Greetings, Videots! Once again, we find ourselves rushing to apologize for an unaccountably long delay between transmissions from the 1980th Dimension, but honestly, time stands still here, so a couple of years can feel like one really long day. But we digress from the matter at hand, which is a long-overdue look back up the cocaine-dusted bunghole of the record industry circa 1983, courtesy of former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch.
As Mac fans are doubtless already aware, Welch was the guy who helped get the band from Point A (cult blues band) to Point B (gazillion-selling FM kingpins), offering a modicum of stability during a time when the group struggled with constant turnover. His run with the band stretches from 1971’s Future Games through 1974’s Heroes Are Hard to Find, and if that doesn’t sound like a long time, consider that the album/tour cycle was a lot faster back then — Welch managed to stick with Fleetwood Mac for five LPs in all before he finally quit, citing burnout, thus paving the way for Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to turn everyone in the group into multimillionaires.
A tough break indeed, and not the last one Welch would face, as he had the misfortune of starting his solo career as a grizzled veteran during the dawn of the video era. After cutting a pair of records with a short-lived band he dubbed Paris, Welch set out under his own name, and he made a pretty good go of things at first — his debut album, French Kiss, included the song that would go on to become his signature tune, a re-recording of the Fleetwood Mac number “Sentimental Lady.”
French Kiss went platinum, and the follow-up, 1979’s Three Hearts, was also fairly successful, but as the ’80s dawned, Welch’s commercial fortunes tumbled into a steep decline, starting with The Other One (which peaked at No. 105) and continuing through 1983’s Eye Contact (which did not chart). What the heck happened here? Without being unnecessarily unkind, CAPTAIN VIDEO! submits that while Bob Welch may have been a prolific talent and a sensitive soul, he was perhaps not cut out for the MTV era. We turn the reader’s attention to some stills culled from the first few moments of Mr. Welch’s video for the big single from Eye Contact, “I Dance Alone”:
Exhibit No. 2:
Longtime Videots may suspect that the crew is unfairly editing the footage to make Mr. Welch look like a buffoon, which is fair criticism — and also, who doesn’t look like a dummy when you pause video footage of them singing? But “I’ll Dance Alone” is something else entirely. CAPTAIN VIDEO! isn’t sure who directed this, but they should have been forced to eat the footage — it’s a demented four-minute collage of your worst nightmares from the early MTV era, when people figured all they needed for a cool video was a few bucks, a few dancers, and a few minutes to snort a few lines between takes.
Speaking of which, here’s our dance party!
For the first few, uh, “scenes” of “I’ll Dance Alone,” the camera flits between shots of Welch and these unfortunate souls, all of them obviously being frantically urged to emote like lunatics. It’s sort of a sad contest between Bob and the dancers, and no one wins:
Eventually, our stars manage to cavort their way into what’s supposed to be a bar, but Bob’s too busy for drinkin’ — he has some serious business to attend to:
In a novel-for-1983 twist, our hero is upset not because some faithless hussy has done him wrong, but because he can see true love being carelessly cast aside from across the room. BOB WELCH, RELATIONSHIP ANALYST.
It’s kind of hard to tell who’s the villain here at first, because when our couple makes their entrance, the guy (we’ll call him Feathered Frat Pledge) is in full stalker pursuit of his lady (we’ll call her Martha Quinn if You Squint). If you’ve seen enough of these videos, you know it’d be perfectly reasonable to assume that Bob intends to get in the middle of this mess and waltz off with Martha, but no — he’s actually here to give Feathers a pep talk. BOB WELCH, SEXUAL DIPLOMAT.
Thus emboldened, Feathers makes his way to that thing they’re calling a dance floor, at which point he grabs Martha — who has by now shoved some other poor girl aside and started straight mackin’ on her man — lays a shudderingly awkward kiss on her, and they dance off together. It’s all quite uncomfortable to watch, but it’s good enough for Bob, who slaps the bar and uses up 85 percent of the budget by disappearing:
Unfortunately for everyone, the song still has a screaming sax solo and a few dozen chorus repetitions to get through, so “I’ll Dance Alone” becomes a (sometimes literal) kaleidoscope of dancers who were, CAPTAIN VIDEO! guarantees you, not being paid enough for this nonsense. But at least they gave us the mesmerizing few moments of horror we’ll leave you with below. Just try to stop watching, Videots — you cannot. Until next time!