Video Concert Hall. No other thing, save maybe “URGH! A Music War,” and the rise of the video arcade, had more of an affect on my delicious formative years. Dad may have owned a record shop but VCH is where I first got turned on to so many of the records that ended up in my collection.
It came on at weird times of the day. Late at night, after Midnight Special, it would pop up. In the middle of the afternoon I could switch over to USA Network and hear “Carouselambra” by Led Zeppelin, VCH's theme song, and be fixed in the seat. I could see something on Video Concert Hall and run upstairs with a list to make sure that I had the records I wanted on order the next day. Spider (go Anton Fig, go!), The Sports, PhD, The Shoes, The Buggles, Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass, Devo, Gary Numan, Iggy Pop, Bowie’s Scary Monsters, The Cramps, and most importantly Tom Petty, The Motors, The Pretenders, Squeeze, Split Enz, and The Police.
Where else would I have discovered Split Enz in 1978 if it weren’t for VCH? It’s not like I would have heard them on the radio in The Queen City. “I Got You” was a monster song. “One Step Ahead” was even better. Seeing “Tattooed Love Boys” by The Pretenders was sick. The Police? Forget about it. Those videos just had me hooked. And whenever I saw Squeeze pushing the piano down the street in the video for “Another Nail in My Heart” I couldn’t wait to go put the record on and play it all day. Some songs just stuck with me. In particular I think “Love and Loneliness” by The Motors was my first introduction to a really BIG pop song. Even to this day, whenever I play Tenement Steps, from which that song comes, I feel this huge, wonderful sea change in my well being. I fucking love that song. Even some one offs, like Nazareth’s “Holiday,” and Tim Curry’s “I Do the Rock,” still thrill me like they did in the late 70s and I really think that “We Can Get Together” by Icehouse is one of the best pop songs there is.
Video Concert Hall passed on in 1981 and gave rise to Night Flight and my temporary crush on Lisa Robinson which was then replaced by my undying love for Martha Quinn. Night Flight turned me onto Urgh!, Fantastic Planet, and New Wave Theater, and kept me in that swirling see of analog video – you know how all those videos seemed to look before MTV. Video Concert Hall was the key, the surrogate parent, which solidified the music geek in me and made me want to be James Honeyman Scott.
ap - 2009