Tuesday, March 12, 2013

No. 450 – Carouselambra

Performer: Led Zeppelin
Songwriters: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones
Original Release: In Through the Out Door
Year: 1979
Definitive Version: None

Back before the M in MTV stood for Music, before the QUBE interactive show, there was Video Concert Hall.

Actually, now that I think about it, The Kids Are Alright, really was the video that killed the radio star in my household. The Kids Are Alright, or TKAA, is more or less a collection of music videos—some live, some staged—punctuated by the odd interview clip. I mean, long before The Buggles became the answer to a trivia question for the ages, The Who were doing a music video for Happy Jack, complete with something resembling a storyline.

Soon after that fateful fall day when I found TKAA in 1979, Video Concert Hall launched on USA Network, and the timing couldn’t have been better. After TKAA, I was in a mindset to watch music videos. And it didn’t hurt that Video Concert Hall’s first video—without fail, early on—was a live clip of Baba O’Riley taken directly from TKAA (punched up with a couple video effects).

Back then, Video Concert Hall was on late in the afternoon—perfect for teens and adolescents just arriving home from school—and the order of the videos was always the same. I don’t remember the order now—I bet Jin does—but the regulars were The Who, Poco, Tim Curry (very hip for a brief time due to Rocky Horror, or course), Gary Numan, Squeeze, Rita Coolidge, Village People, Amii Stewart (who?) and The Police.

And, of course, it all began with the opening notes of this song. (Obviously, the copyright rules for TV were different back then.) Led Zeppelin, which never had a video on Video Concert Hall, or on MTV for the most part—to my chagrin—kicked off the video revolution with the frantic synth of this three-part suite.

Video Concert Hall was the proving grounds. Even though we knew all the videos in order, we watched all the way through anyway, even through the disco—and the freakin’ Village People fer crissakes—because it was cool. So, we were well-trained for that magic moment two years later when the Moon Man planted the MTV flag.

A round-the-clock Video Concert Hall? Now THIS is what I’m talking about!

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