31 May 2014

Retro Video Unit (5/30/14)

As I've mentioned before, sometimes videos don't exist on YouTube when I first look for them, so from time to time I will go back and try looking for things again after some time has passed, and this is another instance of that paying off.

After R.E.M. broke through in 1983 with Murmur, record companies courted other bands from their home town of Athens, GA, a college town about 50 miles east-northeast of Atlanta. Guadalcanal Diary (named for a World War II memoir) was from Marietta, a northwest suburb of Atlanta, but played frequently in Athens and got pegged as being from there.

Their sound had definite similarities to that of early R.E.M., which probably got them a few listens from curious fans, but they remained much more of an under the radar band throughout their existence. They released four studio albums during the mid to late 1980s and somehow I caught onto them quite early, probably from college radio.

This song, "Watusi Rodeo," actually goes back to the band's first recording, a four-song EP of the same name released in 1983. The song was also included on their first full-length album, Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man, which came out the following year. The video, which epitomizes the lo-fi aesthetic, was made by the band with help from some friends, and was shown on MTV's "Basement Tapes" show.

The audio source used with the video is from a 1983 live show in Atlanta. For an extra bit of flavor, this version (which has inferior audio quality) includes original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood introducing the clip:

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