The world’s first computer generated pop promo? Possibly. “Camoulflage” was a single released by the late Chris Sievey (a.k.a Frank Sidebottom) in 1983, on his Random Records label. Sievey had started programing on his Sinclair ZX81 Home Computer, and included on the B-side of his single, the data (in audio format) for 3 programs to run on the Sinclair ZX81. All of the programs were written by Sievey himself, but most intrestingly, one of the programs was an animated video for the song “Camouflage”. Now, more than thirty years later, here is “the first ever real-time home computer generated pop video.”
For more details on the making of the promo, check soundhog09 notes here.
The Pink Panther passes through the bardo planes on his spirit quest to find the true panther within…the panther of emptiness, devoid of color, clear as a drop of water on a mirror: the essence of panther.
In 1993, legendary avant-jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock accepted a gig (along with drummer Lance Carter) doing music for the Cartoon Network’s Space Ghost Coast To Coast. The combination of Sharrock’s “futuristic electronic folk music” and the surreal sensibilities of Space Ghost’s creators melded beautifully. Sadly, Sharrock died of a heart attack at the age of 53 during the show’s first season. In 1996, the show paid tribute to Sharrock in fittingly offbeat fashion.
In this very special episode, Thurston Moore incarnates one Fred Cracklin in a brief non-sensical cameo which is but a pretext to pay homage to the great avant-noise-jazz-blues guitar player Sonny Sharrock, who had recently expired. If the Coast to Coast series is bizarre for any standards of good TV conduct, the Sharrock episode is particularly strange in that its plot is a lame excuse to pay tribute to the musician and listen to several minutes of his ethereal noise-jazz guitar, thinly framed by some silly jokes between the Ghost and his adorable sidekicks.” - Sound Of Eye.
Twelve minutes in which television touches on the sublime.
An interesting curio from the back catalog of the Jim Henson estate here - the first ever (pilot) episode of The Muppet Show, which was recorded late in 1974 for broadcast in 1975. From the Muppets wikia:
The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence aired on ABC on March 19, 1975, and was shot on December 10-16, 1974.
It was one of the two pilots produced for The Muppet Show. The other pilot, The Muppets Valentine Show, aired in 1974.
In this half-hour variety special, the Muppets parody the proliferation of sex and violence on television.
Subtitled “An End to Sex & Violence,” this first ever episode of the world’s favourite puppet theatre seems a bit racy for a supposed family audience. However, watching this pilot it’s clear that Henson and co. were aiming for a more adult-orientated, risqué edge to the material, akin to the sketches they provided in the very early years of Saturday Night Live (and which were deemed, in the end, not to work.)
Obviously some more fine tuning was needed on this material before it became the international hit we all know and love. Not least a honing of the format and pacing of the show. This early version is a lot more fast-moving, with quicker cuts between multiple sketches, which we return to numerous times. The show had also yet to make musical numbers its main focus, perhaps explaining the later decision to constrain the sketches to single slots allowed to play out in full.
That’s not the only thing that’s disconcertingly different though: the usual Muppet Show host Kermit is relegated to just a bit part, even though by this stage he had become well known through appearances on Sesame Street. Sam the Eagle has a lot of screen time, and an early variant on Miss Piggy makes a brief appearance.
The main presenting duties go to a humanoid Muppet called Nigel, who is backed up by right hand man by Floyd Pepper, better known as the bass player in Dr Teeth’s Electric Mayhem and the popular character Janice’s main squeeze. The main Muppets’ to-camera addresses are a lot more knowing and audience-literate than Kermit’s let’s-get-this-show-on-the-road style, again hinting at the influence of a more grown-up, hip comedy aesthetic influenced by Lorne Michaels and even Monty Python.
Still, flawed as it may be, this is well worth a watch for Muppet fans and even the more curious viewer. Below is part one, while parts two and three are after the jump:
The Muppet Show: Sex & Violence Parts 2 & 3 after the jump…
She may be only starting out, but Vera Brosgol is one of the most talented comic artists around. Her first graphic novel Anya’s Ghost kicked ass, and last month she made available the whole of her brilliant What were you raised by wolves? on-line. This is a fantastic story of a girl who….well, you’ll find out, and can be read here.
Born in Moscow, Vera moved to the United States when she was 5. She currently works at Laika Inc. in Portland, Oregon drawing storyboards for feature animation. For more information on the divinely talented Ms Bee (and on how to get started as graphic artist) here. And look here for her books and for prints.
Taking its cues from Schoolhouse Rock, “My Name is Potato” is an Italian novelty song by Rita Pavone from 1977. It features Ms. Pavone — who was apparently 32 when she recorded this, despite looking to be about 17 — singing to a cartoon of a potato. An American potato, as he gruffly insists, who shoots guns and flies off in an American flag spaceship at the end. The animation was done by Guido Manuli, who was famous for his collaborations with director Bruno Bozetto, particularly on the film Allegro Non Troppo, a sort of spoof on Fantasia.