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From Club Sandwich 65:
By contrast to standing in the falling rain (…mama…) for ‘Hope Of Deliverance’, the video for ‘C’mon People’ was at least made indoors, west of London at Bray Film Studios.
Like ‘Hope’ though, and also the video for ‘Off The Ground’ – filmed on the west coast of America – ‘C’mon People’ was made in the ultra-busy run up to Christmas. For although 1993 schedules were still in the process of coming together, it was already crystal clear that there would be no time for any elaborate video-making immediately prior to The Tour.
It’s a nice place, Bray. A bit basic, but pleasant. Films have been made there for generations, good British farces, exciting action dramas and, most famously, the Hammer horrors. It’s also very near Windsor Castle, where a very real horror -in the shape of a blazing inferno – made headlines around the world just a few weeks before.
‘C’mon People’ was filmed on the massive Stage One over three days, 16-18 December. I went along on the 17th as an observer and was immediately struck by a strange sight: a magnificent black grand piano, scattered in pieces on the floor. The thought that immediately flashed through – “Wait till Paul sees what they’ve done to his Steinway…” – skidded to a halt when I saw the man himself across the stage looking distinctly unruffled about it. A quick enquiry with a member of the production crew revealed that the dismantled piano was in fact the raison d’etre of the whole video.
The idea – you may even have seen the end result by now – is that Paul sits and plays the Steinway while, first, it is dismantled and, then, re-constructed, piece by piece, and restored to its shining magisterial glory. Except (you just knew there’d be more to it, didn’t you?), while Paul is seen in the video at normal speed, the four Craftspeople (so named in the Call-Sheet) around him are seen working at high-speed.
Even though I watched the thing being shot, I can’t begin to explain just how this effect was achieved. Something or other about a high-speed camera? I don’t know. The video’s director, though, Kevin Godley did know, and he seemed relaxed and in complete control. Kevin and Paul go back a long way together, back to and maybe even beyond Godley’s days as the drummer with 10cc, the group which also boasted another long-time Maccollaborator, Eric Stewart. Among many other things, it was Kevin Godley (with another 2.5cc, Lol Creme) who directed MPL’s 1982 short-film The Cooler, starring Paul, Linda, Ringo and Barbara. Also, Paul guested on Kevin and Lol’s 1979 album Freeze Frame. Etc etc etc. Credentials established? Good.
Anyway, Kevin was clearly well in command at Bray. When he wasn’t directing the cameras or discussing shots he was thrashing his arms about in time to the music playback (once a drummer always a drummer). A number of takes were tried before lunch, Paul sitting at the shell of the piano, propped up makeshift fashion by a random assortment of books. It made for an odd juxtaposition: Paul was hitting the right keys but the piano – without most of its innards – produced only a strangulated thudding sound. Over this, though, was the insistent, ultra-catchy playback of ‘C’mon People’, booming out of nearby loudspeakers.
That ‘C’mon People’ is catchy (as if anyone could ever doubt it) was proven during the lunch break, incidentally, when a fair number of the crew unconsciously whistled the tune while queueing up for food or ambling in and out of the studio. It’s just uncanny how the man continually comes up with melodies that sound so easy and familiar and yet arc totally fresh and unique to him.
The afternoon was taken up with more of the same: Paul playing the almost silent piano while the instrument was being re-assembled. Sometimes he was filmed from underneath, up through the strings, at other times from the front, straight ahead. A video monitor allowed Kevin Godley the chance to see what his 16mm film cameras were recording, and every so often Paul would join the director for a playback to see how the epic was progressing.
Meanwhile, the band arrived, ready to make their contribution to the job. But, observing that they weren’t needed just yet, they soon retired to their dressing-room. Having not long returned from the MTV Up Close trip to New York Robbie used the opportunity to get some sleep, while Wix – somehow you get the sense that he’d been expecting to hang around -had brought along his Christmas cards to write out.
Filming with the band eventually took place during the evening. Or so I’m told -I’d long since had to return home and missed the day’s remaining action. Filming the previous night had gone on until midnight and this one showed every sign of going the distance too. And there was still another full day to go, plus five days of effects shooting (without Paul or the band) in a London studio in mid-January.
The finished video, commented director Godley, resembles “a cross between a Bing Crosby Christmas Special on acid and ‘All You Need Is Love’ on wheels”. And if that description doesn’t make you want to stay up all night just in case MTV happens to show it then it’s obvious that nothing will.Mark Lewisohn
Last updated on June 15, 2019