The arrival of MTV and the growing popularity of music videos in the early 1980s coincided with a second “British Invasion”. These artists grew out of the punk-rock movement and were generally heard for the first time on alternative or “new wave” radio stations, such as WLIR (later WDRE) in New York.
Many songs featured on Essential Music Videos: 80’s UK were staples in the dance clubs during this post-disco era. Just 22 minutes long, the disc can hardly be called comprehensive. Instead, it’s just a little taste of the music that highlighted the post-punk era. These songs generally didn’t come up on the playlists of top 40 stations at the time.
The videos are of decent quality. I think they could have had a little more fine-tuning, but in general, they are pretty clear with little distortion, snow, or interference.
A Little Respect (Erasure) – Performance video for the most part with a little bit of story and many gratuitous images. The little bit of the story dealt with love and having one’s heart broken. Interesting use of animation to make the picture look like an impressionistic painting in motion. This is the song people are most likely to have heard.
Situation (Yaz) – This is not the video for the song that I remember from MTV days, but instead it seems like something that was played in clubs at the time. Images from a kaleidoscope change at a pace to the beat of the music. It’s also the club-mix version of the actual song, rather than the album cut.
Mirror in the Bathroom (The English Beat) – Another performance video, intercut with images of people seeing their reflection in various places.
Lips Like Sugar (Echo & The Bunnymen) – This video features the band walking around London as well as some performance clips. I recognized some of the locations from a recent Doctor Who episode I watched filmed back in the late 1970s. This is a great song from a band that should have had more notoriety and popularity.
Step On (Happy Mondays) – I had never heard of or seen this video before now. Perhaps because the song is from 1990 and not 1980, but for whatever reason, it’s included here. This is a concept video with lots of bright, fast-moving images intercut with the band’s performance.
Head On (Jesus & Mary Chain) – Apply directly to the forehead – JUST KIDDING!!!! Performance video of a hard-driving song that reminds me a lot of Billy idol’s music during the 1980s. It’s probably the closest to music that would evolve from this era.
I can think of a lot more music videos and songs which represent the era and would be suitable for the disc. Whether because of difficulty getting the rights, or a rush to cash in producing the “Essential Music Videos” series, at 22 minutes it left me wanting more. What is here is decent, but it’s really not worth buying the disc for just 22 minutes of videos you can find on YouTube.