In these troubling times, it’s important to acknowledge the therapeutic powers of a good YouTube surf. Below, a few of my personal favorite video tonics, which may even become yours.
1. Sparks, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us”
They’ve just released their 21st (!) album (featuring the brilliant “Lighten Up, Morrissey”), but this 34-year-old Top of the Pops clip offers the brothers Mael in all their falsetto-y glam-rock glory. And though they may be miming, nobody does reaction shots like that Weimar-era freakshow on keys.
2. The Dickies, “Banana Splits”
Ignore the disconnect of a guitarist named Stan Lee wearing a T-shirt featuring a DC Comics character and just savor the fruity mise en scene of this hysterical promo, which I’d like to think inspired Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldiers.”
3. Dr. Feelgood, “She Does It Right”
I don’t know who’s more giddlily intense in this clip of the venerable pub-rockers, off of British TV: Wilko Johnson, whose approximation of Devo wielding Kalishnikovs made him one of the world’s most underrated guitarists, or singer Lee Brilleaux, whose thousand-yard stare and air punches make you want to cross to the other side of the street.
4. Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution, “Secret Chimp”
Not the Monkees (or the Guess Who, whose “No Time” riff this clearly cops) but an incredible simulation. Favorite bits: a deep-focus shot through the tambourine that would make Orson Welles proud, and the goateed pimp chimp rocking the orange fedora and aviators.
5. The Upper Crust, “Let Them Eat Rock”
Guys who dress up like Edwardian dandies (a Pulitzer heir and future Clinton speechwriter among them), channeling Bon Scott-era AC/DC with cleverer lyrics than said Aussies ever attempted. Joke never gets old. And this song was never more prescient.