REVIEWS -- JULY 21, 2000

                    AC/DC – Satellite Blues 
     (**)  Keeping a stiff upper lip as always, AC/DC is back with its second attempted comeback video. And already it’s pretty much faded from view – MTV is usually reluctant to give airtime to any boozed-out 50-year-old whose last name isn’t Loder, and VH1 is only giving “Satellite Blues” limited, perfunctory attention. As these affairs tend to go, though, this is a better video than “Stiff Upper Lip,” if just because there are no bright red SUVs involved. No, this time the director has latched onto the whole “satellite” theme, and he includes occasional clip art of satellites in orbit. (Sound exciting to you?) Meantime, AC/DC is apparently trapped inside a satellite, which entails a lot of smoke, flashy lights and blue tints (naturally). Being trapped in orbit, I’m guessing, would give anyone the blues, and AC/DC copes admirably, playing a song that sounds like everything else they’ve put out in the last 20 years and only soiling one schoolboy outfit in the process. –Andrew Hicks

Creed – With Arms Wide Open
     (*½)  I guess I have their Christian roots to thank for this, but I rather enjoy some of the apocalyptic imagery in Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open,” which begins like any other Adult Album Rock ballad video – namely, with the singer sitting on a plain and looking contemplative. (NOTE: This also works for a Ricky Martin ballad video.) The first minute or so proceeds rather blandly, with Scott Vedder (or is it Eddie Weiland?) sitting on a rock and singing about how he cries every time he prays. Now there’s a man. Then, by and by, the sky gets dark and begins pissing flame like a gonorrhea sufferer. Scott/Eddie takes refuge in an ancient castle, where the roof is falling in and the rest of the band is already jamming out. So down he goes, into a bubbling basement pool, submerges himself and crawls back out into the world. Which is now not being destroyed. I guess I missed that part in the book of Revelation about how only the self-baptism of the lead singer of Creed can save the human race. Great, now they’re ripping off Pearl Jam and Noah. –AH

Deftones – Change (In the House of Flies)
     (**)  This is one of several mid-tempo ballad videos this week from bands who are usually all about unintelligible shouting. The Deftones are the only act that really make use of vocal distortion, though – when you slow the screaming down to mere whining, a little distortion is the best way to keep a little mystery about the proceedings. Or to disguise the fact that you can’t sing worth a shit. “Change” isn’t too interesting to me, but I’m sure the thousands of progressives with Deftones decals stuck to their beat-up cars would disagree. This is unfocused angst, the kind of random bitching that’s bound to come up when you’re a rock singer who resembles Oliver Platt a little too closely. The video is just as random, with dozens of depressed souls lounging around the band’s pool. Highlights include women wearing animal masks, bugs walking around on a plate and an evil-looking jack-o-lantern. Hey, guys, I saw Creepshow 2. You’ll have to try a little harder. –AH

Disturbed – Simplify
     (*)  The artist name and song title alone ensure this video can’t come on without me inserting the international hand symbol for jerking off. So, going in, I have a bias. Upon realizing the music is of that same Ozzfest, unintelligible rock-rap variety, the video becomes an even harder sell. So what sets this apart from the other noise, the Powerman 5000/Static X shit you can’t take seriously? Essentially, nothing. Glass breaks, strobe lights pop and band members float in the Christ pose. Oh, and some guy is trapped halfway up the wall in a spiderweb. As an ex-roommate used to say when confronted with MTV bullshit, give me a goddamned break. –AH

Elwood – Sundown
     (***)  A song like this either mildly amuses you or annoys you to no end, but whichever reaction it provokes, you also know the band in question won’t be around for long. I know nothing of Elwood’s background, whether they’ve been struggling for years or just happened to impress a middle-aged WASP executive right out of the gate. “Sundown,” though, doesn’t exactly smack of effort – it’s an attempt at a late-summer party jam, if anything. It doesn’t so much rip off Beck as rip off the Butthole Surfers ripping off Beck with “Pepper.” That said, it’s pretty catchy, and it has a vibrant Steve Carr (Next Friday) video to accompany it. “Sundown” begins in the desert, as you might expect, with two of the Elwood boys spotting a hottie sailing by on a motorcycle. She ends up in a bar-slash-brothel, as do they, exerting her powers of tease over a drink or two. Hot she is, to paraphrase Yoda, and she helps distract from whatever that is on the lead rapper’s head. I hate myself for rating this highly, but it’s one of those weeks. You understand. –AH

Incubus – Stellar
     (***½)  Take note, AC/DC – this is how you use satellites in a video. “Stellar” is a dark and glorious, confusing and satisfying modern rock video that sees its lead singer trapped in deep space, floating really, and using satellite technology o locate and stalk his dream girl on Earth. She bolts through the woods, but he sucks her into deep space anyway, and there she sits immobile and imprisoned behind translucent bars. Not much comes of the setup, as the director spends more time cutting back to the scene of the abduction and showing the band, which is playing on a white soundstage that sports black-and-white schematics that spin in 3-D like the instructions for the alien spaceship in Contact. The music itself is in the mid-tempo pseudo-ballad range that betrays much harder roots. It works, and like Filter’s “Take a Picture,” the video itself is dreamy and elaborate enough to ensure a true crossover hit. –AH

Kittie – Charlotte
     (*)  I avoided Kittie the first time around, although it did get reviewed on (My deposed “partner” does pony up a couple reviews every six weeks or so.) I viewed “Brackish” as bullshit, and the fact that my younger brother immediately went out and bought the album sealed it for me. I’m not too interested a goth girl band has to offer. “Charlotte,” Kittie’s follow-up, sounds a lot like the mid-tempo ballads Hole used to bring us before they got glammed up. There are lots of piercings here, a lot of leather and black makeup and a male model free of all these trappings and most of his clothing running through the woods confusedly. He has two deep gouges in his shoulder blades, which I suppose makes him a fallen angel. And, look, here come a bunch of chicks in white to hunt him down, although they all gasp and turn goth when he shows them the gouges. Take my word for it here and don't look for any meaning. In fact, don’t look at all. –AH

Papa Roach – Last Resort
     (**½)  I’ve been avoiding this one for weeks, not because it’s bad, exactly, but because it’s such an indistinct visual experience married to such a familiar sound that I’m at a loss for words. You an probably tell from the band name that you’re not in for much more than the usual KoRn/Limp Bizkit brand of power-chord angst and wig-hop, although this is rockier than you might expect. (Read: the singer doesn’t disintegrate into undiscernible screaming until toward the end.) The video features the lead vocalist, decked out in black (natch),stomping around a bottom-lit stage surrounded by fist-pumping Gap For Nihilists shoppers. All the while, the video cuts away to sullen, indifferent-looking teenagers standing in their bedrooms. Some of them attempt to lip synch the chorus, but “Last Resort” never falls in danger of becoming “Freedom ‘90” for the new generation. I can’t imagine anything this corporate speaking to kids who are disaffected by TRL, but it does have some of the better guitar work out right now. –AH

A Perfect Circle – Judith
     (***)  So David Fincher is back in the music video world after making 1999’s most subversive, visually exhaustive film, Fight Club. And what’s his first priority? A Perfect Circle, an old-style metal band with Metallica-esque guitar work, extensive Soundgarden-esque vocal detailing (I’m referring to the angst-filled layering in the choruses, not the whine factor) and a – Dave Matthews-esque, I suppose – string player. In terms of old-school rock-and-roll, “Judith” is the most credible song of this week’s batch, and the video is mudded-out in the style of nin’s “closer.” The camera shakes, the vertical hold goes from time to time, and basically the entire affair is derived from the moment in Fight Club when the film breaks. It’s not overly inventive, but “Judith” creates a mood unlike anything on MTV right now and, what’s more, it actually feels genuine. (It doesn’t merely cannibalize like Creed.) I had my eyes peeled for subliminal visuals during the video, but I didn’t find any. For some reason, though, I can’t stop thinking about penises. –AH

SR-71 – Right Now
SR-71 - Right Now
     (*½)  Call them Blink 183. SR-71 actually attempts to be a “boy band” in the strict definition of the phrase. As the youngest Hanson pointed out, the Backstreet Boys are all like 30 and don’t play any instruments, so they should be classified as a “man group.” But SR-71 does play instruments – they’ve mastered three chords on a certain instrument you strum – and they’re boys. Well, no, I can see lines on  the lead singer’s face under the makeup, and he calls to mind Bryan Adams in his Versace incarnation three comeback attempts ago. All of SR-71 is decked out in happy primary colors, and the video literally features them scampering down the street like Blink 182. This is more of a Hard Day’s Night rip, though, as they’re wearing clothes and are being chased by hoardes of teenage girls, all of whom apparently think Versace Adams is Britney Spears’ dad. (“Come on, old guy, I know you can get us her autograph!”) When the SR-71 guys aren’t being girl-stalked, they perform on a drab black soundstage and, for a brief, unexplainable moment, parody Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” video. Or, more likely, the Mountain Dew commercial that parodies Queen. I don’t know, the word “garbage” comes to mind. –AH
SR-71 - Right Now

Gay Video of the Week

The Artist Formerly Known as Prince – Betcha By Golly Wow (1996)
     (*)  The former Prince’s album Emancipation was three discs of near-brilliant funk and pop that only contained a handful of embarrassing filler. Among that handful, unfortunately, is a cover of the syrupy soul classic “Betcha By Golly Wow.” You can tell from the title alone, it’s going to be a hell of a gay song. (This mentioned, I do kind of like it, but it’s a piss-poor choice for a leadoff single.) Factor in the Artist’s lack of label funding for a video, and you begin to see the picture. He gets a page from his wife, Mayte Artist, while pumping gas in the intro. Yes, this is one-time superstar topping off the tank with unleaded and wishing the add-on car wash didn’t cost three bucks. The rest of “Betcha” is filmed inside Paisley Park Studios and features, among other things, spinning children, Mayte’s NPG Ballet troupe, a rainbow and Prince in scrubs, helping deliver his wife’s baby. (That’s right, the cost of an obstetrician was too much for the Purple One to bear.) What’s worse, while Mayte was pregnant during the filming of this video, she had a miscarriage shortly thereafter and attracted the suspicion of the police, who wondered why Prince and Mayte couldn’t produce a mini-corpse. There’s nothing quite so sad as a gay video with a bitter-tasting afterstory. –AH

Classic Videos

Poison – Unskinny Bop (1990)
     (**½)  You can’t beat 1990-era Poison, that last-gasp attempt at ‘80s excess crossed with burgeoning ‘90s angst. I love the band’s half-hearted stab at a working man’s anthem with “Something to Believe In,” and I love how this single instantly shatters the other song’s intentions. As a video, “Unskinny Bop” is the same old soundstage tackiness – the band’s logo hangs as a backdrop, guitarist C.C. Deville can’t keep his hair out of his eyes, lasers and sparks fly and the drummer appears to be borrowing his yellow-and-black sleeveless vest from Enigma Records labelmates Stryper. (Appropriate record company name, as it’s an utter mystery how any of these people got to be stars.) There are also ZZ Top bookends that have Bret Michaels exiting a vehicle with two briefcase-carrying broads on his arms. In a year, this would all be over until end-of-millennium nostalgia dictated a Poison reunion tour, but you can tell these guys are having fun, and that helps make “Unskinny Bop” a drunk-ass classic. –AH

Snoop Doggy Dogg f/Charlie Wilson – Snoop’s Upside Ya Head (1996)
     (***)  Ah, it’s the flagship single from Tha Doggfather, Death Row’s ill-advised follow-up to Doggystyle that left Snoop in a downward spiral that lasted until Dre decided to make a comeback last year for both their sakes. The failure of Tha Doggfather, though, can’t be blamed on this entertaining, logic-defying video, a big-budget prison fantasy that pits death-row inmate Snoop against a sour-faced warden, played by Vincent Schiavelli. (You know, the guy who looks like Stephen Wright but isn’t.) I remember reading an issue of TV Guide that panned the video for its overuse of sound effects and thinking, Way to take an editorial stance, guys, but the magazine had a point. The song, warmed-over ‘70s sample-soul, takes a backseat to the storyline of the video, which has Snoop shorting out the electric chair exactly at midnight and ducking out the side door while dozens protest his imminent death outside. Then the dogg-hunt is on, with lots of squealing cop-car tires and helicopter sound effects. So what does Snoop do? He gives an impromptu concert outdoors, which leads to his capture, which leads to another impromptu concert back in the joint. And all this promotion still doesn’t help the lagging sales of Tha Doggfather. –AH


Copyright 2000 Apartment Y Productions