120 Reasons To Live: Material Issue

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.

#114: Material Issue: “Valerie Loves Me” and “Kim The Waitress”

Here’s the video for 1991’s “Valerie Loves Me,” in which the members of Material Issue take turns stalking a woman, the bass player going so far as to camp out in the ladies’ restroom. Granted, the vlip doesn’t do justice to “Valerie,” a high-school mix-tape staple that’s in the rarefied airspace of “Melt With You” as far as those matters are concerned. That Material Issue pulled off a 1960s mod, English act in the midst of 1990s Chicago is charming and bizarre, but there was a dark side, too. (And we’re not referring to the sad collection of humanity that shows up at power-pop conventions.) Singer/guitarist Jim Ellison committed suicide in 1996 after the group had parted ways with its label the previous year and Ellison had ended a long-term relationship.

Cheer up, campers: It’s a Material Issue Double Shot! Here’s the band’s cover of “Kim The Waitress,” written by those other power-pop heroes, the Green Pajamas: