120 Reasons To Live: Camper Van Beethoven

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.

#63: Camper Van Beethoven “Good Guys And Bad Guys”

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“Take The Skinheads Bowling” would’ve been the obvious choice of video for Camper Van Beethoven, and any reasonable person should start there where David Lowery and Co.’s catalog is concerned. But that video is also tinged with the indignity of being heavily featured on MTV’s early-days Dr. Demento program, a repository for wacky clips by Weird Al and novelty acts. Camper Van Beethoven—with Lowery’s surrealism and a sense of adventure that incorporated ska, country and Middle Eastern music at a time when even college-rock bands didn’t typically do such things—makes a strong argument that smaller-city alt-rockers were always doing much weirder stuff than their counterparts in New York or L.A. Lowery later got more traditional-sounding (and successful) with Cracker, but the charm and invention of Camper Van Beethoven is irresistible.

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