Directed By: Various
Starring: The Buggles, ABC, Tears for Fears
Tag line: "14 Stylish Videos from the Decade of Excess"
Trivia: The music video for The Buggles' song "Video Killed the Radio Star" was the first ever to be broadcast on cable network Mtv when the channel premiered in August of 1981
August 1, 1981. That was the day that Mtv, aka Music Television, debuted in America. As luck would have it, ‘81 was also the year my family finally got cable TV, and while I wasn’t around to witness the opening moments of Mtv, I did tune in (for the first time) a few days later. I can’t remember which music video was the first I ever saw, but I’m pretty sure it was either Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” or The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime”. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which was first, because I wound up seeing both of them dozens of times over the next few months, as well as videos for Robert Palmer’s “Looking for Clues”; “One Step Beyond” by Madness; David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes”; and dozens of others. For a fair portion of the ‘80s, Mtv was a major force in my life; the moment I got home from school, I’d run upstairs to the television in the spare bedroom and turn on Mtv, which I then watched for hours on end. With “VeeJays” Alan Hunter, Nina Blackwood, J.J. Jackson and Martha Quinn introducing the videos and, on occasion, delivering the latest music news, I learned everything I needed to know about ‘80s music watching Mtv, and even today, when I hear a song from that era on the radio, the images from its video immediately dance through my head.
Pure ‘80s is, as the DVD cover says, a collection of “14 stylish videos from the decade of excess”. Interestingly enough, the first video presented in Pure 80’s was also the first ever broadcast on Mtv: “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles, a fun bit of ‘80s cheese drenched in silver, with a slew of bizarre moments (I never got why the woman / angel was stuck in a tube). Some of the videos have a comedic bent, like ABC’s “The Look of Love” (at one point, a band member seems to be painting a woman’s breast. When the girl steps forward, we see he’s actually several feet away from her, painting a sign), while others set out to tell a story. Who can forget Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, a short horror-themed film directed by John Landis that had Jackson portraying both a werewolf and a zombie? Well, “Thriller” isn’t included in Pure 80’s, but the video for “No More Words”, a tune by the group Berlin, is (set in the 1930s, “No More Words” has the band members portraying Bonnie and Clyde-style criminals, holding up banks in what appears the be the American Midwest). BTW, as a side note, some of the cinema’s best directors helmed music videos, including Sam Peckinpah (Julian Lennon’s “Too Late for Goodbyes”), Martin Scorsese (Michael Jackson’s “Bad”), and David Fincher (Billy Idol’s “Cradle of Love”). Remember the video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancin’ in the Dark”, one of the many hits off his Born in the U.S.A. album? Most of you probably know that the “fan” he invited on-stage at the end was a young Courtney Cox (Scream), but did you know it was also directed by Mr. Brian De Palma (Carrie, Sisters)?
Watching the various videos in Pure 80’s (which also features “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger, and “Heat of the Moment” by Asia, among others) took me back to the early days of Mtv, when music and moving images merged to create something unique. And thanks to compilations like Pure 80’s, these wonderful music videos will live forever.