Songs in the Key of Tube
n what will hopefully be regular feature on Stylus (as long as that dude who filmed Reginald Denny getting beaten from a helicopter doesn’t get his way), we present our stash of YouTube clips worth watching. Or not worth watching. Or worth watching because they’re not worth watching. You get the point. On with the show…
Where would YouTube be without the word Tube? It would, of course, just be “You.” This suffix is therefore highly necessary, in order to prevent the site being overrun with narcissistic, ego-stroking presentations which serve little purpose other than ... oh.
Well anyway, here are some audio-visual delights tenuously connected by the noble concept of tubery.
Next week: videos featuring songs that have titles that rhyme with the word YouTube.*
The Fall - Smile
Long before the days of Jools Holland sitting dead-eyed at his BBC 2 piano, nodding absent-mindedly as Razorlight drivel on about nothing, and years prior to Paula Yates chasing a dragon off a cliff, there was The Tube on Channel 4. Here, John Peel (lured on as a guest presenter) invites his chums The Fall to batter the audience to death with a double-the-drummers-double-the-fun line-up. It’s not really a clip to win any converts. The picture quality is horrific and Mark E’s charges seem intent on recreating exactly what it would feel like to be stuffed in a bin and pushed down a hill, while the man himself SHRIEKS the word “smile!” An awful lot.
Although perhaps that makes it unmissable.
Siouxsie & the Banshees - Circle
Taken from their bizarre Play at Home documentary, the Banshees mime their way through an ode to the most cyclical London Underground line of all. You can see footage of The Actual Tube™ in exciting passenger-carrying action, looping away in the background whilst Sioux does her stuff in a slightly worrying mellow-yellow, Nazi fetish outfit. Complete with boots that seem to end around her shoulder blades. Meanwhile, Robert Smith’s attempts to “play” the tape-spool machine, combined with his obvious difficulties standing up and remembering exactly who he is, suggest that the strain of being in two bands at once is starting to set in. Still, the poor guy was interrogated by evil clowns earlier in the programme—that’s enough to shake anyone up. That and the drugs, obviously. The massive, massive amounts of drugs.
Mike Oldfield - Entrevista TVE 98
The Grand High Wizard of tubular bells everywhere gives an interview to Spanish telly, intercut with chunks of terminal live footage. I’m happy to admit I have no idea what questions are actually being asked, but I like to think that they’re something close to this:
Q1: Mike, could you tell us a slightly tedious anecdote from the last gig you did?
Q2: Wow, the generator eh? Tsk, what a nightmare. Ok, now can you spout some life-affirming hippy bollocks for us?
Q3: Mm, yes, the changing moods of the stars. Tell us though, when you unzipped and urinated on the front row of the audience, were you making a symbolic gesture?
Q4: Ha ha, it sure did. Man, I’m out of questions already ... I dunno, waffle on about cellos now will you?
Q5: Oh wait, here’s another one. Can you explain some of the differences in your mental approach to recording Tubular Bells I as opposed to Tubular Bells III, but do it in the style of a man who is gradually losing the will to live? Thanks.
The Tubes - White Punks on Dope
Helpfully, for the sake of my rather flimsy thematic premise, there turned out to be an actual band called The Tubes. Before this merry internet trawl, I’d never even heard of them—but on this evidence I was a fool not to come across them earlier and should begin further investigations immediately. Whoever they are, they turned up for The Old Grey Whistle Test—apparently in order to perform a kind of proto-punk satire, featuring an extremely glam gentleman tottering around on massive platform shoes, wearing a blonde wig, and ultimately being blown up by his own guitar. You could technically ask for more from a music video, but it would be exceptionally churlish to do so.
TUBE - Stories
Our Japanese friends TUBE seem to insist upon capital letters, so I shall oblige them. They also seem to insist upon dressing as yuppies to accompany this semi-balladey track. Just to hammer home the vibe, they sneak in a sax solo after about a minute. I’m not entirely sure what the video is trying to say, but it’s something along the lines of “wooah, life sure has some crazy twists!” Hence the guy playing golf in his office only to see his shot breaking some pool balls apart (ahh), the chap turning up with a rose for his girlfriend only to have it (yoink!) stolen by a passing motorcyclist and, umm, someone opening a guitar case and lifting out a birthday cake.
*Except possibly not.