A couple hours left for a Vespa Video Vednesday, so here’s a quickie musical Interlude with scooters: The Spades (featuring Roky Erickson) doing We Sell Soul, featuring a nice slideshow of mod scooters. No one could be less mod than Roky Erickson, but it works. I’m DJing at Slaughterhouse, maybe this song will get me cut off so I can get to the bar faster.
Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss is notorious for licensing the bands’ image to anyone who’ll pay for it, so it comes as no surprise that you can now ride a Kiss scooter. The Crossrunner Kiss Celebrity Collectors Edition scooter appears to be just another Chinese Honda Joker knockoff with Kiss graphics. It was noted on Modern Buddy that the paint job is worth more than the scooter, but we’re betting it’s vinyl wrap graphics, the likes of which we’ve seen on several Chinese scooters at Dealer Expo in recent years. It’s also interesting that the photos on the site are a mirror image of each other (note the engine case is visible in both photos), it’s a Photoshop mockup, not a photo of the real bike. (The rotating image at the end of the video appears to be real, the graphics are slightly different.) If this bike features the glass piston, fake ABS brakes, and other shoddy components seen on many Chinese scooters, you might want to order a Kiss casket, too.
Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock is unloading two custom Lambrettas. Craddock claims he’s just too busy to ride, but anyone with a Lambretta fixation can tell you, you don’t sell a Lambretta unless you need the cash. Especially a surprisingly tastefully done Lambretta, that’s been on the cover of Scootering magazine twice(your editor looks in his wallet, a moth flies out.)
The Garrison, fronted by scooter racing legend and all-around good guy Scott Smallwood, plays Friday night at The Rockbox in Chicago, opening for The Bomb, fronted by Jeff Pezzati of Naked Raygun fame.
Artist: David Bowie Song: “That’s Motivation” Album:Absolute Beginners film soundtrack (1986) Scooter(s): Vespa GS Scooter content: 20 seconds Jump to the good parts: 3:56 to end
There’s not much to add to last week’s rant about “Absolute Beginners,” the musical. Great book, sort-of-embarassing film. As much as I love Bowie, his performance (or is it his character, Vendice Partners?) is a bit stilted and creepy. His Busby-Berkeley-inspired paean to advertising was probably meant to be the film’s centerpiece, but as far as overblown showtune production pieces go, Ray Davies’ Music-Hall romp “Quiet Life” steals the show and somehow seems to fit the story better. And Edward Tudor-Pole’s “song” isn’t on YouTube, but there’s a Vespa billboard in the background. If all this makes you want to see the film, I’m doing it wrong. OK, fine, it’s a guilty pleasure. But the book is a must!
But hey, back to the point, there’s a scooter in Bowie’s number. And it’s not really so bad as I remembered it. And another VVV is written and posted, on an actual Vednesday. That’s Motivation!
Did we just post two videos? and did we just miss two weeks of Vespa Video Vednesday? Never fear, we didn’t forget you. Today we have another clip from David’s list that just so happens to be one of my favorite songs:
Artist: David Bowie Song: “Absolute Beginners” Album:Absolute Beginners film soundtrack (1986) Scooter(s): Vespa GS Scooter content: 5 seconds Jump to the good parts: 2:19, 2:22, 2:36
David Bowie, of course, is a genius. As Jon Langford would put it, he’s the “Chameleon of Rock.” And Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners, is definitely one of my favorite books. So what could be better than a film version directed by Great Rock and Roll Swindle director Julien Temple, featuring David Bowie AND Ray Davies (AND Edward Tudor-Pole)!?
Well, the film turned out to be nothing but a marginally entertaining (at best) musical (no!) love story that nearly ignored the book’s rich drama of gentrification, race relations, and the rise of the English teenager. The Fifties setting was overwhelmed by the Eighties set design, and today it looks dated and campy. The soundtrack holds up a little better, featuring songs from Jerry Dammers (of the Specials), the Style Council*, and rare proof that Sade was a promising talent back when she had a last name. Even Ray Davies’ subtle nostalgic song is pretty good. But the gem was this David Bowie track.
Julien Temple directed Bowie’s epic “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean” video in 1984, and Bowie was chosen to appear in the film as shady advertising magnate Vendice Partners. The single was recorded in June 1985 but delayed to wait for the film’s release. The video is nothing special, a Duran Duran-inspired parody of British “Strand” cigarette commercials with awkwardly-chromakeyed film footage worked in. The scooter footage is minimal, and all from the film (a Vespa GS graces the soundtrack album cover and makes a few appearances in the film).
But, oh, the song is so great. It strikes me as the anti-“Uptown Girl,” showing Billy Joel that Eighties arena pop could actually be fused with doo-wop without disastrous results, and thus proving David Bowie is actually capable of anything. The lyrics are beautifully vague and can make me cry if I’ve had a couple beers and I pretend it’s about whatever dramatic situation is troubling me at the moment. Even the obligatory Eighties sax solo is magnificent. It’s perhaps a bit long, though it’s available in several remixes of varying lengths across CD, CD3(!) LP, 7″, 12″ releases. The film was massively hyped before release, then panned by critics and fans, but the single reached #2 in England and nearly cracked the top 50 in the U.S.
There, it’s ten minutes until midnight, and VVV lives. All that for five seconds of secondhand scooter footage. See you next Vednesday.
*Speaking of Paul Weller, The Jam’s “Absolute Beginners,” (#4 UK charts in 1981) is surely also inspired (though equally subtly) by MacInnes’ book. It’s really a must-read novel, and in this age of remakes and re-hashed ideas, hopefully another filmmaker has a go at it, but it’s going to be hard to top the two great songs it’s already inspired.
Here’s a video recap of “The Vespa Experiment,” a Pacific-coast tour by three musicians on Vespa scooters. One of the musicans, Amber Rubarth sums it up:
I feel like this whole tour was all about getting to the core of life and purity and innocence. And, just getting back to the musical part and not in the business of it.
Sure, apart from the fact that it was PiaggioUSA marketing scheme, business didn’t enter into it at all, ha. The music’s not my thing (noodly earnest mellow acoustic pop) but they seem like nice kids. As far as PiaggioUSA marketing schemes go, it seemed pretty successful, and if nothing else, three musicians had a good time and a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so Vespa FTW!
Madness’ awesome TV commercials for the Honda City, The City was a compact hatchback with a matching folding scooter that tucked into the back, a concept that deserves to be revisited with the Fit. The jingle was later reworked as the “In the City” single, and “Honda Honda Honda” was replaced with “Doomba Doomba Doomba.”
Rancid: A little ska, a lot of punk, almost cartoonish machismo, it’s no wonder they’re a scooterist favorite. And it doesn’t hurt that their videos are loaded with scooters. Welcome to a triple-play Vespa Video Vednesday.
Artist: Rancid Song: “Salvation” Album:Let’s Go (1994) Scooter(s): Several vintage Vespas and Lambrettas Scooter content: about 15 seconds Jump to the good parts: 1:22, 2:08
After a few weeks of VVV, we start to see a pattern develop: when you need some subbacultcha cred, just call the local club and have ’em show up for the video shoot. In this case (my favorite Rancid song, if you care), the boys are on the run from the suits, and they get chased through an alley full of scooters, which later join in the chase. Good footage, the scooters dont’ seem too extraneous, and it’s a good song. I bet this video sent a lot of punker kids to the classifieds looking for scooters.
VVV listmaster David Smith says there’s a scooter in the video for Rancid’s biggest hit, Time Bomb, but I’m not seeing it. Maybe at 1:16? (Sorry, can’t embed that video. Amazingly, the YouTube videos linked from Rancid’s site were removed by their label, and some of the ones that remain have embedding blocked)
Artist: Rancid Song: “Red Hot Moon” Album:Indestructible (2003) Scooter(s): 4 vintage Vespas Scooter content: 3 seconds Jump to the good parts: 0:00
Rancid hasn’t gone away, they pop up with a new album every few years (the latest came out a couple months ago). This video is for a lesser known track from 2003, but it’s a good one. It appears to be shot in and around the historic New York City club CBGB (which sadly closed last year), and the opening shots feature a group of mods and rockers parked in front of the club. From there, the video goes all over the place, with some live footage, and a couple different storylines, and we don’t see the scooters again, but if David’s right (I’m sure the comments will be full of people telling me how blind I am), that makes three videos with scooters from one well-known and famously uncompromising band, two of them fairly big hits. That’s going to be hard to top.
Vespa Video Vednesday is back, on an actual Vednesday! Here’s a good one that I think ten people sent me two years ago when it was new and I never even watched until I saw it on David Smith’s master list that inspired this enterprise:
Artist: JDiggz Song: “Make It Hot” Album:Memoirs of a Playbwoy (2007) Scooter(s): Series 1 Lambretta, Vespa P-series Scooter content: about 30 seconds Jump to the good parts: 1:11, 1:42, 4:08
Canadian rapper JDiggz’ tune doesn’t do much for me, but it’s at least innocuous. The fact that the video is so totally incongruous to the song kinda makes it better, and the fact that they steered clear of the obvious gang-war motif buys them some points, too. It’s very nicely shot, and fun. JDiggz looks totally slick, and his posse of mods and hot-pantsed bootie chicks is somehow funny and believable.
The La Dolce Vita-esque intro is funny, but doesn’t really fit with the Quadrophenia thing. Though it appears to be a TV175, the Series-1 Lambretta predates the mods-and-rockers era, and the P-series Vespa is even more out of place. Of course JDiggz fans could care less about that. It’s obviously shot in Toronto on a leftover Jackie Chan movie set, which doesn’t really evoke London or Brighton, but JDiggz looks just about as wobbly and uncomfortable on a scooter as Phil Daniels.
Remember that time we had an idea for a regular feature and only kept it up for three weeks? Check back next week and see if we can break our record!
So we’re back with the second installment of Vespa Video Vednesday, only a couple days late, and this time we’ll choose a video at random from David Smith’s list… Ah, crap, not this one…
Band: Third Eye Blind Song: “Semi-Charmed Life” Album:Third Eye Blind (1997) Scooter(s): Many vintage Vespas and Lambrettas Scooter content: 30-40 seconds Jump to the good parts: all over the place
This is the sound of late-nineties douchebaggery, the sound of Spin-Doctors-wannabees stomping on Kurt Cobain’s grave throughout the second half of the decade. To be honest, it’s not a terrible song, it’s catchy enough, but its oversaturation in commercials, movies, shitty parties, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch was more than enough to make these guys rich, and they probably hate the song more than I do. It’s such a chick flick cliche that even chick flicks make fun of it now.
I didn’t have a TV for the second half of the nineties, so I never saw this video until a few years ago. I don’t imagine I would have cut the song a break even knowing about the scads of sweet vintage scooters in the promo clip. If you turn down the sound, and you aren’t prone to seziures from the EXTREME! NINETIES! ONE! SECOND! EDITS!, there’s a lot to see here. Clearly they rounded up a So-Cal club at the height of the vintage glory days (Burgundy Topz? Secret Society? someone will post an angry comment and tell us, I’m sure) and you can see in the scooterist’s faces, they’re hoping the song doesn’t catch on and immortalize the two afternoons they spent hanging out with these guys.
Check in next vednesday! Ve promise it vill be better.
Every few years, our old friend David Smith, a Chicagoan living in Japan, gets in touch, and it’s always something good. This time he sent me a list of about 100 music videos featuring scooters. Some are obvious, and some are obscure, even in Japan. Some feature dozens of scooters throughout the video, some just flash one on the screen in the background for a few seconds.
So that (and Matt’s Halo Benders find) gave me the idea to try another weekly feature on 2strokebuzz: Vespa Video Vednesday (pronounce it like Count Floyd). Every week (or two) we’ll feature (steal) a video featuring a scooter. Goodtimes! Right?
Let’s kick off with a video that’s not on David’s list, that I posted a while back: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s “Telegraph.” With no further ado:
Band: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark Song: “Telegraph” Album: Dazzle Ships (1982) Scooter(s): 3 red Vespa 50 Specials Scooter content: 5 seconds Jump to the good parts: 0:42, 1:00