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Eighties Video Fandango

Pop videos! Sorry, but it was bound to happen eventually. As I work through my VHS tape collection, I keep encountering the weird and the wonderful. Now I come to both.

The first and second parts of Queen's Greatest Hits have long been out on DVD, but they're twiddling their thumbs over part three. Most of that doesn't really come under the heading of "fun", though, so I'm skirting around it here. The videos from the Made In Heaven album were a mixed bunch, and nobody really likes them anyway; but there is one little gem on the tape that we'll get to later. Elsewhere we have the questionable glory that is Wham!, the sometimes baffling imagery of a-ha, and the ever wonderful E Street Band. That's probably way more music videos in the space of an evening than anybody should ever sit down to watch. Well, perhaps not. I could never tire of Queen or Bruce and the boys, but I really don't think it was entirely safe to watch that many Wham! videos in one go. Dear heaven, the fashions. And the dancing. How the hell did any of us make it out of the eighties alive?!

As well as being slightly silly, the eighties were spectacularly camp. Watching Wham! play, not only is it a source of endless amazement that nobody ever guessed George was gay, but it's also utterly baffling how Andrew managed to become a ladies' man.

They make such a lovely couple. Here, celebrating the eighties at their most blindingly insane, are Wham! doing Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go:

It's the most eighties thing ever. Check out the halfway point, when Andrew suddenly dresses up for the gay Foreign Legion, and George starts dancing around in day-glo fingerless gloves and dreadful shorts. And even then it still hasn't unleashed the full power of its mania. Just wait for 2:30. Marvel at the glory of cocaine. Or possibly too many chocolate milkshakes.

And then from Wham! to a-ha, who somehow manage to be even more camp, though in rather more sensible clothing. To be fair to them, most of the time their videos veer between moody and surreal, especially nowadays. I wouldn't usually call them camp. In VHS videoland we have Morten turning into a Great White shark, and being saved from spear fishermen by his girlfriend - and of course being turned into a line drawing and accosted by angry bikers. Then, from 1988's Stay On These Roads album, we have The Blood That Moves The Body, an hilariously slashy collage that appears to tell the story of a three-way love affair between the members of the band. There's a random woman with a dog wandering about for some reason, but the entire rest of the video is the three guys caught up in the middle of an angsty struggle over whether or not they should just be friends. I can only assume the director was bored.

Continuing with the theme of boredom, here's Queen. Famously they hated appearing on Top Of The Pops, as acts were required to mime, so here they are absolutely failing to bother to look like they're enjoying themselves. This is Las Palabras De Amor, from Hot Space in 1982, so why it wound up on the Greatest Hits 3 video, instead of on the second one, I have no idea. Space, I suppose. It did eventually turn up on the GH2 DVD. Why Freddie and Roger are dressed up in tuxedos, whilst John and Brian are wearing ordinary street clothes, I also have no idea. It's probably safest not to ask.

Next up is the E Street Band, and we join them during the height of video silliness in the Born In The USA era. This was the period when the marketing people kept trying to convince Bruce to do Acting. Consequently the band's fabulously camp bouncing session in a local bar during Glory Days gets frequently interrupted by annoying sequences where Bruce pretends to enjoy baseball. If you ignore those segments this is an absolute joy, though. Danny dancing, Clarence being Clarence, Stevie being brilliantly weird, and Max being all shades of awesome.

Nobody works a cowbell quite like Clarence.

No, it's no use. I can't post just one E Street Band video. Thunder Road is from 1975, but they weren't making videos then. Consequently the Greatest Hits collection features a 1979 concert performance instead. This isn't from the eighties then, obviously. In a nice piece of continuity, though, you still get Danny dancing and Stevie being entertainingly weird. And Max being awesome, naturally. Clarence has gone back to his saxophone though, so there's no cowbell here. Still, you can't have everything.

You don't know how hard it is to resist adding Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) now as well. Oh, go on then. You've persuaded me. This is another song with no video, so this time they used a live performance from 1978. We seem to be creeping further from the eighties, don't we. On reflection, that's perhaps no bad thing - although probably the creeping should be going the other way. Still, what the hell. Time's boring if you only go one direction in it.

I'll shut up for a bit again now. You don't have to look quite so relieved.


( 6 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Apr. 28th, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC)
Some of us got through the 80s because we had made it through the turbulence of the 70s - corporate rock, hard rock, punk, New Wave and more. Disco damned near tried to kill us, but we survived... we survived... hey hey...
Apr. 28th, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, and we cut our teeth on the music that began as peppy-preppy poppy music, but came out screaming "Father, yes son, I want to kill you... Mother...I want to...fuck you," our senses overridden by the scent of Acapulco Gold and burning draft cards.
Apr. 29th, 2012 03:36 pm (UTC)
I wish I remembered more of the seventies. Musically it's a bit of a blur of Queen, Blondie, and the soundtrack of "Grease"! I know my eldest sister was into the BeeGees at the time, but that was fortunately easy to ignore. (She later bought "Bat Out Of Hell", so she's still allowed to be my sister). ;) By the time the eighties rolled around, most music had forgotten how to be angry. For the most part, it doesn't seem to have remembered again yet.
Apr. 29th, 2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
For the most part, that is really quite sad. It's important for music to have a message sometimes. It mobilizes the masses in times of need - and who gives a damn now? Ted Nugent? Please.
Apr. 29th, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
There's still Springsteen. The E Street Band are on tour at the moment, and played Florida last month at the height of the Trayvon controversy. They played American Skin (41 Shots), which Bruce originally wrote back in 2000 in reaction to the killing of Amadou Diallo. I've rarely seen him so angry.


But there's precious little like that around now, it seems. I remember Roger Taylor talking about that when he released The Unblinking Eye a few years ago.
Apr. 29th, 2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
Yep. I love Rog's rage. It's one of the things I admire about him.
( 6 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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