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More WTF Japanese TV
06.16.2015
07:00 am

Topics:
Amusing
Television

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My introduction to the joys of Japanese television was via Clive James on Television, a clip show hosted by the Antipodean writer and broadcaster Clive James and screened on British TV way back when in the 1980s. James was always good at presenting a rich platter of choice cuts of the weird and wonderful, surreal and amusing television culled from around the world, which he jovially introduced with his trademark caustic quips. The highlight of most episodes was the startling extracts from Endurance, (ザ・ガマン) the bizarre game show from Japan that involved varying degrees of nudity, torture and national humiliation.

Oh, how we Brits all lapped these moments up, laughing at the strange practices of other cultures, which in hindsight was deeply ironic considering how our TV broadcasters (in particular the BBC) were promoting gross sex offenders like Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris and Gary Glitter—all of whom, at one time or another, had family entertainment shows on primetime Saturday night. (You may not be too familiar with the name Rolf Harris but Alice Cooper once covered his hit song “Sun Arise,” as did Led Zeppelin’s Page and Plant.) Looking back on these shows now, it seems that perhaps the Japanese may have had the best idea of externalizing any repressed or unhealthy desires through national humiliation on TV game shows rather than allowing such feelings to fester under the guise of “Reithian values.”

Yet, where to begin with the following clip? It is like some skit from Jackass—though perhaps nearer Peter Griffin’s cartoon take—and really should be called perhaps something like Balls of Steel? Anyway, from what I can glean, this is one of the games played on the exceedingly popular entertainment show Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! (ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで!!) which means something like “Downtown’s ‘This is no task for kids!!’” (Well, hell, that’s certainly true.) According to Wikipedia, the best known part of these shows is the “batsu games” or punishment games where contestants undertake physical challenges. One of the most famous batsu game is “No Laughing” where an individual will have to endure humiliating and physical suffering (e.g. a slap or a blow dart to the buttocks) at which his team mates cannot laugh—once they do, the game is lost.

The start of this batsu has a muscleman putting a seven stone weakling into a backbreaker, from whereupon he is enthusiastically whipped in the nuts by a over-zealous sadist. This ball-whipping may perhaps be something a few readers might like to try out on enemies, though others (I’m sure) may find it to a leg-crossing and eye-watering moment.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The last days of Ziggy Stardust: Backstage with David Bowie, 1973
06.15.2015
03:06 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

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In May 2002, not all that long ago, but still pre-YouTube (which launched in 2005), the Museum of Television & Radio presented the first-ever video retrospective devoted to the career of David Bowie, at least as it was documented over the medium of television. I want to say that it was five separate programs of four hours each over the course of several days, but it may have been four. I saw the ones up to the Let’s Dance era, the point which my interest in Bowie admittedly wanes.

In hindsight, i.e. seen from the vantage point of just a few months later, the MTR program, “David Bowie: Sound + Vision” was obviously a way to screen some of the material that had been sourced for the selection of the 2 DVD set, Best of Bowie, but not used. It was as motley a crew collection of diehard Bowie heads as you could possibly assemble who turned up, but I doubt that any of us had seen all of it. For instance, although every Brit has seen the famous “Starman” performance from Top of the Pops, I, being an American, had never seen that one before. And this despite making it one of my primary missions in life to acquire bootleg David Bowie… everything. Many of the British Bowie fanatics in the audience had never seen “The 1980 Floor Show” broadcast on The Midnight Special, whereas this was the first time that I—and most Americans my age and older—had ever clapped eyes on Bowie’s peculiarly alien rock messiah presence via the cathode ray.

Some of the things shown at MTR made it to the Best of Bowie DVD as extras and Easter eggs—like the ridiculously contentious interviews with talk show host Russell Harty, who always seem to go out of his way to “welcome” Bowie to his program with an outright insult, a backhanded compliment or the impolite suggestion that he was either a has-been (this in the midst of the astonishingly creative period that begat Young Americans, Station to Station and Low) or only touring because he was broke.

One thing from the MTR screenings that didn’t make it to the DVD, but that one can view on YouTube, is this amazing segment from the news program Nationwide, about the hysteria incited among Britain’s impressionable youth by the “man with a painted face and carefully adjusted lipstick.”

Three days after the program aired on BBC, Bowie announced the retirement of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars from the Hammersmith Odeon’s stage.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Iron Maiden lets a 14-year-old superfan be their roadie for a day
06.12.2015
08:02 am

Topics:
Music
Television

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Jim’ll Fix It was a long-running British TV show that specialized in granting people’s wishes. It ran from 1975 to 1994, in which time it became a well-known tradition for British viewers. The host was Jimmy Savile, who was later revealed to be a prolific sex offender and Gilles De Rais-level sicko, which is another subject for another time. In any case, on an episode that ran in 1987, the show responded to a request from a 14-year-old viewer named Dom Lawson who wrote in requesting to meet his favorite heavy metal band, Iron Maiden.

With a complete film crew recording his every movement, Lawson assisted the legendary group prepare for a show at Hammersmith Odeon on November 3, 1986. Lawson wrote about that day in The Guardian:
 

I was greeted by a couple of members of Maiden’s road crew, one of whom immediately pointed out that my T-shirt (bought from Woolworths in Hemel Hempstead) was in a fact “a bloody bootleg”. I was then led to the backstage catering area and introduced to a vast number of people, most of whom I recognised from the photos in the booklet of Maiden’s magnificent Live After Death live album. Being shy and self-conscious, I grinned and blushed a lot. I was terrified, yet I could hardly have been happier. Everyone in Maiden’s organisation was friendly and welcoming, including the band themselves: resolutely down-to-earth, they each came and said hello at various points during the day. I remember Steve Harris clocking my West Ham scarf (which I’d worn specifically to attract his attention, natch) and asking if I was a “proper ‘ammer”. I was (and am), and he beamed his approval. I practically wet myself.

... During those few hours backstage I got to tune Steve’s bass guitar, play on Nicko McBrain’s insanely huge drum kit, eat in the canteen with the road crew and, best of all, clamber aboard the road crew’s tour bus to film a slightly ludicrous skit which involved me pretending to wake up on the bus, peer through the curtains on my bunk and be given the news that it was time to get to work setting up the band’s gear. I loved every second of it.

 
As you can see, Lawson writes quite well, which makes sense insofar that he carried his love of heavy metal through to adulthood, working for two popular magazines, Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. You can even read his glowing review of Iron Maiden’s 2003 album Dance of Death (to his credit, Lawson is discriminating in his admiration of Iron Maiden—he disliked Maiden’s two previous efforts, No Prayer For The Dying and Virtual XI).

I don’t know much about the individual guys in Iron Maiden, but this clip will win you over if you have any doubts—they all seem like terrific fellows. I remember Bruce Dickinson popping up in a documentary about Monty Python, so I already knew he was a good bloke and always keen for a laugh, and this clip certainly confirms that impression.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Blondie burning down the house live on German TV, 1978
06.12.2015
07:18 am

Topics:
Music
Television

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The first time I saw Blondie was on an episode of chart music show Top of the Pops sometime in February 1977, when they performed “Denis”—a cover of the old Randy & the Rainbows’ number “Denise.” The promo footage caught fire from its opening shot of a beautifully backlit Debbie Harry flicking her golden candy floss hair, dancing in oversized jacket and red striped swimsuit. Chris Stein wore a black shirt and what looked like a leather tie, and the rest of the band seemed confidently cool playing in the background. It was one of those epiphanic moments that hold fast in the memory, like seeing Alice Cooper sword fence a camera during a performance of “School’s Out,” or David Bowie put his arm around Mick Ronson during “Starman,” or the Sex Pistols blankly performing “Pretty Vacant” (“no shocks shock” ran a headline in the NME.)

TOTP was the main outlet for most British teenagers during the 1970s to watch bands they liked or discover someone new—most youth music shows didn’t really kick off until later in the decade. Much of TOTP‘s 30-minute running time was clogged with middle of the road bands, novelty acts and the kind of songs your granny liked to hum—like ones sung by Johnny Mathis or Brian and Michael, the latter duo unbelievably kept Blondie’s “Denis” off the UK top spot.
 
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Unlike a number of bands at the time who were either dreary and lumpen or overly earnest, Blondie made music that was enjoyable, clever, infectiously upbeat and un-fucking-believably exciting. Here’s Blondie setting fire to the studio and burning down the house. Record date: Sometime in 1977. Transmission date January 19th 1978. And that, ahem, is a loooong time ago…. which just goes to show how very, very good Blondie were live and the utter brilliance and durability of their songs.

Track Listing.


01. “X-Offender”
02. “Little Girl Lies”
03. “Look Good in Blue”
04. “Man Overboard”
06. “In the Flesh”
06.  “I’m on E”
07. “Love at the Pier”
08. “I Didn’t have the Nerve”
09. “Bermuda Triangle Blues (Flight 45)’
10. “ Kidnapper”
11. “Youth Nabbed As Sniper”
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Idiot Box: Vacant stares of children watching TV are a terrible advertisement for TV
06.10.2015
08:52 am

Topics:
Art
Television

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Not for nothing has been TV been called an “electronic babysitter.” The calm and soothing cathode ray tube (and its successors) has a powerful capacity to induce a state of quiescence in all but the most unruly of children, which is one reason overtaxed parents are often grateful for its effects.

Children in America watch in excess of 24 hours of television per week, which I assume to mean 24 hours of television programming, regardless of the device used to watch it. That doesn’t include the time spent playing video games or surfing the web. It’s a lot of time. Brooklyn-based photographer Donna Stevens recently put together an intriguing and disturbing series of photographs under the heading “Idiot Box” in order to get us to think about televsion’s most eager and impressionable audience: children.

Every shot is taken in a dark room lit only by the glow of the television screen. The camera is positioned near enough to the television set that we can regard it as a TV-POV shot. The portraits emphasize the children’s vacant eyes and unexpressive facial expressions. It’s enough to make you want to research television addiction and its effects.

I’d like to see the same series done with adults!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Art Nouveau, ‘Laugh-In,’ and Hallmark Psychedelia—Art Chantry speaks
06.08.2015
08:25 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Design
History
Music
Television

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When I got my review copy of Art Chantry Speaks: A Heretic’s History of 20th Century Graphic Design in the mail from Feral House, I was mighty thrilled, as I’ve long admired Chantry’s work as a graphic artist. His clear reverence for and deep knowledge of the history of his discipline, particularly in championing its seediest manifestations and its obsolete processes, informs not just his own body of work, which as much as anyone’s was THE look of garage punk and grunge, but the work of the countless artists whom he’s inspired. In my past life as an Art Director in alt-weeklies, Chantry’s posters, record covers, and his work for the Seattle music magazine The Rocket, reproduced in the must-have Some People Can’t Surf, were frequent go-tos for inspiration when Photoshop just couldn’t do the job. Art Chantry Speaks is a collection of opinionated musings on a variety of design topics, and I was struck by a significant overlap between Chantry’s essays and DM’s coverage, so we decided that rather than simply review the book, we’d draft Chantry into service as a sort of guest blogger, republishing a few of his essays as DM posts. This is the first, and we’re grateful to Chantry and Feral House for letting us use his work in this form.—Ron Kretsch

In the mid- to late 1960s, the psychedelic underground revolution had already started to wane. It was a literal flash in the pan. All of the original pioneers had morphed into varying sorts of hacks and quacks, pushing new agendas as far-fetched as Buddhism, meditation, world domination, the Internet and flying saucers. Basically, the acid world was as unstable as the drug itself. Old doses of blotter have short half-lives and lose their potency fast. Vintage blotter acid collectors (yes, there is a huge market) probably couldn’t get high if they ate their entire collections. So goes the culture as well.

Whenever an underground counterculture (a rebellion against some established norm) erupts, there is usually a pushback from the mainstream. The first is “attack” (“Them dirty stinkin’ hippies should all be shot”) and then there is “assimilation” (“Gee, that paisley looks so cool on you!”).

Back in the Romantic rebellion of the late 1800s there emerged a back-to-nature movement that resulted in the Arts and Crafts revival and a rejection of established artistic norms. This rejection of the status quo happens with such periodic intensity, you could probably set a clock by it. During this phase, the reaction was heavily against the industrial revolution.

The initial process of saying “no” in this case was simply to return to handmade objects. This included an embrace of nature forms that was intellectually and emotionally antithetical to the Victorian stye. The immediate result was a rebirth of organic design and the Arts and Crafts movement. Some people literally returned to the woods to live like wild men (at least “wild” from their stilted perspective). Think Emerson, Thoreau or Gibbons.

Of course, industry—powered by the fast buck—saw opportunity and attempted to copycat the new romantic look. The result was Art Nouveau—a homespun manufactured style applied as decoration (just like Victorian motifs). The big difference was the curve. The Art Nouveau manufactured style almost appeared to have been grown on a machine like some kind of vining plant made of iron.

Soon, new archeological discoveries in Egypt and Mesoamerica resulted in another semi-rejection of the current design culture. The ancient “primitive man” geometric stylings as seen in King Tut’s tomb and the newly “discovered” cultures of the Mayans and the Aztecs resulted in quick adaptations to the Art Nouveau style (and so much easier to make with a machine). The result was Art Deco.

Art Nouveau started to look old-fashioned and Art Deco became the new rage of the machine society. Thoreau’s Walden Pond gave way to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The resulting mechanized World Wars did more to end that dream than any artistic rejection ever could.

Flash forward to the early post-WWII period in America. Displaced vets couldn’t fit into the new peacetime America. Uniformity was valued and loose cannons were depicted in popular media as Communist threats to the social order. The beatniks, biker culture, surfers, hot-rodders, truckers, abstract expressionist painters, gay underground, poets and bop musicians were the new Bohemia and they were derided as decadent trash. But the seeds of rejection they sowed took fruit in the early/mid ‘60s, just as the international modern stylings of the new space age and the “big idea” advertising culture combined with industrial ingenuity to create a new golden era of conformity and high style. “007, meet Helvetica Bold…”

The outsider subcultures were still there, developing their own aesthetic systems, not too dissimilar to the Romantics of the previous century. A new “back to nature” dream and a rebirth of the “community of man” emerged, albeit in scattered pockets. When the psychedelic culture emerged a real alternative to the exiting dominant culture became a possibility. It’s been said that with the hippies, “many puddles became a pond,” and soon many ponds became a lake, then an ocean. Then a tidal wave…
 

 

 
The high art style of this new “psychedelic” look was so heavily borrowed from early Art Nouveau that it was almost an embarrassment. Wes Wilson discovered typography by a famous Arts & Crafts typographer, Alfred Roller, and placed it on a waving baseline—and invented “psychedelic lettering”! Stanley Mouse began to ape Beardsley. Other artists copycatted Alphonse Mucha posters to a T. Rick Griffin followed the hand-drawn like work of scores of Blake imitators and shoved it through surfing and acid to arrive at his incredibly “organic” style.

The psychedelic style was an LSD-washed version of Art Nouveau. Even the communal movement owed its origins to Walden dreams. It was history repeating itself all over again, but this time in mind-blowing colors.

Industry was still there too, cranking out their version of what they thought they could sell. Whenever a new “culture” emerges and finds popular appeal to the young, the marketing monsters are right there ready to go with their mass-produced version of the same thing. But they never get it quite right. The very industrial design process removes the “natural” content and replaces it with uniform mediocrity. In this case, the fake psych look literally replaces the larger mainstream culture’s very idea of what Psychedelia was.

Along came “industrial psychedelia” or, as I prefer, “Hallmark psychedelia” (because Hallmark greeting cards tried so hard for so long to co-opt the style). It was all bright colors, swirling everything, cartoon characters, goofy humor and totally innocent fun. Basically, the exact opposite of the earnestness of the Hippie movement and its goals.
 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The original ‘Gilligan’s Island’ theme song was a steaming pile of fake calypso shit
06.05.2015
09:39 am

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Amusing
Television

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I sort of miss the days when every TV show theme was a two-minute long capsule summary of the show’s plot. A fair rule of thumb was the more imaginative—or preposterous—the plot, the better the theme song (IDENTICAL COUSINS YOU GUYS COME ON). As lost cultural gold goes, that ranks up there with songs whose titles are the names of dances and whose lyrics describe how you must dance to them, and diners built to look like anything but diners. And while I applaud Arrested Development for keeping the flame alive, I admit there’s a lot to be said for the Lost approach—did that show need any more of an intro than the word “LOST” floating across the screen for a few seconds? And surely that’s why the practice fell into disuse—why squander valuable airtime re-explaining the show every time it airs when that time can be sold to an advertiser? And now, in the binge-watching era made possible by DVD anthologies and streaming, you can see the same intro a dozen times a day on a properly lazy day, and one that goes on forever thus becomes irritating as hell. (Lookin’ at YOU, Dexter; who needed to watch Michael C. Hall make breakfast and shave 96 goddamn times?)

Probably the all-time champ among classic heavy-expository TV themes is Gilligan’s Island. Admit it, when you saw the headline to this post, you heard “a threeeeee hour toooour” in your head, did you not? So ingrained is it in post-WWII American culture, I’m certain that more people of a certain age can sing it in its entirety than can name all 50 state capitals. I’d even bet good money that more people know that song than know their own blood type.

This post is not about that song.
 

 
The theme song (and show) that could have been was very different from the one we all know and love—or rather know and simply can’t shake off. It was a pretty wretched calypso-inspired number, intended to be sung by the then-popular singer Sir Lancelot, but that didn’t happen. It was written at the 11th hour by the show’s creator Sherwood Schwartz, who also sang it himself, impersonating Lancelot. Poorly. As he related the tale in his book Inside Gilligan’s Island, CBS wasn’t sold on Schwartz’s shipwreck concept and wanted the series to be written in a guest-star anthology format, with a different group of charter passengers every week. Schwartz protested that the series’ backstory could be told in the theme song, and was even ready to actually pitch Sir Lancelot as the singer, but he was facing an implacable executive nicknamed “the Smiling Cobra” in a morning meeting, and had to have the actual song finished overnight.

Any thought of trying to contact Sir Lancelot that night was out of the question. Even if I could talk to him, I had no song. Even if I had a song, I couldn’t make a recording by 10:00 the next morning.

I has several friends who were songwriters, but who could I call at 8:00 p.m. to write a song by morning? I would have to explain the whole idea of the show and get someone to incorporate in the lyrics all the exposition I wanted in the song. No, that was hopeless.

Ignoring the fact that I was trying to do something that couldn’t possibly be done, I began to write the lyrics for Gilligan’s Island.

Which certainly accounts for its awkwardness. You’ll note that the Professor is a high school teacher in the original scenario, and that the farm girl and starlet characters were a pair of secretaries, none played by the actors who would go on to perform in the actual show.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Grace Jones asks ‘It’s 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?’ 1979
06.05.2015
06:28 am

Topics:
Television

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“It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?” spots have long been a mainstay of local NYC television news broadcasts. I haven’t lived there since 2007, but I would imagine that they still are.

When model-singer-actress-whatever she wants to be Grace Jones taped this brief PSA for WNEW-TV in New York way back in 1979, the talk in the studio afterwards was no doubt along the lines of “Now, THAT should get their attention.”

Jones, now 67, returns to New York this summer, headlining the annual AfroPunk NYC Festival, set to take place August 22nd and 23rd at Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park, along with Lenny Kravitz and Lauryn Hill.
 

 
Via Lady Bunny Blog

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Stop what you’re doing right now and watch Judy Garland sing her heart out for the late JFK
06.04.2015
10:45 am

Topics:
History
Music
Television

Tags:


 
A few weeks ago, I fell (as is my wont) deep, deep down into the audiophile rabbit hole that is the Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Hoffman is a well-known audio engineer and he’s been responsible for hundreds of classic albums getting the deluxe treatment, mostly via DCC, the audiophile label famous for their gold CDs. His website is where audiophiles congregate to discuss and debate the software side of the “perfect sound” equation. I can geek out there for hours on end and often do.

So it was there, reading a thread on Hoffman’s remastering of the famous live Judy Garland album, Judy At Carnegie Hall that it occurred to me—annual TV viewings of The Wizard of Oz when I was a kid aside—that I didn’t really know that much about Judy Garland, considered by many to be the greatest entertainer who ever lived. Numero Uno. #1. Of all time. Never to be equalled. That’s already admitting to a pretty substantial gap in my musical knowledge, ain’t it? I can’t have that!

So I got a copy of Judy At Carnegie Hall, the cherished document of what was probably the single most triumphant night in the career of the great performer. It more than lives up to its reputation. It’s practically flawless. Awe-inspiring. Her voice contains multitudes. Happy. Sad. Resilient. Defeated. Deeply moving—I mean you can REALLY lose yourself in her songs. Wow.

That album is the damndest thing. I played it six times in a row the day I got it. It totally blew my mind. I expected it to be good, but I didn’t expect it to be this good!

What takes Judy At Carnegie Hall to a whole other level though, is not what Garland herself is doing per se, but the reaction to what she’s offering her audience that’s reflecting back from them. I’ve never heard more rapturous applause (and shouting, screaming, stamping) for anybody or for any reason, at any time in my entire life. The audience isn’t merely applauding madly, they are going fucking bananas, creating an affectionate feedback loop between them and the great (and very grateful) performer that takes the whole thing into an emotionally exhausting overdrive. There’s nothing—I repeat—nothing like it. I’ll say it once more: Judy At Carnegie Hall is the damndest thing.

So now that revelation sets me off to find out more about Judy Garland, and if you have read this far, trust me when I tell you that the 2004 PBS American Masters documentary Judy Garland: By Myself is one of the most fascinating—and unspeakably SAD—documentaries you will ever see. [Easy to find on torrent trackers (PBS aired it again in March) and it’s also on the DVD extras of Easter Parade.]

The thing that I was struck with when it was over (other than a deep, deep feeling of sadness I couldn’t shake for days) was how Garland was this mutant force of nature, possessing a mysterious innate source of genius that she could draw from. Even when her frail body was ready to give out, she still gave all for her audiences, even if it meant going home in a wheelchair. Looking at this overview of her 47 short years on this planet, one sees a woman whose magnificent talent will never be forgotten. She died young, but she’s immortal, as many of her performances are woven into the fabric of American history.

And that brings me to the thing I wanted to call your attention to, Garland’s mind-boggling rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” taped a few weeks after the assassination of JFK, on December 13th, 1963. Kennedy and Garland had been friends. She raised money for him and kept a summer home near his in Hyannis Port. The oft-told story about Garland singing “Over the Rainbow” over to the telephone line to JFK many times during his presidency was no myth of Camelot, it actually did happen, several times.
 

 
After the tragic events in Dallas, Garland, then doing a weekly series on CBS, went to the network executives with the idea to do a tribute to the fallen President. They were very cool to the idea. One of the CBS brass is alleged to have told her that in a month or so, that no one would even remember Kennedy! Undaunted Garland chose to end her next show with a powerful performance of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” that left no one, but no one wondering who she was singing it for. (According to Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft, in the studio Garland had said “This is for you, Jack,” but it was edited out for broadcast by an asshole at ABC.)

This is the most stunning thing. Raw emotion—what the entire nation must’ve been feeling—channeled through the body and mighty lungs of this tiny, frail woman, who’d been told by her doctors only a few years before this that she’d soon become an invalid and be bedridden for the rest of her life.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
I want my R.E.M. TV! Win a whole mess of R.E.M. stuff from Rhino
06.03.2015
09:22 am

Topics:
Advertorial
Movies
Music
Television

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In many ways, R.E.M. were always the quintessential MTV band. The group’s first single came out in July of 1981, while MTV debuted but a few weeks later, on August 1. MTV must’ve had a lot of rabid R.E.M. fans working there when they launched, because from the very beginning the band was seemingly always on the channel, a practically ubiquitous “indie” presence on programs like The Cutting Edge (which was produced by their label, I.R.S. Records), Alternative Nation, and 120 Minutes. Their career moves, tours and general gossip about them were constantly chronicled on MTV News. They were usually on the MTV awards shows getting them, presenting them and playing live. I think it’s safe to say that when MTV beckoned, R.E.M. showed up on time and did a great job and made everyone’s lives easier. That’s how a group stays on top for thirty years. To sustain that long of a ride you need to be professional, hardworking, easy to deal with, etc, etc.
 

 
As a result of their practically symbiotic relationship, MTV documented practically everything about R.E.M. right up to their decision to disband in 2011. R.E.M. BY MTV, the critically acclaimed feature-length documentary by Alexander Young, draws exclusively from archival events and traces the history of R.E.M. (and MTV itself) in a chronological manner, which makes it feel as exciting and immediate as it did when it first took place.

R.E.M. BY MTV is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 2 from Rhino, and includes some rarely-seen live performances. You can win a copy of the film—and a whole lot more—by entering to win in the widget below the trailer.
 

 

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