One of the things I appreciate about the early-ish days of MTV now more than I did then was getting to watch videos they tried but failed to help break out. I didn’t necessarily think of it this way at the time, but I suppose it was an opportunity to expand my musical horizons. There were a few late nights in the summer of 84 I spent on the couch in the family room hanging with Mark Goodman, the folks having already gone to bed. Let’s take a glance at a couple of snippets from Memory Lane.
First, a clip from an obscure Australian band whose name, if nothing else, stuck. “Someday, you’ll look back and remember that on July 10, 1984 (or whatever date it was), you saw this video from Machinations”—Goodman really did say something along those lines! I never saw or heard them again and I sure don’t remember what song he played, but a little investigation makes me suspect it was “Pressure Sway”—the visuals ring the faintest of bells.
Then there was the evening I got introduced to a band from the UK who were a bigger deal than I realized. Goodman had rolled “Confusion,” from New Order; I confess I didn’t find it particularly appealing. Perhaps the memory of seeing it lingers now only because they did have greater success three years later.
It was a genuine surprise to learn toward the end of 87 that the much more catchy “True Faith” came from these same folks (yes, “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” had slipped by unnoticed in the meantime). Clearly I wasn’t the only one digging it, since it’s #37 on this show and would reach #32. Its plenty bizarre video probably helped the song break through to the masses (it’s directed by Philippe Decouflé, a French dancer and choreographer—it wasn’t hard to tell he was also behind the camera for Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy” a little over a year later).
I wish I’d had the foresight to record those late night sessions back in 84—I wonder about the other vids I saw only once that left no trace.
While we’re on the subject of MTV obscurities: as a bonus, here’s a link to a really awful song/video I saw a few times too many back in the day. It’s sooo bad that it shouldn’t be allowed to simply slip away through the memory hole completely. Take a gander at “The Animal Song,” by the Europeans; you’re welcome.