The 120 Minutes Archive
April 19, 2010 6:56 AM   Subscribe

An archive of (nearly) every 120 Minutes (and its successor Subterranean) playlist. The 120 Minutes archive includes playlists for 585 episodes of MTV's seminal alternative rock show and its successor, Subterranean, spanning 1986-2007. The archive includes links to video search for each track played, interviews with those behind the program, a history of its development and demise, and the full video of the series finale. Looking at some of the early episodes, should be enough to crush you under a wave of nostalgia and longing for the days when MTV was what it says on the tin.
posted by CharlesV42 (47 comments total) 158 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, wow. Amazing. Wonderful post.

I've been looking for this Michael Penn video (directed by the Brothers Quay) for a long, long time. I knew that I had originally seen it on 120 Minutes back in the day, but could never find it online. This is an incredible resource.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:01 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Holy crap, favoriting this a million times!!!

I was so disappointed to find out that the "120 Minutes" on VH1 Classic is just a collection of alternative-ish videos and not whole archived shows. I have a collection on VHS, but I'm afraid to play them before I can transfer them to DVD.
posted by JoanArkham at 7:05 AM on April 19, 2010

posted by sciurus at 7:09 AM on April 19, 2010

So awesome.
posted by greasy_skillet at 7:16 AM on April 19, 2010

Somehow, this band escaped my attention 20 years ago, but I recently discovered the magic of Jellyfish. From the August 26 1990 playlist: The King is Half Undressed.
posted by davebush at 7:27 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Not to derail, but davebush, if you like Jellyfish, you may be interested in two former members who went on to record some great stuff: Jason Falkner and Roger Manning. I'm pretty partial to Falkner's "Presents Author Unknown," which hasn't left my ipod since....well, since I've been having ipods.
posted by nevercalm at 7:36 AM on April 19, 2010

Oh my, what a cornucopia of stupendiosity. Really, you could just lock me in a room with this and all those That Sunday Night David Sanborn Night Music shows and just throw a Slim Jim and a Pepsi in every now and then, and I'd be pretty content.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:46 AM on April 19, 2010

The early episodes were a big part of my teen years, but looking at the writeup of the final episode makes it entirely clear why this show needed to end.
posted by oraknabo at 7:47 AM on April 19, 2010

For me , 120 minutes is frozen in time right around 1997/1998, this was right before the wave broke for Internet music. I had been on the web for a few years at that point, but MP3's weren't really in the picture. Learning about new bands and music was a much more manual process,especially if you weren't living in an urban center.

120 minutes (as well as AMP) helped expose me to "trip-hop" such as Morcheeba's Trigger Hippie and Gus Gus as well as some of the "harder" tracks from Future Sound of London and the still frightening "Come to Daddy" by Aphex Twin.

Looking back, it was fertile era before techno/ambient/trip-hop/whatever-label-you-want-to-use dissipated into whatever it is now.
posted by jeremias at 7:58 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Awesome. I wonder whether a similar archive exists for Earth to MTV, the global survey of the tops of the pops from MTV stations around the world. I used to love 120 Minutes, but Earth to MTV had an equally profound impact on my musical tastes.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:58 AM on April 19, 2010

120 Minutes! Teacher, mother... [lustily] ... secret lover.
Urge to be productive... fading... fading... fading - rising! Fading... fading... gone.
posted by the painkiller at 8:10 AM on April 19, 2010

Ah, seems almost too good to be true, and it is. All the video links are YouTube searches, which is fine, but it doesn't work if you were hoping to see some of the live 120 minutes performances. Oh well.

Still, great site. Just look at some of the hosts/guests from 1995: David Bowie, Trent Reznor, Weezer, Peter Murphy, Henry Rollins/Jerry Lee Lewis, Mike Patton, Mike Watt Matthew Sweet, Michael Stipe, TMBG, Liz Phair, Bob Mould ... jeez.

I used to tape the show, from 88-90 and 94-96. I wish I would have kept those tapes ... damn. I just figured "music television" would get better and better. OOPS.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:11 AM on April 19, 2010

Oh man, this is AWESOME! Thank you for posting this.
posted by zarq at 8:18 AM on April 19, 2010

I loved 120 Minutes for both the great music and the awkward fumbling of the hosts trying to appear cool. As bad as Matt Pinfield was at name dropping, Dave Kendell appeared to the most concerned with being hip and cutting edge. Kevin Seal seemed to give up early on being hip and opted for goofy, which made him the most watchable of the bunch.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:33 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I liked Dave Kendall the most. He seemed sincere. But I liked Matt Pinfield too. Sure he named dropped, but he was dropping names of music producers and engineers and touring musicians, etc., as much as he was dropping famous names. He just seemed like an info geek.

The Top 20 120 Minutes videos of 1992:

Screaming Trees "Nearly Lost You"
Rollins Band "Low Self-Opinion"
Social Distortion "Bad Luck"
Afghan Whigs "Turn On The Water"
Paul Westerberg "Dyslexic Heart"
Matthew Sweet "Girlfriend"
Sugarcubes "Hit"
Cracker "Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)"
Soup Dragons "Divine Thing"
Lemonheads "It's A Shame About Ray"
Sugar "Helpless"
Soul Asylum "Somebody To Shove"
XTC "Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead"
Nirvana "In Bloom"
Ministry "N.W.O."
R.E.M. "Drive"
Red Hot Chili Peppers "Under The Bridge"
Sonic Youth "100 %"
Morrissey "Tomorrow"
The Cure "Friday I'm In Love"

I had a love-hate relaionship with the show in the early '90s, as that list attests.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:39 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sooooo coool!! <3 passionate hobbyists and the networked tubes that tie us to them!
posted by cavalier at 8:41 AM on April 19, 2010

120 Minutes is always my go to show when I'm trying to explain to a younger friend that MTV was relevant at one point, as impossible as it is to think that now. Hard to believe there was a point where you could watch Liquid Television, MTV Oddities, Unplugged (there was even a few spoken word episodes) Alternative Nation & w/ 120 Minutes all on the same schedule. I almost never made it to the end of the show though since it lasted until 1AM and I had to go to school the next day.
But man this makes me think of those summers between semesters when I had no where to be the next day but a part time job making pizza (16-17 yr old, still living w/ my parents) lying in a fold out bed w/ my then girl friend Jackie (all blue hair / to much jewerly, the kind of girl that early-ninties pop punk songs are about) watching 120 Minutes with the light out and seeing so many artists for the first time (Tom Waits, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, and on and on and on) that have had a profound impact on me since.
There would be less violence in schools if kids fell alseep the night before to the 'Dirty Boots' video
One of my favorite moments has always been Thurston Moore interviewing Beck.
posted by senseofsurreal at 8:42 AM on April 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I am enjoying looking at these playlists. I watched 120 Minutes only rarely, but I have always been a fan of compilation tapes/cds, especially those that include not generally heard elsewhere. I had a favorite MTV Rocks! 120 Minutes tape with Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation" remixed.

120 Minutes was always about 5 or 6 years behind the jukebox at Lili's 21 in Hamtramck (Alan was a great jukebox programmer & bartender!), but the 120 minutes & an early subscription to CMJ (roughly 1983-1989) really helped this jazzophile reappreciate rock/alt.rock.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:45 AM on April 19, 2010

posted by gwint at 8:50 AM on April 19, 2010

I never thought Matt Pinfield was name dropping as much as he was just unleashing his inner music dork and couldn't contain his enthusiasm. 'If you like this band, you should check out this other band which is actually a side project of this guy in this other band, and oh man isn't music awesome."

It's pretty ridiculous how much 120 minutes influenced my musical taste. All of my favorite bands today I either learned about from the show or I could probably trace them back Pinfield style to another band that appeared on the show.
posted by ekroh at 8:53 AM on April 19, 2010

Does anyone else remember a song mockingly remixing Dave Kendall saying "Hi, I'm...Dave Kendall"? Or was that a local (WHFS) thing?
posted by JoanArkham at 9:00 AM on April 19, 2010

@gwint doh, my search for "120 Minutes" didn't pick up "120 Minute", plus a domain difference didn't trigger the filters. I thought it was too good to have never been on the blue.
posted by CharlesV42 at 9:01 AM on April 19, 2010

I used to watch this waiting for "The Young Ones" to come one when I was a wee lad.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 9:04 AM on April 19, 2010

This was a great show and an important show. I remember being a teenager in the '90s, before the web existed or was any kind of significant presence in the music scene, and discovering so much music through 120 Minutes. It was much more obscure and less mainstream than Rolling Stone/Spin, and I liked their choices better than CMJ or other sampler CDs. They structured it very cleverly to draw you in through some of the more mainstream (or up-and-coming) "alternative rock" videos, and then they would mix in lesser-known bands. They would also expose teenagers of the '90s like me to music that was a bit before our time -- The Clash, Echo and the Bunnymen, that kind of stuff.

I didn't watch it in its last few years (after 1998-ish), so I don't have an opinion on whether it declined. Could anyone give an example of what specifically was so much worse about it in its later years than in the mid-'90s?

Anyway, I can't wait to look/listen through these archives. Even if most of the links don't work, it'll still be a good basis for searching out some of the music I overlooked back in the '90s and buying a few albums worth on eMusic.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:10 AM on April 19, 2010

Jesus. Just reading the early 90s playlists flashes me back to college, the neverending cold I had despite layering on the flannel, the thrill and joy I felt when hearing this music that none of my high school friends knew about, and realizing that I could be cool without wearing expensive or slutty clothes or pretending to be someone I wasn't. I liked this music, and this music was cool. I was cool for the first time.
posted by cereselle at 9:24 AM on April 19, 2010

I LIVED for 120 Minutes. The current VH1-Classic-version isn't nearly as good...though playing it the other day, I did learn that

a. my boyfriend still has a major crush on Siouxsie Sioux
b. we are fucking OLD. why? because when I asked Rain Main Boyfriend how old Siouxsie is in the video we were watching, "what, like 40 maybe?" he said "younger than we are now."


p.s. were it not for 120 Minutes I would have never been given the greatest compliment ever by my high school boyfriend: "you know, you look like the girl in the 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' video..."
posted by at 9:36 AM on April 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

@gwint doh, my search for "120 Minutes" didn't pick up "120 Minute"

Huh? The other thread says "120 Minutes" (in addition to "120 Minute").
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:50 AM on April 19, 2010

p.s. were it not for 120 Minutes I would have never been given the greatest compliment ever by my high school boyfriend: "you know, you look like the girl in the 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' video..."

How YOU doin'?
posted by codswallop at 9:50 AM on April 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

posted by chinston at 9:50 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am so glad someone out there has the time on their hands to post old World Party, Too Much Joy and Toad the Wet Sprocket videos to YouTube.
posted by snofoam at 9:58 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've been looking for this Michael Penn video (directed by the Brothers Quay) for a long, long time.

It's on their Phantom Museums DVD, along with lots of other great, creepy stuff.
posted by Drab_Parts at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2010

If someone can programmatically create playlists from these things I can queue up in a browser window in the background, I'll donate $25 to their favorite charity. And thank them profusely for helping me make it through my never-ending workdays surrounded by musical idjits.
posted by DigDoug at 11:20 AM on April 19, 2010

Drab_Parts - a big thank you. I had no idea that Quay Brothers collection had been released. Must buy.
posted by davebush at 11:28 AM on April 19, 2010

this would be cooler if we were talking about headbangers ball.
posted by rainperimeter at 11:50 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

My favorite genre of music is better than your favorite genre of music.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2010

Sunday night MTV programming was a real oasis of sanity - IRS' The Cutting Edge, The Young Ones, and 120 Minutes. In the very early 1990s, we used to pass around dubbed VHS collections of subterranean music like the Minutemen's "This Ain't No Picnic," Hüsker Dü's low-budget "Makes No Sense At All/Love Is all Around," and The Fall's cover of "Victoria," all scoured from the last hour of 120 Minutes. This is the best thing MTV ever did.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:34 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

God DAMN. Somehow, I'd never seen a Husker Du video before, and this actually made me tear up a little.
posted by COBRA! at 1:45 PM on April 19, 2010

If I had enough time, I could make a slightly distorted bell curve (the left would be higher than the right, just based on the 'later discovery' factor) based on my recognition of each of the songs mentioned. Something like 50% for the early years, peaking at 80-90% in the mid-90s, and then steadily dropping off to about 30% by the end of the subterranean thing.
posted by norm at 2:25 PM on April 19, 2010

Whenever I read about the research to help us all live longer, perhaps a lot longer, I think about things like this. We might get much longer lives but pop culture will keep moving forward and leave our favorite things from our formative years behind. There's stuff in here that was playing when I met my wife and I thought I'd die if I didn't see her every day and that is all flooding back. Can you imagine being 200 years old and running across this sort of stuff and thinking about how good things once were, way back when? I'd jump off a fucking skyscraper.

If they give us immortality, they'd better outlaw nostalgia.
posted by loosemouth at 5:07 PM on April 19, 2010

Wow, I'd forgotten how much I liked Lene Lovich in high school. I'm happy to find that I like her still. Off to iTunes!
posted by Heretic at 7:51 PM on April 19, 2010

I was just about to add this post as a favorite, but since "120 users marked this as a favorite," I don't want to be the loser to tip it over to 121! That would destroy everything.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:56 PM on April 19, 2010

I was so disappointed to find out that the "120 Minutes" on VH1 Classic is just a collection of alternative-ish videos and not whole archived shows.

Every time I turn that on, it's just 'Chains Of Love' and 'People Are People' on repeat!
posted by Mael Oui at 8:00 PM on April 19, 2010

Score one for internet. Thanks for this, so happy..
posted by hypersloth at 3:11 AM on April 20, 2010

This is great!! It's how I found the Fluid's "Black Glove" video which will peel the paint off your car. Also, now that the Soup Dragons are so huge, it's nice to revisit their humble beginnings.
posted by Kskomsvold at 8:08 AM on April 20, 2010

Does anyone else remember a song mockingly remixing Dave Kendall saying "Hi, I'm...Dave Kendall"? Or was that a local (WHFS) thing?

Being a devout 91X listener back in the day, I recall this tune, and the name of the responsible party always tickled me: "Whitman's Samplers". A quick google search brought me here, with a bit of backstory and the mp3 for your downloading pleasure. I love living in the future.
posted by shannonm at 10:03 PM on April 20, 2010

A sentiment that's a little tardy, but:

posted by drlith at 6:08 AM on April 25, 2010

ah this brings back good memories. this'll fill in all the blank spots in early 90's music i've lost, which over the years has melded into a generic "something i saw on 120 minutes" category. and i remember learning that michael penn song on guitar in jr high, that's how avante garde (weird loner?) i was at 13.
posted by camdan at 7:24 PM on May 2, 2010

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