Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Video Affects - Promises: 'Baby It's You', 1978

In which your host recalls key music videos in his formitive years.
This week:

Right, that's that out of the way.

Possibly a formitive experience for me (but not for the reasons you might think), and a huge and hypnotic music video from a time when music videos were barely in their infancy. Baby It's You is deceptively simple - it's the band on separate stages, some coloured backdrop, strategic lighting and a smoke machine. And a thunderous combination of yearning passionate male vocals(tm) on verses and ear-hammering female chorus. You thought The Pixies invented loud-quiet-loud? Nope, the Canadians did.

My association of this song is from a family trip around the West Coast in the family Vauxhall. Grouped with Eruption's I Can't Stand The Rain and Heatwave's Boogie Nights in a seemingly endless rotate of whatever local radio station we could pick up on the car stereo, it was around Kaikoura that we heard the DJ tell all listening that siblings Leslie and Jed Knauer (two thirds of the band, a family affair, had been killed in a car accident. Or was it the other brother? Who died? Who lived? It was a load of DJ bollocks of course, but without the tools of the trade you're reading from now we believed it for years, adding a sad eerieness to those voices with every replay, as these things sometimes do.

I was entranced by the band - they looked like nothing I'd ever seen before - Jed had Luke Skywalker hair, Leslie had a short spiky barnet and a man's shirt and braces. It was mystifying - how could three people make such a HUGE noise in such a small space?

Down the years the video would get brought out for the occasional airing on TV - quite often on the New Year's Eve shows back when watching them was a fair option for a teenager not yet able to 'go out'. Incredibly it wasn't until a few years ago that I worked out why. Incredible. But still a killer song.

Despite the album being a commercial failure and the follow-up single Let's Get Back Together being really really bad, this single stayed at number one in the NZ charts for five consecutive weeks here in NZ, and even prompted a cover version in the early 1990s by Hamilton metal band Blackjack. You won't get that sort of recall on Wikipedia you know.

Oh, and for the freakiest 'live' version of this courtesy of German TV where they were also huge (oh stop it) - here.


  1. My sister finds this song really creepy and horrible, but I think it's because she had heard it on the radio the day our Dad died, so it was swimming around in her head as we were heading into Hospital. It therefore has an association she can't separate.

    I, on the other hand, find it strangely fascinating for reasons I can't pin down. And it's not the obvious reasons, either.

  2. Reading your blog I drew a complete blank. Not even a flicker of recognition at either the song title or the group's name. Then I played the clip and it all came flooding back from the deep recesses of pre-teen memories. Gawd what a truly awful song.

    As for DJ bollocks that you end up believing for ages until the true facts emerge, for me it was the completely erroneous factoid that the three identically surnamed members of Duran Duran were siblings!

  3. When I was young I wanted to be her (not for the two obvious reasons either) though I imagine future boyfriends would have been quite happy with that.

    The song was so,so cool and I wanted hair like the blonde boy singer!

  4. Scoones - No! No no no no no no no! It's an awesome song and great for student parties.

    @GuanoLad - that's a sad story about your sister, and I'm grateful I don't have any of those kind of associations with my Mum. I reckon the eeriness is compounded by that celestial choir thing they have going on in the background of the second verse. There's an awful lot going on, not the least being some great 70s strings and a decent axe solo.

  5. "a thunderous combination of yearning passionate male vocals(tm) on verses and ear-hammering female chorus"

    Ladies and gents I give you the cliff notes for Dr Who's 2008 season...

    ... sorry for lowering the tone.

    Dave R

  6. Congratulations to all of you for keeping the tone so high when discussing this music video. I know I can't be the only person who thinks there's a huge elephant(s) in this room.
    Back in the distant '90s this audio-visual gem went some small way to repairing a friendship eroded by a much longer visit than anyone wanted. Not their fault, our friend's house was being (slowly) renovated and we put them up, as friends would do. Realising afterwards that some healing was required, none other than the author of this blog came to my rescue. You see, this video had long been held by our recently departed houseguests and ourselves as the Holy Grail, to the extent that Rose once even made a call to TVNZ to enquire about it's availability. No luck there - unsurprisingly, or even in the basement of any Mormon churches we tried.
    One evening, 'round at Peter and Bridge's flat in Hatiatai, Mr Adamson happened to mention that he'd recorded clips from a current music video show, hosted by Mikey Havoc , I believe. He reeled off the videos he'd captured, only to be cut short by my excited bellow when he mentioned 'Promises'. It was duly dubbed, a dinner was held, and rifts were patched up to the tune of 'Baby it's you'.
    Cheers, Peter (and a pair of incredibly elasticised braces)!


  7. Whups - we're victims of the video's success. YouTube have suspended it and others on Dailymotion et al. Might have to wait a bit before it resurfaces...