Classic ABC Filler Music Videos

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 23rd November 2010.

In my column last week, I took a trip down memory lane, or in my case, Olola Avenue, Castle Hill, and reminisced about my favourite ABC kids afternoon programs from the eighties. That little adventure awoke another remnant of a memory.

During the late seventies and eighties, the ABC wasn’t the slick operation it is today. There were no promotional ads for upcoming shows, and so the couple of minutes left between programs were filled with early music videos. These videos ran repeatedly whenever there was time, and so I guess over many viewings, they became the basis of my love for music, or at the least, one hit wonders.

All of these music videos are burnt into my brain. I remember the tunes, the words, and pretty much every detail of the music videos. If only I knew the names of the songs.

A little research online gave me the names and artists of each music video, with the exception of one elusive clip. This one was an instrumental, kind of a sea shanty, and the video featured a bunch of women doing some sort of traditional dancing in a white room, while the musicians looked on. Ten points to you if you already know the answer.

And now, direct from 1980 or so, via my rather poor memory, are those pesky music videos that eluded me for so long.

Bright Eyes was the theme song from the 1978 animated film Watership Down, based on the Richard Adams book of the same name. Art Garfunkel, of the little known musical duo Simon and Garfunkel, performed the song in his famous falsetto. The song was composed by Mike Batt, who was also responsible for discovering Katie Melua and writing The Wombles hit novelty albums.

Even today, Bright Eyes haunts me. The book is depressing and sad. The tune is depressing and sad. The video, which features cute animated rabbits happily hopping around fields and then being caught in snare traps and dying, is depressing and sad. As a six year old, the sombre nature of the music video was certainly not lost on me, and I’d often be found sitting in silence, thinking about “those poor Bright Eyes rabbits.”

Love Is All was a popular single from the rock opera concept album, The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshoppers Feast, which was composed by Roger Glover, of Deep Purple fame. With glass shatteringly high lead vocals from Dio frontman, Ronnie James Dio, the animated music video features a cavalcade of animals singing and dancing.

On review, the video is not just animals singing and dancing. The video has serious psychedelic overtones. That’s not just a frog playing a guitar leading the animal parade. That’s a frog that turns into a shrub which then sprouts five singing frog heads. I’m sure some serious drugs were involved in the making of the album and video. Not that I’m complaining. Anything is better than the dead rabbit song.

OK, so I’m sitting in a car with a close friend chatting about these mysterious videos. I mention the elusive mystery one and she pops up with the answer immediately. “Oh that’s Portsmouth, by Mike Oldfield,” she says. Sure enough, there was the video on YouTube, just as I remember it, except for the multiple musicians watching the dancers. Only Mike Oldfield appears in the clip, playing different instruments in different shirts, obviously over multiple takes.

And thus another one of my life’s great mysteries has been solved. If you know of any other music videos from that era, drop me a line via my website. And whatever you do, avoid Watership Down.