Hard News by Russell Brown


Holiday Music: Pop TV Lives

Even those of us who like to remain open to the music of the moment love the pop shows of our youth. Radio With Pictures, which ran on New Zealand television for a decade from 1976, more or less accidentally became the house programme of punk and post-punk. Its birth coincided with my serious embrace of music. It even, according to one theory, provided the original inspiration for MTV.

But if you were growing up in Germany around the same time, you had Rockpalast, which launched in 1977 and showcases live performances to this day. Its roster over the years is extraordinary -- from Black Uhuru and Bowie to Sonic Youth and Talking Heads. One of the best of of them must surely be the show by the Patti Smith Group in April 1979 (somewhat bizarrely playing down the bill to Johnny Winter). By the magic of the internet I watched a pretty good copy of that show. Le wow.

The band has a few sloppy moments and there's a version of 'Jailhouse Rock' that doesn't really work, butPatti is upbeat, alert, on full noise -- and clearly loving her work. She's wild, delinquent, sexual and poetic. The whole thing is here on YouTube:

For a taste, here's 'Gloria':

And you know how your favourite rock bands tend to have a song that feels like it rolls on for a full 20 minutes? Here's Sonic Youth closing their 1996 Rockpalast set by playing 'The Diamond Sea' for 21 actual, increasingly spooky, minutes. Huzzah.

For pub-argument purposes, two versions of 'Waiting for the Man', end-to-end from John Cale's 1983 and 1984 Rockpalast shows. I expect I'm not alone in preferring the solo one.

And, finally, Black Uhuru opening their 1981 Rockpalast show with 'Shine Eye Girl'. Watch it and be reminded what an absolute monster that Sly and Robbie-powered band was. That intro!

German music TV in the 70s was, it appears, quite adventurous. This Captain Beefheart performance, which went out on an unidentified show in 1972, was some fairly freaky shit:


Staying with the pop show theme, Zac Arnold asked me to the ID the 1990 show here on which Shayne Carter and David Wood of Straitjacket Fits are interview and then perform 'Missing Presumed Drowned'. But I was living in London at the time, so I haven't a clue. I presume some of you will know it, though:


These days, of course, music video has basically migrated to YouTube and Vimeo and live broadcasts are now live, global webcasts. But YouTube's practical attitude to copyright also means that it's the place to see the pop shows of yore -- and sometimes the only place. Music TV can be a prick of a thing to clear properly for re-use -- there may be several sets of rights in a show -- but it'll stay up on YouTube until someone files a takedown notice, which is generally never.

So anyway, what I'm getting at is that this seems a nice holiday discussion theme. You can play in comments -- just paste in the URL (long or short version, but not the embed code) and it'll automagically embed when you save your comment. Pop shows galore!


In the meantime, here's a fresh, funky new Karim edit for your New Year's Eve dancefloor:

A powerful Bobby Womack edit from RocknRolla Sound System:

And, just because I had a moment with this a few nights ago, Nina Simone's 'Do What You Gotta Do', which was tacked onto her 1968 album 'Nuff Said (Google Play here and iTunes Store here). Most of the album is from a live show recorded three days after the murder of Martin Luther King, and it draws great power from that fact. This is one of three other tunes scattered, rather oddly, through it. It was written by Jimmy Webb and it's an amazing song: 


The Hard News Music Post is sponsored by:


67 responses to this post

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last