5 Amazing Music Videos Before MTV

A few days ago it was MTV’s first broadcast anniversary. It’s been 33 years since the words "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll” were transmitted for the first time, followed by the MTV theme song and the video for the Buggles’ Video Killed The Radio Star. The rest is quite well known, since after that day the promotion of popular music was never the same again.

Here are five amazingly good music videos pre-existing the reign of MTV…

5. Grand Funk Railroad – Into The Sun (1970)

Filmed with a single camera on January 16th and 17th  1970 at the Pirates World Amusement Park in Florida by Barry Mahon, the ten-minute video shows the band performing the song from their debut 1969 LP, On Time, together with some psychedelic sequences. The video was also used in a re-cut of the film Mondo Daytona, released this time as Weekend Rebellion. This is a hard rock treasure.

4. Nazz – Open My Eyes (1968)

In their brief career Nazz released three albums and featured a very young Todd Rundgren in their roster, who later came on to be a significant musician, songwriter and legendary record producer. In the style of the Beatles or the Monkeys fooling around on camera, the video for the brilliant Open My Eyes shows the band at its best shape.

3. Devo - (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1978)

Devo’s rendition of the Rolling Stones’ classic had a video as weird as the band itself, featuring the dancer Spazz Attack doing his spastic moves and forward flips onto his back. An excellent production for the times, no wonder why years after its creation was still getting on heavy rotation on MTV’s airplay.

2. David Bowie – Space Oddity (1969)

The original video version for Bowie’s Space Oddity comes out of his outstanding 1969 promo film Love You Till Tuesday, that lasts only for half an hour and features eight more equally impressive videos of Bowie’s songs. A commercial failure at the time, the film gained the notoriety it deserved years later, when it was released on home video. This is a delight for any Bowie fan.

1. Sid Vicious – My Way (1978)

The mockumentary The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, directed by Julien Temple, chronicles a fictional rendition of the Sex Pistols story from their manager’s point of view, suggested by many to be Malcom McLaren’s attempt to promote himself as the sole mastermind behind the band and ultimately the father of British punk. In the film, Sid Vicious, probably the meanest person music had ever seen until then, covers Paul Anka’s classic song like a wild beast.

He begins the song by mocking the jazz crooners’ style in a dense voice, before the song explodes into regular punk havoc. On the way, Sid’s changing the lyrics, improvising what he doesn’t remember from the original and throws the F-bomb, all that in front of an enthusiastic classy crowd. At the end Sid takes out a handgun and shoots randomly at the audience, kills a few, gives them the finger and exits the stage the same way he entered, a brilliantly lit staircase. In the actual film all the profanity and graphic violence was edited out, but the complete, uncensored version depicts Vicious’ phenomenal nihilism in all its glory and if you symbolically equate this video to his troubled life and times, then you realize this is a sad, sad documentation of punk’s darkest side.

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