In 1981, technology wasn’t exactly the universal playground it is now.
Atari sets, calculator watches and the occasional Apple word processors were about the extent of what was available to high school students like myself. So often we were left to our own high-tech ingenuity to make things entertaining.
One time my drummer friend Steve and I, with whom I had recently formed an irreverent band called The Chuxx, decided to have some fun with his videotape player and mixing board. (Keep in mind: This was 1981, and even having a VCR was a pretty big deal.)
We recorded an episode of “The Tomorrow Show” with host Tom Snyder that featured the network debut of The Clash. Considering we were then more fans of stadium rock bands like Rush and Aerosmith, we perceived the British punk act to be absolutely dreadful. Thus, we overdubbed a nonsense song called “Cocoa Beads and Snowflakes” by our own still primitive quartet onto the Clash footage.
The resulting collision bore a certain artistic symmetry. The vocals eerily mimicked Clash frontman Joe Strummer’s mouthings, and Steve’s loping beat seemed to match up with that of whatever the Clash drummer’s name was.
Plus the band looked so very serious performing a socially caustic song I later learned was called “Magnificent Seven” — this while the overdubbed lyrics spewed silly lines concerning a senile uncle’s advice to his nephew about goats and snowflakes and stuff.
It was drop-dead funny.
Nearly three decades later, this crude practice is all the rage on the Web.
The process is referred to as “shreds” — e.g. Van Halen Shreds — evolving from a slang term for rapid heavy metal guitar skills. Now things have gotten somewhat more sophisticated with bands creating intentionally terrible versions of songs to play on top of their favorite (or least favorite) artists.
A particularly fine example of this is Creed Shreds.
The earnest Florida rock band muscles through a song credited as “Gibba Gab” while sub-pedestrian drumming and tinny guitar riffs parrot their movements.
Hunky Creed singer Scott Stapp gets the worst of the treatment, with a bogus voice relegated to rudimentary grunts and muffled “yeahs” that mock his throaty delivery. Sounds of crickets chirping fill up breaks in the song.
But this is just one of dozens of artists online that have received the shredding treatment. Kiss, Nickelback, Eric Clapton, Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails and even Toto are the victims of such backhanded tributes.
Oddly enough, there are currently no videos out there labeled Clash Shreds.
— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet in Net Worth. He can be reached at 832-7178.