Video Gold From Metal’s Early Years

Metallica were wise to wait several years before making their first promotional music video. Having experienced it first hand—waiting patiently for a metal video to pop up so we could capture it on our VHS recorder—we can attest to the fact that the dawn of music videos in the early ’80s was the worst. Especially the metal ones, which were frequently done on indie-label budgets and generally made no sense at all.
So using those old videotapes as a reference point we dug up some fine examples on Youtube of the kind of crapola that used to pass as promo videos.

The thing we always remembered most about this early Rods video can be summed up in three words: Carl Canedy’s shoulders. We actually really like this song and were stoked at the time to see a video of it since the band were still on Shrapnel Records. But as the video unfolded—and your guess is as good as mine as to what connection the song has to the video—it reminded us more of a really low-budget porno. The backseat scene with Canedy and a nubile around the one-minute mark is fairly creepy. Adding to the overall sleazy vibe is the video quality which looked like it was filmed on someone’s dad’s Betamax camera.

Early conceptual videos usually failed miserably. It’s one thing to have a few hairy biker-looking dudes diddling around with a leather-clad chick in the back of a hot rod while you’re singing about a hurricane, but please explain to us why the centerpiece of this NWOBHM video is a wig-wearing judge who’s really a woman. And why is the judge seated in front of the stage? Honestly, this is lyrically just about the simplest story and some high-concept, video-directing nitwit made it nonsensical.

This is definitely a case of the video concept trumping the actual song content. As far as we can tell, there is no connection between the two. They had an idea for a video and decided that the song “The Damned” would be the best soundtrack. Nonetheless, we offer this up as something of a good example of what could be done if you had no fucking clue as to how to make a mini-movie about a band’s song. Just get the lead singer to do some crazy-ass shit, blow up and smash a bunch of stuff, add a bit of lip-syncing and call it good.

Twisted Sister, to their credit, have always been very self-aware regarding their general image and the absurdity of giant, burly men wearing makeup. They don’t, however, deal in subtlety. If there’s a point they’re trying to make with their music and/or videos, you will be crystal clear as to what it is in no time. In this case, the song is “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll,” so, of course, some vaguely communist-looking bad guys who use cell phones the size of bricks are trying to, uh, stop rock ‘n’ roll. Sigh.

A few years removed from the Runaways and following on Joan Jett’s mega success with, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Lita Ford committed herself to the metal cause with her first solo album, Out For Blood. Like many, if not most, metal videos of the day, it inevitably involved some poor sap who is randomly hauled off to a mental hospital. There are a dozen other things about this video that lead nowhere—why is the bassist playing an actual axe, for instance?—so it’s best not to try to sort this one out, lest you hurt your brain.

We can imagine how the meeting with the director went when Michael Schenker was deciding what to do for the “Dancer” video. “How about we have a lady dressed entirely in spandex, but also wearing a leather jacket—to make sure people know she’s metal—dancing around on stage while the band lip syncs to the song?” Brilliant! “Oh, and make sure the singer looks really sweaty, too.”