I thought that it was about time to review another music video from the 80s that I think is really great. Lots of people consider 1986’s “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel to be one of the greatest music videos of its era, and indeed I agree with that, and it went on to win plenty of awards, however its story is rather well known. What people might not realise is that the followup single has an equally great and creative video, so here’s a look at some of the highlights.
“Big Time” was released in the UK in March 1987 and it reached no. 13, it was directed by Stephen R Johnson, and it’s another four and-a-half minutes of rather strange happenings. It’s another example of the rather clever things that you can do with stop-motion animation and a piece of clay, and a clever technique called strata-cut animation is also frequently used. It’s not easy to describe most of what happens but I’ll have a go.
We start off with Peter inside his small home, which then explodes which is rather unfortunate. There is then a rather strange sequence where Peter is stretching his mouth to let those big words come right out, it looks rather painful. Then there is one of my favourite moments where Peter’s head is on a spring while informing us that he’s off one his way to the big city where he’ll be a big noise. He really is thinking big.
Then as we get to the chorus we see a example of some of the strata-cut animation, this is where some images are put into a piece of clay, which is then sliced and animated frame-by-frame to make it look like the picture is animating, I found it mildly scary really. This is followed by another odd moment where Peter is surrounded by some people whose heads keep changing.
Peter then stands on a podium and his head starts to change frame-by-frame as well, and then in another highlight he turns to clay again and he gets rather overexcited about his bed because contains a snow-white pillow for his big fat head. What more could you want. Peter then gets cloned and is accompanied by yet more strange animation as we reach the climax of the song.
Peter is now very pleased that he has finally reached the big time, and his hand even grows a mouth in celebration. Having been one of the pioneers in that area, Peter Gabriel went on to appear in many more groundbreaking music videos in the 90s including “Steam” which was another good one. There are lots of other great music videos of course and I might review a few more soon.