Monday, April 23, 2012

Greg Ham

They say celebrities die in threes. Last week news broke that Dick Clark had died. The following day some member of The Band died. Not Dick Clark's band, he didn't have a band as far as I know. Apparently there is a music group named The Band and a member of their group died.

I had no idea The Band existed. I may have known or read about them at some point but been confused by the very unassuming and quite bland name. Reminds me of the clip from That Thing You Do where Lenny suggests they name their band The Band You Are About to Hear.

Anyways, that same day, news broke that Greg Ham died. Greg Ham is of course responsible for arguably the most famous and recognizable flute solos ever.

I'm actually being 100% honest with that last sentence. If someone told you to think of a flute rift or solo, chances are this would be one of the first things, if not the first thing to pop in your mind:

By the way, Men at Work's Land Down Under is quite possibly the greatest music video of all time that is absolutely terrible. They literally act out every single lyric. Not some of the lyrics or part of the song, but everything.

Some gems:

0:30: The lady that "takes him in and made him breakfast" and feeds him "Vitos E." Not eggs and fruit or something fancy, but Vitos E. In the middle of the desert. Makes sense.

0:50: Flute solo in the thicket.

1:07: The 6'4" man full of "muscles"

Speaking of the big Brussels man. I'm confused by that entire sequence. The big man doesn't understand him, but then gives him a vegimite sandwich and starts saying that he comes from a land down under. For not understanding him, the big man sure knew what the guy wanted/liked (vegimite sandwich and beer) and also knew how to sing pretty well. Not really sure where the miscommunication occurred.

1:37-2:03: Twenty-six seconds is entirely too long to show guys fake shoveling sand and then hopping away like bunnies. I hope the director was fired.

2:42 - end: Video ends by showing the group walk across the sand for a minute. Apparently the director had run out of ideas. Which isn't saying much considering his only other "idea" was to have them act out the song's lyrics.

So now that Greg Ham is dead, the debate about "best 80's song flute solo by a flautist that is still alive" is essentially over. It belongs to Toto. They now carry the torch for great 80's flautists.

Toto's Africa is at the opposite end of the music video spectrum from Land Down Under. If you don't know what is going on in Land Down Under you are likely blind or deaf. If you could follow Toto's Africa then you are probably a wizard, or you just have more patience and interest than I do.

Here is what I observed: they are in a library which throughout the course of the video slowly is tranforming into Africa. I'm guessing Africa because a globe is spinning and twice stops on Africa. If it only happened once I would just think it was a coincidence and that the library was just turning into any jungle. But when it happens again I think they are trying to tell us that Africa is happening. A man has a piece of a page from a book and is sorting through all of the books looking for where it came from. Just when the guy finds a book titled "Africa" a spear comes into the library and burns a bunch of books including the book with the page he's looking for. I think it's the Africa book but I'm not sure. If it is, it's ironic/unfortunate that a book about Africa, a place with so much rain, was burned. Also, eyeglasses.

Anyways, I bring this up because check out the 2:50 point in the video. Right where you would expect to see someone jamming out on a flute, they show a guy playing the piano! Was there no flute? Was it just a synthesizer on the "flute" setting?! I'm honestly not sure. It would appear that is is a piano, but then at the 3:05 point they show what looks like the shadow of a person playing a flute, except that it might just be arsonist spear guy.

If it was just a synthesizer, it makes Greg Ham's death all the more troubling. With Toto being a fraud, all great 80's flautists died with Mr. Ham. A sad end to a great era.


Cherylyn said...

Kent, I love your posts. They are awesome. Unfortunately, there is no flute in existence that would make the sound that is made in "Africa". Synthesizer all the way. I stopped watching "Land Down Under" because I couldn't afford to have those images burned into my brain the next time I am jammin' to it.

shanonsmiles said...

You know that love Toto, but I really have never understood what is going on with the lyrics. I am sure that the song makes sense to them has never made any sense to me. I will always love the music.

Definately synthesizer...

kent said...

Thanks Cherylyn. And Mom, I know you love Toto. Random but awesome.

Sadly, I never actually knew it was a synthesizer. Makes a lot of sense now, but I think I just thought it was an electric flute or something. I realize those probably don't exist, but I never took the time to rationally think about it and that it was probably just a synthesizer and not an actual flute.