All Posts,Old Music,Radio — Dan on December 5, 2007 at 5:46 pm

I hate to admit it, but MTV saved my life. In the beginning it introduced me to both Duran Duran and Def Leppard but I got into classic rock and lost interest. In the mid/late 80s I somehow moved from classic rock to “college rock” (I think it went Syd Barrett > Robyn Hitchcock) I didn’t care much for most of what MTV was showing, hair metal? New Jack Swing? It didn’t matter because every Sunday night at midnight, there was 120 Minutes.

In tribute to these wonderful 2 hours, I’ve created two Viva Radio shows dedicated to the glory years of 120 Minutes.

Now you kids out there, you may not appreciate this, what with your internets and every 13 year old weirdo in the world downloading Group XEX and Screamers music like it’s their birthright. You don’t know how much work it was to be weird, or what a relief those two hours on MTV were.

I don’t remember when I first started paying attention but I know my sister was watching and taping them almost from the beginning. We have VHS tapes with old episodes hosted by Downtown July Brown and China Kantor and the greatest host ever, Kevin Seal (he was wacky, ok?). At some point my sister moved on and I picked up the task. You had to tape them, Sunday night was a school night, I couldn’t stay up till 2am! I often did, but I shouldn’t have. Mostly I’d hit record, go to bed, then rush home from school monday afternoon, sit down in front of the VCR with a pen and pad, and catalog all the videos played the night before. I wasn’t the only one. Often, I’d lie on my back and fast forward through the crappy videos with my toes. We didn’t have remote control yet. I did this for most of high school.

The amount of stuff I was exposed to was crazy. Some videos images and music have stuck with me ever since.


Some I probably hated then but can’t help but love now.


Some artists went onto greater mainstream success but were never as awesome as they were then.


There were really great industrial videos from both likely sources,


and unlikely sources…


and classic american college rock.


I used to think it was totally random, a few weirdo songs from major labels, some genuine underground stuff, some personal favorites of the hosts and producers (another Mission UK video???). Basically anything that wasn’t hair metal or new jack swing was fit for 120 minutes. I’m exaggerating a bit here folks. The industrial goth rock of The Sisters of Mercy…


followed by the collegiate wimp rock of the Connells…


There was some planning. I do remember thinking, hey, somebody is thinking about this when they showed The Strangler’s cover of All Day and All of the Night followed by The Fall doing Victoria. Those were both Kinks songs! I was so happy to notice that. It was all good. Actually a lot of it was terrible, but it was still more fun then anything else on MTV. Actually, Yo! MTV Raps was pretty great then too.

Through the years I noticed I’d like less and less of the videos, until finally I was watching in the slim hope of seeing that one awesome video. It definitely got lamer, even as alternative music got more popular. That may have been the problem, as grunge, the Beastie Boys and even Sonic Youth started to dominate regular MTV, as the major labels starting pouring money into fake indies and the next Nirvana, 120 Minutes definitely lost some of it’s eclecticism.

There were other sources, particularly USA’s Night Flight in it’s original incarnation, with it’s “Take off on…” segments and showing clips of Snub and New Wave Theatre, but that’s a post for a different time. There was nothing as dependable as 120 Minutes. The best was vacation and holidays, when I’d actually stay up to watch the whole thing, sit around talking on the phone to a new wave friend in Boston or somewhere, waiting through a bunch of crappy videos, then suddenly, holy crap! Did they just show the video to Love of Life by the Swans? Yes, they did.


These Viva playlists represent a mixture of my favorite stuff, and stuff that I hate but just screams 120 MINUTES! to me, dragging me back to those great high school years, when I was so happy! Just kidding! OK, I was happy when I saw this…



120 Minutes Pt. 1: Riddle of the 80s

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
The Smiths – How Soon is Now
The Bolshoi – Away
The Mighty Lemon Drops – Inside Out
Gene Loves Jezebel – Motion of Love
The Sisters of Mercy – Lucretia
Swans – Love of Life
Live Skull – 5-D
Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot
Soul Asylum – Cartoon
Husker Du – Makes No Sense At All
The Replacements – Bastards of Young
The Primitives – Crash
Mudhoney – This Gift
Public Image Ltd – Seattle
Wire – Eardrum Buzz
Cocteau Twins – Iceblink Luck
Julian Cope – Charlotte Anne
The Chills – Heavenly Pop Hit
The Connells – Over There
The Feelies – Away
fIREHOSE – Riddle of the 80s
R.E.M. – Driver 8
The Church – Under the Milky Way
Violent Femmes – Nightmares
The House of Love – Christine
Galaxie 500 – When Will you Come home
Pixies – Here Comes Your Man
The Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray
Camper Van Beethoven – Take the Skinheads Bowling

120 Minutes Pt. 2: Blood Makes Noise
Sinead O’Connor – Mandinka
Shriekback – Nemesis
Nine Inch Nails – Head Like a Hole
Suzanne Vega – Blood Makes Noise
Sioxie and the Banshees – Peek-a-Boo
Meat Beat Manifesto – Psyche Out
Big Audio Dynamite – Just Play Music!
Stereo MCs – Connected
Red Hot Chili Peppers – True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes
Fishbone – Sunless Saturday
Jane’s Addiction – Stop
Concrete Blonde – Still in Hollywood
Bad Brains – I Against I
Faith No More – A Small Victory
Dinosaur Jr – Just Like Heaven
The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
Love And Rockets – No New Tale to Tell
Sugarcubes – Cold Sweat
New Order – True Faith
Renegade Soundwave – Biting My Nails
Front 242 – Tragedy for You
Ministry – Stigmata
MC 900 Ft. Jesus – Killer Inside Me
Pop Will Eat Itself – X Y & Zee
Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians – Madonna of the Wasps
The Sundays – Here’s Where the Story Ends
Throwing Muses – Dizzy
They Might Be Giants – Ana Ng
The Godfathers – Birth, School, Work, Death
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – The Mercy Seat


  1. I have a huge pile of old VHS tapes of 120 Minutes lying around, just waiting to be digitzed. I guess I’d better get on that, until they molder away. My favorite of all these (besides the “Manchester, So Much to Answer For” episode, complete with a rain-slicked Strangeways prison and a coked-to-the-gills Barney Sumner) is the Siouxsie documentary, which had tantalizing snippets of Creatures videos I wouldn’t see in full until the advent of YouTube!

    Comment by Andrea — December 5, 2007 @ 10:38 pm
  2. I wonder if the friend on the phone was me? I very vaguely remember that. . . Any old playlists from the early shows still around? It’d be interesting to see those.

    Comment by Maia — December 6, 2007 @ 2:40 am
  3. the tantalizing snippets were so frustrating. They’d interview somebody and show these amazing clips then cut to their latest video, which was never as interesting. Thank god for YouTube.

    The Tantalizing Snippets, they were a C86 band I think?

    Comment by Dan — December 6, 2007 @ 2:42 am
  4. I’m sure you were one of the few, Maia! Now just wait for my post wher I revisit all the mix-tapes from my youth. I still have one from you, it’s got a great collage cover!

    Comment by Dan — December 6, 2007 @ 2:56 am
  5. Wowzee! Followed a link from C Johnson’s blog to get here and all of the sudden I’m back in high school. My memories of waiting up to catch 120 are still fresh. The anticipation of getting to see what was new only to be disappointed once again by Dave Kendalls personal affinity for The Catherine Wheel. Or, the frustration of missing it altogether the week that they play a Black Flag video. Priceless emotional moments of my youth.

    The Connells video for Over There is for me the pinnacle of mediocrity. I really liked it at the time and still think the song is OK, I guess. But, god, how could I/you have overlooked such egregious crimes against style. Where do you even start, the horrible production quality that does nothing to separate the music from the likes of Bruce Hornsby and his Shitty Range, the singers moves stolen straight out of Michael Stipes pocket, the token Rickenbacker, the U2ish snow scene, is that guitar player skipping? Please note also that the lamest looking dude in the band is never shown playing and instrument. I imagine the director of the video taking a stand “I’ll show the tucked in shirts and the acoustic guitar nonsense but, I cannot in good conscience show that sissy man playing with his Casio.” That all being said, just hearing that fake trumpet riff really took me back to 1989 and I appreciate it for that.

    The memory of 120 minutes reminds me of the importance of taking that extra step to find new music, art, etc.. and how much greater the payoff is.

    Comment by Ryan — December 6, 2007 @ 3:54 am
  6. at the time I remember thinking the Connells video was absolutely the worst thing in the world and the song was just terrible. A bunch of goofy guys running down a hill, singing the lamest song in the world. But something stuck with me and maybe I secrectly like the hook all along. When I started putting this together I knew I had to revisit that song and I must’ve mellowed big time because now I think I appreciate the brilliance of the song. The video is still pretty ridiculous though!

    Comment by Dan — December 6, 2007 @ 9:29 am
  7. dave kendall at the limelight for the 1st night of the orb, orbital..and ??? changed my life…as did seeing kim gordon, spectral, atop a train; paul westerberg’s cigarette burning down… watching the glory of the “only shallow” video had me asking crazy questions at chain record shops for weeks until finally i got a copy of loveless… the insane years, later on, when they would have only guest hosts (that jackass rollins was actually funny then…a stupid noise improv from thurston, beck, and mike d?)

    120 minutes was a ritual and a very important tie to bind my friends then and a constant between friends now…

    Comment by bb — December 6, 2007 @ 11:23 am
  8. Yeah, the Thurston, beck, mike d stuff is hilarious and all over youtube. Beck was acting so weird, a total put-on I’m sure. I also remember Thurston giving Dave Kendell a hard time and vice versa, some joke about Dave having to wash his hand after shaking Thurstons!

    I totally think this is all an age thing…anybody older then us reading this post is probably like wtf? I went to record stores and listened to college radio! And anyone younger is like, soulseek dudez!

    Comment by Dan — December 6, 2007 @ 11:29 am
  9. oh, i kind of recall that. for some reason i can still see/hear John Lydon in Tijuana, flipping through some market and pointing at velvet paintings and saying, “Gee-zuss, its Elle-viss!” and then walking away from the camera

    correct, sir, totally of our age. everyone else is allowed to forget the connells and ultra vivid scene.

    Comment by bb — December 6, 2007 @ 4:23 pm
  10. whoa, he made a haino joke!?

    Comment by bb — December 6, 2007 @ 4:26 pm
  11. Um, didn’t Lydon also pull off Kendall’s hairpiece at one point as well? If anyone has any 120 Minutes stuff they want to trade me for, please email me at I really want to see this stuff again, and I can transfer VHS to DVD.

    Comment by bigfoot — April 14, 2008 @ 2:40 pm
  12. I have a bunch of episodes of mtv 120 minutes from the 90’s on dvd, i am looking for more. If you have any, please contact if you wish to trade, or I can remaster them as well.
    my email is

    Comment by Jamie — September 12, 2008 @ 1:58 pm
  13. sucks that all those clips are gone. Let’s see. The first one was When Will You Come Home by Galaxie 500. Then Sinead O’Connor’s Mandinka. Then Front 242. Then Suzanne Vega. And finally Christine by House of Love.

    Comment by Dan — August 11, 2009 @ 1:23 am
  14. If anyone wants to trade 120 Minutes episodes or has some that need digitizing from VHS to DVD, email me at I am especially interested in Kevin Seal and Dave Kendall episodes and I have a bunch to trade as well.

    Comment by bigfoot — August 14, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

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