Feb. 25 -- EDITOR'S NOTE: YouTube celebrated its fifth anniversary on Feb. 15.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hard to believe YouTube has only been around five years. Seems like a long time ago I fell into its warm and wonderful trap, sitting there for hours on end calling up one video after another.
When you consider the vast array of information and entertainment at your fingertips -- thousands of songs and music videos, comedy bits, classic and local sports clips, movie scenes, educational/do-it-yourself videos and random quirky items such as Fred and Barney lighting up a couple of Winstons (all of which I confess to having watched) -- you don't have to flash your Generation X or Y membership card. Even an old dog like me can learn some new tricks.
But I must admit that the most compelling draw for me was the music videos. Seeing some of the old acts from the '60s and '70s spring to life -- even listening to bootleg material you never knew existed until recently -- was like someone chasing down discounts on Black Friday. I couldn't get enough of them.
Not only rediscovering some of the groups, performers and songs I'd well come to know from my youth, but developing an appreciation for artists of which I only had only sketchy or no recollections.
Most appealing to me during my search/research were, in order, the Yardbirds, Faces and Deep Purple, although my appetite for guilty pleasures carried me in several other musical directions, too.
Of course, as we all know, there are other purveyors of music videos out there other than YouTube, and I've tried them, too, but YT seems to have everything you could want, save for the supposed 10-minute (or so) limit per video. Lately, a lot of songs have popped up from bootleg shows (with still photos from the appropriate era).
So here's a stab at my 10 favorite music videos on YouTube. As late Yardbirds front man Keith Relf once blurted out during their famous Anderson Theater concert in 1968: "Nostalgia! Thank you!"
Yardbirds, "Dazed and Confused'' -- French TV's "Bouton Rouge," 1968
Many people would be surprised to know that the Yardbirds (who took their name from a reference by beat novelist Jack Kerouac) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, mostly because of their string of lead guitar heroes -- Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, but their willingness to experiment with sounds and to broaden the boundaries of popular music also helped secure that spot.
Consider this video, taken not long before their breakup. You can actually hear them -- more than 40 years ago -- help lay the foundation for the heavy metal sound. Incredible to think they started performing this song at the end of 1967, less than two years removed from crooning innocent numbers like "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and "My Girl Sloopy."
If you thought this song was popularized first by Led Zeppelin, well, you're wrong, but in the majority. It was actually written by folk artist Jake Holmes, who became well known for writing commercial jingles for, among others, Dr Pepper ("I'm a Pepper"), U.S. Army ("Be All That You Can Be") and Gillette ("The Best a Man Can Get").
Most compelling to me: How tired and different Relf now looks after five hard years on the road. No longer peppy, smiling and vibrant as he was during 1966-67 appearances. Oddity: This performance is preserved in black and white, when a widely circulated "Bouton Rouge" show by Pink Floyd done a few weeks earlier is in color.
Procol Harum, "Christmas Camel," "Conquistador" and "Whiter Shade of Pale" -- Live in Belgium, 1967
This famous three-song performance, one of the first public shows from the classic lineup of the group's first three albums, came during the Bilzen Jazz Festival in Belgium. The first thing you notice (well, after the timid volume) is the group's so-called "superhero" costumes they often donned on stage.
Their appearance must have caused some excitement -- notice a struggle in the background during "Christmas Camel" (at 2:46) when a photographer was asked to back off, and refused. Guitarist Robin Trower seems to enjoy himself during his solo until he wanders too far to one side of the stage and trips some feedback (3:05), then quickly steps away.
Their final song in the set, the familiar "Whiter Shade of Pale," was determined to have been the most-played song in public places in Great Britain in the past 75 years. Hard to believe Procol founder Gary Brooker and keyboard player Matthew Fisher are still arguing over royalty rights to the song, and just who pays the court fees.
Deep Purple, "Lazy" -- Machine Head tour, Copenhagen, 1972
"Lazy" is one of the many classics from the dynamic "Machine Head" album (which included "Smoke On the Water") of the early 1970s. I always liked this one better than some of the other songs on that album, although it's hard for keyboardist Jon Lord to get his Hammond organ humming the same notes he cranked out to lead off the studio recording.
Priceless: Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's mea culpa (3:10) when he realizes he's botched his intro. Noteworthy: The way vocalist Ian Gillan (who sang the part of Jesus in the original "Jesus Christ Superstar") tilts his head and plugs his ear during his harmonica bit (6:05). Catch a more recent performance of the song -- of which there are many on the Internet -- and he tilts his head and plugs his ear the same way more than 35 years later.
Faces, "Stay With Me" -- BBC TV's "Sounds For Saturday," 1971
This performance is part of a strong seven-song set and a great DVD. To me, it looks like the band in its prime, with Rod Stewart not too squirrelly-looking yet and wonderful bassist Ronnie Lane still in fine form (he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the mid-'70s.) Some called the Faces sloppy -- and, God love 'em, they did enjoy their booze -- but to me, that's sort of what makes them so endearing.
Some would say they went on to bigger and better things -- guitarist Ron Wood to the Stones, Stewart and Lane as solo acts and drummer Kenney Jones to The Who. But I like them like this, and I prefer this setting over some of their raucous stadium shows because, in a more-intimate setting, you can actually hear them playing.
I've always liked this song in particular because, when played properly, it gives everyone (except perhaps Lane) a shot at a solo toward the end. In fact, at one juncture (5:13) you can see Stewart asking Wood twice, "Was that your solo?" I could do without the psychedelic "fades" that happen every now and then, though.
Jack Bruce/Peter Frampton, "Sunshine of Your Love" -- Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band at Pine Knob, Detroit, 1997
Another gem from a great show (except, of course, for Ringo's numbers). This All-Starr lineup featured Bruce (Cream), Frampton (Humble Pie), Simon Kirke (Bad Company) and Gary Brooker (Procol Harum). Try to catch Bruce's endearing bass solo on "Do You Feel Like We Do?'' from the same set. Anyway, for this one, Frampton (who looks today much like he did then) can still play a blistering guitar, and his chemistry with Bruce during some of the longer instrumental parts is just outstanding.