music, videos

Semi-live blogging VH1 Classic

I’ve got a bit to do this morning, so I’m sorry if I don’t look up all the details on some of these …

Aerosmith, Crazy — Was this the first or the last of the “Crazy / Amazing / Cryin'” trio that unfortunately defined Aerosmith’s late career along with Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing? Can’t remember, and instead of looking it up, I’m checking IMDB to see what the heck is up with Alicia Silverstone … oh, right, that Miss Match sitcom, a couple of art films, some Scooby-Doo voiceovers, married an alleged rock star and will be in some upcoming NBC sitcom called The Singles Table.

Herbie Hancock, Rockit — I’d like to do a reality show about the filming of VH1 reality shows. In this episode, some eager young producer shows up at Hancock’s door and says he’s doing something on one-hit wonders. Hancock smacks him upside the head with memorabilia from his decades with Miles Davis and his Academy Award for best original score.

Journey, Wheel in the Sky — Love the flares. Can’t see old Journey without thinking of the Behind the Music in which a whining Steve Perry says he never felt like he was really in the band.

Billy Squier, Everybody Wants You — Great rock voice, one of his better songs.

Alanis Morissette, Head Over Feet — Tremendously talented singer-songwriter who seems hell-bent on doing weird stuff from time to time to make sure she’s not too popular. This video — the longest closeup of someone’s face since the last Phil Collins album cover shoot — falls in that category. But it’s a such a sweet, earnest ballad that I don’t really mind.

Lionel Richie, Truly — Speaking of ballads, this one blows Hello out of the water. Lush melody, sung with tasteful understatement until he lets loose on the chorus. Actual audible piano. (Pet musical peeve of mine — all those unbearable R&B ballads in which they think the occasional chord change on electric piano is a suitable substitute for actual background music. Not just R&B — Bonnie Raitt does it too.)

Rolling Stones, Start Me Up — I never liked this song, but I guess I have to give it its due. Instantly recognizable opening riff, good Bill Wyman counterpoint. I just get tired of it by the time they hit the hand claps in the chorus. The video is one of those 1980ish “performance” videos with the guys in a studio against a dark backdrop, apparently lit with one or two simple floodlights. You can see Mick’s ribs through his striped purple sleeveless V-neck (with white jeans — you don’t see those much any more). Keith and Ron ham it up as always, while Charlie Watts seems to be laughing at them and Bill seems to be asleep. And hey, they leave in the “You make a dead man come” line. Ah, simpler times.

Linda Ronstadt, It’s So Easy — I love Linda for her Muppet Show appearance in which Miss Piggy takes out her wrath on Kermit for being so obviously smitten with the guest. Near the end, Linda tells Kermit she didn’t realize he and Piggy were so in love, and she’d never stand in the way. Kermit: “Well, you may know that, and Piggy may know that, but the vote’s not in from the frog.” The video? Another performance clip, though they might actually be on stage. The band seems to be the same gaggle of California studio vets who spent much of the 70s and early 80s plodding their way through Warren Zevon albums. Poor guy deserved better.

Simple Minds, Don’t You Forget About Me Alive and Kicking is their masterpiece, and they had a few other highlights (She’s a River), so I’m always a little disappointed when this song comes on. But it’s not bad, and it’s nice to know these guys got their moment in the soundtrack spotlight. Besides, I love Mel Gaynor‘s drumming — here and in Alive and Kicking, he gives such a dramatic presence to the fadeout.

Gerardo, Rico Suave — I’m mesmerized by the way this guy wears about eight different outfits that still manage to leave his pecs and abs exposed. One of the weirdest Weird Al moments — the video for Taco Grande, in which he simply superimposed his song over Gerardo’s video. So Gerardo points to a dancer’s leg and says “Taco.” But here’s something you should know about Gerardo, from Wikipedia — “Now an A&R executive at Interscope Records, Gerardo was responsible for bringing Enrique Iglesias to the United States in 1998.”

Cheap Trick, Tonight It’s You — Ah, the dark period for Cheap Trick in which they didn’t have original bassist Tom Petersson. I saw them opening for Robert Plant soon after Petersson rejoined and they had a massive hit with a song they apparently grew to hate, The Flame. I could’ve skipped Plant. Cheap Trick was great. This video … well, the woman’s boyfriend is busy watching boxing, so she puts on headphones and dreams of Robin Zander. Not convincing. Much better are the Target ads with Bun E. Carlos trading drum riffs with Torry Castellano from The Donnas.

Which were almost as cool as the Luscious Jackson Gap ads.

And I’m going to leave you with that instead of searching for something profound on Stray Cat Strut or Heart’s Alone.


4 thoughts on “Semi-live blogging VH1 Classic

  1. Some odd, not necessarily videocentric, thoughts on these …

    — Aerosmith hasn’t done anything worthwhile since “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” No, really.

    — Journey never did anything worthwhile.

    — You had to be there to understand how much “Tattoo You” revitalized a fan base then resigned to the Stones’ long slide into irrelevance. I went to a Halloween party in ’82 when I was living in New York dressed as Keith Richards, and I won best costume. At a Halloween party. In New York. Think about that a minute.

    Herbie Hancock video just flat rocked (pardon the pun). More specifically, it pushed hard on the boundaries of the rock-video medium.

    Billy Squier — definitely distinctive voice. He was only a mediocre songwriter (“The Music’s Alright” being one example), and I think he could’ve had a long, huge career with better material. That said, “Stroke” still gets played today. Again back when I lived in New York, it was all the rage at the gay bars.

    Linda Ronstadt did “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” in the movie “FM” and of course on the soundtrack. (She also did the Stones’ “Tumbling Dice,” perhaps my all-time favorite rock song.) It wasn’t a BAD performance … just kind of “enh.”

    I love “Alive and Kicking.” When it came out (just after “Don’t You Forget About Me”), I sort of thought it derivative of that song. But you’re right — A&K is much the better song. (Ann has SM’s greatest hits and plays it frequently.)

    And, finally, Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” — damn good in the studio, even better at Budokan. (The production on the latter sometimes sounds as if ambient mikes are being swung back and forth between stage and audience, creating a bit of vertigo.) The budokan album was about all my friends and I played in the summer of ’79, and it still rocks today. My copy died several years ago; I must retrieve it.

  2. Old pet peeve: Aerosmith never properly thanked Alicia Silverstone for appearing in their videos and reviving their career.

    Come to think of it, did they ever thank Run DMC for doing the same thing in the 80s?

  3. I can’t think of new Journey without thinking how how much they need Steve Perry, NOW.

  4. Nit-picking with Lex: For the most part, I agree that Aerosmith’s videos peaked with “D(LLaL),” but I thought their “Living on the Edge” video (starring Ed Furlong) was pretty good. I think it’s interesting that, as good as the album Pump was, nothing from that stuck with me, video-wise.

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