Thursday, August 11, 2011

120 Minutes Returns!

The last great movement in rock happened in the early 90's.  Grunge took the world by the throat, damning many a hair metal and hard rock act into early retirement.  It even broke mainstream; for the first time in my life the radio was playing my music.  I loved it.

And for most of these "alternative" bands, 120 Minutes on MTV was either where they broke out or where they wanted to break in.  Between 1992 and 1999, I recorded about 14 hours of music (and still have the cassettes to prove it) from this show, from mainstream fare to one-off songs from bands never to be heard from again.  It was the showcase for alternative music. And where would I be without Fossil's "Moon"?  Grade's "A Year in the Past"? Cibo Matta's "Chicken?"  I shudder to think.  

My dirty little secret:  this is where I used to find half the music no one else had heard of.  It awed my music pals, but I was just taping this show and watching it.  Simple as that.

The show, like grunge, started to peter out by the end of the 90's.  It officially lost the plot when Matt Pinfield left in 1999.  I watched a bit of the Dave Holmes era, but by then the show had no more zip on its fastball.  It eventually migrated to MTV2 (which I didn't have at the time) and died an ignominious death in 2003. 

That is, until it came back.

120 Minutes with Matt Pinfield now airs on the last Saturday every month on MTV2.  Sure, Subterranean tried to fill the gap in the interim, but it came off as a soulless hour.  I feel much better with the bald guru Pinfield behind the wheel again, even if it is only once a month.

So how did the first show back compare with the old show?  Well, let's go to the videotape and identify some highlights:
  • Matt Pinfield.  He's bald.  He knows every band since the beginning of time (i.e., 1950), and even has research on a bunch that haven't formed yet.  Some have not yet even been born.  That's how on top of it he is.
  • First video:  The Joy Formidable - "Whirring."  An inspired choice.  It's edgy but reflects the ethos of classic alternative.  And it's a great guitar-grit power-pop song with soaring harmonies and a tempo change thrown in.  I will definitely be checking this band out.  Well played.
  • It appears that they've compiled about 38,000 hours of interview footage that they want to cram into each show.  I have this weird thing about about wanting my "music" shows to be filled with music and my "talk" shows to be filled with conversation.  I'm odd that way.
  • Second video:  Jeff the Brotherhood - "U Got the Look." Following the rich tradition of Local H, The Black Keys, and The White Stripes, this duo packs some '60's retro punch.  It's amazing how good a standard, by-the-numbers drum beat can sound in the right song.
  • There were 895 promos of the Dave Grohl interview during the show... which of course was aired in the final segment (last 10 minutes) of the show.
  • I don't really like Sleigh Bells.  Sorry.
  • First "classic" video:  Pearl Jam - "Jeremy."  This was so mainstream back in the day that I felt this was cheating, until they decided to show the "uncensored" version MTV never aired. That's the one where Jeremy sticks his gun in his mouth at the end.  Wow.  Well, that effectively ends the speculation that he shot the rest of the class up at the end of the video.  The show followed the video with a PSA on suicide prevention.
  • Zach Braff should be interviewed, but not on this show.  I have nothing against the guy personally, but in the interview he says he "loves Coldplay."  I just threw up in my mouth.
  • There was a lot of fast forwarding though the lesser light videos and interviews.  As it should be.
  • Final tally:  with two "classic" videos closing out the show, we ended up with 9 new videos and 3 "classic" videos.  And one massively promoted Dave Grohl interview.
(This post was a lot longer originally.  However, my browser crashed in the middle of the post, wiping most of it out.  And I had already deleted the show from my DVR, so... this is what you get.)

Summary:  12 videos in 2 hours?  Too few.  And the ratio of 25% "classic" to new is crap.  For a monthly show, there needs to be at least 2-4 more videos (so kill one or two of the 14 talking head/interview segments), and 1-2 less "classic" videos in the mix.  Hopefully they are just working out the kinks.  Even with the warts, though, it's still great to see this show back on the air.  Pinfield!!!!!

- Snilch

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