“Neanderthal Man” (1970) by Hotlegs

Believe it or not, this was a Top 20 hit in the US and a Number 2 hit in the UK back in 1970. Two of the key members of Hotlegs (Kevin Godley and Lol Creme) later became pivotal members of the band 10CC (“I’m Not in Love,” “The Things We Do For Love”) and then later went on to greater fame as music video directors in the early MTV era (The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” and Duran Duran’s notorious X-rated “Girls of Film”). Note the “neanderthal” women who appear later in the clip are wearing knee-high leather boots. My only question is why didn’t the notorious SF punk rock band Flipper record a 4-hour version of this song?

“A Fine Fine Day” – Tony Carey


A favorite of mine from the early days of MTV, this is a great (and sadly forgotten) example of 1980s mainstream rock. “A Fine Fine Day” managed to get into the top 30 of the Billboard charts back in 1984 and the video got a lot of play back in the day. The song is not only very good, the accompanying video is dramatically compelling as well. The mob-themed plot may not be all that original, but for a music video (especially from back in the day), it’s quite mature and adult.  I’m surprised no one has thought to cover this.  An exceptional, underappreciated gem.

“Summertime Blues” – Blue Cheer


Here’s one of those cool oddities that occasionally can only find success in the Top 40 because it doesn’t fit into any format of its day. This example is a beyond metallic cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” from 1968 by the band Blue Cheer. Even nowadays, this is way heavier than anything that calls itself heavy metal and probably was shunned from rock radio because it was too harsh. So … it became a Top 20 hit on the Billboard charts. From the album “Vincebus Eruptum” … I have no idea what that title means, but it’s freakin’ cool.

Another similar example: Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock n’ Roll” which was too punk for rock stations and too rock for punk/new wave stations. It went to the Top 40 instead and was a #1 hit on the Billboard charts for 7 weeks in 1982.

The accompanying video for “Summertime Blues” (filmed for the German pop music show “Beat Club”) was an early staple of the “Closet Classic” segment of MTV back in the day. I love the fact you can barely see any of the band member’s faces because their hair is so long and thick.  Just like the beyond muddy guitar sound.

“Big Electric Cat” – Adrian Belew


A favorite from the early days of MTV, circa 1982. Those were the days when there so few videos to choose from, MTV basically played everything. It wasn’t uncommon to see Adrian Belew mixed in with the J. Geils Band, Rod Stewart, Duran Duran, the Clash, etc.

The primitive computer graphics and high contrast shot-on-video look may seem cheesy, but I have a very soft spot in my heart for this kind of stuff. Also, that beautifully sick rhino guitar sound that Belew patented is always a wonder to hear. From Belew’s album “Lone Rhino.”