A Long Search for the Best Perfect Video

Sound & Vision searched the tube over, channel after channel, in search of quality rock video clips that would reflect consenting adults enjoying normal, healthy relationships. We found exactly . . . one. To round out most of the other nine slots in our 1988 Video Top 10, we had to settle for well-executed renditions of the same old song and dance.

The year’s best:

1. Joni Mitchell’s “My Secret Place” (Director: Anton Corbijn). Perhaps one of the few videos ever made to convey such emotional intimacy, “Secret” dramatized a fetching Mitchell and glowing duet partner Peter Gabriel quietly bonding over dinner (!). Warm, subtle and recognizably human, it naturally received almost no airplay.

2. George Harrison’s “When We Was Fab” (Godley & Creme). If the “Magical Mystery Tour” film had lived up to its potential, it might have had the charm of this effects-filled clip, a bit of winsome but hard-edged nostalgia for the more psychedelic days of the Fab Four.


3. Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” (Colin Chilvers). A silly but eminently watchable (and rewatchable) 10-minute all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza that’s a marked return to video form for the Gloved One. The best rhythm track off Jackson’s “Bad” album is combined with fresh choreography that shows the Fred Astaire comparisons may not be so off base after all.

4. Bruce Springsteen’s “One Step Up” (Meiert Avis). Though set in a working-class bar atmosphere far removed from Springsteen’s daily life, this tone poem on marital alienation and straying affections held more resonance for many curious viewers--like much of the “Tunnel of Love” album--in the face of subsequent events.

5. Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin”’ (Robert Sidney). A re-release of a 22-year-old clip, “Boots” demonstrated that--even with then-acceptable cellulite and relatively modest mini-skirts--Nancy and her booted dancing partners could out-fox Lita Ford any day.

6. Roy Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman” (Tony Mitchell). Excerpted from the star-studded cable-TV gala filmed at the Cocoanut Grove. What’s that we see? He’s walkin’ back to us . . . in mementos like this video, at least, if--sadly--no longer in life.

7. Steve Winwood’s “Roll With It” (David Finchman). What a wonderful fantasy: A night out at a sweaty, sepia-toned, racially integrated bar in which Winwood leads the house soul band.

8. LL Cool J’s “Goin’ Back to Cali” (Ric Menello). A New York rapper’s-eye-view of a return to L.A. in which all the cliches (palm trees, cruising) somehow look fresh.

9. Weird Al Yankovic’s “Fat” (Jay Levy). Combine the non-stop obesity jokes on the sound track with the non-stop Michael Jackson parody on the screen--one big non sequitur if ever there was one--and what you get is a tasteless, pointlessly hilarious guilty pleasure.

10. Sam Brown’s “Stop” (Eric Watson). A blond. A red dress. A soulful voice tackling a slow blues ballad. Sometimes life’s simplest pleasures are best.