120 Reasons To Live: XTC

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#24: XTC “The Mayor Of Simpleton”

XTC just wasn’t that cool. Too retro-’60s, too British, too nerdy all around to have mass appeal in the States. Not to mention singer Andy Partridge’s stage fright that kept the band from touring after a 1982 breakdown in Los Angeles. But whatever you may think of Partridge, Colin Moulding and Co.—and you’re just as likely to be an obsessive fan as a casual observer of classic college-rock single “Dear God”—the video for “The Mayor Of Simpleton” (from 1989’s Oranges & Lemons) has miles of style, a brilliant take on the spy-fi look of ’60s British TV series The Avengers and overall the cleverest thing on MTV at the time. Maybe a tad too clever for its own good.

Incidentally, Partridge is responsible for one of the lewdest, funniest things ever published in MAGNET. Scroll down to the end of this Q&A with him, and there’s a story about a lonely man and a rubber shark…