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Behind-the-scenes footage of David Bowie & Amanda Lear from ‘The 1980 Floor Show’
11.10.2016
01:04 pm

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Amusing
Heroes
Music
Television

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Soon after David Bowie’s brief “retirement” he was already busy preparing for his first big public appearance since (apparently) leaving showbiz.

The 1980 Floor Show, Bowie’s special episode of The Midnight Special, the uber-popular US TV music program, was shot over the course of three days in October of 1973 with most of the footage being taped at The Marquee Club in London. The choreographed stage extravaganza included dancers, the members of Bowie’s Spiders from Mars band, Marianne Faithfull, The Troggs, glam flamenco group Carmen, and the transsexual muse of Salvador Dali, model and (later) singer Amanda Lear.

When it comes to the rehearsal footage in this post, as one YouTube commenter put it, you could cut the sexual tension between Bowie and Lear “with a knife.” Bowie looks ethereal clad in all in white with his signature bright red mullet and otherworldly good looks while he exchanges lines—I think from Lewis Carroll?—with Lear whose famous “come-hither” raspy voice purrs back at Bowie like a cat about to pounce on her prey. Here’s Bowie musing about why he choose The Marquee for his “happy unretirement party”:

There were a lot of clubs to go to in the Soho scene in the 60’s but The Marquee was top of the list, because musicians did hang out there, pretending to talk business and picking up gigs - but picking up girls mostly. One of my keenest memories of The Marquee in the ‘60’s was having a permanent erection because there were so many fantastic looking girls in there, it was all tourists, especially in summer, all flocking to London to get an R&B star. My final performance of Ziggy Stardust was at The Marquee. I wanted to go back there because I had so many good memories over the years.

The intimate footage shows Bowie and Lear laughing at each other as they each mess up their lines—it’s really quite something to see and feels more like a home movie than a high-powered television production. While the video quality is slightly lacking at times the audio more than makes up for it as does Bowie’s impossibly beautiful face which practically jumps off the screen. It’s yet another nostalgic and heartwarming look back at David Bowie—the indisputable personification of cool in his element. I know I’m not alone when I say that I’ll never, ever stop missing him, a feeling that this video reinforces all the more. 
 

Amanda Lear and David Bowie, 1973.
 

Charmingly intimate footage of David Bowie and Amanda Lear rehearsing for ‘The 1980 Floor Show.’

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
It’s what we deserve: David Hasselhoff and Marla Maples butcher ‘If I Were a Carpenter’
11.10.2016
11:12 am

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Music
Television

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It’s not the thing David Hasselhoff is most known for in America, but he did have a singing career. In 1989, perhaps capitalizing on the stirrings of liberty in the Soviet bloc, he released a single called “Looking for Freedom,” which was a #1 hit in guess what country. Just a few weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, on New Year’s Eve 1989, “the Hoff” performed the song at the Wall itself.

Knight Rider had been a solid hit for Hasselhoff in the mid-1980s and shortly became an inexplicable sensation in the German-speaking countries. In 1989 Hasselhoff took on the role of Mitch Buchannon in Baywatch, which would become an iconic pageant of T&A throughout the 1990s.

Having successfully solidified his career with a second hit show, in 1994 Hasselhoff was having thoughts about reigniting his music career. He planned a lavish pay-per-view live concert in Atlantic City, scheduling the concert and transmission for a certain Friday in June—the exact date was June 17, 1994. The New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets were fighting it out in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, but that couldn’t be helped.

Hasselhoff could not have known that the L.A. Police Department would choose that day to arrange the arrest of O.J. Simpson on murder charges. As all people on earth as well as certain lifeforms on Saturn know, a distraught Simpson declined the opportunity to turn himself in and instead embarked on a slow-moving car chase that lasted several hours, helicopter footage of which dominated the TV ratings for the day (and evening on the East Coast) like few events before or since. Hasselhoff’s investment of several hundreds of thousands of dollars would yield next to no viewership.

In attendance in Atlantic City that night was Donald Trump, and in fact (according to Hasselhoff) it was Trump who informed Hasselhoff that the chase was underway.

Marla Maples had become Trump’s second wife in 1993, and for reasons unknown Hasselhoff thought it would be a good idea for him and Marla to attempt to cover Tim Hardin‘s classic song “If I Were a Carpenter,” most memorably covered in 1970 by Johnny Cash and June Carter.

It didn’t turn out as good as that version.

See the video after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon trolls Humphrey with the most avant-garde political TV ad ever produced, 1968
11.08.2016
01:14 pm

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Advertising
Politics
Television

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In the presidential election this year, Donald Trump has been happy to paint himself as the “law and order” candidate with much talk of American inner cities as war zones consisting of little other than misery, violence, and chaos. As many have noted, “law and order” is code to racist whites about the dangers of unbridled African-American actually using their constitutional freedoms and electoral clout.

It’s actually a very old trope. Richard Nixon was its originator, the first national candidate to realize that racial panic could be used to wrest the South from the control of the Democrats. It’s said that President Lyndon B. Johnson understood that his signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act meant that the Democrats had “lost the South for a generation,” in a line often attributed to him. Nixon was the first national Republican politician to exploit these divisions, and exploit them he did, albeit not quite as overtly as Donald Trump has…

The bloody year of 1968 gave Nixon a lot to work with, what with the assassinations of RFK and MLK as well as the most violent political convention in American history. Nixon was able to use the tensions within the Democratic Party to color Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the party’s candidate, as ineffectual.

Eight days before the election, during an episode of Laugh-In, Nixon’s team ran a formally daring campaign commercial directed by documentary filmmaker Eugene Jones called “Convention.” The commercial used stills of Vietnam and the Democratic Convention in Chicago with jarring audio effects to send the unmistakable message that a Humphrey presidency would be a baaaaad trip, maaaan.

Interestingly, the familiar campaign music is called “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” and the commercial definitely plays with both positive and negative connotations of the phrase. This plays like an underground film of the era much more than it does a TV commercial.

Watch after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Floor plans of the homes from ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Mr. Robot,’ and other TV shows
11.07.2016
09:51 am

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Television

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Floor plans of the domiciles of fictional characters is not a new concept. As far back as the 1990s, an artist named Mark Bennett had bestowed upon us architectural plans for the houses of Boomer-era classics such as The Flintstones, Family Affair, Batman, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I’m also aware of plans for Seinfeld and Friends and a few others.

Many of the shows that receive this treatment are filmed on TV studio sets (often in front of an audience), meaning that such floor plans almost always have a large fictional element. The artists involved must use their powers of imagination to fill in necessary blanks, but the insights derived can often be startling. For instance, would anyone care to speculate on the price tag for the vast “Elliott Bay Towers” penthouse of a certain Seattle radio personality from the 1990s?

Last week Ben Sanford of the real estate blog Homes posted a sorely needed update including floor plans for homes in recent hits, including Joyce’s house in Stranger Things, Elliott’s dumpy single-bedroom apartment in Mr. Robot, and the middle-class residence of Walter White and family in Breaking Bad.

If you’re listening, Ben Sanford, my request list for any future floor plans includes the D.C.-area Jennings residence from The Americans, the bar in Horace and Pete, the Pfeffermans’ modernist Pacific Palisades house from Transparent, Jimmy Shive-Overly’s Silver Lake pad from You’re the Worst, and Sharon and Rob’s house from Catastrophe.
 

 

 
Much more after the jump….....
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Soft Machine on BBC’s ‘Anatomy of Pop,’ 1971
11.04.2016
12:20 pm

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Music
Television

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If you need a break from the campaign 2016 madness, we recommend some time with the groundbreaking progressive jazz-rock combo known as the Soft Machine.

On January 10, 1971, BBC One played a segment on the program Anatomy of Pop showcasing the leaders of the experimental Canterbury scene. It’s an 8-minute clip in black & white featuring both interviews and live footage, although not any one song is played to completion (they did tend to go long, you know). These were the Wyatt/Ratledge/Dean/Hopper years of Third and FourthThird had come out the previous June, and Fourth was just a month away from release.

All four members are interviewed, but it’s Robert Wyatt who does most of the talking—he amusingly says that it was “quite hard work” learning to get into Charlie Parker. However, that needn’t suggest a negative assessment, on at least two of his albums (Radio Experiment Rome, February 1981 and Flotsam Jetsam) Wyatt played Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce.”

In between the epic solos, make sure you get out to VOTE if doing so early is an option in your precinct.
 

 
After the jump, Soft Machine on German TV’s ‘Beat-Club’ back in March of 1971…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders get bombarded by cream pies (and worse) on kids TV show
11.04.2016
09:40 am

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Animals
Food
Music
Television

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The Pretenders giving zero fucks.
 
If you grew up as a kid in the UK during the mid-70s through to the early 80s it’s a safe bet that you a spent few Saturday mornings glued to the tube watching kids show Tiswas (or “This Is Saturday, What A Show!”, “Today Is Saturday, Wear A (or Wake-up And) Smile!”, or (unofficially) “This Is Saturday, Watch And Suffer!”).

Tiswas had a live studio audience filled with young fans and tried to bring on various musical acts who were popular during the years it was broadcast such as Elvis Costello, Motörhead and in this case, The Pretenders. In 1981 Chrissie Hynde, Martin Chambers and Pete Farndon had the pleasure of participating in a skit called “The Phantom Flan Flinger Challenge.” The title of the segment sounds both delicious and gross but if you’ve ever seen the show you know things are not going to end well for Chrissie and her bandmates.

As it was a common practice to “repurpose” Tiswas’ videotape masters (“tape over” them) only a small number of episodes (according to some sources only 22) actually still exist.

Given the rarity of surviving Tiswas shows, I am happy to report that not only is the quality of this footage pretty great, it also contains a rather startling moment involving one of Tiswas’ hosts, Chris Tarrant, and Chrissie Hynde that will make you wonder if Tarrant ever made it out of the studio alive. I’ll leave you to ponder what that all means while you watch this amusing four minutes of footage.
 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Atom Heart Motherlode: If that $$$ new Pink Floyd box is gonna be this good, my wife will kill me
10.24.2016
01:37 pm

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Music
Television

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I’m guessing that many, if not most, of our UK-based readers caught this weekend’s big Pink Floyd TV special on the BBC. Obviously this program—a satisfying buffet of solid gold early Pink Floyd performances, in and of itself—is but a brief taster to whet the public’s appetite for that much-heralded (but way overpriced) 27 disc box set that’s coming out in November.

Starting with the Syd Barrett-era rarity of a “Jugband Blues” performance and ending prior to the release of The Dark Side of the Moon, the BBC compilation of HD Floyd footage Pink Floyd Beginnings 1967-1972 is a true stunner. Even if you already have most of this footage on high quality bootlegs—I’ve probably got about 80% of it myself—you’ve never seen or heard it quite like this. The only thing I can really compare the quality to would be last year’s Beatles Blu-ray collection, which was absolutely superb in every way. Even the things that would have have a videotape origin have been nicely rezzed up to high definition. Visually it’s simply dazzling.

Which sucks because now I can easily justify spending the big bucks on this goddamned overpriced box set, despite having the vast majority of it already. Trust me, I’d have been happy to pay $250, but even at over twice that (It’s listed for $571 on Amazon—ouch!) I’m simply salivating to own it after watching this hour-long BBC teaser and know myself well enough not to trust my itchy trigger finger anywhere near that Amazon 1-click button. My wife is just going to kill me.

I thought I’d be able to find Pink Floyd Beginnings 1967-1972 on YouTube—it’s currently not posted there—but but fret not Pink peeps, a kind person posted it on an Arabic language website. Having said that, who knows how long it will last? Use it or lose it, in other words.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Bulba’: The terrible CIA sitcom pilot that starred a young Bill Hicks
10.20.2016
03:30 pm

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Television

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The 1980s were a miserable decade for standup comedy—based on the incredible success of men like Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and Robin Williams, all of whom had an originating identity as standups, comedy saw a “boom” which really translated into bars across America labeling just about anything a “COMEDY SHOWCASE,” attracting MOR hacks everywhere to divert audiences with their “hilarious” Jack Nicholson impressions or their hackneyed thoughts about the packaging of airline peanuts. It was a decade defined by people such as Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, talented men but none of them ever likely to, say, question the Reagan administration’s Central America policy.

Which brings us to Bill Hicks, one of the few comedic heroes that the 1980s produced. Hicks was a bumptious standup comedian out of Texas, one of few comedians of that era who could truly be said to owe Lenny Bruce a debt. He talked about the benefits of LSD, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms onstage, railed against the implacable conformity of Americans, and once put down a heckler by saying, “Hitler had the right idea; he was just an underachiever!” In a decade in which development execs constantly lusted after some debased version of the “edgy,” Hicks was the real deal. He sadly died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32, a tragic fate that has cemented his status as a countercultural icon ever since.

One of the events that caused Hicks to adopt a rather jaundiced view of Hollywood was his involvement in an idiotic spoof of the CIA called Bulba. A pilot episode of the show was filmed for ABC in 1981, but it was never picked up—for very good reasons. The show centered on the goofy goings-on at the U.S. embassy in Bulba, a fictional island near India, and the show absolutely reeks of the anti-establishment ethos typified by Stripes and M*A*S*H, but sadly it isn’t funny. At all. Hicks plays “Phil,” a bumbling Marine whose identifying trait is that he isn’t wearing pants.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa wants you to ‘vote like a beast’
10.20.2016
01:50 pm

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Music
Politics
Television

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Vote suppression is in the news again. In August, Donald Trump, likely recognizing that he was going to lose the election, started talking about the need to prevent voter shenanigans in “certain sections” of Pennsylvania—“you know the ones,” he told them—clear code to his supporters that black people in Pennsylvania’s urban areas were plotting to steal the vote on behalf of “Crooked” Hillary Clinton.

The truth is something like the opposite. Acutely aware that it has a purchase on a dwindling minority of voters, the Republican Party has for some years used the specter of vote fraud to enact legislative measures that would require increased documentation at polling places, measures that are likely to have the effect of limiting the turnout of low-income and/or minority voters, both of which are reliable Democratic constituencies. The “voter fraud” scare is now widely seen as itself to be a voter suppression gambit, as some high-level Republicans are sometimes unwise enough to actuallly admit to in public.

The crucial importance of the vote can be seen in the centuries-long struggles over who gets to vote and who does not. In a sense, artificial or scarcely justified limits on the franchise are as American as apple pie, as Your Vote, a 1991 program for The Learning Channel hosted by none other than Frank Zappa, explains.
 

 
Frank Zappa was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990, after the disease had progressed unnoticed for roughly a decade. Obviously, as he neared his untimely death, which eventually occurred in December 1993, Zappa’s illness restricted his ability to travel or undertake arduous projects. Zappa is hardly the vigorous figure here that he had once been, but his commitment to the cause of participatory democracy was such that he did the project anyway.

The show begins with footage of George Herbert Walker Bush and Michael Dukakis, the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees for the most recent national election in 1988. It would be easy to frame the story of franchisement in the United States as an optimistic one, with the vote being granted to ever more groups, but that is not the tone adopted here. In this program, the emphasis is squarely on the unjustifiable shenanigans that prevent people from exercising one of the most basic human rights.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Blistering footage of a young AC/DC blowing the roof off the sucker in 1978
10.19.2016
12:15 pm

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Heroes
Music
Television

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Perhaps I’m guilty of overusing words like “blistering” or “insane” when it comes to describing a live performance by AC/DC, especially when the perpetually shirtless Bon Scott is involved. However in this case both words perfectly describe this footage from the band’s appearance on the short-lived BBC television show Rock Goes to College back in 1978. The gigs filmed for the show were intimate affairs—limited to a few thousand fans which you really get a feel for when you watch the young hell-bent Aussies (Angus Young was only 23 at the time and his brother Malcolm just 25) rip through songs from 1978’s Powerage (as well as the band’s live record If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) from the same year), 1977’s Let There Be Rock, and 1975’s T.N.T. The resulting set is an absolutely titanic cross-section of the band’s already spectacular catalog. Also of note is the fact that in 1978 the band was still somewhat “under the radar” though they were already wildly popular in their homeland which makes this raw footage shot in the UK extra compelling.

See it after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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