Flashback Video: 'The Politics of Dancing' by Re-Flex
Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.
This issue we will cover "The Politics of Dancing" by Re-Flex. The band included Paul Fishman playing keyboards and supplying backing vocals, John Baxter providing his distinctive lead vocals as well as lead guitar, Roland Kerridge on drums and Nigel Ross-Scott on bass. "The Politics of Dancing" was recorded in September of 1982 and released as a single in late 1983. It only reached #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and #8 on the dance chart), but I consider it one of the iconic and representative great songs of the early decade. It achieved worldwide success also becoming a major hit in the UK and at least ten other countries. With this single, Re-Flex became one of the first UK bands to be regularly featured on MTV.
The music video starts with the following words on the screen, “Meanwhile… The airwaves are humming with the sound of Re-Flex Radio who are transmitting from a secret hideout in the heart of metropolis. From far and wide the forces of evil are gathering. Their mission to seek out and destroy. The story continues…” It then proceeds into a very clandestine "pirate radio" scene that includes lead singer John Baxter wearing a fake moustache for some of the scenes.
I had the pleasure of an interview with Paul Fishman, the found member of Re-Flex and the song's writer, and here what he had to say about making the music video for "The Politics of Dancing"...
Oh God, making the video was horrible, particularly the first one. We made an earlier version when we signed to EMI and thankfully MTV asked if we could make another. The first was directed by somebody who frankly wasn’t very good and the second came about because I decided to take the matter into our own hands and not just leave EMI to waste our money again. Weirdly enough, this has something to do with Mariella Frostrup as she introduced me to Chips Chipperfield and we ended up making the video together that most people know. Chips was looking after a young director called Vaughn Arnell and we sort of hit it off and I think he directed two or three of our videos. Well, all that stuff in the video was a bit silly and on reflection Bax will never forgive Vaughn for making him wear the moustache. A lot of the video is about my interest in Pirate radio and the idea of the existence of an underground culture somewhere outside of the control of the authorities.
Check out the music video for "The Politics of Dancing" by Re-Flex...
You can find out more about Paul Fishman and Re-Flex in my interview, but here are the feelings he shared in regards to MTV and music videos in general...
Short answer… HUGE impact for loads of musicians. Longer answer… Image became the only goal for record companies because this is what they believed sells. Sexy, young, virile are considered to be good brands, with musical talent being optional. MTV quickly became a success and a vital tool for the American music industry. The power of television cannot be denied and the impact MTV had upon music in America and later around the rest of the world was immense. You could tour and tour and tour but more people would get to see you with one play of your video which was very apparent when we arrived for our first tour in America. The arrival of MTV opened the doors for many UK bands who, after a noticeable absence during the '70s, started to make an impact on the American music charts again in the '80s.
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!