Hey y’all, I’m back! Somehow I continue to surprise myself by still having something to say on this blog. That being said, if ya haven’t noticed, time goes by really, really fast! So fast, sometimes you miss a lotta good stuff! Here’s my pick of amazing vintage videos that I’ve seen for the first time very recently. One of them, “Spacer,” is a song that I never heard either until now. Life is full of surprises and that’s why Frankenrӓver is still here.
“Spacer” by Sheila and B. Devotion (1979) is a disco classic produced by legendary hitmakers Chic (Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards). French singer Annie Chancel sings about her intergalactic love affair with an extraterrestrial while Black Devotion dancers Freddy Stracham, Arthur Wilkins and Dany MacFarlane cavort seductively in the background. This is a well-choreographed video steeped in futurism, judging from the stellar props, costume design and slick dance routine. Check out the cyborg at 1:15 which may have inspired that of iconic sci-fi film, Terminator. In our galaxy you can’t trust everyone you meet but one thing for sure is you can trust on-point production values to create a video that stands the test of time.
Seems teenaged boys from da hood of Roxbury, Boston got secret fantasies that ain’t so hard to figure out: girls and NBA stardom. The question in this video is which one? Enter New Edition’s “My Secret” (Didja Getit Yet?) Released in 1985 during the giddy years of pop, this has to be one of the cutest videos that escaped my radar back in tha day! Ralph Tresvant is obviously the star of this video, working his bike with wild enthusiasm for the opening sequence. Why, everyone on the corner just loves these talented Black boys who aren’t causing any trouble…just busting moves, getting cute girls of different ethnicities all worked up! Of course, Ralph gets the girl of his dreams and takes her to see an NBA game with the fellas. It’s Lakers vs Blazers and Magic Johnson’s centre court with coach Pat Riley on the sidelines. With the game tied at 124 with 12 seconds on the clock, it seems Magic needs some extra mojo to pull off a victory. So he calls Ralph down to save the day! This entire scene is surrounded by a halo, making it clear that this is a daydream. At the end, Ralph’s dream kinda comes true in a rather endearing, if unlikely way. I’m sure it was the record label’s idea and it actually works here. Though the song is clearly about a guy falling in love with a girl, the video leaves you guessing as it shows Ralph riding off at the end, ecstatic after meeting NBA superstar Magic Johnson. It’s a bromance yo!
Classic summer anthem “Vamos a la Playa” by Righeira (1983) has a very interesting background. Although it contains Spanish lyrics, the singers Stefano Rota and Stefano Righi are Italian. Both languages are pretty similar to begin with, so it was a no-brainer to pick Spanish since more peeps speak it globally than Italian. This video is a perfect primer on 80’s fashions for men: high-waisted baggy pants, short sleeved stripey shirts clashing with patterned ties. Fun! The polarized neon tint symbolizes a nuclear explosion that has just gone off in the ocean. But not to worry: now the water is clean because the fish are gone, plus baskers are wearing sombreros to keep radioactive wind out of their hair. That’s a pretty deep sociological statement about our messed up world but damn, what a cool video!
Last week, I plugged these words I remembered from a song in my childhood into a search engine: “On the double, think I’m in trouble.” And googlemonster responded with “Trouble” by Lindsey Buckhingham. Astonishing. Who else could compose an alt-pop song of such transcendent quality? Lindsey Buckingham, that’s who! The mercurial frontman of Fleetwood Mac dropped this timeless bomb from solo album Law and Order in 1981. Like a time-travelling cyborg, it found me in the future and detonated a delightful blast in me brain. I love the playful contrast implied between good and bad, seduction and restraint symbolized by guitar gods on one side, demon drummers on another. Bandmate Mick Fleetwood makes a wonderful guest appearance with his tall, funny self. And Lindsey’s guitarpicking is superb. This dreamy number is now a permanent staple on my playlist.
“Gotta Go Home” (1979) by Boney M. is one of the most gorgeous videos I’ve ever seen. Extravagant colourful costumes, sparkly special effects plus steelband players in space-themed outfits equal mindblowing visuals. Makes you long for sandy beaches and island breeze, miles away from big city bustle. This song was produced by the notorious Frank Farian, who ruthlessly exploited people of African descent to front his musical numbers. Although Boney M. was a wildly successful act, only 2 of the band members, Marcia Barrett and and Liz Mitchell actually sang on the early records; the male vocals were recorded by Farian in the studio. So Bobby Farrell, the Black male dancer was simply there to do what Frank Farian could not: look super.
80’s pop sensation Milli Vanilli was another infamous casualty of Farian’s controversial shell group practice. It’s entirely possible Milli Vanilli was inspired to run in one place for their “Girl You Know It’s True” video like Bobby Farrell does here at 4:22. We know they didn’t get very far. But I digress. No matter how it came together, “Gotta Go Home” is a great song and this is an awesome video. Rock on!
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