Forgotten from the ’80s: The "performance" video

In the good old days of MTV, before every video was staged by a film crew worthy of a big-studio blockbuster, the budgets were often a little lower. So much lower, in fact, that the “video” might consist of a band … playing the song. That’s it.

You’ve already seen one such video tonight (if you’re checking the blog every time I post in this prolific holiday window) — Yes’ Tempus Fugit. Fellow prog-rockers-turned-80s-popsters Genesis upped the ante with this take on the always-intriguing tune Abacab:

You’ll notice that it’s not completely straight. The band members fade in at the beginning and fade out … oh, wait, I don’t want to spoil the ending. And the special effects kick in just in time to enliven the dramatic part in which Mike Rutherford takes a few steps back, then walks over toward Tony Banks. Oh, the tension! Will he keep walking toward Tony? Or does he want to check in on Phil?

These videos are actually fun to watch, like a concert staged just for you, the viewer, with studio-quality sound. Today’s video directors have forgotten the visual interest of one guy playing drums.

Which is why I’ll nit-pick here and ask a question of our music geek friends: Do you get the feeling Phil Collins isn’t playing the complete drum part with his legs? Either that, or he has a really subtle bass drum motion with his left ankle and manages to get a nice uplift on the hi-hat by moving his right big toe. He just looks like he’s shaking his legs most of the time.

Tony Banks, I’m convinced, is playing every note.


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