Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Awesomely bad videos from the 80's - "Africa" by Toto

When I was 8 years old I moved from the town of West Bay Shore to the town of West Islip. Along with the demographics going from 40% white, 30% black, 20% hispanic, and 10% asian to 99.9% white/.01% every other race, I also discovered something new....cable TV.

Cable TV was rudimentary in the mid-80's. There weren't too many channels but I'll always have channel 25 burned into my brain until the day I die. That was the original channel number for MTV...at least on Long Island. I'll also forever remember channel 26 but that's for another time. Anyway, before the days of MTV not playing a single video...they actually played videos. This is one of the first to go into heavy rotation and although the song is definitely dated, I'll admit its one of my favorites. Today, we take a look back at Toto's "Africa".

As in past video reviews, here is the video. Just follow along the time stamps for the highlights below it.

0:00 - 0:20 - Ah yes...those famous jungle beats and that little synthesizer rift. If you weren't ready for 80's music by the time this was released in 1982, then you were about to have it force fed to you by a spoon. We appear to see the largest globe ever created and then find ourselves in an old library.

0:22 - 0:35 - Toto had three main singers...this is one of them. I don't any of their names but I called this guy "full blown neck beard" guy. The woman in the background looks a little like the girl running around the "Hungry Like The Wolf" video by Duran Duran but I don't think that's ever been confirmed.

0:37 - Full blown neck beard guy is a little overweight for your typical rock star back in the day and you can tell by the fact that he's sweating at this point in the video.

0:43 - I love in every music video, they always try and include clips of the band player. Toto had a ton of members so its hard to work them in but they do their best here. The first shot of the drummer playing a bongo with drumsticks is awesome...but that awesomeness is surpassed by the drummer's glasses.

0:52 - Another band member...he's also a singer as you'll see shortly. He's a dead ringer for the Blue Oyster Cult guitarist but I think its because they have the best mustaches other than Ron Jeremy. He's playing some kind of wicker maracas that probably don't produce a sound in real life but looks neat here.

0:57 - I love this guy...the keyboard player. He's actually the brother of the drummer...if you can't tell by their somewhat similar looks then you'd definitely know because he also is rocking huge glasses.

1:02 - I'm not sure what library uses a kerosene lamp.

1:04 - Its the lead guitar player and half of the bass player!

1:11 - The first group shot of the band. I think they blew 90% of the video's budget to make it look they were playing on a giant stack of books.

1:16 - I'll talk more about this later but I don't know anybody that plays the bass guitar and holds it up that high. Its almost parallel to his body. I'm taking my technical music hat off now.

1:26 - There's the bass guy getting his solo moment. Again, it looks like he's playing the bass over his head.

1:35 - Love the gong hit.

1:42 - 1:56 - I can't tell what kind of library this is. There seems to be leaves on the ground and torches going on in the background. Maybe the library is supposed to actually be in a African jungle.

1:58 - 2:00 - Out of the hundreds of thousands of songs written, I give you the only one that uses the words "Kilimanjaro" and "Serengeti"...in the same line. I find this awesome.

2:18 - One of the other lead singers of Toto...the wicker maracas playing guy rocking the mustache. I love his face getting into it.

2:33 - Another sign the 1980's were here...wrist sweatbands for the keyboard player.

2:40 - 2:47 - There seems to be some sort of plot going on here. The neck beard guy has a scrap of paper and he seems intent on finding the book it belongs too. Meanwhile the librarian seems to be getting sweaty and there's a guy with a spear lurking.

2:50 - And so begins the most deliciously awful keyboard solo of 1982.

3:02 - Well hello there Mr. Percussionist of the band!

3:10 - 3:20 - It seems our hero is getting too close to finding his book because someone throws a spear, though it doesn't seem to come anywhere close of hitting him. It does lead to a huge stack of books to fall. IT would have been funny if it was the stack that Toto was playing on.

3:24 - I love these few shots before the end. Imagine going to a library, you take a book off the shelf, and there's a long haired mullet guy playing a guitar at you.

3:33 - Hey, its the page the protagonist has been looking for!

3:36 - This shot scared me when I was younger. This guy is super intense.

3:39 - Oops, someone drops the kerosene lamp on the book and it goes up in flames in two seconds.

3:42 - As much as the guy at the 3:36 mark scared me as a kid...this guy's expression scares me more as an adult.

3:48 - 4:06 - A bunch of shots are recycled...probably because Toto blew the budget on the book illusion.

4:17 - The main guy appears to be posing for Africa's version of Playgirl.

4:20 - end - Cut to the book burning and then fade to black...

Well, there you have it. Not a great song or video when you look at them by themselves but when you put the two together...you have classic 1980's bliss.


Anonymous said...

Apparently the band thought this was the worst song on the album and perhaps the worst song they ever wrote when they recorded it.

I wish you would have posted the lyrics cause i have no idea what they say in most of the song. Just a weird song in general, including the weird organ solo in the middle.

Anonymous said...

I believe channel 26 was God's gift to prepubescent boys...the Playboy Channel!! My parents had one of those "black boxes" that unscrambled such channels so me and brother would watch it when my parents weren't home. I won't say who I am for fear that the FCC will track my parents down but I can say that I belonged to the .01% of the non-white population of West Islip.