Top Ten Videos (of the moment)
I’ll tell you right up front, I never wanted my MTV. Not really; not desperately as so many of that MTV generation did. I was a child of the 70’s. I would say 60’s, being born as I was in 1960, but I truely only ever discovered The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and the mighty Led Zeppelin around 1973, ’74 or ’75. The only way to see a band perform their songs back in the day was to go and see them live and in concert. Even the idea of seeing a band performing their music was relegated to The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dick Cavett Show or other such afternoon / evening fare.
1. Phasors On Stun – FM (Black Noise)
For me, the first “video” show that I can remember were the likes of The Midnight Special, In Concert and the Canadian produced Nightmusic Concert where I saw what I widely consider to be the first video of a band promoting one of their compositions that I ever saw. That would be a fledgling Canadian band, FM by name, playing the classic Phasors On Stun, a song that would eventually find it’s way to their first release Black Noise. Fans of the band in general and the inigmatic Nash The Slash take note. This is one of the few performances where you will see NtS without his trademark bandages wrapped snuggly around his face.
2a. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen (A Night At The Opera)
The video which is widely considered to be the grandfather of modern day music videos is Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. The fact that I was head over heels in love with Queen when this video made it’s debut honestly has no bearing on it’s inclusion on this list. To this day, it is still a freaking cool video, although all you ever really see are the infamous singing heads and Queen miming along in a concert setting.
2b. Bohemian Rhapsody – The Muppets
As a bonus, I have included The Muppet’s stellar take on this iconic video.
3. Video Killed The Radio Star – The Buggles (Debut single)
On August 1, 1981 MTV launched and music video would never, ever be the same. While I was alive at the time, I can’t profess to have been watching on this dubiously auspicious day. Still, here is the first video ever played on MTV. Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes would go on to record one album with the band Yes, filling in for the, at the time, departed Jon Anderson on vocals and Rick Wakeman on Keybaords respectively.
I have provided two links here: One of just the video alone while the other link relives the first 18 minutes odd of the MTV station launch, including a couple of technical glitches. The video starts at around the 15 minute odd mark.
4. Waiting On A Friend – The Rolling Stones (Tattoo You)
Even so called dinosaurs like The Rolling Stones were getting in on the act. After a classic video for It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It) which had the lads dressed as sailors on shore leave, cavorting neck deep in bubbles in 1974 the band made a big splash with a classy, somewhat dreamy take on the Tattoo You classic Waiting On A Friend. The song actually started out life in 1972 – 1973 during their Goat’s Head Soup sessions and, as such, contains guitar parts from long departed Brian Jones replacement, Mick Taylor on the finished product.
Cool things about this video include Peter Tosh as one of the three Rastafarians sitting on the steps while Mick Jagger is awating the arrival of Keith Richards. That and the fact the building, located at 96 and 98 St. Mark’s Place in New York City, which they are waiting infront of was featured on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s seminal Physical Graffiti album.
5. Thriller – Michael Jackson (Thriller)
While I have never been a HUGE Michael Jackson fan, I am willing to admit that he released more than his fare share of catchy tunes, starting with his days in the Jackson 5 right the way through until oh, say, Black and White. After that he just far to freaky for me. The first major OMG moment of the fledgling medium of music video was the title song for his multi gazillion selling album Thriller. I figure that any song containing a rap by Vincet Price has got to be worth the price (no pun intended) of admission; directed by John Landis to boot, this was and still is one cool video.
The first time I saw this video was on December 2, 1983 following a game of pick up hockey, at Brooklin Arena; my fellow Athletic Supporters and I had made our way down to The Filling Station on Simcoe Street North in Oshawa. How can I be so certain of the date? Well, that was the day the video was premiered. We were waiting for our first round when the previously announced premiere time rolled around. The leadup hype had been such that everyone in the bar went quiet and watched the entire 13 odd minutes of the video. Some even applauded once it ran its course.
Such was the uniqueness of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
6. Where The Streets Have No Name – U2 (The Joshua Tree)
Question: What do U2 and The Beatles have in common?
Answer: Other than the fact that U2 have frequently paid tribute to The Fab Four live in concert, their video for Where The Streets Have No Name is an almost, frame for frame homage to The Beatles last live performance; their legendary “Rooftop Concer”. Including the police showing up to shut down proceedings.
Coincidence? Not bloody likely… and just how brilliant was that.
And just how painfully young do Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr look in this video.
7. Walk This Way – Run DMC with Aerosmith (Raising Hell)
While some of the old guard were caught off-guard with the video revolution there were some older bands who embraced the medium and managed to revilatize their career with savvy collaberations and cutting edge video treatments. One older band that really parlayed this new medium into a surprising resurgence in their otherwise doomed career were one of my all time favorite bands, Aerosmith.
These bad boys from Boston had self destructed in 1979 with original guitar slingers Joe Perry and Brad Whitford leaving the fold. The band soldiered on but things just weren’t the same. While the original lineup did reform in 1985 it wasn’t until they, or at the very least Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, guested on rap sensation Run DMC’s cover of the old Toys In The Attic chestnut, Walk This Way, that their comeback really took flight.
It didn’t hurt any that the video is actually pretty funny.
9. (You’re A) Strange Animal (Strange Animal)
While most, if not all of these video pioneers have been American (save FM, remember that video way back at the top of this heap), Canadians were by no means slacking off in this new realm. One of the mediums biggest Canadian proponents was Gowan. Oh, I’m sorry, Lawrence Gowan as he now exists as current keyboard player and co lead singer for Styx.
But, back before we could call him Larry, Gowan released an all time classic album, titled Strange Animal; an album that featured none other than Peter Gabriel’s backing band in support. This album spawned three classic songs / videos at the very least. Here, for your edification, is his first. Ladies and Jellybeans, I give you (You’re A) Strange Animal.
10. White Punks On Dope – The Tubes (The Tubes)
Well before their time, The Tubes embraced music video a goodly five years before MTV ever dared raise it’s ugly head; playing pre taped segments on strategically placed monitors scattered willy nilly around the stage while they unleashed their singular brand of mayhem upon the masses.
I was fortunate enough to catch The Tubes live in 1978 and it still remains my single favorite concert experience of all time. Have there been concerts before or since that were better musically? Most definately. Have there been concerts before or since that were even more visually arresting? Sure. But have there been any concerts before or since that blended sheer musicality with jaw dropping stage presentations and cutting satire? Not on your bloody life.
That’s what The Tubes are here for.