Since I discovered that there are videos for all the underground songs of my youth now on YouTube I’ve been staying up late watching them. I couldn’t believe you could find actual footage of the Human League performing “Being Boiled,” a song first recorded on a Sony two-track tape for a cost of two pounds fifty.
But I am not the only fan of John Foxx and Co. to have been disappointed with these old videos. And this is the great marvel and joy of YouTube — that disappointment can be answered: John Foxx fans have posted their own remixes of his 1980 hit (And of course you can also see John Foxx performing the song live in a variety of venues.) My favourite of the modern videos is one entirely in black and white: it nails the Kratfwerkian nostalgic element of early synthpop, situating the whole thing in a time of post-war optimism (and minus the little girls). This video is better than the original.
The dance remix is also a lot of fun: it updates the song with an electro bassline and a sample from Liberace. There it is: irony. An injection of just a little of it makes it so much more contemporary.
Mark Reeder, “Underpass Reeder Sinister Subway Mix” (2009)
Is this just a dangerous nostalgia? Am I just being like the boomers, constantly looking over their home movies from Woodstock? Possibly in giving in to this I am distancing myself from the present. But I like to think it’s also research, from a distance, on something I didn’t fully understand at the time.
And by the way, techno is still obsessed with “Stalker.” Watch these two.
Richie Hawtin, “The Tunnel,” (2005)
Richie Hawtin, “We (All) Search,” (2005)
- Russell Smith