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Unplugging the music video
It's hard to overstate the cultural impact of the debut of MTV. In New York City on August 1st 1981 a cable television channel emerged with a single purpose: to show music videos. The music video or music film was nothing new. In fact the original Warner Brothers cartoon formats, Loony Tunes and Merrie Melodies were animated takes on popular songs. And also therefore ads for the soundtrack records and singles the songs appeared on. In France, the Scopitone was a magical jukebox filled with 16mm colour cine film of the top artists of the day miming along to their hits. MCA's DiscoVision was the first optical disc format, designed to be a modern Scopitone and is the analogue ancestor of the CD, the DVD and pretty much everything. None of these changed the world though.From time to time a big artist would create a promo film for a single, like the worrying rainbow fascist fever dream that is the Jackon 5's "Can you feel it". But the music video was a minority taste experienced by few.Then came along the cable powered electricity of MTV to blow teenage minds and create new styles. A new generation of filmmakers found a toolbox that allowed innovation more extreme than other forms and the candy coloured look and feel of the channel influenced everything from Miami Vice to the design of lunchboxes.Of course pretty soon it became clear that artists that were older, or less conventionally good looking, or not much into dancing were at a disadvantage. One can hardly imagine grizzled soul immensity like Syl Johnson mincing around on video. Nonetheless, some key artists and movements were given exposure on the channel, which led to sales of records and tour tickets. What no-one noticed was that this was just one cog in the music business machine � delivering a menu of brands to the kids who then would go and spend. By the mid-90s, this gravy train was starting to creak a bit given the fragmentation of tastes in the marketplace, so pioneering scatology like Big Brother Beta Version The Real World appeared ready to annoy me. Still, the videos kept finding smaller and later slots. Until they were gone like a dissipating fart in a hotel left to Hell.Now 20somefings especially Stateside wonder where on earth their videos have gone? The answer has been provided by these clever comedians. The digital revalushoin has removed the economic imperative for creating and playing videos. Plastic sheeple people also like to point and gawp at similar yet seemingly inferior specimens of themselves, and have such a small and predictable palette of tastes a handful of brands and websites can satisfy them. The Man is not always stupid, and usually just gives them what they want like its always been. But the fact the kidz of today will not have their world turned inside out with terrible violence by a first encounter with The Beastie Boy's "Sabotage" or Chris Cunningham's collaborations with Aphex Twin is sad.So turn that frown upside down with a visit to our New In! We're super heavy on the Jazz and Soul patrol, with a collection in perfect nick. Here's a preview: Teddy P, Paul Kelly, Grover Washington, Esther Philipps, Miles, Herbie Hancock, Ronnie Laws, Lonnie Liston Smith, Coltrane, Art Blakey, Shirley Brown, JB, Aretha...And of course more more more. See you there.
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