This is a longshot, but has anyone in the Halls of Rock ever appeared on a dance show along the lines of American Bandstand? As someone who rarely dances in any situation, I find it really odd to imagine what it much be like dancing to lip-syncing musicians. What does it sound like in the studio? Can you hear the musicians banging their unamplified instruments? How can you focus on dancing with the nonsense in progress onstage?
I’ve been watching a number of old Who videos lately and also wondering if the Who was the first band that went over the top in providing “exciting” lip-synced performances. Have any of our musicians ever lip-synced for a live audience? How weird was that?
Halloween came a little early this year. An atmospheric monster by the name of Sandy gave residents on the east coast quite a scare and is ruining trick or treating for millions. But let’s not let that bitch spoil our fun. I’m calling on my fellow Townsfolk to submit an “unintentionally funny music video that is supposed to be creepy or scary.” Most likely you’ll have to think back to the early ’80s for a good candidate. I’ll let you determine what is funny, but before we begin we must talk about Bonnie Tyler’s nighttime romp through the halls of an all-boys catholic school in the video for Total Eclipse of the Heart. I’m disqualifying this one from the get-go because as an 11-year-old boy watching late-night videos this one genuinely gave me the creeps…and still does.
Let’s get the ball rolling with one that’s supposed to be creepy.
I’ve been reading a Freddie Mercury biography this week, Mercury. It’s pretty good. The author can actually put together a few interesting sentences in a row, which I can’t say for too many biographers. The author and the people interviewed for the book all think Queen was great, a really important band. I still don’t like them beyond 3 or 4 songs. I tried listening to a bunch of their stuff last night, and each song reminded me of how much I thought they were stupid when I was a kid—and how stupid I thought all the kids were who were trying to convince me they were great. I will give them credit for being perhaps the most talented band that adds up to very little for me. Mercury, in particular, was an outstanding lead man. He was like Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern in Wild at Heart. Remember that turd? Nic and Laura acted their asses off to keep David Lynch’s latent effort at wearing a leather jacket halfway amusing.
Anyhow, the Mercury bio dedicates an entire chapter to the promotional film that launched “Bohemian Rhapsody,” one of many Queen songs that make me want to stick a fork in my mid-teens. Someone in the book even compared the video’s impact to the Kennedy assassination footage. I’m almost tempted to call that thing up on YouTube and watch it for the first time in years.
Instead I watched this fun video made by my favorite radio personality, WFMU’s Tom Scharpling. I sense the impact it will have on society will be somewhere between the Zapruder film and an airing of When Things Were Rotten. The song, by Nude Beach, fucking rocks. Scharpling and his partner in crime, Jonny Wurster, bring many belly laughs to my life. I’m always happy to do my part to spread their world. Enjoy.
Based on my tastes in music and novels, you might say I’m a bit of an Anglophile. Sadly, as I near the half century mark, I’ve never been on English soil. Spending a few hours between flights at Heathrow doesn’t count. I need to get there someday.
For every 2 things I love about my father’s people’s contributions to rock ‘n roll, there’s something I find funny. Culturally, historically, and politically—on a level predating Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry—the English and continental Europeans have every right to shake their heads and tsk tsk at our naivete, but when it comes to rock ‘n roll, they’re the babes. For instance, I find the Brits’ love for American soul music both adorable and often highly appreciated. In our own country, specific periods of African American popular music are often left in the dust. You don’t see a whole lot of young African American musicians, for instance, forming Motown-style bands or Stax-style bands. (Yeah, I know it happens a little more frequently these days.) The beat goes on, baby. Gotta keep with the times. White rockers keep the flame burning for the Memphis sound, which their kin had a hand in from the beginning, but large swaths of urban soul styles are ignored by all but some music obsessives who hang around places like the Halls of Rock.
In England I get the idea that our discarded forms of soul music are constantly in high demand. For all the good intentions the island’s music lovers bring to the music—and for all the worthwhile acts of preservation and often-overdue props English artists provide—each generation puts a sparkling, fresh, cheeky take on the music. Often this comes in the form of a cherubic young woman whose booming voice sounds years more experienced and skin tones darker than could reasonably be expected. Despite the pain and suffering evident in the singer’s voice, her image is always of girl-in-the-flat-next-door variety. Adele,of course, is the latest and greatest of these soul stylists.
Most of these English pop-soul belters, male and female, adopt the Look and mien of the cast members of To Sir With Love. I hope Happiness Stan and other friends from across the pond have time to fill us in on the cultural significance that film plays over there. I bet it would explain something regarding the pep and vigor England’s soul singers bring to the genre.
Let’s take a few minutes to review the brief peak of Lisa Stansfield‘s career. I can’t say I know anything about her, and a brief read of her Wikipedia page wasn’t that interesting, but I first heard her music and saw her videos the year my wife and I lived in Hungary, the year when EuroMTV meant so much to me. When I stumbled across this video for “Never Never Gonna Give You Up,” in which the cat had already been dropped as the video begins, I was immediately brought back to a time when it was slightly exhilarating to know that anyone still dug the Barry White records of my teenage years.
It’s time for a Last Man Standing contest. You know how it works: if you have a submission, post it as a response. One submission per post, please. You may not respond twice in a row. The last man standing when all answers have been exhausted or time is up wins the RTH no-prize!
Present a rock video with an acting appearance by someone who was not yet well-known as an actor but would become one later.
We’ll take off the table Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” featuring an unknown Courteney Cox, as the obvious example.
The Sting Rule: Band members or other already-well-known non-actors or celebrities who later turned to acting are ineligible.
The Liv Tyler Rule: Band members’ immediate family are ineligible. And while we’re on the subject of Aerosmith, let’s just make all Bon Jovi videos ineligible.
To start things off, I give you the video for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Swingin,'” from their 1999 album Echo, featuring Robin Tunney, now a lead actor in the popular TV show The Mentalist.
I’ve been searching the Internet for the opening to the old Canadian syndicated video show of my high school years, Rock World, for as long as I’ve had access to surfing the Web. Finally, I have found it. This one goes out to the Class of ’81, especially my bandmates and close personal friends, Townsmen andyr, chickenfrank, and sethro. Hold onto your britches when this clip reaches the 45-second mark!