Saturday, December 23, 2017

Divinyls - Pleasure and Pain

"Pleasure and Pain" is the second Divinyls video to show up on ERV; "Boys in Town" was posted back in July 2012, shortly before the untimely death of lead singer Chrissy Amphlett.  We view Divinyls as a unique and underrated band who were likely hurt by their hard to categorize sound that managed to combine rock, new wave, and pop elements all at once.

Interestingly, "Pleasure and Pain" was not the lead single off their 1985 What a Life! LP.  It was actually the fourth single released - perhaps because it was not written by the band.  The song was actually co-written by producer Mike Chapman and 1980's songwriter extraordinaire Holly Knight.  (Knight has shown up on the blog before; click on her name in the labels section for more info.)

I remember "Pleasure and Pain" picking up a fair bit of airplay on Boston rock radio when it came out, but the song only reached #76 on the charts, while the What a Life! album peaked at #91.  To be fair, the band did become stars in their native Australia, but it did seem like they never really broke through in the U.S. in the 1980's. (Although "I Touch Myself" did become a big hit in 1991.)

The energetic video featuring Chrissy Amphlett was filmed in the closed Balmain power plant in Sydney, Australia.  In our view it suits the song pretty well:

In addition to the vid, we also found a cool making of video, showing the somewhat boring hard work that went in to making music videos during MTV's heyday.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Neneh Cherry - Buffalo Stance

Although American readers may remember Neneh Cherry as a one hit wonder, she actually had two top 10 hits ("Kisses on the Wind" is the song that you forgot about).  And while her period of commercial success was brief in the U.S., she had a longer stretch in Europe.  For instance, in Britain Cherry had 10 top 40 singles, running through the late 1990's.

Interestingly, Neneh Cherry was born in Sweden, and is the stepdaughter of jazz musician Don Cherry (hence the surname).  After moving to London as a teenager in the late 1970's, she became active in the punk scene but soon expanded into other musical genres.  This would eventually lead to catching lightning in a bottle, as "Buffalo Stance" became a huge hit (reaching #3 in both the U.S. and U.K.)

The song refers to a photo shoot stance, and is named after the Ray Pretri's Buffalo group.  It also pays homage to Malcolm McLaren's 1983 song "Buffalo Gals" (which it samples from).  The catchy tune combines dance and hip hop elements, while the video is a perfect late 1980's timepiece:

However, the 1988 hit version of the song was actually a re-make (cover?) of a 1986 Morgan McVey B side, "Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch" that featured Neneh Cherry.  Morgan McVey were comprised of Jamie Morgan and Cameron McVey, and released one single ever - 1986's "Looking Good Diving."  Two years later, Cameron McVey and Neneh Cherry were an item (they married in 1990) and McVey was producing Cherry's solo album ... and well, you know the rest.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Dio - Last in Line

After years of playing in bands, Ronnie James Dio (born Ronald James Padavona) came into his own in the early 1980's, helped by his MTV-friendly videos.  Dio's band (cleverly named Dio) scored two platinum records and added a gold one to boot before their popularity declined in the later part of the decade.

Although Dio's career traces back to the early 1960s (!) he is best known for being the frontman of Elf (1967-75), Rainbow (1975-78) and Black Sabbath (1979-82).  After leaving Black Sabbath, Dio opted to form his own band with drummer Vinny Appice, guitarist Vivian Campbell, and bassist Jimmy Bain.

"Last in Line," from the 1984 album of the same name, suits our All Hallows Even theme perfectly, and has been on our list for some time.  From the elevator ride from (to?) hell, to the weird goings on in the basement, this is one odd and creepy video.  I particularly like that the band plays only supporting roles in the clip, though Dio is pretty visible towards the end.

Though Dio's popularity faded, Ronnie James remained active in the music industry until his death in 2010.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Golden Earring - Twilight Zone

Welcome to ERV's 6th annual All Hallows Even celebration.  Yes, we've been doing our version of a Halloween party since we started -- way back in 2011.  Older videos can be found using the All Hallows Even tag to the right.

While "Twilight Zone" isn't the rarest of the rare, it is an excellent video and song that suits the seasonal theme to a T.  And it has become somewhat of a forgotten gem in the 35 years (can it really be that long) since it hit our favorite video music channel.

The song is by the Dutch group Golden Earring, who are not a one hit wonder by virtue of their 1973 hit "Radar Love."  That song hit #13 on the U.S. charts only to be topped by "Twilight Zone" 9 years laters, which peaked at #10 in the U.S.

"Twilight Zone" was written by George Kooymans (Golden Earring's guitarist), and was inspired by Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity (before it became a hit movie).  The band translated that inspiration to the excellent video, directed by Dick Maas, and it caught the eye of the folks at MTV for pretty obvious reasons.  The result was a video in heavy rotation for months, and a hit song.

While Golden Earring would not become huge stars in the U.S., they remained successful in Europe (especially their native Holland), and remain active in the industry to the present day.

Oh, and one word of caution -- this is the uncensored version of the song, which includes brief nudity and a drug injection.  (These scenes were removed from the U.S. version back in the day).

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Genesis - Land of Confusion

For the second video of our "confusion" double shot, we went with Genesis' "Land of Confusion" - one of the more overtly political songs of the 1980's.

By 1986 Genesis (and Phil Collins separately) were huge pop stars, and the band seemed far removed from their art rock roots with Peter Gabriel.  In fact, 1986's Invisible Touch would be the third of four top 10 LPs in the U.S., and the fourth of five consecutive #1 albums in the U.K.

"Land of Confusion" was one of five top five singles from Invisible Touch and hit #4 on the U.S. charts.  The video featured puppets from Spitting Image (a British TV show that was popular at the time).  Interestingly, Spitting Image often made fun of Genesis, which led to the idea of using them in the first place.  The political lyrics from Mike Rutherford suite the theme perfectly, and older readers will recall that "Land of Confusion" went into heavy rotation on MTV for a time.

 Eagle-eyed readers may want to try to identify the many politicians and celebrities caricatured in the video.

As many readers will know, Genesis remained major stars through the early 1990's, before fading from view.  In recent years, the band has sporadically re-formed for reunion tours.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Kinks - State of Confusion

We're back, and what better way than with a song that may be more apropo today than when it came out. 

The lyrics of "State of Confusion" touch on both personal and global stresses, and remind the listener that Ray Davies had been on the rock scene for a long time by 1983.  Musically, the strong pop rock sound fits in nicely with the Kinks' early 80's work.

Interestingly, "State of Confusion" was not released as a single in the U.S., although the song did hit #26 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart (based on airplay).  The album of the same name hit #12 on the charts, driven by the success of "Come Dancing" - the Kinks most successful song in decades.

The video seems a little bit more lighthearted than the song, but still conveys the intended message.  I particularly like how Davies singing is out of synch with the song at several points.

While State of Confusion (and "Come Dancing") were the last big successes of the Kinks storied career, long time readers may recall that we featured "Do It Again" on ERV in September 2012.  We encourage folks to check that one out, as well.