Vidi Video #4: You Can Call Me Al (1986)

In 1986, by accident, me and my sister taped “America’s Top Ten Best Videos of the Year”. It was the music equivalent of Cinemattractions, in that it was a programme ITV bunged out in the wee small hours that basically amounted to music videos or trailers with an unfeasibly American fella as an unseen presenter throwing in puns and observations like a less-annoying Steve Wright on TOTP2, and probably only cost about 50p more to broadcast than Central Jobsearch. For America’s Top Ten it was Casey Kasem, something of an American DJ legend, and of course voice of green-shirted canine-friendly Shaggy in Scooby Doo.

In this comprehensive countdown of the videos of 1986, two stuck out for me and my sister and over the next two years we proceeded to watch it ad infinitum (along with Meet the Raisins, the only claymation mock documentary I can think of) until we pretty much wore the tape out. One was Genesis’ Fluck & Lawtastic Land of Confusion, which hasn’t aged all that well to be honest, and the other, my favourite, was You Can Call Me Al which you’d be hard pressed to talk up being nothing more than Chevy Chase knobbing about for four and a half minutes, but that doesn’t matter, because that’s my idea of glib heaven. (That freaky bass solo bit? The second half is the first half played backwards, so you don’t have to make your fingers bleed working it out on your bass.)

The weird thing is, at the time, I was completely confused by who Paul Simon actually was. I thought I knew who Chevy Chase was but how come he was singing. Looking now at what is some pretty sketchy lip-synching, I wonder why it threw me for a loop.

This also occupies a space in my mind in close proximity to the video for Essex boy made good Billy Ocean’s “When The Going Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going)” which is another prime example of 80s movie stars getting in on the act. When you see DeVito, Turner & Douglas as Billy Ocean’s backing band, it doesn’t get more mid 80s than that.

I also like that Billy Ocean modified Carribbean Queen for various different territories. He’s like the HSBC of pop-soul.

And again, I ask you, what is Jeffrey Tambor doing in the Ghostbusters video?

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3 thoughts on “Vidi Video #4: You Can Call Me Al (1986)

  1. A minor point to pick up on, maybe, but I’ve found it a much more unsettling revelation that Casey Kasem also provided the voice for the heroic, white clad, hawk-resembling, tough-talking, light aircraft-transmuting, leader-of-the-goodies (not The Goodies), Mark, in Battle Of The Planets.

  2. There’s something altogether creepy about the cabal of middle-aged voiceover artists working around that time. If you look at the guys doing the voices for Thundercats and Transformers (another Kasem gig I think) they’re all using poor men’s Adam West intonations. You hear the out-takes from some of those sessions, and it’s positively filthy.

  3. Hmmm, it’s a toss-up now between *those* out-takes and Miles’ “Complete ON THE CORNER Sessions”…

    Decisions, decisions…

    Baby, when you call me you can call me (Bad)al (Roy).

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