Critique: I Predict 1990 The Video Album

Harvest Rock Syndicate
April/May/June(?) 1988, Volume 3, Issue 2
© 1988 Harvest Rock Publications
Page 19

I Predict 1990
The Video Album
Steve Taylor

Steve Taylor has always been more of conceptualizer, performer and comic presence than a singer/songwriter, which may explain why his songs work better live than on record and why I Predict 1990 works better as a video album than it did on my turntable. Half the fun has always been waiting for that turn of his lips or the raising of one eyebrow after singing some witty piece of spirtually adept sarcasm. He writes intelligent lyrics based on ironic and, at times, ingenious perceptions of reality, but they don't always translate well into melody and verse until he delivers it live, or in this case on video.

Here he turns eight out of ten of the songs from I Predict 1990 into video cilps, which, although clearly shot on a shoestring budget, are fine examples of what it is that makes Steve Taylor's artistry so incredibly special. The best production over all is on "Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel A Lot Better," directed by Jim Hodson, which has fine concepts, lighting, editing and overall smarts.

"What Is The Measure Of Your Success" finds Taylor in a power suit on elevator shoes, playing Gotcha with paint guns while images of America's wealth and most-impoverished perons are interspersed. "Babylon" features a studio setting with candles and spotlights providing the special effects, if sometimes unclear vision. "Principled Man" moves outside as a vagabond Taylor goes around the countryside offering freedom and reconciliation to the folk he meets.

Two standouts include "Jim Morrison's Grave," made of home videos Taylor shot at the graveyard in Paris where the Lizard King was laid to rest, and Svengali, which finds Taylor's noble shadow doing battle with the original beguiler from old black and white film footage. "I Blew Up The Clinic" works better with Taylor singing the part, and who can resist that smile in an Ice Cream suit.

"It's Harder To Believe Than Not To," with the cloak discarded and then mended in unsuspected circumstances, exhibits one of the budgetary failings; the occasional loss of visual clarity due to less than adequate lighting. Still, Taylor's performance works, and at the clever price of $19.90, you won't need to wait until the final admonition to rewind and "Play It Again."

Brian Quincy Newcomb