Sunday, September 19, 2010

This video is all kinds of awesome

Oh, man, where to begin with this?

Okay, first of all, it's the 1976 Grammys, so everyone in attendance is probably high on one kind of chemical stimulant or another. Uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... Even Andy Williams probably downed a fifth of psychotropic Geritol before heading out on stage. California is not a place known for good taste and restraint even in the best of times, and in the drug-fueled Seventies all bets were off. I'm sure if you were to go backstage at this event, you'd see something akin to the "golden calf" scene from The Ten Commandments going on.

Anyway, here are some things to look for and listen for throughout the clip:

(00:00) Mysterious Japanese subtitles (they watch this stuff in Japan?) and the kind of distortion you only get on old VHS tapes. Now that the VHS era is pretty much over, I'm going to miss that distortion. Really, I am.

(00:01) Andy Williams' lapels. His tux looks like a wearable prototype for the Stealth Bomber.

(00:06) A Muzak-y, big band arrangement of "Good Vibrations." Classy.

(00:19) Shaving was definitely out in the 1970s, apparently. These are the brothers Wilson, but even in formalwear they look like Larry, Darryl, and Darryl from Newhart. Two of these three men are now dead, and who'd have guessed that Brian of all people would be the one to make it?

(00:25) Brian seems disoriented, as you might guess, and appears to have some difficulty reading the cue cards. Considering what his life was like in the 1970s, it's amazing he's standing upright and speaking even semi-coherent English.

(00:37) For some reason, Dennis -- the handsome drummer who costarred in Two Lane Blacktop and was BFFs with Charles Manson -- is the one who gets the biggest applause, but either he's speaking unintelligibly or the microphone doesn't pick up what he's saying.

(00:57) Success! They've managed to make it through one of those lame awards-show-presenter jokes! And greater success! Mike Love is thousands of miles away!

(01:02) Hmmm. Something's gone wrong, based on Dennis' mock-frustrated (or genuinely frustrated) reaction.

(01:06) Awesome vintage chroma-key special effects!

(01:16) Check out the afro on the guy from Boston! That thing has its own Congressman! But seriously, of the five nominees, Boston is the act that went on to have a long, successful career. They've got this award in the bag, right? Right?

(01:29) The members of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band seem to have come in costume. Let's see here, we have Latin American Dictator, Old Timey Gangster, Juan Valdez, Another Old Timey Gangster?

(01:40) The Brothers Johnson are semi-obscure today, but I'm sure you've heard "Strawberry Letter 23." And whaddya know? Wikipedia says they're still at it today.

(01:52) Ah, the Starland Vocal Band... America's semi-successful attempt to out-ABBA ABBA. Who knows? This might've been the very night that Homer Simpson decided to get that infamous tattoo of his.

(02:02) Oh, come on, Grammy voters. Wild Cherry? Did you really think they were going to come up with a follow up to "Play That Funky Music, White Boy"?

(02:12) And the winner is... BOS-- oh, no, wait. It's the Starland Vocal Band. Incidentally, you can see in this clip how pervasive the Farrah Fawcett hairdo was back then. Even Dennis Wilson had it. He reads the names of the winners with no enthusiasm whatsoever. Maybe he was pulling for Dr. Buzzard.

(02:22) More awesome, low-tech FX as the words "Starland Vocal Band" float down from video heaven. These were only the 19th Grammys? Really? It seems like the Grammys have been around forever, but I guess not. It's funny to think that the Grammys weren't even old enough to drink yet.

(02:38) The group's second-cutest girl (out of two) is elected to speak.

(02:42) John Denver helped make it magic? Apparently, he invoked some kind of dark sorcery to aid the fledgling career of the Starland Vocal Band.

(02:46) Your mother was right when she told you not to quit your day job, honey. It's gonna be a real short ride. Enjoy this moment, Starland Vocal Band, because you're on stage with some talented people right now. And I mean the Beach Boys, not each other. Nimrods.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. With Wayne. Catch ya later.

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