It never hurt to have a visual hook to get on MTV in the ’80s.Â From Bananrama and Dexys Midnight Runners’ hobo-chic, to Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran’s new romantic ruffles, a cool gimmick was sometimes all a band needed to get them over some middling material.
This was certainly the case with the Unforgiven, a power-pop/alterna-country/cowpunk act from California’s Inland Empire.Â Dressed up in their best Western gear, the group emerged from the ashes of a more straight-ahead Cali punk act, the Stepmothers.Â A little U2, a little Alarm, and a lot of look, the Unforgiven signed to Elektra Records and immediately set out to get their visual inspiration, Clint Eastwood, to direct their first video – a move they’d soon regret.
According to the bio on their website, the group had their agents at CAA send Eastwood a copy of their album in an effort to secure his directorial duties for their lead single, “I Hear The Call.” (download) Clint politely declined, but kept the album and allegedly ripped off the cover photo, font and hell, the band’s name for his movie of the same name.Â The band soldiered on and MTV jumped on the video anyway, for a brief moment at least:
Despite a decent song and a great look, the Unforgiven didn’t set the charts on fire and after releasing a single album, they went their separate ways.Â They’ve kept a rabid fan base, however, and even saw their long out-of-print album finally released on CD in 2006.Â It’s gone out of print yet again, though, so if you want one, I’d grab it now while it’s still going for $15.98 or so used.
“I Hear The Call” did not chart.
Get Unforgiven music at Amazon.