with their Gran. Not at all what I expected but it’s a good song.

    Oh, HDB I checked the non-disappointing TTD clip & I think you must have posted the wrong one because…

  2. jeangray

    Somehow, I just don’t think of the 1990’s when I think of Mr. Darby.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    I don’t mean this in a snarky way — I really want to know: is the Chills’ lack of rock charisma/exceedingly un-rocking Look in this video done a-purpose?

  4. jeangray

    I think so. Check out any of the Stlye Council or Haircut 100 videos from this time period. They sport the same look.

  5. machinery

    Wait, the 2nd video is supposed to be the good one?!!!!

  6. hrrundivbakshi

    Okay, Loosehandlebars and machinery. The gloves are off! What precisely do you not like about that second video?

  7. No need for bare hands HVB. In 1987 Terence’s “poor man’s Prince” shtick was everywhere in the UK. It is such a small market here that you can appear on all the kids’ programmes, get played on a single radio station & you gets yourself a hit. 80s pop…style over substance. “Sign O’ the Times” was a big record that year but it was the Purple One’s 9th record, he’d put in the work. Claiming your debut LP is the most important since “Sgt Pepper” is just talking loud & saying nothing.
    Anyhoo Black music was changing in 1987. Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim. even Schooly D was rocking da house. TTD’s rock/soul mix was kind of old-fashioned when it was released. In Britain the pop kids are suckers for fake soul, what else could explain the whole career of Simply Red ?
    The 2nd album, self-produced (no Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 to provide any modern pop sensibility) ? Well the kids were not ready for a visionary pop godhead. The story at the time were of massive over-production by CBS & copies returned from shops by the lorry load while Lisa Stansfield & Soul II Soul cleaned up.
    So to “Do You Love Me Like You Say”. 1993 & the same bright shiny trinket is dangled before the audience with a little added guitar. There are better tunes, better singers, better dancers & that see-through shirt…he’ll catch a chill ! Move along now, nothing to see here.
    Hey,for you he was one of “the better parts of the 90s” & that’s cool. but you did ask.

  8. Suburban kid

    I enjoyed TTD’s first single, but for me he peaked on that one.

  9. That first video really blows. He would have been better served – and seemed more soulful – had his backing band been composed of multiple images of Phil Collins. Were the backing singers/dancers chosen to provide contrast? Did they have to go that light to show D’Arby in a “soulful” shade?

    The song was bad too. Really makes me appreciate the works of Collins and Stevie Winwood’s “Back in the High Life Again.”

    Now, this may surprise you, but “Do You Love Me Like You Say You Do” is the one TTD song that ever made an impression on me! I even bought that album. Lord knows where it is in my collection these days! A little background and analysis following the song’s original video, my introduction to it.


    This is one of a dozen or so songs I probably would not have liked as much as I did if I hadn’t first been exposed to it while my wife and I were living in Hungary for a year. There’s something about being far from home and having limited media options that will loosen a man’s preconceptions. I had NO interest in that first TTD album, the one that was better than Sgt Pepper’s. Like the first Nick Cave song I ever liked in 1993-1994, our year abroad (I’m blanking on the name, but like this video and PJ Harvey’s one about floating down the river it featured lots of pulsating camera movements and silly dancing), I was first attracted to this TTD video by its bombast. The guy was taking on Prince and Michael Jackson in Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt. Had that episode even been broadcast yet? I just saw it again last night, coincidentally.

    I like how the song comes out of the gates at max intensity. There’s no long build-up, no sense of dynamics. I like the “marimba” part that floats over the combination of funk guitars and the same fuzz guitar part that Talking Heads used in the fadeout of “Once in a Lifetime,” which they lifted from the Animals’ “Don’t Bring Me Down.”

    I really like the disconnected backing vocals that respond on the chorus. To me, that part puts the song over the top in a supremely cheesy AM pop kind of way. By that, I mean, it’s a device that as a kid fascinated me, spoke to me, and clearly suggested that the ONLY place on earth to achieve such sounds (cheesy or not) would be in a recording studio. The cheesy effects of David Essex’s “Rock On,” are among the first examples that come to mind of this powerful message I got from the radio as a kid. Sometimes I’m still impressed by artifice for artifice’s sake.

    Getting back to the song’s original promo video, let’s not discount the quick cuts to the girl(s) dancing and all the solo shots of each band member laying out for all they’ve got. Is there ever more than one person in a shot? How weird must it have been for each band member to ham it up individually and then an editor to cut that stuff together? I’m not a visual arts guy, but I bet kids in the early ’90s were inspired to go to film school after seeing that wealth of artifice.

    All the solo posturing also has the effect of NFL and NBA players hamming it up as they are introduced before a game. It gets me psyched up. I want to make some popcorn, baby! What came first, this video or Michael Jackson’s “Black or White”? One surely influenced the other. MJ really busts loose in that excellent video. Ray Lewis must have watched that thing for hours.

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