Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wishful Thinking

An elegantly poised, string-swept number from new-wave intellectuals China Crisis, and a truly refreshing change from the then-ongoing musical histrionics perpetuated by the likes of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, "Wishful Thinking" reached a respectable number nine in 1983. Sadly, this minor gem (featuring the judicious use of an oboe) would remain the band's highest chart placing, even up until their dissolution in the mid-1990s. Check out the atmospheric, narrative-driven promo clip here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dear God

An unflinching, no-holds-barred assault on the absurdities and contradictions contained within organised religion, XTC's provocative "Dear God" remains one of the most controversial numbers of all time. Containing supposedly blasphemous lyrics (the most telling line being "Did you make mankind after we made you?") and possessing a defiantly atheistic standpoint, the inherent, fundamental message of "Dear God" still resonates powerfully, even more than two decades after its initial release. Check out the surreal but thought-provoking video clip here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gallows Pole

When Led Zeppelin alumni Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were asked by MTV to do an episode of one of their Unplugged programmes (all the rage in the mid-1990s), one thing led to another, and soon enough, the pair made the decision to lay down some new material. The results that came out of these sessions (the wittily titled No Quarter: Unledded) was a wonder to hear: old but still-sturdy Led Zep standards completely revamped, reworked and given colourful, Arab-tinged treatments, and a selection of new numbers written and recorded in the same adventurous spirit. A particular highlight is their stomping take on the traditional execution song Gallows Pole, a raucous Celtic-meets-Marrakech knees-up, leavened with some head-spinning hurdy-gurdy riffs. Check out the energetic performance video here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Try Try Try

Causing no small amount of controversy amongst the self-appointed morally righteous, the religious right and other moral conservatives, the Smashing Pumpkins' video for 2000's "Try Try Try" remains one of their most challenging and compelling promos. The short film, which depicts an unflinching, almsot nightmarish insight into a day in the life of a junkie couple, is also a marked difference from the Pumpkins' usual arty, expressionist-influenced clips. Check out the brutally candid promo here, replete with images of homelessness, addiction, violence, and near-death.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Back in the High Life Again

A classic tale of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, Steve Winwood's cautiously optimistic "Back in the High Life Again" was a modest hit for the rock Renaissance Man back in 1986. It's also notable, among other things, for the first-time usage of a banjo on a Winwood track, and the absence of his trademark Moog synth chords. Check out the rather prosaic but highly appropriate video clip here.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Synth-pop veterans Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark have always been one of the more underrated bands around, despite their repertoire of spectacular pop songs about subjects as diverse as oil refineries, genetic engineering, telephone booths and Catholic schoolgirls. This Marc Almond-hosted, updated 2006 documentary provides an insightful look into their beginnings, and tracks their career to the point when they became world-renowned stars, and on to the recent reformation. Look out for the hilarious clips of frontman Andy McCluskey's endearingly silly geography-teacher-at-the-school-prom onstage dancing. On a more sombre note, it also explains, for the first time, the real reasonz behind the band's initial schism (between McCluskey and co-founder Paul Humphreys) in 1988.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

When You're Falling

A seamless, inter-cultural musical brew with a noticeable celebratory soukous vibe, the Afro-Celt Sound System's "When You're Falling" is enriched by the distinctive vocal presence of art-rock veteran Peter Gabriel, which does lend some traditional rock cachet to this hypnotic bauble. Check out the trippy promo, which is built around imagery of a a man, well, free-falling down to earth (and beyond). Also, look out for Gabriel himself in the clip, guest-starring as an airline pilot and pedestrian.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fleetwood Mac - Big Love

Originally a straightforward pop-rock number with slightly surreal lyrics, Fleetwood Mac's "Big Love" is rendered in an amazing, frenetic solo-man performance by ex-frontman Lindsey Buckingham during the group's reformation concert in 1997. Check out the compelling mixture of Buckingham's paranoid-sounding vocals and astounding finger-picking skills in this performance video.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


One of the most compelling live team-ups of all time occurred in January 1997, during David Bowie's 50th-birthday gig at Madison Square Garden, when the Thin White Duke collaborated with Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor for a suitably bleak, cathartic take on the latter's masterful self-loathing anthem "Hurt". Check out the atmospheric performance video here.