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Corporate Rock Still Sucks?
February 3, 2007 4:12 PM   Subscribe

The 120 Minute Archive -- an attempt to gather all of the playlists of MTV's now-defunct late-night alternative rock program which ran from 1986 to 2003. Along with the videos were loads of live performances. Sure, it went down in quality in its second half. But where else in the pre-Internet days of 1992 could small-town kids discover Tom Waits, Morrissey and Sonic Youth in a single sitting?
posted by Bookhouse (55 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
This list plus YouTube just wrecked my Saturday.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:13 PM on February 3, 2007


MTV used to play music videos?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:18 PM on February 3, 2007


I got hair on my chest
I look good without a shirt

posted by Flunkie at 4:22 PM on February 3, 2007


MTV used to play music videos?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:18 PM EST on February 3


I haven't had cable for quite some time and my rabbit ears pick up almost nothing from the States except PBS (which I'm thankful for.) But I caught some MTV via CTV recently and wondered the same thing.

I have fond memories of these types of shows, particularly Saturday Night and Later with Jools Holland, both featuring, of course, Jools Holland.
posted by juiceCake at 4:26 PM on February 3, 2007


This is awesome, mostly because I have old notebooks from high school with quite a few playlists from 120 minutes scrawled out. I never thought anyone else was such a dork! Seriously though, best MTV show ever & Matt Pinfield's musical knowledge always blew my mind.
posted by eunoia at 4:38 PM on February 3, 2007


Nostalgia has never been my thing, but damn, that was some good music.
posted by lekvar at 4:47 PM on February 3, 2007


Screw 120 Minutes, where's my damn Amp archive? One of the best shows MTV ever had, style and great videos and even a little ACTUAL video mixing.

But they never promoted it, never showed it anytime other than like 2am, and killed it after only a few months.
posted by wolftrouble at 5:15 PM on February 3, 2007


Er, killed it after a few years, not months. Durr.
posted by wolftrouble at 5:17 PM on February 3, 2007


All the videos I search for on youtube.com tell me they've been removed due to copyright violation.
posted by basicchannel at 5:31 PM on February 3, 2007


wolftrouble: nobody with a modicum of taste listens to electronica
posted by keswick at 5:34 PM on February 3, 2007


nobody with a modicum of taste listens to electronica

Um, yes, usually they have more than a modicum of taste. Where would the world be without Kraftwerk?
posted by Burhanistan at 5:45 PM on February 3, 2007


Thanks for posting this. 120 Minutes is the only ting I ever really liked on MTV.
posted by HSWilson at 5:46 PM on February 3, 2007


You make it sound like the Sears Roebuck catalog for the folks on the frontier. But then again, being raised in Plano (you know it or you don't) I understand the idea of a umbilical cord to culture.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 5:48 PM on February 3, 2007


I never saw this show, but it sounds like it rocked. They should re-air old episodes on mtv6.
posted by ryanissuper at 5:51 PM on February 3, 2007


That and they should re-air The Young Ones.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 5:53 PM on February 3, 2007


Didn't Viacom (MTV's parent) just blitz youtube with an egregious amount of cease and desist orders? Many of these great old videos might not be so easily viewable now. What will we do when a metatalk callout needs derailing?
posted by Burhanistan at 5:59 PM on February 3, 2007


Hate to sound like an old man at 32, but what alot of kids now dont get is how hard it was at the time to find new cool music.

If you were outside of the big cities (I grew up in Omaha) you needed the pipeline that shows like 120 Minutes provided. The fact that it aired at the worst possible time as well just made it feel that much more special. Made you work for it a little more. You felt a little bit lke an active participant in a culture. Plus, I cant tell you how much shit I took in Jr High just for having a The Smiths t-shirt. Things really were very different.

Theres a ton of new music that Im really into, but I really do wonder if there was something much more special about the 1988-92 era in alternative rock or if its just my own feelings of nostalgia.

Thanks for this post. Takes me back.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:04 PM on February 3, 2007


where else in the pre-Internet days of 1992 could small-town kids discover

Brave New Waves, for one -- and I'm sure many other places in Europe, etc.

Another example of irritating Yankcentrism.
posted by docgonzo at 6:19 PM on February 3, 2007


Hate to sound like an old man at 32, [...]

posted by Senor Senior Cardgage at 6:04 PM

Fixed that for ya, gramps.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 6:19 PM on February 3, 2007


That show was instrumental in forming my musical tastes, along with discovering WHFS.

I see Kevin Seal around Seattle all the time, and nobody I'm with ever knows who he is...

It'd be cool to look over those lists and dig up some slightly forgotten songs...
posted by action man bow-tie at 6:20 PM on February 3, 2007


Hate to sound like an old man at 32, [...]

posted by Senor Senior Cardgage at 6:04 PM

Fixed that for ya, gramps.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 6:19 PM PST on February 3



Oh, you better believe that's a paddlin'.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:30 PM on February 3, 2007


At the lab where I worked as an undergrad, Dave, a labmate who was a religious 120 Minutes viewer, had a great setup where he had a TV and VCR right next to his Mac and thus could hit the record button quickly as soon as a desirable video was announced. Good times.

Screw 120 Minutes, where's my damn Amp archive? One of the best shows MTV ever had, style and great videos and even a little ACTUAL video mixing.

Ah I miss AMP too, I still have several VHS tapes of several episodes. I remember lots of replays of Future Sound of London's We Have Explosives and Autechre's Second Bad Vilbel.
posted by shortfuse at 6:35 PM on February 3, 2007


Hate to sound like an old man at 32, but what alot of kids now dont get is how hard it was at the time to find new cool music.

If you were outside of the big cities (I grew up in Omaha) you needed the pipeline that shows like 120 Minutes provided. The fact that it aired at the worst possible time as well just made it feel that much more special. Made you work for it a little more. You felt a little bit lke an active participant in a culture.


It was on Sunday nights from 11 to 1AM, IIRC. One of my biggest pleasures was getting the opportunity to watch during the summer and on Sundays when we didn't have to go to school the following Monday.

My name is Dave Kendall, and did I mention in the past 15 minutes I'm close personal friends of Morrissey?
posted by jonp72 at 6:39 PM on February 3, 2007


goddammit, i was totally going to post this. FWIW here are some of my faves:
http://littleblackcat.livejournal.com/160730.html
only one is broken, i think.

dave kendall rules.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:42 PM on February 3, 2007


or here if you're lazy and care.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:42 PM on February 3, 2007


Theres a ton of new music that Im really into, but I really do wonder if there was something much more special about the 1988-92 era in alternative rock or if its just my own feelings of nostalgia.

I think you're right, dammit. It was different then--yes, BETTER.

Bring on the dancing horses young whippersnappers.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 7:11 PM on February 3, 2007


Oh wow, that is excellent. 120 Minutes pretty much defined my musical taste in high school. I'd stay up late and watch it while I taped it, pausing during the commercials, and then just watch it again the next day.
posted by Durhey at 7:19 PM on February 3, 2007


You make it sound like the Sears Roebuck catalog for the folks on the frontier.

Well, 200M people in the US at the time, and 160M of them didn't live in New York, LA, Chicago, or the Bay Area. It was 120 Minutes or whatever your older siblings brought home from college. And when you're in Tulsa, which is a cultural backwater of a cultural backwater, 120 Minutes was the only thing 180 degrees different from the prevalent culture.

But then again, being raised in Plano

You were a lot closer to Deep Ellum than we were. I mean, Plano is suburban hell, but Dallas had an alternative scene back in the late 1980s.
posted by dw at 7:21 PM on February 3, 2007


glorious! i used to sneak and stay up late to watch that show. it was the only thing i watched on tv. a
thanks for the revisit!
posted by stackmonster at 7:39 PM on February 3, 2007


Oh god, 120 Minutes.
Hello chaps and chapesses, I'm a British dude who wears black, so you know I already have better taste in music than you. Coming up next is Husker Du followed by the Sugarcubes, but first, here's a VJ who really should have stayed on the radio. Matt?

Thanks British man. I'm here with a really intellectual interview with the latest guitar group being flogged by a major label subsidiary...
I dug the music until about 1996, but the damn VJs always pissed me off. It was like the exact opposite of Headbanger's Ball, where Riki Rachtman was by far the best thing about the show.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:05 PM on February 3, 2007


Does anyone else remember Night Flight on the USA Network? That was my 120 Minutes around the dawn of the 90s. Music videos, video art (I'm sure I saw Nam June Paik and John Sanborn on there more than once), subgenius fragments, bits of old cult movies and cartoons... I'm gonna have to dig in the closet and see if I still have any videotapes from back then. Here's an incomplete and apparently abandoned attempt to catalog the shows. Excuse me, I gotta go find some Grace Jones and Billy Idol and Kate Bush on youtube now.
posted by moonmilk at 8:20 PM on February 3, 2007


Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-
Headed Love Child (Live In Studio) - Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper.



those were the days......
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:26 PM on February 3, 2007


You make it sound like the Sears Roebuck catalog for the folks on the frontier.

It sounds quaint now, but its true. I can tell you that Omaha didnt have anything resembling alt-rock radio until 93, and that was on a station where it was mixed with classic rock and the last stragglers of west coast hair metal (Ugly Kid Joe, Jackyll,etc). The first alt only station started in 95 and quickly became bloated wth insufferable crap like Silverchair.

If you wanted something different from your music in places liek Omaha in the late 80s/early 90s, you really needed 120 Minutes.

Does anyone else remember Night Flight on the USA Network?

I do moonmilk, and I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to experience those early more freeform years of cable. Night Flight really was like a cool older brother coming back from college to tell you about all the amazing, subversive stuff out there in a world you thought youd never get to visit. It's also how I discovered The The when they played the entire "Infected" video album. Sigh.

Youll be happy to know that Subterranean Cinema (subcin.com) has the entire run of Night Flight available on several dozen DVDs here
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:36 PM on February 3, 2007


Oh, man. I used to stay up late and watch 120 Minutes and then go into band class the next day and discuss the videos with the other nerds. I fondly remember walking in and asking if anyone had seen this video about a sweater by these guys named Weezer? Apparently, this would have been sometime in August, 1994.

I don't know how exhaustive this archive is, though, because I remember seeing Frente's cover of Bizarre Love Triangle and running out and buying the CD -- my first. I can't find it on here. Maybe it was on Alternative Nation.
posted by sugarfish at 8:39 PM on February 3, 2007


Wow... I never really caught much of 120 minutes back in my jr. high/high school days. I realize now, looking at that list, that had I done so, I might have found most of the good music of the day that I wasn't aware existed.

It's not like I had anyone back in Lansing, MI, who was helping me find the good stuff. I don't think it's been until the last few years that I've finally found that there was a lot of good music in the late 80's/early 90's - it didn't all suck, just the stuff that I was aware of. For example, I only heard my first Sisters of Mercy song in in the last year.

In some ways, that archive makes me a little more depressed, knowing I was so close to a pipeline of good music, but never found it...
posted by evilangela at 8:42 PM on February 3, 2007


Alternative Nation was just OK.
I remember it felt liek the beginning of the end, because they wouldnt play as deep of tracks and would pimp tripe like Bush and Dig.

Does anyone remember Post-Modern MTV?
It was on 11:30pm weekdays in the late 80s.

Thats where I learned about Robyn Hitchcock, before I saw him pen for REM in 1989.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:42 PM on February 3, 2007


For a second there, Senior Cardgage, I thought that you were saying that Robyn Hitchcock wrote songs for REM, and even more unbelievably that you watched him do it!
posted by donkeymon at 8:46 PM on February 3, 2007


oooooops.

I meant open (duh now huh?)

Yeah, he and the Egyptians opened for REM on the Green Tour for a stretch.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:49 PM on February 3, 2007


Excellent post. I watched 120 Minutes in high school in the 80s and was so excited back then to see videos by the Smiths, Siouxsie & the Banshees, the dBs, Peter Murphy, the Housemartins, Sinead O'Connor, REM, Kate Bush, Love & Rockets, the Connells, etc. It's fun reading through the archives and seeing bands I completely forgot about, like Cactus World News and Gene Loves Jezebel.
posted by mijuta at 8:50 PM on February 3, 2007


Man, I used to stay up for 120 minutes every sunday. Then, I graduated to Amp and then when they yanked that, I used to stay up for it on MTV2. Then, when MTV2 stopped playing videos, I stopped watching MTV.

Man, the 90s were the best time for music. To hell wiht the late 17th century, late 20th is where its at.
posted by subaruwrx at 9:02 PM on February 3, 2007


Anyone here old enough to remember U68? It was MTV for the UHF set.
posted by any major dude at 9:17 PM on February 3, 2007


How is John Norris still on MTV and Dave Kendall isnt?
posted by tsarfan at 9:54 PM on February 3, 2007


One of my all-time favorite 120 Minutes performances and the only one I can still locate on VHS, Concrete Blonde's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows". Amazing.
posted by inoculatedcities at 10:22 PM on February 3, 2007


If anyone happens to see a video that fits the description from my AskMe about a forgotten 120 Minutes video last year, please email me. I went through the archive back then and didn't find the video I was thinking of, but it definately seemed to be missing some pieces then. And quite unfortunately, my last comment in that post is an embarrassing comment made under the influence.
posted by Iamtherealme at 10:53 PM on February 3, 2007


The reason I mentioned small-town living was that when I was in high school, I found out about new music in a couple of ways, cheif among them 120 Minutes -- the other thing I did was go to the "alternative" section of Musicland in the mall and buy cassettes based on what looked cool. I learned about Sonic Youth and the Butthole Surfers that way.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:13 PM on February 3, 2007


Ooh, does anyone else remember CMJ New Music Monthly with the CD in? It supplemented 120 Minutes for me. I had several years worth that I lost when all my CDs were stolen when my dorm room got broken into. :( I have no idea where to find those, though.
posted by sugarfish at 11:39 PM on February 3, 2007


I found this about a year ago and made playlists for my 'pod with them. Thanks for posting it again. Nostos Algos.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:42 PM on February 3, 2007


Fantastic link. I haven't thought about 120 Minutes (or Night Flight!!) in years, but this takes me back to all those late nights when I'd stay up way past my bedtime to experience so many great, interesting bands.
posted by vespertine at 12:42 AM on February 4, 2007


Senor -- I'm 31 and let me assure you it wasn't just small towners that felt like 120 Minutes really spoke to 'em. Even those of us out in the suburbs of big cities had trouble keeping up with stuff without this as a source. Sure, outside SF we had stations like Live 105, but that was mostly girl stuff like the Cure and Smiths. The "mods" liked that station.

In the early 90's, I was more into industrial. Or something. Next time somebody asks me what I did during highschool, I'll send 'em those playlists.

Looking back through that list... there's some real silly stuff. It's kinda scary that permanently embedded somewhere in my brain is Bootsauce, "Scratchin' the Whole." Cassingles, man.. CD-5's ain't got nothing on that format.

All these years later, one has to wonder what became of all the people involved in that scene. I mean, obviously, some of them are still around, playing music... but what about all the side players?

Did the Buck Pets really ever get the attention they deserved? What do you do when you're a former Soup Dragon and while you're free to do what you want any old time, you still have to go out and find a job?
posted by ph00dz at 6:16 AM on February 4, 2007


Small town life: I remember watching 120 minutes in late December of 1991 and seeing the video for MBV's "Only Shallow" back to back with Ride and my life was changed.

The next day I blew off school and drove 100+ miles to Vinyl Ink in Washington DC, where I bought a half dozen eps and lps from these bands. 120 minutes + 4 hours driving was very literally the only way to get *anything* off the beaten path. Same thing happened with the Pixies, with Jane's Addiction, with the Cocteau Twins, etc.

But, for all that, I think that I valued music far more then than I do now when I can, upon hearing that the new record by so and so is out pretty much get it instantly. Everything is easy new and so nothing is worth as much.
posted by n9 at 8:17 AM on February 4, 2007


sugarfish, I've got a ton of CMJ discs (circa '95-'99) collecting dust at home that I'd be happy to send your way. If you're interested, perhaps we could arrange some sort of trade?
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:41 PM on February 4, 2007


I remember Night Flight. Loved it. Nothing like it on tv before or since.

Thanks for the link Senor Cardcage.

(and moonmilk, search around the Night Flight message boards for KCTexan - he has some great deals on NF dvds. I purchased 10 for 60 dollars and it was definitely money well spent)
posted by vronsky at 3:36 PM on February 4, 2007


Having suvived off 120 Minutes like a baby off it's mom, this makes my week. Thank you so much for these lists...my CD collection in high school was directly influenced by this show (and my rabid Smiths obsession). Now all we need is to have these lists hyperlinked to the video itself.

Or dammit, Viacom, release all 120 minutes shows on DVD right now and I'll pony up the cash. I promise.

Mana. Heaven.
posted by Dantien at 7:42 AM on February 5, 2007


Man, this brings back memories. I loved Night Flight, 120 Minutes, AMP and Liquid Television. It was from these shows that I heard about The The and Kate Bush and Morissey and the Smiths, etc., etc.
posted by govtdrone at 6:32 PM on February 5, 2007


The Card Cheat -- I just saw your comment. Can you drop me an email or put your email address in your profile? Thanks!
posted by sugarfish at 9:36 PM on February 9, 2007


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