Video Concert Hall, MTV, and the Early Days of Music Video

I came across this website recently that is a tribute to an old television show from the late 1970’s and early 80’s that aired on USA Network called Video Concert Hall:
Video Concert Hall tribute website

VCH is credited with being the first nationwide music video programming on cable television, and a precursor to the wildly popular station MTV. The website has links to a number of music videos that aired during that time.

I don’t know that I have as great an affinity for any of those particular songs. It’s more of an affinity for the period in music in general and the playful ingenuity and raw production of those early music videos. It was an exciting time in music – the disco period was ending, punk rock had shaken things up, and a new explosion of bands with unique sounds was emerging. Groups like The Ramones, The Police, The Pretenders, Squeeze, The Tubes, and a host of other bands integrated styles and an edge that were influenced by punk rock with pop sensitivities and production.

And music video, before overblown budgets and over-production became the norm, was an exciting new medium to gain exposure. What I love most is the absolute simplicity of these early music videos. In terms of setting, it’s clear that these bands just reached out to a friend with a 1-bedroom efficiency apartment, a band member whose parents had a business with a warehouse that they could use after hours, a local production company with a small community theater and a room full of props and costumes, or they just cleared out the musical equipment from the garage where they practiced.

There’s a music video of the song by The Beastie Boys called “You’ve Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party” that really captures the spirit of the early music video era. It’s just the guys in the band and a few friends in an efficiency apartment, and the video ends with a bunch of pies thrown in faces.

Comedic acting (and the joy of music) at its finest.

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