I want my MTV (late 90s edition)

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I was a teen­ager in the dark ages when you had to have light­ning reflexes to tape songs you liked when they came on. I didn’t have cable or satel­lite at home, but I did a lot of babysit­ting at houses where they had the music chan­nels. My mum had come home one day with a stack of neon green videos, pleased with how extremely cheap they had been, but on closer inspec­tion they turned out to be only 30 minutes long and useless for films (ah yes the days when you used to video films off tv), so I used them to make mix tapes of music videos.

I had finished school and gradu­ated univer­sity before social media was even a thing. I had inter­net at home as a teen­ager, but it was extremely slow dial up and useless for music videos (only places like univer­sit­ies had broad­band). YouTube didn’t even exist at that point. So I actu­ally used to get a lot of use out of those mix videos, which would prob­ably seem completely bizarre to modern teen­agers. Along with the excite­ment that seeing one of Your Things come up on tv or radio if your tastes ran any way altern­at­ive.

I’ve stuck to stuff I remem­ber putting on these videos between 1998 and 2002, rather than pick­ing out things from the era with the bene­fit of hind­sight, so it’s a ragbag limited to what was shown on music chan­nels and appealed to me at the time. If I was making a playl­ist of things from the era, I would pick completely differ­ent things. Almost none of them are HD either. They’re too old to have been uploaded in HD, but too recent to have been vintage things recently digit­ised. (I also made a YouTube playl­ist of them here)

For people born in the late 70s and early to mid 80s, this will prob­ably be a huge nostal­gia trip. I feel like anyone born after that inhab­ited a differ­ent media land­scape. For example I was old enough that Pete Doherty wasn’t the Wildred Owen of Brit­ish Indie, seen only in breath­less media cover­age, he was “that annoy­ing guy a few years older than me who’s some­times at the pub I frequent”. The music press also dramat­ic­ally changed in its approach at the start of the 2000s which is some­thing I’ll save for writ­ing about anoth­er time.


Sifl and Olly however was also a given. Nowadays people making this kind of video would just go straight to YouTube and have instant view­er feed­back and advert­ising, for better or worse, rather than the 90s strategy of paying Liam Lynch to make a whole load of little videos at once on a shoes­tring budget and inter­spers­ing them between music videos.


This kind of super satur­ated cross-processed look was really popu­lar for music videos and press shots at the time. And prob­ably created the actu­al analogue way by delib­er­ately processing film in the wrong chem­ic­als rather than by shoot­ing digit­ally with neut­ral colours and then chan­ging them with colour grad­ing on a computer.


Just gener­ally kitschy surreal videos. I went to see the Smash­ing Pump­kins at Wemb­ley on one of their last tours, and I was pretty disap­poin­ted. Still the only Wemb­ley concert I’ve been to. I’ve avoided stadi­um concerts ever since.


I’ve encountered a surpris­ing amount of people in the last few years who HATE Pave­ment. I was surprised- I didn’t even real­ise that was a thing.


When I was 15 or 16 or so we had to give a multi­me­dia present­a­tion as a school assign­ment. Of course computer project­ors were not a thing then (or at least not afford­able by schools), we were still on OHP film. So I did my present­a­tion about Sonic Youth and brought in a video with this taped off the telly. Except the school video machine didn’t like my tape and played the video at half-speed with no sound, and I had to let people imagine what the song soun­ded like.


For some reas­on my school friends never got into the Pixies as much as I did.


A lot of them liked Jane’s Addic­tion though, and this video was on constant repeat on the music chan­nels.


This of course is the prime era of Nu Metal. I was never really into it. I had a lot of friends at school who really liked Korn, Coal Cham­ber, and most of all Machine Head. I’m happy to listen to Machine Head and Sepul­tura (as much as only the last two albums get roped in to Nu Metal, and it’s prob­ably an insult to label them as such), but I always thought Korn, Limp Bizkit, Coal Cham­ber etc were cheesy as fuck. However I still regu­larly listen to the Deftones.

I really loathed (and still do) Limp Bizkit, and espe­cially how homo­phobic they and some of the other Nu Metal bands were.

It also makes me laugh that this song was a cynic­al market­ing exer­cise. The record company execs pushed the band to have a single to take on Limp Bizkit et al, so they took the much better and longer album track Pink Maggit and slapped a hasty one take vocal onto it and did one of those high school rebel­lion videos that were really popu­lar at the time.


Bonus Deftones content: This song makes me think of being drunk. The area I grew up in had a flex­ible atti­tude to legal drink­ing ages.

I used to go to a local altern­at­ive night pretty much every week. It was shit, but they didn’t check ID, and in those days pubs closed at 11pm in the UK, so there were a whole load of shit clubs that stayed in busi­ness because they were the only place open late. This place had an indie room and a metal room. The indie room was too much Real Lads Real Hair­cuts Oi Oi inter­spersed with bull­shit like Crazytown, and the metal room had too much Stat­ic-X and Limp Bizkit, but it seemed better than stay­ing in.


I was a big fan of NIN as a teen­ager. The logo was made for tippex­ing onto things. Mid 30s current me some­times cringes at the cheesy lyrics though.


In a completely differ­ent scene, Rival Schools were really popu­lar, but if you weren’t there at that specif­ic moment, it prob­ably passed you by.


I also remem­ber them having to change the title of this song because it was “unpat­ri­ot­ic”. I also was really disap­poin­ted with the rest of the album as compared to this single.


It’s almost guar­an­teed that if someone is/​was a big fan of At the Drive In and Trail of Dead they’re much the same age as me. Those two bands go togeth­er inex­tric­ably.


I was also a big fan of Idlewild in their rolling on the floor stage. I lost interest when they went into the big ballads. I’ve still got all the 7″ singles off this album. The video for this reminds me of the Iceland­ic film Noi Albin­oi


I feel like Seafood are prob­ably almost entirely unknown outside the UK. The bass play­er is a very nice man, and now runs Tome Records in London.


Some­times I’d also tape parts of live perform­ance shows. I honestly can’t remem­ber the last time I watched Jools Holland these days.


I always misre­mem­ber the lyrics of the second part of the song from the album version as “a frog it cannot compre­hend the sea, nor me balsa wood”. Paul Draper has grown up to be a creepy old guy sadly, judging by reports of the reunion tour last year.


Had loads of SFA 7″s too.


Both Gorky’s and Adam and Joe were very much a thing at the time (and both very enjoy­able). That knit­ted poodle stars in the Adam and Joe version of Show­girls.

In the mid 2000s I saw Gorky’s play a double bill with Yo La Tengo in the shop­ping centre in Basing­s­toke. It was a strange exper­i­ence.


Mercury Rev were also every­where. They are also always linked in my mind with the Flam­ing Lips.


There are loads of these kind of 90s one hit wonders- Steal My Sunshine, You Get What You Give, How Bizarre, The Way, but this is the best one. It used to be in a beer advert that was on Chan­nel 4 about every 5 minutes too and makes me think of paus­ing the tape while video­ing stuff like the Craft or Kids off the tv.


You rarely encountered Stere­olab or Broad­cast videos on MTV, but at least they some­times played Ladytron.


This is prob­ably one of the last videos I recor­ded like this, before I left home and had better things to do with my time. It always makes me think of my friend Sanjay.


And last of all, a video that never dates.




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