ArtLung: Joe Crawford Moorpark & Los Angeles, California, USA. Since 2001. May 2008

May 14th, 2008

Three by Missing Persons

Missing Persons is not a band I ever got way into, but I remember liking their music. My uncle had Spring Session M and we listened to that record on his stereo when we went to Lake Dolores (a long defunct waterpark halfway to Las Vegas). Keep in mind I was 10 years old in 1980 so was pretty much absorbing my music from family and radio at the time. It would not be for five more years that my musical tastes would really start “setting” as I got into Talking Heads, New Order and the like.

The thing that stands out most in these three videos is the decreasing vitality of the music and the increased vitality of the imagery of the videos. The musicianship is strong, but the songs just get weaker. It’s easy to make fun of these videos as ridiculous. MTV was new at the time, and the imagery was fun and inventive. We take the deployment of effects and costume and “acting” by musicians for granted now, and the art has been refined so now some 25 years later we know what good music videos are like, and these aren’t it.

A fun fact for me, retroactively, is to know that this band was formed out of the crucible of working for one of my favorite artists, Frank Zappa. Dale and Terry Bozzio, along with Warren Cuccurullo worked for Zappa for a number of years. Zappa was famous as a taskmaster toward his musicians, and when you listen to the music in these videos it’s fun to appreciate the tightness of the guitar and drum parts. Dale also has wonderful control over her voice. She makes peculiar vocal choices, but it’s definitely strange on purpose.

Like I said, I am not a huge fan of Missing Persons, as evidenced by none of their music being on my iPod, but perhaps I’ll grab some and try and re-appreciate a band most folks probably make fun of for ridiculous outfits.

Come to think of it, perhaps I should reevaluate some of the bands the kids like because they seem like piffle.

Mental Hopscotch, 1980:

Words, 1982:

Right Now, 1984:

UPDATE: Credit where credit is due, I was prompted to think and pontificate about Missing Persons because of a post over on the excellent blog Kill Ugly Radio.

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