Archive for the ‘Video crazy’ Category

John Foxx video compilation (Virgin Music Vault, VVC582 1989)

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

This odd little release was one in a series of short video compilations of Virgin label catalogue artists issued in 1989, while VHS was still the format of choice. Amongst other acts of interest in the series (at least for me…) were Skids and Magazine. This video was the first time I was able to view again some promo videos I had seen only a handful of times anyway back in the very early ’80s, and some I had never seen before, so it was a welcome purchase, despite the brevity (clocking in around 25 minutes). Being a UK based Top Of The Pops viewer, the videos were less common sights due to the frequent and memorable John Foxx appearances in the TOTP studio, not least for ‘Underpass’, ‘No One Driving’ (the latter with no less than four Yamaha CS80’s for the backing band!) and ‘Europe, After The Rain’.

John Foxx 1989 UK VHS video EP

^ John Foxx 1989 UK VHS video EP

Opening with minimal, cheapo title graphics, it goes straight off into ‘He’s A Liquid’, in its alternative mix form that has since gained a re-release on various CDs, but was first issued as one side of a white label promo-only 12″ single along with ‘Underpass’ on the other side (Virgin VDJ31, 1980). Its like the ‘Metamatic’ LP cover come to life at times, but with Foxx in a mysterious slow-motion mystery dance of recognition with a female clone of his personae come to life from the familiar ‘Metamatic’ screen, that ultimately replaces him.

It is followed by ‘Underpass’ – notably, in its original, colour, video form – as videos for ‘Underpass’ were made available many years later on the ‘Metatronic’ compilation, but re-worked. This is properly Ballardian in its scope and very early 80s – all glowing strip lights, video screens, characters illuminated by film projectors, post-apocalyptic children playing/sheltering with an abandoned shopping trolley, while Foxx and musical conspirators cooly mime to the music -all on synthesizers, natch. Interspersed is footage of motorway driving, underpasses and the like.

The ‘Metamatic’ era continues with the promo video for ‘No One Driving’. Foxx mimes and dances to the music lit by eerie green light or against a broiling sky background or with that classic early ’80s illuminated Venetian blinds trope, while his band of keyboard players are this time surrounded by twirling strip-light cube constructions. For the middle-eight, two ‘Come Dancing’ style ballroom dancers take to the floor. A field day for any early ’80s/new romantic/futurist haters who like to take the piss on anything remotely pretentious – by God, Foxx looks good here though and you can see why this video in particular has been plundered for various record covers – firstly the ‘Burning Car’ 7″ picture disc in 1980 and most recently the limited edition ‘Burning Car’ vinyl LP from 2016. On this video, it is a shorter, sub three minute edit of the album mix that is used, not the re-recorded single mix. When re-issued on the ‘Metatronic’ compilation, that video uses an edit of the single mix instead.

John Foxx 1989 UK VHS video EP - rear cover

^ John Foxx 1989 UK VHS video EP – rear cover

‘Miles Away’ is up next and of all the videos contained on here, it has the one with the most personal resonance I think – it was such a rarity on UK terrestrial television (1980, a grand total of three TV channels to choose from!) to see these kind of videos at one time and this one I recall seeing only the once on some later afternoon ITV show during the week and being struck by the imagery. While it starts off all a good bit more animated and upbeat, Foxx having discarded the stiff, crisp suit, shirt and tie of the previous videos, the strange dissolved man / empty suit is recreated from the front cover of the single’s picture sleeve. But even further than the sleeve… the same empty suit/dissolved man transplanted to a commuter train and a park bench – while scenes of a deserted swimming pool and Foxx floating still on his back, fully suited and booted add to the eerie and mind-boggling for a youngster experience.

Moving on to the era of ‘The Garden’ – while John had appeared on the UK chart show Top Of The Pops to mime along to ‘Europe, After The Rain’, a promo video was produced for ‘Dancing Like A Gun’ – it was shown on Saturday morning’s kids TV, ‘Swap Shop’, I think – but I wasn’t in to see it – my younger brother was and he described it to me on returning home. I thought he was having a laugh. He described at as having characters that were kung-fu kicking and each time they did there was a lightning flash appeared from their feet. What a wind-up, I thought – this wasn’t right, surely – not in a John Foxx video. I’d seen ‘No One Driving’! It wasn’t until I watched this VHS for the first time in 1989 I realised that – gasp!! – he hadn’t been fibbing and there were indeed scenes just like this after all. Something of a cast of surrealist set-pieces, and that illuminated strip-light cube in the background once again, this one above all probably brings together many an early ’80s cliche.

John Foxx 1989 UK VHS video EP - cassette / label

^ John Foxx 1989 UK VHS video EP – cassette / label

‘Endlessly’ is up next in its glossy, Zeus B Held produced re-recording from 1983, rather than the original electro-psychedlia 1982 single take. A much softer, more classically romantic take on the John Foxx look… the cold, ‘Metamatic’ visuals banished altogether by now. Endlessly chasing deserted corridors and country lanes, climbing the spiral staircase to nowhere. Should have been a hit. he gets the girl in the end though…

‘Stars On Fire’ is a short but sweet John Foxx record sleeve animated into life, while for the closing ‘Lose All Sense Of Time’ the video taps into the spirit of glossy magazine cut-outs collage and Monty Python inspired, Terry Gilliam-esque stop-motion animation, with no trace of Foxx himself to be found on either of these two.

The packaging design, by The Leisure Process, is vaguely in a similar territory to what Foxx himself might have fashioned, though not quite. It also comes with some sleeve notes of a fairly balanced nature, by John Tobler.

The whole lot is uploaded there on YouTube if you want to view it in its original, scuzzy VHS form… If you want to find them in more pristine digital form, then you can find ‘He’s A Liquid’ and ‘No One Driving’ on the ‘Metatronic’ CD/DVD compilation from 2010. ‘Underpass’ is there too, but in a new ‘black and white’ version which retains plenty from the original but is quite different nevertheless. The colour elements are featured on the version for the Mark Reeder remix – and combined with elements from ‘the ‘No One Driving’ video too. Meanwhile, ‘Miles Away’, ‘Dancing Like A Gun’, ‘Endlessly’, ‘Stars On Fire’ and ‘Lose All Sense Of Time’ can be found on 2013’s ‘Metadelic’ CD/DVD compilation – which also includes that 1981 Top Of The  Pops appearance for ‘Europe, After The Rain’ too.

One thing that remains missing to this day though is the unique performance mix on short lived ITV Saturday morning show ‘The Fun Factory’ of ‘Burning Car’… scuzzy quality only, presumably long since wiped (or maybe never recorded) from the Granada television vaults… oh for a time machine!

Repost: Bauhaus – ‘Shadow of Light’ UK VHS cassette (Kace International, KIP 2 006 D, 1983)

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Originally posted 28 October 2018, I’m re-posting this as the original has come under quite the spam attack for some odd reason…

This is the original issue of this VHS cassette that I bought when it was first released in late 1983. That year had been quite momentous for Bauhaus of course with their final album, tour and split and they had gained a level of popularity that they had been working towards for some time. As David J infamously opined in a contemporary interview, with ‘Spirit’ they had knocked on the door of recognition, with ‘Ziggy Stardust’ they decided that it was time to boot it in. There’s no doubt that part of the appeal was their visual edge and the promo videos were all part of this (even if at the time in the UK, it was never easy to actually see these with any regularity).

Bauhaus 'Shadow of Light' front cover design

^ Bauhaus ‘Shadow of Light’ front cover design

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Bauhaus – ‘Archive’ UK video cassette (Beggars Banquet, BB 002, 1984)

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

We looked at the first of the Bauhaus home video releases, ‘Shadow of Light’ in a previous post. Its companion video of the era is ‘Archive’, which came along late 1984 and gathered together the remainder of the live material filmed at the Old Vic Theatre (in 1982) that had first appeared on ‘Shadow of Light’, bookended by a couple of newly created pieces originally exclusive to this video.

Bauhaus 'Archive' video cassette front cover design

^ Bauhaus ‘Archive’ video cassette front cover design

Proceedings open with ‘Lagartija Nick’, one of the newly filmed pieces. The single didn’t have a promo video at the time of its original release, but here we have a dramatised film without any involvement from the band on screen. Shot in a Victoriana sepia theme, a gentleman thief, if you will, is seen exiting the Thornhill Arms tavern, having left one of a group of three punters lighter of wallet. They give chase to the gent through cobbled streets, he eventually finds himself in a deserted warehouse with an old film projector… showing Bauhaus live in concert. (more…)

Protected: Bauhaus – ‘Shadow of Light’ UK VHS cassette (Kace International, KIP 2 006 D, 1983)

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

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