Showing posts with label 1981. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1981. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

64/100 Video - "I Missed Again" - Phil Collins (1981)

Today's clip is a shout-out to THE ultimate budget video.

In the video for "I Missed Again", Phil Collins not only lip syncs (natch), he also plays the air version of ALL the instruments. Horns. Guitars. Drums. ALL of them.

I've attempted to estimate the actual costs for producing this minimal video.

Based on 1981 costs...

  • one can of white paint for wall, so $10.
  • one camera guy for 30 minutes @ $20/hr, so $10. 
  • clothing provided in-kind, care of Phil’s closet.

Total estimated budget of a $20 US bill.

A few years later, in an ironic twist, Phil would be involved on producing one of the most expensive videos of the era. Stay tuned for that one...

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

91/100 Video - "Whip It" - Devo (1981)

Filmed on the set of a ranch, "Whip It" by Devo is among the weirdest videos ever made.

The band members sport sleeveless black turtlenecks, black shorts and black boots, topped off by flowerpot hats.


The weirdness is only beginning. While one woman is seduced by a cowboy, another has her clothes expertly removed by the band's bullwhip-wielding lead singer as he and his colleagues tell their audience to: 

Whip it
Into shape
Shape it up
Get straight
Go forward
Move ahead
Try to detect it
It's not too late
To whip it
Whip it good

And only recently had I learned that the video has political undertones. 

Partially a reaction to President Ronald Reagan's previous career as a Hollywood actor, Devo wanted to create a video that satirized both the cowboy mythos and "right-wing racist values".

Monday, December 28, 2020

100/100 Video - "My Girl" - Chilliwack (1981)


One Sunday morning, fall 1981. 

I would have sat directly in front of the living room TV and watched Switchback, a new variety program for kids and teens featuring celebrity interviews, cartoons, comedy and puppets. I was 12.

Hosted by Stan the Man on CBC, he would also introduce two or three music videos during the hour-long show. 

"My Girl" by Chilliwack, a veteran group from Vancouver, British Columbia, played on the TV.

And it was awesome! 

This music video may not be among the most creative of its time, but it was my first, thus automatically claiming a spot in the top 100 purely for nostalgia. 

There is one particular iconic scene that is forever etched in my mind. It's when the three band members snap their fingers over a burning garbage barrel, while the lead singer chants: "Gone, gone, gone, she been gone so long, She been gone, gone, gone so long.

Well, the girl in the video was indeed gone. Gone far away from the vocalist who was longing for her. Gone via limousine. Then gone by a charter airplane, likely headed towards the brighter lights of Toronto.

As for the song itself, the vocal harmonies are outstanding. "My Girl" peaked at #3 in Canada. 

What was the first music video you remember watching?

Monday, February 3, 2020

1981 - "Urgent" - Foreigner

We were on the cusp of the video revolution in 1981. Although classic rock still dominated the radio, new wave tunes were edging up the charts. "Urgent" is a sort of hybrid: a rock tune embracing the synths. The track oozes confidence: the guitars, the sax solo, the keyboard riff, the vocal delivery. 

Maybe it was puberty knocking on the door, but I loved the bloated machismo. The pulsating intro. The irresistible beat. Lou Gramm's vocals about an impending hookup. The unrelenting sax solo. 

It still holds up after all these years; the track is still a solid addition to any road trip playlist.

I believe I was introduced to "Urgent" on the K-Tel album compilation Hit Express which also featured Loverboy, Journey and the like. I didn't realize until much later that it was a young Thomas Dolby playing the keyboards (recall "She Blinded Me With Science"?).

Other favourites from 1981: 

"I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)" - Hall & Oates

"The Sound of the Crowd" – The Human League

"Under Pressure" – Queen & David Bowie

Sunday, March 3, 2019

#34. "I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)" - Hall & Oates (1981)

"I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)" by Hall & Oates is legendary. 

The intro is fantastic then a myriad of hooks galore keep you groovin'.

It's such a fun song with its sing-a-long chorus, shimmering keyboard overdubs and layered backing vocals. 

The song's legacy is carved in stone with a number of claims to fame:

- Infectious bassline inspired Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"
- Invented the phrase "no can do" still used by all the generations
- One of the first songs to use a drum machine

What gets lost in the genius of the music is the meaning of lyrics, the apparent rejection of a one-night stand offer. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

#40. "Urgent" - Foreigner (1981)

"Urgent" by Foreigner is a classic rock tune that holds up after all these years; the track is still a solid addition to any road trip playlist.

I believe I was introduced to "Urgent" on the K-Tel album compilation Hit Express which also featured Loverboy, Journey and the like.

There is so much to like here. The pulsating intro. The irresistible beat. Lou Gramm's vocals about an impending hookup. The iconic neverending sax solo. 

I didn't realize until much later that it was a young Thomas Dolby on the keyboards (recall "She Blinded Me With Science"?).

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

#69. "Rapture" - Blondie (1981)

We all remember "Call Me" and "Heart of Glass" from those K-tel compilations albums but it's "Rapture" that I keep coming back to almost 40 years later.

Blondie is one of my fave American artists, born from the new wave/punk scene of New York City in the mid to late 70s as artists congregated from around the globe and transformed music.

"Rapture" is just so cool and original. The soothing vocals, driving bass line, funky guitar and ambient horns create a groovy trance-like quality. It's like slow disco, even somewhat ambient.

Then seemingly out of nowhere the tune turns hip-hop near the end with Debbie Harry rapping about the man from Mars. 

"Rapture" became the first song with some rap in it to hit #1. The lyrics borrows from the classic The Sugarhill Gang "Rapper's Delight' that came out a year earlier­. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

#70. "Under Pressure" - Queen with David Bowie (1981)

"Under Pressure" is simply a classic: a heartfelt anthem that takes stock of the essence of life itself.

The tune magnificently showcases two of the greatest trailblazers and front men in the biz, forever reminding us the power of collaboration. 

This is also a test: the artist you first recognize when you hear that magical opening bass line will tell you how old you are.  

Just ask this guy:

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Bubbling under: "In The Air Tonight" - Phil Collins (1981)

"In The Air Tonight" is best experienced at night (duh) on headphones or while driving. This atmospheric track is unfailingly hypnotic and should the song put you in a trance while behind the wheel the iconic drum break should be able to wake you up.

A couple years later Phil with his band Genesis repeated his success with the slightly more sinister and moodier "Mama".