Tuesday, 7. April 2009 - 10:20 am
(Simone Grattarola is one of the UK music video industry’s favourite colourists. Based at Rushes, Simone has graded many hundreds of music videos. Unfortunately for him, absolutely none of these were for Whitesnake, Scorpions or Guns ‘N Roses. Because Simone’s love of heavy metal goes way back to the day, and seeing the marvellous Anvil recently has inspired him to share some of his guilty pleasures with the Promo nation. Genuine classics, cult classics, or just plain wrong – they’re all jawdroppers. And more hairspray was used making these than anything by Girls Aloud.
So let’s rock…)
This is somewhat of a collage to my spotty youth. Inspired by the new Anvil film I list some of my favourite Heavy Metal videos.
As a 12 year old boy I idolized my older, cooler cousin. He had long hair and rode a motorbike. There were probably some underlying issues I’d not resolved the day I wandered into his bedroom to find his record collection spread across his bed. I ignored the dull pictures of modish men on the sleeves of The Jam and The Clash records and instead was drawn to the Scorpions Lovedrive, a man pulling chewing gum off a woman’s breast and Lovehunter by Whitesnake, a giant snake wrapped around a naked woman.
Whitesnake – Is This Love
David Coverdale was the curly-permed lead singer of Whitesnake who married Bachelor Party thespian Tawny Kitaen. The videos for his re launched Stateside career drew attention to Tawny and to David’s ‘armadillo’ (one for readers of Kerrang‘s View From The Bar). I have to admit I preferred Led Snake’s Still Of The Night and Is This Love vids to Here I Go Again, as there was more flesh to be had and better shots of their sponsors, Jaguar. The only thing British he had left of himself.
Whitesnake – Ain’t No Love
And this is British David before he sacked everyone and sailed in search of the golden strand, sorry, land.
Scorpions – Rock You Like A Hurricane
Director: David Mallet
Germany’s whistling heavy metal band The Scorpions weren’t averse to a bit of Spinal Tap. The shot of the band members lying in the caskets in the Rock You Like A Hurricane video being a point in case. Was it a knowing nod to the Tap? Seminal vid maker David ‘I Want To Break Free’ Mallet directed this – and I wonder if Paul Schrader’s Cat People influenced him in anyway? In the voice of Tommy Vance, turn it up to 11, and enjoy…
Guns ‘N’ Roses – Estranged
Director: Andy Morahan
For overblown pomp I’ve gone with Guns ‘N’ Roses. Andy Morahan directed this ten-minute film – which Lord Seery at Rushes graded. They shot 25 hours of film and spent five days grading the behemoth!! I could well have gone for Styx’s Mr. Roboto, but it ain’t heavy metal enough, although paradoxically it has a character made from heavy metal. Worth checking out all the same.
Smashing Pumpkins – Bullet With Butterfly
Director: Samuel Bayer
I loved Sam Bayer’s vids when I was starting out in the industry and my favourite was this one for the Smashing Pumpkins. I used to work at a company dubbing films and videos. There was a pecking order on jobs so the longer you had worked there, the better the choice of film or video you got to QA (Quality Assess). This involved eight-hour days watching 3 or 4 of your favourite films. We got the chance to watch a lot of seminal music videos at the same time and this one stuck in my memory. Although Today may have had a greater influence in my career choice, with all the painting on and off screen going on.
Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
Director: Howard Greenhalgh
I remember finding Howard Greenhalgh’s Black Hole Sun video for Soundgarden really interesting. It was as subversive as the band themselves. I was beginning to realise that videos for bands I liked didn’t have to be about naked women. Although points off Mr. Cornell for turning himself into “the new Michael Bolton”. Tut Tut Tut.
Nine Inch Nails – Closer
Director: Mark Romanek
My tastes had started to evolve, and another influence – and one of my fave vids – is Mark Romanek’s ‘Closer’ for Nine Inch Nails. Darker, darker, darker…
Motley Crue – Smokin’ In The Boys Room
Motley Crue were bad. Musically they were bad. They lifted all their best riffs from Cheap Trick. But they were Heavy Metal. Or at least they were to me. They fought (they beat up Metallica in a fist fight, when men were men and not Blur and Oasis), raped (allegedly – read The Dirt, Motley Crue’s biography, which is exhaustingly monstrous, funny, despicable and sad), and killed (sorry, vehicular manslaughtered – Hanoi Rocks guitarist Razzle,) their way to the top. They even killed themselves in the process, only to be brought back to life. So with all of that tumultuous baggage on board you’d think they would have the darkest, filthiest vids. But no, they go out and tear a massive hole out of the ozone layer, stick on some bad make up, lycra catsuits and stilettos, and rehash Smoking In The Boys Room, a video replete with the “I hate school” theme.
Europe – Cherokee
Part of the essence of heavy metal is excess. In that walk between greatness and insignificance there are a hell of a lot of vapid and merit-free vids associated with the genre. There’s a tipping point where parody takes over, a bit like De Niro’s acting – his tipping point being the film Jacknife. His career is defined by ‘Before-Jacknife‘ and ‘Post-Jacknife‘. One of my favorite ‘shit’ videos is this one for Europe. We never got to see their ‘BJK’. However, I met them once. I was bored and sat in the school common room with my mate and we stumbled across an advert in Raw saying how Europe was shooting a video for their new single at the Astoria that day. We really didn’t think it through.On arriving we saw that there were only two or three dozen people there, so we’d all have to squeeze to the front of the stage. On the one hand this meant being up close and personal to some rock chicks, but on the other it meant we would be immortalised in a crappy sub-Bon Jovi (that bad) band’s video forever. We decided that none of these girls were worth the bother. Yes, I’m sure it was that way round.We went to the back of the venue only to be met with a heavy cloud of stinging sex panther-aroma’d hairspray. Then in slo-mo, through the vapour, came the silhouettes of five permed and bottle-kissed Scandinavians ready to rock. They ignored us as they strode out to the heaving mass of a dozen or so fans. We left with sore throats and blinking eyes. Hello London, this is Cherokee. I’m convinced this will get them the gig to soundtrack Cormac Macarthy’s soon to be filmed Blood Meridian.
Watching Anvil the other day made me cry with laughter. When I was younger I thought Scarface was the coolest film ever, but the more I watched it the less dangerous it seemed – with all it’s excessiveness – and now it never fails to make me laugh. Tony Montana’s fleeing of Cuba to the promised land of America can be seen as a correlation to Mr Coverdale’s, less the chainsaw.To end I leave you with something far greater than my blinkered and personalized view. Penelope Spheeris’s ‘tribute’ to the heavy metal genre, The Decline Of Western Civilisation Part 2.