Music Video - History and Development - 1967–1973: Promotional Clips Grow in Importance

1967–1973: Promotional Clips Grow in Importance

The monochrome 1966 clip for Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" filmed by D. A. Pennebaker was featured in Pennebaker's Dylan film documentary Dont Look Back. Eschewing any attempt to simulate performance or present a narrative, the clip shows Dylan standing in a city back alley, silently shuffling a series of large cue cards (bearing key words from the song's lyrics). Many "song films"—often referred to as "filmed inserts" at that time—were produced by UK artists so they could be screened on TV when the bands were not available to appear live. Pink Floyd were pioneers in producing promotional films for their songs including "San Francisco: Film", directed by Anthony Stern, "Scarecrow", "Arnold Layne" and "Interstellar Overdrive", the latter directed by Peter Whitehead, who also made several pioneering clips for The Rolling Stones between 1966 and 1968. In the UK The Kinks made one of the first "plot" promo clips for a song. For their single "Dead End Street" (1966) a miniature comic movie was made. The BBC reportedly refused to air the clip because it was considered to be in "poor taste".

The Who featured in several promotional clips in this period, beginning with their 1965 clip for I Can't Explain. Their plot clip for Happy Jack (1966) shows the band acting like a gang of thieves. The promo film to Call Me Lightning (1968) tells a story of how drummer Keith Moon came to join the group: One fine day, the other three band members are having tea inside what looks like an abandoned hangar when suddenly a "bleeding box" arrives, out of which jumps a fast-running, timelapse, utterly out-of-control Moon that Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, and John Entwistle subsequently try to get a hold of in a sped-up slapstick chasing sequence to wind him down.

The Moody Blues made a promo video for their 1967 single "Nights in White Satin". Procol Harum made two promos for their 1967 hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale". One version shows band members walking among the ruins of Witley Court, footage of them performing the song onstage and documentary footage of the Vietnam war. The second version shows the band running towards camera (a device pioneered in A Hard Day's Night), followed by surrealistic sequences. The first (earlier) video included four of the five musicians on the hit single: Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, David Knights and Ray Royer; only the drummer was different, Bobby Harrison miming to Bill Eyden's drumming on the single. The second video included three of the five musicians on the single: substitutes were guitarist Robin Trower instead of Royer and B.J. Wilson instead of Eyden.

The Small Faces made several promotional clips in 1966–67. The B&W promo for their 1966 single "Hey Girl" shows the band performing and clowning around aboard a tram with a group of female fans. A colour clip for their 1967 single "Get Yourself Together" has band members dressed as police. The Troggs feature in a monochrome promo clip for their 1967/68 hit "Love Is All Around", showing singer Reg Presley's love affair with a girl intercut with concert footage and psychedelic elements.

The Doors had a background in film-making and both lead singer Jim Morrison and keyboard player Ray Manzarek were studying film at UCLA when they met. The clip for their debut single "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" is a filmed performance that uses atmospheric lighting, camera work and editing. It was directed by Elektra Records producer Mark Abramson. Their 1968 anti-war single "The Unknown Soldier", combines specially filmed footage of the group—including the depiction of a mock execution by firing squad—with extensive intercutting of stock footage, including graphic footage of the carnage of the Vietnam War. It was also directed by Mark Abramson based on input from Morrison and the Doors.

Although it made little impression internationally, there was a thriving local pop scene in Australia and New Zealand in the 1960s and bands there were quick to pick up on British and American trends. By 1967 a number of bands were creating early music videos for their songs. One of the first was the pioneering clip made by The Masters Apprentices for their 1967 single "Buried And Dead", which used candid stage and studio footage of the band combined with specially filmed fantasy sequences. Another notable Australian clip from this period is the promotional clip for "The Loved One" by The Loved Ones, directed by Peter L. Lamb as part of his 1967 short film Approximately Panther.

The Rolling Stones appeared in many promotional clips for their songs in the 1960s. One of the earliest, dating from 1964, showed the band on a beach, miming to their single "Not Fade Away", but this has apparently since been lost. In 1966, Peter Whitehead directed two promo clips for their single "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?"

In 1967, Whitehead directed a plot clip colour promo clip for the Stones single "We Love You", which first aired in August 1967. This clip featured sped-up footage of the group recording in the studio (including several shots of an extremely stoned-looking Brian Jones), intercut with a mock trial that clearly alludes to the drug prosecutions of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards underway at that time. Jagger's girlfriend Marianne Faithfull appears in the trial scenes and presents the "judge" (Richards) with what may be the infamous fur rug that had featured so prominently in the press reports of the drug bust at Richards' house in early 1967. When it is pulled back, it reveals an apparently naked Jagger with chains around his ankles. The clip concludes with scenes of the Stones in the studio intercut with footage that had previously been used in the "concert version" promo clip for "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby". The group also filmed a colour promo clip for the song "2000 Light Years From Home" (from their album Their Satanic Majesties Request) directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg.

In 1968, Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed three clips for their single "Jumping Jack Flash" / "Child Of The Moon"—a colour clip for "Child Of The Moon" and two different clips for "Jumpin' Jack Flash". One was a with what appears to be a live performance of the song; the other is the better-known colour clip, featuring the band in heavy makeup, miming to the same live recording used in the B&W clip. In 1968, they collaborated with Jean-Luc Godard on the film Sympathy for the Devil, which mixed Godard's political tracts with documentary footage of the song's evolution during the recording sessions at Olympic Studios in London. At the end of the year Lindsay-Hogg again collaborated with the Stones on their most ambitious project to date, the feature-length performance film The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which also featured John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton and rising UK band Jethro Tull, but unfortunately the film was not released until 1996 because the group at the time felt that their own performances had been below par.

So are two videos of Lou Christie for "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" in 1969. The Carpenters made a promo clip of their cover of the Beatles hit "Ticket to Ride". After 1969, the independent music movie clips came out of fashion with psychedelic music and style. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, bands preferred performing in TV shows which themselves became visually more attractive. Some artists were featured in straightforward documentaries such as The Beatles in "Let It Be" and the Rolling Stones in "Gimme Shelter".

On The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, which ran from 1971 to 1974, director Chris Bearde enlisted animator John David Wilson to direct animated segments of current hits of the day reinterpreted by the duo. Songs included Coven's "One Tin Soldier", Three Dog Night's "Black and White" and Melanie's "Brand New Key". Wilson later went on to self-produce many more animated videos for artists such as Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Jim Croce. The promotional clip continued to grow in importance, with television programs such as The Midnight Special and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert mixing concert footage with clips incorporating camera tricks, special effects, and dramatizations of song lyrics. The film of the Woodstock Festival, and the various concert films that were made during the early 1970s, such as Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii concert film used rhythmic cross-cutting.

In 1971, avant-garde group The Residents began filming what was supposed to be the first feature length music video "Vileness Fats". Due to time constrains and technical problems, the group abandoned the project in 1976. The group would, however, create videos for "The Third Reich 'n Roll" (which used props from Vileness Fats), "One Minute Movies", "Hello Skinny", and their cover of "It's A Man's Man's Man's World". Nicolas Roeg's 1970 cult film Performance contains a sequence in which star of the film Mick Jagger did a rendition of "Memo From Turner" combined with a psychedelic collage.

Many countries with local pop music industries soon copied the trend towards promo film clips. In Australia, promotional films by Australian pop performers were being made on a regular basis by 1966; in 1968 singer Lynne Randell featured in one of the first promotional clips for an Australian act that was filmed in colour, but most Australian clips from this period were in black and white, because Australia did not convert to colour TV until early 1975. 1970–71, Australian musician and filmmaker Chris Lofven made (monochrome) promotional films for two of the biggest Australian hits of the period—Daddy Cool's "Eagle Rock" and Spectrum's "I'll Be Gone". These were widely screened on Australian TV at the time and played a significant role in the success of the songs, which both became national #1 hits.

The genre-defining surf films of Bruce Brown, George Greenough and Alby Falzon and others are also notable for their innovative combinations of image and music featuring sequences of specially-filmed surfing footage, carefully edited against long music tracks, with no accompanying dialogue. Greenough's landmark 1972 film Crystal Voyager concluded with an extended sequence (filmed and edited by Greenough) that was constructed around the 23-minute Pink Floyd track "Echoes". The band was impressed with Greenough's effort and agreed to allow Greenough to use their music in his film in exchange for the right to use his film footage when performing "Echoes" at their concerts.

During late 1972–73 David Bowie featured in a series of promotional films directed by pop photographer Mick Rock, who worked extensively with Bowie in this period. These clips are important landmarks in the development of the music video genre in the 1970s, and they are also notable because they were made by a professional photographer rather than an established film or TV director, and because Rock was given total creative control over the clips. Mick Rock directed and edited four clips, all originally shot on 16 mm colour film, to promote four consecutive David Bowie singles—"John, I'm Only Dancing" (May 1972), "The Jean Genie" (Nov. 1972), the December 1972 US re-release of "Space Oddity" and the 1973 release of the single "Life On Mars" (lifted from Bowie's earlier album Hunky Dory). Mick Rock cites the "Life On Mars" clip as his favorite of the four.

The clip for "John, I'm Only Dancing" was made with a budget of just US$200 and filmed at the afternoon rehearsal for Bowie's Rainbow Theatre concert on 19 August 1972. It shows Bowie and band miming to the record intercut with footage of Bowie's dancers The Astronettes dancing on stage and behind a back-lit screen. The clip was turned down by the BBC, who reportedly found the homosexual overtones of the film distasteful, although Top of the Pops replaced it with footage of bikers and a dancer. The "Jean Genie" clip, produced for just US$350, was shot in one day and edited in less than two days. It intercuts footage of Bowie and band in concert with contrasting footage of the group in a photographic studio, wearing black stage outfits and standing against a white background. It also includes location footage with Bowie and Cyrinda Foxe (a MainMan employee and a friend of David and Angie Bowie) shot in San Francisco outside the famous Mars Hotel, with Fox posing provocatively in the street while Bowie lounges against the wall, smoking.

In 1978 Canadian filmmaker Denis Koufoudakis created EXIT, a Super 8 student film that depicted a youth’s struggles with choices in an information overload era and his nagging thoughts of suicide. EXIT featured Boston’s Foreplay/Long Time for its soundtrack and was one of the first films of its kind to be recognized at an international film festival as it received an Honorable Mention. The rock video style short, having been shot on Super 8 film stock was damaged and is slated to undergo a digitized restoration for its 35th year anniversary.

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