But the Replacements got it partially wrong, because their videos were great, only cementing my nascent love for them. A stereo speaker, in b&w, for the duration of “Bastards of Young,” and then a foot smashes it? Four guys sitting on a sofa, some wandering off, for “Alex Chilton?” I was sold. I was seeing something. A lack of packaging, which is possible in video, cancels phoniness.
A lack of packaging can sometimes recreate that Moment, late at night, when a television’s weak speakers ape the AM radios of my car-ferried youth and bring a song right into the room, especially if the images are right. Sometimes I tune into NYC TV’s New York Noise if I’m lucky, and I was last night: Amid Adam Green’s annoyingly unfunny hosting (although his Jessica Simpson song is slightly amusing) I caught a video for this track:
Two scruffy guys, unlflatteringly photographed from the neck up, pose next to each other at an 130 degree angle, singing the only two lines of the song, without moving much more than their mouths. Unkempt hair, acne. The chorus consists of no words, only gigantic, marching guitar and drums and a pretty second guitar melody above; it’s the setting for the only other cut of the video, to a black and white but blue-washed portrait of a unique (to say the least) looking young woman mouthing unheard words into what might be a fuzzy secuitry camera outside some building.
I can only compare my delight to seeing a video for Teenage Fanclub’s “Star Sign” at 3 am the night before I left for Europe in 1992; or seeing “Silver Rocket” in high school on a public access channel somehow, or seeing the abovementioned ‘Mats videos. Human Television’s EP All Songs Written By: Human Television doesn’t live up to those classic standards, of course; in fact, the rest of the songs are nothing like “Tell Me What you Want.” They’re good, but quick, worst when they evoke tired and inevitable comaprisons to Arcade Fire or Talking Heads or Voxtrot blah blah frikking blah. At their best, they remind of something from the Patron Saints of Teenage comp, or Felt, or Orange Juice or, like on “Tell me What You Want,” a lost Ultra Vivid Scene single from their early 4AD days.
They’ve got a new album arriving May 2, but I’ll stick with this song for now and maybe forever.