80sonVEVO GAMV Takeover Week 4 w/ FEATURED VIDEO: Living Colour’s “Open Letter To A Landlord”

80sonVEVO GAMV Takeover Week 4 w/ FEATURED VIDEO: Living Colour’s “Open Letter To A Landlord”


It’s that time again! THE GOLDEN AGE OF MUSIC VIDEO has partnered with the folks at VEVO (the world’s leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform) with our weekly curation of the 80sOnVEVO YouTube page. Each week, we’ll be dusting off the shelves of the VEVO video vault to spotlight all-time favorites, award winners and lost gems from the decade of decadence. We’ll also supplement that with a rundown and info/commentary about our weekly batch of clips right here. Each week will also have a FEATURED VIDEO as a spotlight for one particular video from the era. So let’s go!


This week’s featured video: Living Colour’s “Open Letter To A Landlord”
directed by Drew Carolan. Carolan said the subject matter required the crew to shoot in dangerous areas. He said, “The neighborhoods we went to were on the Lower East Side, of course, and all over Brooklyn, like Bed-Stuy for instance. Also, we were out in L.A., all over L.A., and in D.C. In New York, I never had a problem. The only place I had a problem was D.C. This was 1988, so it was pretty rough. I remember getting chased by a bunch of angry homeless dudes…it’s really a poignant song. I mean, look around, not much has changed.”

Human League – Don’t You Want Me
directed by Steve Barron. According to Barron, this was one of the first music videos shot on 35mm film, as well as being the video that landed him the gig directing Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. Thomas Dolby said he visited the set to get a feel for directing before he helmed his video for “She Blinded Me With Science”.

Duran Duran – Notorious
directed by Peter Kagan. His signature directing style incorporates super 8mm and 16mm for a sometimes intimate, sometimes voyeuristic POV, a style he developed while documenting photos shoots for prominent photographer Arthur Elgort. This was Duran Duran’s first single released after the departure of guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor. Kagan switched up the style a bit for DD’s follow-up single “Skin Trade”, but returned to form with the third single “Meet El Presidente”.

Smithereens – Blood and Roses
directed by Albert Pyun. Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken remembers, “This video was shot in the spring of ’86 and marked the first time all four of us made the trip to L.A. together as a band. the location was a closed high school in Glendale (pretty sure) that was used exclusively for movies and TV. We had our own “honey wagons” (dressing rooms in trailers) and aside from our appearance in Class Of Nuke ‘Em High, this was the first time we experienced working with professional crews in the film industry. We were signed to Enigma Records, and it was a very exciting slice of time for us. Our first album hadn’t even been released yet but this video helped put ‘Blood & Roses’ out there, and gave rise to our career as a national act. I thought [Pyun] did a fine job with us and I have good memories of working with him. Pyun was the director of the video and the film Dangerously Close (Cannon Films) in which “Blood & Roses” was used. The video was intended to tie-in with the movie – we were asked to wear long black cloaks to match those worn by actors in the film – but we refused! It seemed hokey to us. Pretty ballsy for an unproved “baby band.” Initially, brief bits from scenes from this film were interspersed with our performance in the video, but when the song took off and the movie flopped, it was edited and became what you see here. There was even some interaction between us and the main character – who can be seen sitting with us in some shots – and that was also sent to the cutting room floor.” (see the movie version of the video here)

Adam Ant – Strip
directed by Mike Mansfield and Adam Ant. Although the video experienced high rotation, the single surprisingly did not crack the top 40 in the U.S. This year saw a return by Prince Charming himself with a new video for the swamp rocker “Cool Zombie”.

Guns N’ Roses – Garden of Eden
directed by Andy Morahan. After completing the epic Use Your Illusion music video trilogy that included “Don’t Cry”, “November Rain”, and “Estranged”, Morahan felt he hadn’t really captured the gritty, filthy punk band that lived in the heart of Guns N’ Roses. Tacked on the end of his shoot for “Yesterdays”, the video for this song clocks in under three minutes, and is basically one continuous shot.

Aerosmith – Love in an Elevator
directed by Marty Callner. Callner was a directing veteran and the stalwart helmer of the Boston Bad Boys’ underwear-and-innuendo videos of the 80s. Callner said this video marked one of the band’s final “video vixen” shoots, next turning to Alicia Silverstone as a female protagonist for the videos from their next album Get A Grip.

Bruce Springsteen – Human Touch
directed by Meiert Avis. Avis had been trying to collar cinematographer Daniel Pearl to work on a Springsteen video for some time, but Pearl was still stinging from a run-in with the Boss on the set of the original “Dancing in the Dark” video. See what happened and how Avis lured Pearl onto the set of “Human Touch”.

The Clash – Rock the Casbah
directed by the always entertainingly frank Don Letts, a reggae punk legend and former member of Big Audio Dynamite. Read how he dealt with armadillos and more on this shoot.

Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam
A significant moment for music video in that the singer in the video, Congolese-born fashion model Felly Kilingi, was soon revealed a non-English speaking hired dancer who lip-synched the words actually spoken and sung by Technotronic member and female rapper Ya Kid K. Subsequent videos from the group featured Ya Kid K, who toured with the band extensively.